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Steampunk Digest - April 30, 2021

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

Friday, April 30, 2021
El Pulpo Mecanico
El Pulpo Mecanico at Burning Man 2011. Credit: Redwood Coast (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

Burning Man participants will have to wait another year for a trip to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, as the Burning Man Project has once again postponed the annual summer gathering.

“All of us at Burning Man Project have been busy projecting all the possible scenarios that would allow us to bring our desert city back to life in 2021,” wrote the organization’s CEO, Marian Goodell, in a message on the website. “But, although here in the United States we may be feeling the weight lifting and the light at the end of the tunnel brightening, we are still in the pandemic, and the uncertainties that need to be resolved are impossible to resolve in the time we have.”

“Mechateuthis” at Maker Faire.

Despite the postponement, the organization has resumed providing honoraria for art installations. Among this year’s projects: “Ratchetfish,” the latest mechanical creature from Barry Crawford of Elko, Nevada. He’s also known for “Mechateuthis,” a kinetic steampunk squid first seen at Burning Man in 2015.

Other recipients for 2021 include “Quadrupod 2.0,” a mechanical walking machine by Scott Parenteau; “Black Rock Station,” an old rural train station that has become unstuck in time; and “The Restaurant at the End of the Multiverse,” a 60-foot-wide gathering place with propane flame effects at night.

Goodell encouraged Burners to support the projects, which often rely on crowdfunding in addition to the honoraria.

The organization is also facilitating virtual Burning Man experiences, including Burn Week, a series of regional broadcasts from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America. It’s scheduled for Aug. 29-Sept. 5.

Blists Hill Victorian Town
Blists Hill Victorian Town. Photo: David Clay (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr.

The Ministry of Steampunk has announced its second in-person gathering for this year. “The Town That Never Was,” an immersive steampunk event, will return July 17 and 18 to Blists Hill Victorian Town in Telford, UK. Blists Hill is an open-air museum that re-creates a late Victorian-era Shropshire town. It’s near the site of the world’s first iron bridge, an early milestone in the history of the Industrial Revolution. The event is produced in collaboration with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, which manages a group of museums and historic sites in the area.

Look for additional details and ticketing info in the Welcome to the Asylum and The Town That Never Was Facebook groups.

The Ministry previously announced Sanctuary II, which is set for May 22-23 at Kelham Hall and Park in Nottinghamshire. But steampunk fans are still awaiting word on the huge Asylum Steampunk Festival, which usually takes place in late August in Lincoln, UK.

“We are doing all we can to plan events for this year,” festival director John Naylor stated on Facebook. “We cannot confirm that Asylum is going ahead in its usual format, so please ignore all advice which tells you have to do something now.” If you do book accommodations, he advises that you “make sure you can cancel and get a refund just in case.”

May is shaping up to be a busy month for virtual events. First up on Saturday, May 1 is the Freaky Mutant Weirdo Variety Show, with performances by A Halo Called Fred, The Eternal Frontier, Scott Helland, and more. You can view for free, but the organizers hope to raise funds for Elijah’s Promise, a non-profit that serves meals to people in poverty in New Jersey.

Also coming up this month:

Watch City Steampunk Festival, May 8, with a theme involving a trip to the Moon. Links: Website | Facebook.

C.O.G.S. STREAMpunk Weekend, May 14-16, with makers, panels, performances, and more. It will be preceded by a gaming day on May 13. Links: Facebook | Twitch.

Statewide Steampunk Day, May 29, a free Zoom event with a virtual tea party, sea shanty sing-a-long, and splendid teapot race. Link: Facebook.

These are just the steampunk events. See our virtual events calendar for other fandom events in May and beyond.

Chamber of Darkness
Eric Kelly’s “Santos (The Chamber of Darkness)”

San Francisco-area artist Eric Kelly, known for his works incorporating Victorian-era photography, will present an art installation April 30-May 14 at the historic Falkirk Mansion in downtown San Rafael, California. The exhibit is part of this year’s Marin Open Studios, but he notes that his own home studio is “a bit out of the way for most visitors.”

The mansion, a three-story Queen Anne-style structure, was built in 1888 and sits on an 11-acre estate with a botanical garden. It’s named for Falkirk, Scotland, birthplace of Robert Dollar, a lumber baron and shipping magnate who purchased the property in 1906. The facility is now a city-owned cultural center and event venue.

Kelly describes the exhibit space as “a large, high ceilinged room with a fireplace, bay windows, and amazing light. I’m creating at least one new site-specific artwork for the show, and hope to have a conversation of sorts between my artwork and the historic space.” The exhibit will also include works in progress, antique photography displays, and “under the hood looks at digital photo restoration techniques,” he says.

The gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday. Kelly himself will be on hand Saturdays and Sundays, when the hours are noon-5 p.m. However, he notes that dates and times are subject to change and advises that you check the Falkirk website or call ahead before visiting. The address is 1408 Mission Avenue (at E Street) in San Rafael. See Kelly’s website for more info.

Book News

Tequila Sheila

Author Jessica Lucci plans a May 1 release for Tequila Sheila and Other Tall Tales, a collection of short stories combining “steampunk, sci-fi, and fantasy with a modern flair.” The title story is about outlaw Cleo Westwind and her girlfriend Sheila in an alternate Wild West.

Lucci says the book has more pre-orders than any of her previous titles. She’s planning a virtual launch party on Saturday evening, at 7 p.m. Eastern time, via Facebook Live.

A hardcover edition is available on the author’s Etsy site. Learn more on her website.

Black Beacon Books is out with Murder and Machinery: Tales of Technological Terror and Mechanical Madness. Edited by Cameron Trost, the anthology features works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and steampunk.

“Tales of deadly machinery have long fascinated us, from Edgar Allan Poe’s classic pendulum to the Terminator films,” Trost writes in the introduction. “Murder and Machinery pays homage to this tradition, offering you gripping tales following this theme but set in different times and places, from colonial America to London during the First World War to dystopian futures on this planet and beyond.”

See the publisher’s website for more info and links to booksellers.

Dragon Soul Press has released Imperial Devices, a steampunk anthology with stories by R.L. Davennor, Zoey Xolton, Majanka Verstraete, Benjamin Chandler, Lincoln Reed, Laura Quirola, S.O. Green, Chris Bannor, Catherine Butzen, Daniel Simonson, Barend Nieuwstraten III, Andrea L. Staum, and Douglas Allen Gohl. It’s available in e-book and paperback editions. See the publisher’s website for more info.

Zmok Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is out with Rise of the Alchemist, a “steampunk alternative history” by Craig Gallant. It’s set 100 years after a failed American Revolution in which Benedict Arnold established his own Kingdom of Albion. The publisher describes it as “the first novel in a shared author universe where crystals open a door to magic.” It’s currently available as a trade paperback from multiple booksellers. See the publisher’s website for links.

More recent releases:

Capital Murder — Book 7 in the Arcane Casebook dieselpunk series by Dan Willis. Links: Goodreads | Amazon.

Gear Hearts — Book 2 in World Clock Journals, a “dystopian steampunk romance” series by Angela Roquet. Links: Author | Amazon.

Gunslinger and Clockwork Dragon — A “Weird West cattlepunk and steampunk serial adventure” by G.S. Wright. Links: Author | Goodreads | Amazon.

Lacey & Alex: A Whole New World — A “humorous steampunk fantasy tale” by V.R. Tapscott. Links: Goodreads | Amazon.

Sixshooter — Book 5 in The Coilhunter Chronicles, a science fiction western adventure series by Dean F. Wilson. Links: Author | Amazon.

The Shakedown Shuffle — Book 3 in The Crossover Case Files, a dieselpunk series by Richard Levesque. Links: Author | Amazon.


Tom Franklin of Garner, North Carolina is on Kickstarter with The Pterrible Pteranodon, a middle-grade steampunk fantasy book set in Victorian England. It tells the story of the eccentric Professor Delby and his steam-powered Pteranodon Pterrence, which escapes his lab and frightens Queen Victoria’s children. The Professor is given 48 hours to recapture his creation.

Rewards include limited-edition framed artwork of Pterrence and another featuring a steampunk bird named Sophie.

The campaign launched April 26 and seeks US$6,000 by May 26. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Quick Hits

Sorry, Buffy Fans: The Nevers’ Laura Donnelly Is Strongest Whedon Lead (Bleeding Cool)

The Nevers episode 3 recap and ending explained: Steampunk gets steamy (Spoilers!) (CNET)

Recap: Steampunk CommuniTea Weekend (Airship Ambassador)

A Mysterious Imagination: Steampunk Architecture (Populer Things)

Steampunk statue now stands near Wichita (Harvey County Now)

Disneyland's Tomorrowland was terribly conceived from the start. There's only one way to fix it. (SFGate)

These German Steampunks Aren’t Kidding Around [18 Photos] (Heavy Metal)

How retrofuturism became the biggest trend at New York Fashion Week AW21 (i-D Magazine)

Interview with Steampunk Author Heather Massey on “A Villainous Affair” (Amazing Stories)

Book Review: James Gleick’s ‘Time Travel: A History’ (International Policy Digest)

Bryan Talbot’s ‘Luther Arkwright’ Graphic Novels to Be Adapted as Live Action Series By Three River Studios (EXCLUSIVE) (Variety)

Moriarty the Patriot Season 2 Episode 5: What to Expect (The Cinemaholic)

Enola Holmes 2 Will Reportedly Be More Like Sherlock Holmes Movies (We Got This Covered)

Why Sherlock Holmes is called Herlock Sholmes in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (Eurogamer)

Herlock Sholmes is Taking Over Twitter (Game Rant)

Tandem: A Tale of Shadows Trailer – Puzzle for Two Heroes and Tim Burton Film Style (Phonemantra)

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

Lovecraftian detective adventure The Sinking City now enhanced for Xbox Series X/S (Eurogamer)

The tragic story of the founder of weather forecasting in Victorian England (The Washington Post)

Silver coins unearthed in New England may be loot from one of the ‘greatest crimes in history’ (Live Science)

The Only Man in History Known To Be a Dwarf and a Giant (IFL Science)

Victorian history: The rise and fall of the workhouse (History Extra)

The Tamam Shud Enigma: Australian Cold Case with Ancient Persian Connection Re-Opens! (Ancient Origins)

19th-Century America’s Partisan Warfare (Smithsonian Magazine)

Jack London’s Bay Area mansion burnt down 108 years ago. Today, you can hike to its ruins. (SFGate)

Oofty Goofty: One of San Francisco’s first, most famous celebrities (SFGate)

Vikings created a massive boat in this volcanic cave to ward off the apocalypse (Live Science)

Researchers Find Remains of ‘Satanic’ Viking Rituals in Icelandic Cave (Ancient Origins)

Anglerfish are stranger than science fiction (Live Science)

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