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Steampunk Digest - April 12, 2019

Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world

Friday, April 12, 2019

Steampunk Digest brings you news and other info from around the web. Sign up to get it by email before it's posted on the website. The email version also includes summaries of recent stories posted on The Steampunk Explorer.

Missing Link


Early reviews are generally positive for Missing Link, a stop-action animation film featuring Hugh Jackman as a 19th century British explorer and Zach Galifianakis as an anthropomorphic Sasquatch. Along with the explorer’s love interest (played by Zoe Saldana), they embark on a global adventure that takes them to the Himalayas. It’s the latest effort from Laika Studios, which also produced the critically acclaimed Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings.

The settings “are wittily designed,” writes Sandra Hall in The Sydney Morning Herald, “conjuring up comparisons with the imaginings of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and H. Rider Haggard and gently sending them up.” However, she adds that the script “comes nowhere near the heights that Pixar’s writers have reached at their most inspired.”

From G. Allen Johnson in the San Francisco Chronicle: “It is blessedly devoid of the manic, ADD pace of many animated movies, with a winning trio of characters.”

The film had an 88% “Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes, as of early Friday. It hits U.S. movie screens this weekend. See the film’s website for more info.

Escape Room

Colorado composer Gustav Hoyer has created a new kind of entertainment experience with Storybook, an attraction in Old Town Fort Collins that combines a Victorian-themed escape room with live music. Guests solve a series of musical puzzles that lead them to a performance by a three-person string ensemble. The puzzles arise from a mystery involving the long-hidden office of Elias Franklin, a fictional historical figure.

Storybook is open Saturday afternoons in one-hour time slots. They must be booked in advance. Parties of six or more can set up other times by appointment. The cost is $35 per person.

Hoyer composes modern music in what he describes as the “old-fashioned style” of classical masters such as Brahms, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky. Witness, his latest album, is available from iTunes and CD Baby.

Storybook is located at 254 Linden Street, Fort Collins, CO 80524. The city is also home to the Fort Collins Escape Room (4025 S. Mason St.), which has two escape room adventures: the steampunk-themed “Escape from the Machine,” and the sci-fi themed “Mission to Planet X.”

Steampunk lamps made by a firefighter in western Quebec were standouts at the Ottawa Antique & Vintage Market, held April 6 at Carleton University. Brian Killeen makes the lamps from industrial parts and machinery obtained from “crumbling barns, abandoned factories and country auctions,” writes Megan Gillis in the Ottawa Citizen.

His “Vint-Age Lamps” are priced from CA $489 to $889 and have found customers in the USA and Europe in addition to Canada. You can learn more about his work on his Facebook page.

Iron Harvest

King Art Games has signed Deep Silver as the publisher of Iron Harvest, a forthcoming real-time strategy game set in an alternate reality envisioned by Polish artist Jakub Różalski. The action takes place a few years after World War I, which was fought with giant walking machines that have become part of everyday life. Now “secret forces are working towards the destabilization of Europe, determined to set the world on fire and seize control.”

The developer raised nearly $1.3 million USD in a Kickstarter campaign last year. Under the new publishing deal, King Art Games will retain full creative control, with Deep Silver handling production and distribution. It’s set for release later this year in versions for PCs, Xbox One, and PS4. Learn more on the King Art Games website.

Hooray Beret

Frenchy and the Punk are out with Hooray Beret, their long-awaited sixth album. It features 10 new tunes, including four that have been released as singles. Two, “Wah” and “Lanky Bell Bottoms,” are on YouTube as music videos.

The album is available for digital streaming and download from iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby, and Bandcamp. You can order the CD from the band’s own Batfrogs online store.

They’re set to appear this weekend at the Festival of Legends in North Carolina and will also take the stage May 11 at the Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham, Massachusetts. You can see all upcoming tour dates on their website.

The Zombieful World of OZ

Eric Hawkins is seeking Kickstarter funding for The Zombieful World of OZ, a 20-page comic book that offers a steampunk horror take on L. Frank Baum’s Oz tales. It’s set in an alternate-world Kansas, 10 years after Dorothy Gale’s adventures in Oz. Thinking that she was insane, her family had her committed to a mental hospital. Now 24, she’s just been released. Meanwhile, the Land of Oz is beset by a zombie plague.

Hawkins is the writer, penciler, inker, colorist and letterer. The campaign launched on April 3 and seeks $1500 USD in funding by May 3. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

The Ghost Machine

Silver Empire, a Huntsville, Alabama publisher, is on Kickstarter with The Ghost Machine and Clockmaker, two steampunk novels by Kristen Brand. The Ghost Machine tells the story of Ella Rosenfeld, who checks herself into an Eastern European asylum after having visions of ghosts. Clockmaker is a spinoff about an airship captain on a mission to Istanbul.

The novels will be available in e-book, hardcover, and paperback formats. Silver Empire is re-publishing the titles, which were originally self-published by the author.

The campaign launched on April 10 and seeks $500 USD in funding by April 24. See the Kickstarter page and the author’s website for more info.

The annual steampunk festival hosted by the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in western New York is on the move. The winery announced on Facebook that this year’s festival will be held Saturday, August 31 at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds in Albion. More details are promised “in the following weeks.” The new location is about 50 miles northeast of Buffalo and 40 miles west of Rochester.

It will be the 9th edition of the festival, which previously took place on the winery grounds. Past festivals have featured live music, pyrotechnics, circus acts, maker demonstrations, and servings of the winery’s Steampunk hard cider.

Last week, we told you about “Machina Persona,” a theatrical piece presented by Cooperative Performance at the North Milwaukee ArtHaus in Milwaukee. The original description from the arts group was rather cryptic: “With steampunk influence, an ensemble of actors will interact as the individual forces driving the human machine, revealing the kinks and malfunctions that different social challenges and mental disorders create along the way.”

Now we have some clarity thanks to a review by Russ Bickerstaff of Shepherd’s Express.

“A cast of six play steampunk-inspired archetypes who are all working together on a flying machine,” he writes. “Scarcely speaking in any identifiable language, the cast embellishes emotion with a steady rattle of movement, motion, diction and intonation.” He praises the stage design and costumes, as well as the individual performances. The characters include an engineer, pilot, stowaway, inventor, and soldier, plus “an influential collector of odd items” who “exasperates the rest of the cast.”

Shows are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m., through April 20. See the website for more info.

Eureka! The National Children’s Museum in the UK, is hosting “Steampunk Science,” a show featuring steampunk-themed science demonstrations and hands-on activities for kids six and older. Young steampunks can send secret messages in Morse code and create their own gizmos, including mechanical noise machines and scribble bots.

The show opened April 6 and runs through April 29. The museum is in Halifax, West Yorkshire. See the museum website for more info.

Weekend events

Steampunks in Southern California have an embarrassment of riches as Gaslight Gathering 9 takes place April 12-14 in San Diego (see below) and the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale opens April 13-14 with a Time Traveler Weekend. The following weekend, San Diego Steampunk will host its annual Spring Picnic at Old Poway Park in Poway, California.

Meanwhile, the NAWCC National Clock and Watch Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania (near Lancaster) will host its first-ever NAWCC Clockwork Festival on Saturday, April 13 (see our recent story).

As always, see our Events Calendar for all upcoming events.

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