Retro Futurism is an aesthetic which employs the use of one technological theme to create an idealized Sci-Fi outlook of what civilization could become. The Jetson’s, Lost in Space and Fallout are all examples of Retro Futurism with a specific focus on flying cars, personal robots and atomic advancements. Retro Futurisms appeal is one of nostalgia and relies heavily on the use of alternate history; where different major decisions, advancements or people have made a significant impact on the outcome of human society and it’s goals or values.
Common themes of Retro Futurism are base on the newest “technology to change the world” which of course in hindsight feel quaint or logistically impossible. Think hot air balloons, zeppelins, hovercrafts, ekranoplans, supersonic air travel, personal aircraft, and robots. All technologies which promised to revolutionize some facet of society in a short period of time; unfortunately for us they did not.
My favorite examples of these grand imaginings are the works of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science which often depict futurist rendition of the times. Notice the stylistic difference in the art style and technology depict just 10 years apart in these magazine covers. There is definitive shift in art style throughout the year which really encompasses each era’s expectations of the future
There are many subgenres of retro futurism which are really just retro futurist with a heavy emphasis on one particular time frame or technology. Examples include Steampunk, Dieselpunk and Atompunk; these all follow the thematic elements of Retro Futurism with a specific focus on one technology and time frame.
Popular Mechanics Magazine Archive
Fallout 4 by Bethesda
https://fallout.fandom.com/wiki/Airship The Art of Fallout 4 p. 254