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Steampunk Digest - August 16, 2019

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

Friday, August 16, 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.

Early reviews are in for Carnival Row, the Victorian fantasy series that debuts Aug. 30 on Amazon Prime. As we’ve reported, the series is set in a world divided between humans and mythological fantasy creatures who form an immigrant underclass. It stars Orlando Bloom as a human detective and Cara Delevingne as a winged faerie. Also appearing is Jared Harris of Chernobyl and Mad Men as the leader of the city where the action takes place.

Richard Trenholm of CNET has the most detailed review we’ve seen so far. He describes the series as “Game of Thrones with a pixie cut” and “Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes falling in love with Tinker Bell, against a backdrop of Thrones-esque dynastic nastiness.” But whereas Game of Thrones was slow to introduce fantasy elements, Carnival Row wastes no time with its “fluttering fairies.”

The show’s world-building is dense, but not “always smoothly introduced,” he writes. And he finds the murder-mystery aspects to be “underwhelming.” But eventually, “the whole wacky mess coalesces,” and he likes the ending. Amazon has already renewed it for another season.

Forbes contributor Merrill Barr describes the story as “very followable” and praises the technical artistry. “Audiences should have as easy a time getting into this world as they did for the likes of The Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter,” she writes. And it “lives the ideals of Game of Thrones without straight trying to simply do it all over again.”

Amazon posted a new trailer for the series on Aug. 6. You can view it above.

Monster Penguin, Monster Parrot

Steampunk tales have featured monster kraken, monster reptiles, and monster insects. Are you ready for monster penguins? Scientists in New Zealand have identified a new species of giant penguin that stood about 1.6 meters (5 feet 2 inches) and weighed 70 to 80 kilograms (about 150 to 175 pounds). Dubbed Crossvallia waiparensis, the creature lived during the Paleocene Epoch, between 66 and 56 million years ago. The scientists analyzed fossils discovered last year in Waipara, New Zealand, about 60 km north of Christchurch, and determined that they were from a previously unknown species. Their findings were published in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology.

The fossils of C. waiparensis and other giant species will be on display later this year at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch. Two members of the research team are curators at the museum.

But that’s not all. On August 7, scientists announced discovery of Heracles inexpectatus, a parrot that stood 1 meter (39 inches) and roamed New Zealand during the Early Miocene period (23 to 16 million years ago).

The island nation was also home to giant geese, eagles, and the moa, flightless birds that stood up to 3.6 meters (12 feet). Scientists attribute the existence of these giant birds to a lack of natural predators, but all are extinct.

Image credits: (Left) Canterbury Museum, reproduced under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial license. (Right) Illustration by Dr Brian Choo, Flinders University.

King's Regret

The King’s Regret, a steampunk novel by Philip Ligon, is a finalist for the 2019 Dragon Award in the “Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel” category. The awards will be presented on Sept. 1 at Dragon Con in Atlanta.

Winners are determined by a vote of fans, who can choose their favorite works in 15 categories. To receive a ballot, you must register with your name and email address. The deadline for submitting your ballot is August 31. Balloting is conducted on SurveyMonkey.

Silver Empire released Ligon’s novel in June. It’s available in e-book, hardcover and paperback formats.

Other entries in the YA category include Imposters, the fourth novel in Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. Westerfeld is known to steampunk fans as the author of the Leviathan series. However, Uglies is set in a future dystopian world. See the awards website for more info.

Michael Schulkins is out with Home, Book Three in his Mark Twain on the Moon series. In this one, Sam Clemens and his partner Calvin are exploring lunar territory, only to face a refugee crisis involving former colleagues. Then Sam encounters an unknown girl in a pressure suit who saves his life and leads him to a group of mysterious cavern dwellers. It’s available as an e-book and paperback, with an audiobook to follow.

Schulkins will be presenting the series at the Big River Steampunk Festival in Hannibal, Missouri over Labor Day weekend. Hannibal, of course, was Mark Twain’s boyhood home. See the Amazon page and Schulkins’ website for more info.

Moe's Grill

Moe’s Grill, a family-owned chain of eateries in Northern Ireland, has adopted a steampunk theme for its recently opened third location. The owner invested £900,000 (US $1.1 million) in the 6,000-square-foot restaurant, which opened Aug. 9 in a shopping complex near Banbridge. In choosing a steampunk design, the owners were seeking “a look that was industrial yet warm and cozy,” a spokesman said.

It’s the only Moe’s location that has steampunk theming. The others are in Antrim and Magherafelt.

Moe’s sent us some photos of the interior, one of which is shown above. We’ve also posted a gallery for our Patreon supporters. Learn more on the restaurant’s website and Facebook page.

The Council of Europe is preparing to certify “Tesla Ways” as an official CoE Cultural Route, a designation recognizing significant cultural sites. That’s according to a recent story from HINA, Croatia’s government-owned national news agency. The route consists of locations that have ties to Nikola Tesla, including Smiljan, the village in Croatia where he was born in 1856, as well as Gospić and Karlovac, where he attended school. Other sites include the Technical Museum Nikola Tesla in Zagreb, Croatia, and Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia, along with places in Slovenia, Austria, and the Czech Republic. The project is part of an effort by a group called Cluster of Cultural Routes to promote tourist destinations in the Balkans.

Meanwhile, Serbia and Croatia are having a spat over which nation can properly lay claim to the inventor. Tesla was an ethnic Serb born in what’s now Croatia, though at the time of his birth, the region was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Next year, at a world exhibition in Dubai, “Croatia will present itself as a country of innovative projects, inventions and world-famous scientists, including Nikola Tesla,” HINA reports. This sparked objections from the Serbian Culture and Information Ministry, which stated that “repeated attempts to lay claim to the Serb scientist and falsify the truth will not bring any benefit to Croatia.”

Croatia’s Culture Minister replied: “One of the greatest inventors, [Tesla] changed the world and connects the countries and cultures in which he lived. Speaking of himself, Nikola Tesla said that he was proud of his Serb origin and his Croatian homeland.”

It all amounts to a “ridiculous and very Balkan diplomatic row,” writes Paul Bradbury, the founder and editor of Total Croatia News. His take is that “Tesla has a story to tell in both Serbia and Croatia,” though he adds that “Serbia has done MUCH better promoting its Tesla heritage so far, naming Belgrade Airport after the world’s most famous Serb, even dedicating a science day to his birthday. By contrast, Croatia has done little with the Nikola Tesla gift on its territory.”

New Kickstarters

Dave West is on Kickstarter with Return To The Asylum, an anthology comic featuring folks who attend steampunk events in the UK, especially the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln. He’s planning seven original stories, including one starring V2A, a post-apocalyptic rock group that has performed at steampunk events. Artists include Gustavo Vargas Tataje, Ian Ashcroft, Dean Beattie, and Gary Crutchley.

It’s a follow-up to last year’s Enter the Asylum, for which he raised £1,107 on Kickstarter.

The new campaign launched on Aug. 14 and seeks £500 (US $602) by Sept. 13. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Jack Salva of Hico, Texas, is seeking funds for Dybbuk’s Asylum, a steampunk adventure. He completed a first draft in 2016 and attempted to self-publish, but then pulled it from Amazon. Now he’s found a small hybrid publishing house that will help him bring it to market, but he needs to raise funds for proofreading, copyediting, marketing, and cover design. The Kickstarter page includes the novel’s opening paragraphs.

The campaign launched on Aug. 13 and seeks $3500 by Sept. 12. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Event News

The Coldwater Steampunk Festival took place Aug. 9 and 10 in Coldwater, Ontario, and “Steampunk Archaeologist” Sophia Lovelace posted a YouTube video that does a good job of capturing the fun. The main event happened on Saturday, Aug. 10 in three locations. During the video, she interviews attendees, marvels at contraptions — including a dog-walking machine — and sums up her haul of steampunk gear.

Orillia Matters, a local news site, has some photos from the event. You can find more on the festival’s Facebook page.

A Splendid Day Out (ASDO), a steampunk event traditionally held in Morecambe, UK, will be moving next year to The Storey, a Victorian building adjacent to Lancaster Castle. The organizers announced the move on Facebook, citing construction of Morecambe’s Eden Project, a huge tourist attraction scheduled to open in 2023.

At the new location, ASDO will primarily be an indoor event, “as there isn’t any space for [outside attractions] around the building,” the organizers stated. The new venue “does have a large garden area, which will be utilized to the fullest extent, and we will present the same quality of event as in previous years.”

The dates have also changed: It’s now scheduled for May 29-31, 2020. See the Facebook page for updates.

The men of Steampunk Tauranga in New Zealand are going blue for a September 14 event aimed at raising funds and awareness in the battle against prostate cancer. It’s called the Blue Tache Bash, and you can “come splendid in steampunk, you can come splendid in blue, or you can just come splendid in a blue moustache,” group member Lindsey Morgan told Kate Wells of Sun Media.

Funds raised at the event will be donated to the New Zealand Prostate Cancer Foundation. Attendees will be eligible for a drawing to win a free Brother sewing machine.

The Blue Tache Bash will take place at the Black Sheep Restaurant in Whakamarama, which is also hosting a steampunk art exhibit from Aug. 28 through Sept. 28. See the Steampunk Tauranga Facebook page for more info.

Happening this weekend: Lots of action in the northeastern U.S., with the Key City Steampunk Festival in Frederick, Maryland (see our recent story) and Railway to the Moon Steampunk Festival at the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire (see this story). Meanwhile, Dublin, Ireland is hosting An Irish Worldcon, the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, Aug. 15-19.

Next weekend is the huge Asylum Steampunk Festival, which happens Aug. 23-Aug. 26 at multiple venues in Lincoln, UK. It’s likely the world’s largest steampunk event, drawing more than 100,000 people, according to press reports.

The program includes pretty much everything you’d expect at a steampunk festival: workshops, musical performances, parties, craft markets, art exhibits and more. At Lincoln Castle, photographer Gary Nicholls will set up a studio to shoot scenes for the second and third books in his Imaginarium series (see ”The Imaginarium of Gary Nicholls” from last year). Julia Scott of Alice’s Night Circus (who appears in the Imaginarium) will perform and offer a singing workshop.

Some events are free, but many require tickets or a wristband for admission. See the website for the full schedule.

Meanwhile, steampunk fans in the USA can look forward to these events, all on Aug. 24: The Steampunk Farmers Market in New Freedom, Pennsylvania; A Taste of Steampunk in Fitchburg, Massachusetts; and Aethertopia: Corsets & Cogs in New Port Richey, Florida.

Also of note: NecronomiCon Providence, a convention and academic conference devoted to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and other creators of weird fiction. It happens Aug. 22-25 in Providence, Rhode Island.

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