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Steampunk Digest - April 23, 2021

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

Friday, April 23, 2021

If you’ve already binged The Irregulars and you’re waiting for the next episode of The Nevers, here’s another show you might want to add to your viewing calendar. This Friday marks the premiere of Shadow and Bone, an eight-episode Netflix series based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grisha trilogy. The stories are set in the fictional Kingdom of Ravka, where a teenage orphan discovers that she has a magical power.

The author says the books could be described as high fantasy or epic fantasy, but she also uses the term “Tsarpunk,” which she defines as “fantasy that takes its inspiration from the aesthetics, culture, politics, and social structure of early 19th century Russia.” So maybe not steampunk in the strictest sense, but certainly steampunk-adjacent.

Critics seem to be pleased. The series has a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with praise for the costuming, performances, and world-building.

Sanctuary Cosplayers
Photo: Diana Clark

The Ministry of Steampunk announced the return of Sanctuary, an in-person steampunk event scheduled for May 22-23 at Kelham Hall and Park in Nottinghamshire, UK. The program will include entertainment, a steampunk market, and a promenade. It will be held largely or entirely outdoors, but may include indoor activities if permitted by regulatory authorities. Capacity will be limited, and attendees must agree to follow safety guidelines, including mask wearing.

Last year’s inaugural Sanctuary gathering was held in place of the giant Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln, UK. This time, festival director John Naylor has expressed cautious optimism about a return of the Asylum event in August, but it’s not yet clear what form it will take. The Ministry has not made a formal announcement.

Tickets for Sanctuary II are now available. See the Welcome to the Asylum Facebook page for updates.

Organizers of the Gaslight Steampunk Expo in San Diego are cautioning participants about an email scam related to hotel booking. "We were just informed that an email pretending to be us was sent to one of our long-time vendors/attendees," they stated on the event's Facebook page. If you plan to book rooms for the event, you should do so from the Gaslight Steampunk Expo website or contact the hotel directly. The organizers have reserved a block of discounted rooms. The event is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the San Diego Mission Valley Marriott.

See more upcoming events in our calendars for North America and the UK. We’re also still maintaining our virtual event listing.

Escapades RPG has released version 0.1 of Professor Elemental’s Garden of Escapades, described as “the world’s first Chaphop/Steampunk Rap RPG.” The setting is a garden party hosted by the chap hop artist that can become a murder mystery, parlor game, improvisational comedy skit, or tactical simulation, “possibly involving blunderbusses, bustles, and apish combat.” Roles include Private Investigator, Mad Scientist, Time Traveler, Botanical Cryptohybrid, and more.

The game is inspired by Lasers & Feelings, a minimalist RPG created by John Harper. It’s available as a downloadable PDF for US$2.77 (£2) from DrivethruRPG.

Noble Park Films has posted a trailer for Secret Within the Sphere, a low-budget steampunk feature film. The story involves an airship captain and duchess who attempt to steal the powerful “Lelia Sphere” from a ruthless villain. The movie was shot in Pennsylvania and features many local steampunk fans as extras. Shooting locations included the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Lancaster County; Kings Gap Park in Cumberland County; and the USS Olympia in Philadelphia.

The film is set to premiere in August at the Key City Steampunk Festival in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Noble Park Films plans a direct-to-video release on Dec. 1.

Lighthouse comic

Image Comics has is out with Issue #1 of Jules Verne’s Lighthouse, a comic book mini-series based on the author’s The Lighthouse At The End Of The World. The original novel, published posthumously in 1905, is an adventure story about lighthouse keepers and pirates off the coast of Argentina in the mid-19th century. The comic books, created by Brian Haberlin and David Hine, transform the story into a deep space epic set in the year 2717. The lighthouse is a gigantic supercomputer used to navigate wormholes.

The series, from Image Comics imprint Shadowline, will consist of six issues. The second is due May 19. It will be available in print and digital formats. See the Image Comics website for more info.

Book News

Wyldblood Press, a specialty publisher in the UK, is seeking submissions for Runs Like Clockwork, a forthcoming steampunk anthology. Stories can be up to 10,000 words. Pay is £0.01 per word, up to £75 (US$104). Submissions will be open until they’re full. See the website for submission instructions.

Romanticism Lost

Steampunk author Jon Hartless has released a new edition of Romanticism Lost, a novel that he describes as a “Steampunk/Gothic horror spoof” inspired by genre classics including Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Phantom of the Opera. Originally published in 2010, it’s available as an e-book or paperback. Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK.

DisCon III, aka the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards, along with the Astounding Award for Best New Writer and Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

No steampunk works made the cut in the fiction categories, but once again, Diana M. Pho was nominated for Best Editor, Long Form. Pho has edited numerous steampunk-related works, including last year’s The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock. Pho is also the author of the Beyond Victoriana blog about multiculturism in steampunk.

P. Djèlí Clark, author of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and the forthcoming A Master of Djinn, was nominated in the Best Novella category for Ring Shout. The dark fantasy, set in the 1920s American South, casts members of the KKK as demons. It’s been optioned by Skydance Television for development as a series.

To vote for the Hugo Awards, you must be an attending or supporting member of DisCon III, which is scheduled for Dec. 15-19, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Voting closes on Nov. 19. See the website for the complete list of finalists.

Crowdfunding

Pneumatic Cases

Last Ember Press is seeking Kickstarter funds for the third issue of Pneumatic Cases, a steampunk comic miniseries. The stories feature Lord and Lady Ravenscroft, a husband-and-wife team of inventors who also solve murders with the help of Pneuman, a steam-driven majordomo.

The series was created by writer and artist John Wilson along with penciler/inker Rowel Roque, colorist Lisa Moore, and letterer Clay Adams. The campaign also includes the first two issues of the series. The third issue will be the next-to-last installment.

The campaign launched April 15 and met its US$2,500 fundraising goal within 48 hours. It runs through May 30. See the Kickstarter page and Last Ember Press website for more info.

Insymmetry Creations LLC has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a new metal album with songs related to the publisher’s comic series, Heirs of Isildur and Tales from Nocturnia. Heirs of Isildur is a steampunk time-travel adventure whereas Tales from Nocturnia is a medieval fantasy. The album will have 10 tracks, five each for the two series. It will be available in MP3, CD, and vinyl formats.

The publisher is also offering Heirs of Isildur: Nightmare Scenario, a 28-page special-edition comic that follows up on a cliffhanger from the previous story arc, The Crossroads Conundrum.

Insymmetry Creations is a duo consisting of Matt Knowles in Florida and Steph Cannon in California.

The campaign launched April 16 and met its US$3,500 fundraising goal in 40 minutes. It runs through May 16. See the Kickstarter page and Insymmetry Creations website for more info.

Lee & Low Books is on Kickstarter with The Witch Owl Parliament, Volume 1 of the Clockwork Curandera comic series. The publisher describes it as a “steampunk graphic novel reimagining of Frankenstein set in colonial Mexico.” After apprentice shaman Cristina Franco is killed by witch owls, her brother Enrique uses “forbidden alchemy and engineering” to bring her back to life. The publisher adds that it features “a prominent queer love story.”

The series is created by David Bowles and Raúl the Third with coloring by Stacey Robinson and lettering by Damian Duffy. Volume 1 will be available as a 112-page paperback in English and Spanish editions. It’s set for release on Oct. 19.

The campaign launched April 19 and seeks US$6,000 by May 19. See the Kickstarter page and publisher’s website for more info.

Quick Hits

Nimmitabel Steampunk Festival back for another year celebrating unique genre (Illawarra Mercury)

Are you watching The Nevers or The Irregulars? A handy guide (spoilers) (Polygon)

30 Cool Tips To Steampunk Your Home (Homedit)

Steampunk Cosplayers Are Keeping British Heritage Towns Alive (Cracked)

Let’s Talk About The Interesting Fictional Late 1800s Electric Car In The HBO Show The Nevers (Jalopnik)

There Can Be Only One: A steampunk wax (Colorado Springs Indy)

The Amazing Steampunk Lamps of Steve Gallagher (Geeks are Sexy)

Nathan Jones on his steampunk book Travelling Without Moving (South Wales Argus)

H.G. Wells and His “A Modern Utopia” (The Great Courses Daily)

The Time Machine (1960) vs. The Time Machine (2002) (KIMT-TV)

Tabletop RPGs With Weird Western Settings (ScreenRant)

History of Diving Museum welcomes pop culture exhibit (Keys Weekly)

PHOTOS: Harriet Tubman’s childhood home found in Maryland (WTOP)

Harriet Tubman’s lost Maryland home found, archaeologists say (The Washington Post)

The secrets of the San Francisco Columbarium (SFGate)

Color photos show San Francisco just after the 1906 earthquake (SFGate)

Aleister Crowley and Nikola Tesla’s One Degree of Separation (PopMatters)

Pseudo-History or Famed Fiction? Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia (Ancient Origins)

How 17th-century London reacted to the Great Plague (History Extra)

Is Bigfoot real? You likely already know the answer. (Live Science)

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