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Steampunk Digest - August 14, 2020

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

Friday, August 14, 2020
The Watch Group Photo
Photo: BBC America

BBC America is planning a January 2021 premiere for The Watch, a new original series inspired by Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Set in the city of Ankh-Morpork, the comedic fantasy will follow the misfits of The City Watch as they attempt to foil a plot to resurrect a dragon. The cast includes Richard Dormer as Captain Sam Vimes, Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin, Adam Hugill as Constable Carrot, Marama Corlett as Corporal Angua, and Jo Eaton-Kent as Constable Cheery. You can also expect an appearance by Pratchett’s Grim Reaper character, known simply as Death.

There’s no trailer yet, but the network released a set of production stills earlier this year.

The series will consist of eight episodes. It was created and written by Simon Allen, whose writing credits include The Musketeers from the BBC.

The Discworld books are not steampunk, but have elements that will likely appeal to steampunk fans. Three novels in the series — Hogfather, The Colour of Magic, and Going Postal — have been adapted as TV movies.

Maurice Broaddus
Photo: Chandra Lynch of ANKH Photography

Steampunk fans might know Maurice Broaddus as the author of Buffalo Soldier and Pimp My Airship. But he writes across a wide spectrum of speculative fiction, and his new urban fantasy novella Sorcerers has been optioned by AMC Networks for adaptation into a series. It tells the story of Malik Hutchens, a 30-year-old Harlem man who becomes a “hip hop inspired sorcerer.”

Sorcerers is the first release from NeoText, a new digital publishing company. Deadline reports that NeoText executives John Schoenfelder, Russell Ackerman, and Jay Schuminsky will be executive producers of the new AMC series.

Broaddus collaborated on the story with “Otis Whitaker,” a pseudonym for the NeoText writers’ room. The book features illustrations by Jim Mahfood.

The author discussed the book and his other work with his hometown newspaper, The Indianapolis Star.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Authors Awards announced that Pimp My Airship has made the shortlist in the Genre category for this year’s honors. The awards, recognizing works published in 2018 and 2019, will be announced Sept. 1. The winner in each category will receive a $5000 cash prize.

You can learn more about Broaddus on his website.

Video enhancement maestro Denis Shiryaev is at it again, and his latest production might be his “steampunkiest” yet. As we’ve written previously, Shiryaev takes old film footage and uses artificial intelligence software to add color, upscale the resolution, and boost the frame rate to 60 frames per second. This time, he worked his magic on a 1902 film of the Wuppertal Suspension Railway, aka The Flying Train, in Wuppertal, Germany.

The 3:47 film was apparently shot from the front of a train as it traveled along the track. At one point, another train passes in the opposite direction as a horse-drawn carriage is seen below.

The source footage came from the Film Study Center at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The curators at MoMA believe it was shot on Biograph’s 68mm film stock.

Other recent Shiryaev projects include views of Tokyo, 1913-1915, and San Francisco’s Market Street on April 14, 1906, four days before an earthquake destroyed much of the city. You can learn more about his work on the Neural Love website.

Event News

Dragon Con Alt History
Mechanical Masquerade at 2018 Dragon Con. Photo: JC Barger

The organizers of Dragon Con have announced details for the upcoming virtual convention, which will replace the in-person gathering set for Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta. Plans call for three channels of online programming:

• The Main Channel, with new guest programming, performances, costume contests, and a virtual parade.

• Content from the Dragon Con tracks, including (presumably) the Alternate History Track, which is home to most of the convention’s steampunk programming. “We have our 35+ tracks busy at work generating new content,” the website says.

• DCTVLand/Classics, with content from past conventions.

The virtual parade will feature short videos of groups marching from right to left. The deadline for video submissions was Aug. 12.

Three costume contests will use video submissions from participants: The Masquerade (entry deadline Aug. 15), Friday night Costume Content (deadline Aug. 20), and Hallway Costume Contest (deadline Sept. 2).

Dragon Con will also offer gaming activities, mostly through Discord.

Live content will stream for free on Vimeo and via a new Roku channel. Selected content, including the parade, will also stream on YouTube. Archived content will be available on demand through Dragon Con TV. To view the latter, you’ll need to purchase a $10 streaming membership. It lasts for a year and includes access to programming from past conventions.

Get additional details on the Dragon Con website.

The Jewelry City Steampunk Festival in Attleboro, Massachusetts won’t be happening this year, but the organizers are planning a virtual event in its place. It’s set for Nov. 20-22 with programming on YouTube, WARA-AM radio, and DoubleACS, a local public-access cable channel.

“Although plans are still being developed, you will be able to expect the high level of programming, entertainment and vendors that the Festival has maintained the last three years,” the organizers announced in a press release. They expect to post details on the website and social media as the date gets closer.

You can add Steampunk November to the list of events that have been canceled due to COVID-19. The largest steampunk gathering in Texas, it was set to take place Nov. 13-15 in Mansfield, near Dallas and Fort Worth. Tickets will be honored at next year’s event, or ticketholders can opt for a refund minus 17.85% to cover processing fees and sales tax. See the Facebook page for more info.

The pandemic has proved to be a triple whammy for MegaCon Orlando. The huge pop culture convention was originally scheduled for April 16-19, but the organizers announced in March that it would be postponed to June 4-7. Then they cancelled the June event but revealed plans to host a smaller Megacon Orlando Limited Edition on Halloween weekend. But now the Halloween event has also been cancelled. The organizers hope to return March 18-21, 2021.

The Oddities & Curiosities Expo, held in numerous cities around the U.S., has pulled the plug on all events for 2020. This includes expos set for Denver, Minneapolis, Tampa, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Portland, Oregon. Some had been postponed from dates earlier this year. An exposition of “all things weird,” it served as a marketplace for antiques, taxidermy, preserved specimens, quack medical devices, funeral collectibles, and other oddities. The organizers say they’ll announce 2021 dates on Halloween.

Also cancelled: The Ohio Renaissance Festival; Connecticut Renaissance Faire; A Victorian Steampunk Masquerade Party (Muncie, Indiana); Steampunk Riverboat Cruise (Williamsport, Pennsylvania); Ratha Con (Athens, Ohio).

It appears that the Gan Steampunk Festival in Gananoque, Ontario, has been cancelled as well. The organizers are planning a virtual event with details to follow. It was set for Sept. 11-13.

Steampunk Rendezvous, slated for Sept. 18-20 in Winthrop, Washington, is in wait-and-see mode as the state is limiting gatherings to no more than five people. “So if by September there is no sign of being able to have larger events, we will cancel and reconvene in 2021,” the organizers announced.

As always, check out our Virtual Events calendar for more info about steampunk happenings in cyberspace.

Quick Hits

5 Best (& 5 Worst) Time Travel Comedies (ScreenRant)

10 of the Most Important Inventions of Nikola Tesla (Interesting Engineering)

Why Nikola Tesla Was Such a Badass Scientist (Popular Mechanics) - Requires paid subscription

Noble Sky Slot: New steampunk-themed online casino game Casino Chronicle

Bundle Of Holding Now Hosting Two Huge Space: 1889 Collections (The Gamer)

Studio Behind Xbox Exclusive The Gunk Plans To Return To Nintendo And SteamWorld (GameSpot)

Check out the launch trailer for Steam Tactics (Go Nintendo)

Bioshock 4 set in a “fantastical world”, coming to next-gen and PC (Alt Char)

Scrapnaut Is An Upcoming Steampunk Open World Survival Game For PC (Happy Gamer)

Banbury Museum launches newest exhibit: See the World in Lego Bricks (Banbury Guardian)

John Tyndall: The Forgotten Co-Founder Of Climate Science (IFL Science)

Why Was The 1918 Flu Outbreak So Deadly? (IFL Science)

These Are The Best (And Worst) Face Masks To Help Prevent The Spread Of Covid-19 (IFL Science)

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