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Steampunk Digest - April 16, 2021

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

Friday, April 16, 2021
Big River Steampunk Festival
2019 Big River Steampunk Festival. Photo: Curt Knapp.

The pandemic is still with us, but as more people are vaccinated, steampunk fans are looking forward to the day when they can venture forth and gather again. With that in mind, we’ve finally begun updating our 2021 calendar of steampunk events for North America and the UK.

One highlight is the Big River Steampunk Festival, which is set for Labor Day weekend in Hannibal, Missouri. The festival, one of the largest steampunk gatherings in the U.S., is now owned by local restauranteur Tammy Riley. She took the reins last year from founders Ken and Lisa Marks after they moved to Delaware.

The festival takes place in downtown Hannibal with a program that includes free and premium events. Tickets for both are now available on the website. Premium events include a Saturday evening Steampunk Ball aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat ($50) and a Sunday evening fashion show with dinner and entertainment ($65).

Riley has also launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $11,000 for a steampunk mural to be placed downtown. She hopes to have the money raised by June so it can be completed in time for the festival.

Here’s a look at other major events:

Cogs & Corsets: A Steampunk Happening is a largely outdoor event in Bloomington, Illinois. This year’s edition will be scaled down to a single night on Friday, June 4.

Whitby Steampunk Weekend in North Yorkshire, UK appears to be a go for July 23-25. Daytime activities are free, but it will include two ticketed events: The Roaring Twenties Speakeasy Ball on Friday night and a Saturday night concert with Mr. B. The Gentleman Rhymer and Dollops of Trollop.

MegaCon Orlando is a large multi-genre event where steampunks typically have a big presence. It’s usually held in spring, but this year’s event was pushed back to Aug. 12-15 at the Orange County Convention Center.

Key City Steampunk Festival is set to take place Aug. 13-15 at a new location, the Wyndham Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. You should probably mark this one in pencil, because the organizers are still eyeing the local COVID guidelines. Pandemic permitting, they expect to begin selling tickets in June. If all goes as planned, it will host the premiere of The Secret Within the Sphere, a steampunk film that was shot in Pennsylvania with many local steampunk fans as extras.

Dragon Con, another multigenre convention, is held in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. It features an Alternate and Historical Fiction Track with lots of steampunk programming.

Gaslight Steampunk Expo will return to San Diego, Sept. 30-Oct 3, with a theme tied to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.

TeslaCon is billed as the world’s only “immersive, altered reality-enhanced, steampunk convention.” Dates are Nov. 4-8 at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton, Wisconsin. This year’s theme is “War of the Worlds.”

Plans for the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln UK still appear to be up in the air. In February, festival director John Naylor expressed cautious optimism about staging an event in late August, and the organizers are now accepting applications for performers. But they have not yet made a formal announcement.

Past events have drawn an estimated 100,000 visitors, making it the largest steampunk gathering on the planet. See the Welcome to The Asylum Facebook group for updates.

The Southern Maine Steampunk Fair will be back August 14 at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, and the museum has put out a call for performers, artists, speakers, and vendors who want to participate. This is the seventh year for the fair, which is the museum’s most popular annual event. Past fairs have been held indoors and outdoors, but this one will be entirely outside and masks will be required. Learn more on the website.

Steampunk the Thames
Photo: John Sprague, JDS Imagery

Steampunk fans in New Zealand are also getting back in the groove as Steampunk the Thames is set for April 22-24. The name refers not to the river in London, but to the town in the North Island where the festival takes place. The program will include steampunk markets, roving street entertainment, and a Saturday morning parade followed by a “Punk My Ride” display of steampunk vehicles.

Then the South Island will get its turn as the Steampunk Festival NZ returns June 4-7 to Oamaru, the town anointed by The Guardian as the “Steampunk Capital of the World.” This year’s theme is “Adventures in Astronomy.” The program isn’t fully set, but one highlight is sure to be teapot racing, a sport that was invented at the festival.

One event that won’t be happening this year is the Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati. It was slated for Aug. 20-22, but organizer Aloysius Fox announced on the website that it’s been postponed to March 25-27, 2022. “While the national Covid19 vaccination process will have made good progress by this summer, projections indicate that many precautions will still be in place and there could still be limits on public gatherings,” he wrote. The new dates align with the spring timeframe of past Symposiums. The “Weird West” theme planned for 2021 will roll over to next year.

Many steampunk gatherings are still happening in the aether. Coming up this weekend is C.O.G.S. Gear Up for Spring, a free online event that will serve as a steampunk fashion class. Sheila Fadrosh, aka Lady De L’Etoile, and Ginger Seibert of Midnight Orchid Design will “cover everything related to fashion, from how to create a look from scratch, to how to source the pieces to pull a look together.” They’ll also discuss props and accessories. It’s set for Saturday, April 17, 1 p.m. Eastern time on the C.O.G.S. Twitch channel.

Looking ahead, A Halo Called Fred and Lump’N’Loaf Records will present the Freaky Mutant Weirdo Variety Show, a benefit concert hosted on Facebook Live. A Halo Called Fred will lead a bill that also includes Trio of Madness, The Eternal Frontier, Scott Helland’s Guitarmy of One, John S. Hall with Susan Hwang, Nicole Oliva, Dennis Carter, and JP McClendon. The program will also include live games with The Roguish Rabbit, films by Eric Vitner, and a tarot reading. Admission is free, but the organizers are seeking donations for Elijah’s Promise, which serves meals to people in need in Central New Jersey. The fun begins Saturday, May 1 at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

As always, you can follow our virtual events calendar to ensure that you don’t miss out on any happenings.

Amalia True and Inspector Mundi in The Nevers
Photo: HBO / Keith Bernstein

Critics may be divided on The Nevers, but the new HBO series appears to be a hit with viewers. Variety and Deadline reported that the April 11 premiere scored the biggest audience for an original series on HBO Max, more than Lovecraft Country and The Undoing. Overall, the episode drew more than 1.4 million viewers on cable, satellite, and streaming channels. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an audience score of 73%.

Our own reaction? Definitely a thumbs up, though it wouldn’t surprise us if the series goes through some growing pains in the early episodes. Some reviewers have criticized the large cast of characters, but if you’re having trouble keeping track, you can check out our preview, which includes a handy gallery.

The second episode airs on Sunday night, and based on the scene above, it appears we can look forward to some repartee between Amalia True and Inspector Mundi.


HBO’s ‘The Nevers’ Premiere Draws 1.4M+ Viewers Across Linear & Digital, Best-Ever Original Series Debut On HBO Max (Deadline)

‘The Nevers’ Delivers Best-Ever Debut for Original Series on HBO Max (Variety)

Interview: “The Nevers” Cast On Steampunk Sensibilities, Superheroes, Tea, and Tasty Toast (Hype Malaysia)

Check Out This Dope Steampunk Three-Wheeler in HBO’s The Nevers (Spoilers!) (The Drive)

The Nevers’ Olivia Williams And Pip Torrens On The Premiere’s Jaw-Dropping Ending (Spoilers!) (Looper)

Strategy Forge and Jujubee have announced Punk Wars, a single-player turn-based strategy game. It’s set on a post-apocalypse Earth in which four factions fight for dominance: Dieselpunk, Atompunk, Steelpunk, and (you guessed it) Steampunk. It will be available for Windows PCs via Steam. No word yet on a release date. Jujubee is a game developer and publisher in Poland. See the press release for more info.

Topical Talk, a news aggregation site that included a steampunk channel, appears to have ceased operation. Early this month, users noted that the site was not updating and that they could not post content. Now, if you go to the steampunk section, you’re greeted with a “Secure Connection Failed” page. The main home page states “Nothing to see here... please move along” with a smiley face emoji.

In addition to steampunk, the website included channels for dozens of other interests, including sports teams, regional news, and pop culture franchises. Apparently based in the UK, it was produced by The Topical Talk Project, which described itself as “an independent platform that exists to facilitate the growth of vibrant communities based around shared interests such as hobbies, sports, lifestyle, entertainment, health and careers.”


Hopeless Maine
Artwork by Tom and Nimue Brown

Tom and Nimue Brown, along with Outland Entertainment, are on Kickstarter with a new hardcover edition of Hopeless Maine Book One: Personal Demons. The graphic novel is set on an island off the coast of Maine that is “cut off from the rest of the world and lost in time.” It’s a coming-of-age story about Salamandra, a “child who is not a child” with magical powers.

Outland Entertainment, a Kansas City publisher, announced last year that it had acquired the series, which includes novels in addition to comics.

The new 144-page edition features a new cover, new lettering, and revamped graphic design. The publisher plans to print 1000 copies. Rewards also include an RPG based on the series.

The campaign launched March 23 and is well past its $5500 fundraising goal. It runs through April 22. See the Kickstarter page and website for more info.

Quick Hits

Saxon Reynolds, Wollongong High art teacher by day, steampunk artist by night (Illawarra Mercury)

A Filmmaker’s Decades-Long Quest To Finish Stop-Motion Steampunk Movie (The Tennessee Tribune)

Steampunk makes this lighter look more awesome than it probably is (The Gadgeteer)

The SynTesla IV Grallophone is a steampunk fantasy come to life (Happy)

A splendid steampunk tea maker (Blogdot.tv)

Steampunk Fashion Ideas for 2021 (Blackbird News)

New British stamps honor six classic science fiction novels (Linn’s Stamp News)

Things You Only Notice About The Prestige After Watching It More Than Once (Looper)

How Netflix’s The Irregulars Sets Up Season 2 (Spoilers!) (CBR)

A Stephen King Short Film Festival Will Spook You on Streaming (Mental Floss)

New Gods: Nezha Reborn Review (IGN)

Nintendo Fan Makes Amazing Steampunk Game Boy Macro (Game Rant)

Comparing Red Dead 2 Characters to Historical Figures (Game Rant)

Record of Ragnarok: Trailer, Plot, Release Date & News to Know (CBR)

You can take a magical tour of Alameda’s fairy doors with this online map (SFGate)

Dance marathons were a seedy, exploitative Bay Area craze that SF’s women helped stop (SFGate)

Did Marie Antoinette really say ‘Let them eat cake’? (Live Science)

3,000-year-old ‘Lost Golden City’ discovered in Egypt (Live Science)

How The “Yorkshire Witch” Scammed 1806 Leeds With Apocalyptic Chicken Eggs And Simple Chemistry (IFL Science)

Historic Cold Cases: Five Ancient Archaeological Murder Mysteries (Ancient Origins)

How Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Became the First Man in Space Thanks to ‘Steampunk’ Contraption (Newsweek)

New Jurassic “Monkeydactyl” Is The Earliest Example Of Opposed Thumbs (IFL Science)

Can You Solve This Geometry College Entrance Exam From 1904? (IFL Science)

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