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Steampunk Digest - August 17, 2018

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

Friday, August 17, 2018

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.

Titan Comics is out with a new Doctor Who comic, and this one is squarely in the steampunk realm. Featuring the Eleventh Doctor, “The Steampunk Conundrum” takes the Time Lord to a late-19th century San Francisco that’s infested by robots. “It’s an interesting short adventure where the robots were created by an alien race quite known to the Doctor,” writes Jessica Chaleff in Geeks Worldwide. In addition to appreciating the story, she’s happy that it’s a one-off. “Doctor quips, awesome companion moments, alien robots, and explosions all in one contained story,” she writes.

Joshua Davison of Bleeding Cool also weighs in. He was disappointed with an earlier comic about the Tenth Doctor (played by David Tennant), but this one is “on the whole a far better depiction of Matt Smith’s Doctor,” Davison writes. “He’s fun, energetic, and a little child-like.” However, “this issue does give into some cornier moments.”

Learn more on the Titan Comics website.

Asylum Steampunk Festival

The giant Asylum Steampunk Festival takes place August 24-27 in Lincoln, a historic city in the East Midlands of England. The organizers describe it as “the largest and longest running steampunk festival in the Solar System. . . For four glorious days the historic streets of Lincoln are thronged with thousands of splendidly dressed steampunks enjoying a festival which strives to combine art, literature, music, fashion, comedy and simple good fun.”

Activities are held in more than 18 venues, with Bishop Grossteste University serving as the “Steampunk Campus.” The Engine Shed on campus is the primary concert venue. Scheduled performers include Steam-Powered Giraffe and Victor and the Bully. Lincoln Castle will host an outdoor stage and market along with a costume parade, a jet pack race and “wacky races” with steampunk vehicles. Numerous talks and maker workshops are also planned. Many events require tickets or paid wristbands, but some are open to the public. See the website for more info.

Photo credits: The photo above from the 2017 festival is by George Plemper and used by his permission. The photo of Lincoln Castle below is by Karen Roe (Flickr: Lincoln 15-10-2011) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons.

Lincoln Castle

During the festival, a local theater company will present a steampunk-themed performance of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” writes John Smith in the Gainsborough Standard. Dubbed “A Midsummer Night’s STeam,” the play will include a live band, “and in keeping with the somewhat unconventional approach the play is taking, audiences can expect some unexpected musical choices,” Smith writes. It’s slated for August 24 and 26 at the Drill Hall in Lincoln. Read about it here.

In conjunction with the festival, a “Lincoln pub has teamed up with a local brewer to create a series of Steampunk-themed beers,” writes Connor Creaghan in The Lincolnite. SteamHeadZ is described as a stout that’s “vegan friendly and flavoured with vanilla and toasted coconut chips.” The others are “BeerPunkZ” and “TeaBagZ.” The beers will be served to attendees during the festival. Read about them here.

Mount Washington Cog Railway

Back in the States, the Mount Washington Cog Railway in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, will host the third annual “Railway to the Moon” Steampunk Festival on Saturday, August 18. Activities include a fashion contest, living history actors, live music, vendors, and steampunk-inspired escape rooms. Presenters include Bruce Rosenbaum, the steampunk artist recently featured in “Amazing Interiors” on Netflix. Steampunk sculptor Todd Cahill will also present his work.

Built in 1868 and 1869, “The Cog” takes passengers to the summit of Mount Washington. It was the first mountain-climbing rack-and-pinion railway, which uses a cog in the locomotive to mesh with a toothed rack rail.

Activities take place in the train yard and Marshfield Station, where the rides originate. Most activities are free. See the website for more info.

Also happening this weekend: The Key City Steampunk Festival in Frederick, Maryland, and Worldcon 76 in San Jose.

The Coldwater Steampunk Festival drew thousands to central Ontario August 9-11, and it was easy for visitors “to feel somewhat under-dressed,” writes Andrew Philips in Barrie Today. With all the costumes and art, “the small locale felt more like a bustling city wedged in time somewhere between the years 1800 and 2200.” One visitor, John Sproule of Toronto, wore a caged octopus on his head in keeping with the event’s Oceania theme.

“Another participant, who goes by the moniker Zelius Bobeton Fishinagen, described himself as a time traveler,” Philips writes. “In fact, he even had a large, homemade time machine strapped to his back.”

The story includes a slide show. You can also find photos on the event’s Facebook page.

Sadly, another steampunk event in Canada has been postponed. On August 14, the organizers of the Grand Canadian Steampunk Exposition released a statement indicating that members of the Executive Committee “had experienced a number of unfortunate events related to their families within the last six months. The pressure and demands upon them resulting from these events have drawn them farther away from their commitments to the GCSE than they feel comfortable with, and all members of the committee are concerned that the quality of the event could be affected. The difficult but unanimous decision to postpone the event was therefore made. . . No date for the rescheduled event has been set at this time. An announcement will be made once that matter is settled.” The event was scheduled for September 21-23, 2018 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Vice contributor Francisco Garcia assessed the state of steampunk by attending the Surrey Steampunk Convivial in New Malden, UK, a London suburb. The event was held in two venues — a pub and evangelical church — and “for today, at least, these are the UK epicenters of one of the most fluid, compulsively magpie-ish, and persistently ridiculed subcultures on the planet,” he writes in a lengthy report.

As he approaches the event, “One glance is enough to tell you it’s the steam, not the punk, where most of the emphasis lies,” he writes. “The closer to the venue, the higher the concentration of ingenious outfits and costumes. . . One middle-aged guy, on close inspection, appears to be wearing a suburb’s worth of copper piping clasped to a cardboard jetpack.”

Garcia discussed the genre with a couple of attendees, addressing topics such as inclusivity, Victorian colonialism, and the varying flavors of steampunk in the U.S., UK and Italy. We noticed that the same story ran with two different headlines: “Steampunk Is Not Dead, According to the People at This Steampunk Convention,” in the U.S., and “We Went to a Steampunk Meet-Up to See How They’re Getting On in 2018,” in the UK.

The Phoenix Alternative Festival, held August 9-12, “welcomed steampunk enthusiasts to Llanfyllin Workhouse [in Wales] for an event packed with socialising, entertainment and charity fundraising,” writes Geraint Jones in the Powys County Times. He quotes a spokesman for the event: “Steampunk can’t be explained: it has to be experienced.” It included live music, but “more attention is paid to the fantastic costumes: some stunning works of craftsmanship, others unbelievably bizarre,” the spokesman said. The festival was hosted by Steampunk Records, LuneCat Films and BB BlackDog. Read the story here.

Pilot Perils

Excalisoft, a game developer in The Netherlands, has released “Pilot Perils,” described as “a side-scrolling action-adventure game set in a steampunk world. Players must navigate their steampunk flying machine through various environments filled with lush nature and exotic steam-powered machines, while overcoming various physics-based challenges in their quest to retrieve the components of their stolen invention.” The game soft-launched in 2016 in Australia and New Zealand. It runs on iOS devices. See the website for more info.

Punch Drunk Cabaret

Punch Drunk Cabaret, a steampunk band from Alberta, Canada, is currently on its Summer Disturbance Tour, and Brandon Wilson of Rocky Mountain Outlook has a report in advance of an August 17 appearance in Lake Louise, Alberta. He notes that the band’s latest album, “This is a Disturbance,” includes a track inspired by a 2017 trip to Lake Louise. “It tells the humorous tale of a bear ‘wound up like dynamite,’ whom wishes to fight and ‘drink the liquor from your fridge,’” he writes.

The band is big on audience involvement, and to help them along, “Punch Drunk Cabaret plays covers of popular music; such as the Eurythmics’ 1983 song Sweet Dreams in a steampunk swing style,” he writes.

Punch Drunk Cabaret describes its music as combining “vintage rockabilly swing with modern, stadium-rock energy, resulting in an unforgettable show that leaves the audience feeling as if Stray Cats, Green Day, and Tom Waits were on the same bill.” See their website for more info.


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