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Steampunk Digest - August 31, 2018

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

Friday, August 31, 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.

Burning Man Robots

Burning Man is happening this week in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, drawing upwards of 70,000 participants and dozens of eye-popping art projects. Past events have been showcases for iconic steampunk works such as the Neverwas Haul, Nautilus Submarine Art Car and Steampunk Treehouse. This year’s art theme is “I, Robot,” focusing on “the many forms of artificial intelligence that permeate our lives; from the humble algorithm and its subroutines that sift us, sort us and surveil us, to automated forms of labor that supplant us,” according to the Burning Man website. The website also includes a list of art installations. YouTube has a video stream from the event.

Befitting its status as a cultural phenomenon, Burning Man gets a lot of media attention. The Washington Post used satellite imagery to illustrate how a city of nearly 70,000 “pops up and disappears in a matter of weeks.” The Reno Gazette Journal has a page compiling photo galleries, videos, and stories from the event. You can also find ongoing coverage at SFGate.com.

Sadly, this will be the first Burning Man without co-founder Larry Harvey, who passed away in April.

Photo credit: BLM Nevada (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

Meanwhile, some 85,000 attendees are expected for Dragon Con in Atlanta, billed as “the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction, & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe.”

Most of the steampunk action happens in the Alternate History Track, where activities will include an Alternate History Museum, a “Lords & Ladies Coiffure Contest,” Splendid Teapot Racing, and “Mechanical Masquerade.” During Friday’s “Extreme Makeover Steampunk Edition,” designers will “use scraps, found objects, and anything lying around to give a retro-future makeover to a few lucky audience members.” Dave Lee of Hatton Cross Steampunk in Virginia is bringing a restored 1893 patrol vehicle to the museum.

There’s also a Brit Track for fans of “Doctor Who,” “Black Mirror,” “Sherlock,” and other UK media franchises. Celebrity guests include Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Catherine Tate, John Barrowman, and Karen Gillan. Gillan, of course, has gone on to star in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and other films.

Other fan tracks include Anime/Manga, Costuming, Diversity in SF, Fantasy Literature, Horror, Robotics/Makers, Science Fiction Literature, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Urban Fantasy.

Local radio station WSB-AM/FM has a Dragon Con survival guide, and WSB-TV has tips for watching Saturday morning’s Dragon Con Parade. Atlanta magazine has a dining guide, along with a warning about construction at the Peachtree Center mall.

Dragon Con runs through Labor Day weekend. If that’s not enough, many steampunks will be flocking to Hannibal, Missouri this weekend for the Big River Steampunk Festival. See our recent coverage of that event.

Asylum Steampunk Festival

The Asylum Steampunk Festival took place last weekend in Lincoln, UK, drawing more than 100,000 people, according to a BBC report, or “hundreds of thousands,” according to Lincolnshire Today. Local media outlets were all over the event with stories and photo galleries:

The absolutely splendid 2018 Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln (Lincolnshire Live)

“Steampunk Captain Thunderbolt talks about ‘being splendid’” (BBC News)

“From Welsh dragons to plague doctors - crowds turn out for Lincoln Steampunk festival” (Lincolnshire Live)

“Best dressed at the Lincoln Steampunk Festival” (The Lincolnite)

Photo credit: By Mark Kent (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr. It’s from the 2017 festival.

Shelley Adina and Gail Carriger

Author Gail Carriger has a report from the recent Worldcon in San Jose. It “felt a bit like being Tam Lin, in the end,” she wrote. “As if I had been pulled underhill, into a place with no time and too much terrible beauty.” The best thing, she wrote, was the Hugo presented to Matt Wallace and Mur Lafferty for the Ditch Diggers podcast. She also opined about the food, parties, and panels, and gave a nice shoutout (via Twitter) to our own Worldcon coverage. The report includes links to resources related to her panels. Shown above is her panel with fellow steampunk author Shelley Adina.

Vesta's Clockwork Companions

Steampunk author Juli D. Revezzo has released Vesta’s Clockwork Companions, her latest steampunk romance novel. From the description: “When wealthy alchemist and inventor Vesta Bartlett arrives in England to finalize an arranged marriage and help overhaul a family friend’s outdated ironworks, she never expects to find the family so secretive, nor to develop feelings for her fiancé’s younger brother, Henry. But the growing attraction between Vesta and Henry is just the beginning of their troubles. Things really heat up when they’re drawn into a secret project for Queen Victoria’s military, one that requires Vesta’s knowledge of clockwork and Henry’s iron.” The story also involves a threat to the world’s canine population. It’s available in Kindle format for $3.99 and in paperback for $11.99. See her website for more info.

Steampunk meets fairy tales in Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales, an anthology published and edited by Crysta K. Coburn. She’s from Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with three other contributors, so the book caught the attention of All About Ann Arbor associate producer Sarah M. Parlette. “Think Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm, but with gears grinding, metallic mermaids, copper connections and more,” Parlette writes. “The anthology retells some well-known tales but also introduces readers to gear-and-cog versions with industrial automatons and steam-age action.” Her piece includes interviews with Coburn and the other local writers, Thomas Gregory, Aaron Isett and K. Gray. It’s available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.

Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Ridgeway, New York, hosted its 8th Annual Steampunk Festival on Saturday, August 25, in honor of its Steampunk cider. The event drew hundreds of steampunk enthusiasts from Buffalo, Rochester and southern Ontario, reports Jim Krencik in The Daily News of Batavia, New York.

“As the crowd gathered along Ridge Road, Alicia Rabb, a costume artist from Lockport, taught a simplified version of parasol dueling,” he writes. The event also featured sideshow performers, a magician, and an appearance by steampunk author Laura Strickland, whose stories are set in Western New York. Buffalo is “the perfect place for steampunk,” she told the reporter, because “it’s a dark, gritty city.”

Close to the Sun

Close to the Sun isn’t set for release until next year, but Jordan King of Trusted Reviews offers an early impression of the video game, based on a brief demo at the recent Gamescon trade show in Cologne, Germany. “Taking place at the end of an alternate history 19th century, Close to the Sun thrusts you into a world where Nikola Tesla created a mysterious ship complex as a way of advancing technology beyond previously inconceivable means,” he writes. The game “managed to terrify even in the bustling confines of the business halls. Rose [the protagonist] is defenseless, meaning your only option is to run when mysterious creatures rear their heads. . . Due to the lack of combat, much of your time will be spent learning your surroundings, solving puzzles and escaping monsters by the skin of your teeth.” Developed by Storm in a Teacup, the game will be available for PCs, with other platforms to be determined.

Last week, we told you about the first-ever Steampunk Day at the Central BC Railway & Forestry Museum in Prince George, British Columbia. It was set for Saturday, August 25, but had to be postponed due to unhealthy air from nearby wildfires. “Steampunk will now be the theme of the day on Oct. 27,” writes Frank Peebles in the Prince George Citizen. Instead of hosting a steampunk gathering, the museum invited evacuees of the wildfires to attend a free event on Sunday, where they would be treated to meals and donated toys for their kids.

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