Steampunk Digest - June 1, 2018
Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world
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The Steampunk NZ Festival, billed as “The Premier and longest running Steampunk event of the Southern Hemisphere,” is happening this weekend in Oamaru, a town on the South Island of New Zealand. The festival was set to kick off with a “Fire and Steam” celebration on Friday night, followed by a Steampunk Parade and Teapot Racing World Championships on Saturday. Sunday’s festivities include a fashion show and gala ball. The website has photos from past festivals, and you can tell that these folks know how to put on a steampunk event.
As might be expected, it gets a lot of attention from the local media. “Organised by the Steampunk NZ Trust, the annual event attracts steampunks from around New Zealand and the likes of Australia and the United States,” writes Daniel Birchfield of the Otago Daily Times. That story includes an overview of the activities.
The Oamaru Mail asked reporter Tyson Young to “discover his inner steampunk.” After donning “various pieces of bizarre clothing,” he’s “no longer looking at Tyson Young in the mirror,” he writes. “I am staring into the eyes of Air Vice-Marshal Archibald Carmichael III from the city of Aetherium.”
The photos above and below are used courtesy of the organisers. (We now return to American spelling.)
Sad news in the science-fiction world, as Gardner Dozois passed away at age 70 in Philadelphia. He “was involved in science fiction for over 50 years, and was easily one of the most influential editors in the modern era of the field,” Locus reports. Dozois became editor-in-chief of Asimov’s Science Fiction in 1985 and edited the Year’s Best Science Fiction series for 35 years. He won 15 Hugo Awards for Best Professional Editor, and was also an accomplished writer. Read the tribute at Locusmag.com.
Author Gail Carriger was among the speakers at Phoenix Comic Fest, and it appears she made an impression on Michael Senft, who wrote about the event for Phoenix New Times. “The steampunk author has a delightful retro fashion sense, which includes vintage dresses and a crochet octopus fascinator, but her teapot purse was the accessory of Comic Fest,” he writes. “’My life is now complete,’ she said after finding the purse for sale in the exhibitor hall.” The story includes photos.
MegaCon Orlando is aptly named, as past editions of the sci-fi and comic convention have drawn 40,000 attendees or more. Held over Memorial Day weekend at the sprawling Orange County Convention Center, it included an active steampunk contingent. “Although most come to MegaCon dressed as their favorite character from an existing book or movie, one group is dedicated to creating a world of their own imagination,” the Orlando Sentinel reports. “The Central Florida Steampunk Association is hosting events throughout MegaCon weekend ranging from panel discussions to teapot racing and parasol dueling.” The story highlights a few members, including Lesmarie Velez, AKA Dr. Bunnifred Honeydewsickle, and Jusnel Gonzalez Ortiz, who appeared as a Steampunk Captain America. The story includes a short video.
Steampunk Borg? Appearing on Facebook Live, “Star Trek: Discovery” designers Neville Page and Glenn Hetrick were asked how they would portray the Borg, the implacable cybernetic antagonists of several Federation crews. There should be room “for a little steampunk in there,” Hetrick said. “A little antediluvian something. So not too retro, and not a gear, but there is a biomech feel to the whole thing, so to go to [HR] Giger and steampunk and find a new way to combine it and maybe play with the colors.”
Writing on Comicbook.com, Jamie Lovett notes that a return of the Borg “would be a tricky proposition” since the Federation first encountered the aliens in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” which takes place more than a century later in the franchise timeline. On the other hand, “in science fiction, anything is possible.” “Star Trek: Discovery,” which premiered last September, is available for streaming on CBS All Access.
The recent Crewe Steampunk Convivial in North West England “brought a quirky celebration of science fantasy inspired by 19th-century fashions and industrial steam-powered machinery,” reports the Crewe Chronicle. The brief story is accompanied by a photo gallery (be prepared to fill out a survey before you get to see it). Among the weekend’s entertainment: Talonted Feathers, Lady Claire Voyance, Montague Jacques Fromage, and what may be the best-named performer in all of steampunk, Ichabod Steam and his Animatronic Band. Learn more on the event website.
Vandalia-Con took place May 25-26 in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and its Facebook page has photos and videos from the event. The festivities included performances by Karnevil and the Pirate Crew of the Dead Rabbit, plus a keynote by Julia Oswald. As we reported, attendees could vote between the “White Hats” and “Black Hats” to determine next year’s theme, and the villains prevailed. The local paper also has a story about the convention.
Literature professor Robin Bates writes about his appreciation of steampunk fantasy in a post on his blog, “Better Living Through Beowulf.” “Steampunk is a deliberate challenge to Middle Earth,” he writes. “Perdido Street Station author China Mieville loudly proclaims he detests Tolkien as he creates a polluted London filled with mad scientists, unscrupulous entrepreneurs, and strange creatures. . . Steampunk’s emergence, in my opinion, signals that we’ve moved into new historical terrain, where cyber technology is making us nostalgic for technology that we can touch and smell.” Bates goes on to describe Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which “takes place largely within the London sewer system, along with all the smells, crud, and rats that one might expect to find there.”
More exposure for Virginia steampunk expo. Last week, we told you about ”Steampunk: Visions of Futures Past,” a free expo happening this weekend at the Hampton History Museum in southeastern Virginia. Now another local TV station has a report that informs viewers about the event — and about steampunk. “Steampunk allows you to use your imagination, and play with what would happen if airships still traveled through the skies instead of planes,” a costumed Michael Parodi tells the reporter. “And what if I made a steam-powered car?” Expo attendees “will be able to see our take on some of those vehicles.”
He’s joined in the segment by wife Suzanne as well as Aela Badiana, who is leading a steampunk and pirate-themed dance performance. “I’m clearly the ‘punk’ in the steam,” Aela says. She’s dressed modestly by today’s standards, but “no respected woman in the Victorian era would ever walk around like this.” You can watch it here.
WGLT-FM, a public radio station at Illinois State University, has a report about Cogs & Corsets, the three-day steampunk festival taking place this weekend in Bloomington. “The steampunk community is pretty interwoven and interconnected,” organizer Melanie Shellito tells reporter Laura Kennedy. Last year's attendees “went back home to their own groups and their own people and they went, ‘Wow! Bloomington-Normal put on an amazing event!’ It was year one and it was unbelievable. Next thing we know, performers are reaching out to us and asking to take part.” Our own report about the festival was one of the most-viewed stories in May. If that’s a barometer, they should have a big turnout.
Tor Books has released By Fire Above, volume 2 of the Signal Airship series by Robyn Bennis. Described both as steampunk and military fantasy, it’s set in an alternate 19th century Europe and features the continuing exploits of airship captain Josette Dupre. “Tough as nails and commanding the respect of her entire crew, she handles everything the war throws at her,” writes a reviewer at Geeks of Doom. “Possibly the only thing that would be a detriment for her is her inability to hold her tongue.”
It’s “a fast, fun novel,” writes Liz Bourke on Tor.com, “But though deeply entertaining and with swashbuckling flair, By Fire Above doesn’t neglect the dark side of military service, either.” Learn more at the publisher’s page.
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