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Steampunk Digest - Dec. 7, 2018

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

Friday, December 7, 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.

Mortal Engines London

Photo: Universal Pictures and MRC

Mortal Engines hits movie screens Dec. 8 in the UK and Dec. 14 in North America. But early reviews are already in for the highly-anticipated film based on Philip Reeve’s postapocalyptic steampunk novel. Writing in The Wrap, William Bibbiani describes the opening chase scene — involving two cities on wheels — as “one of the most breathtaking action sequences in recent memory, at once wholly unbelievable and yet brought to life with thrilling detail. It’s a high standard to set for the rest of Mortal Engines. . . but the film manages to keep that sense of wonder alive for over two hours.”

Reeve himself gave the film an enthusiastic thumbs up. “It’s brilliant,” he wrote on Twitter. “[Director] Christian Rivers has done a fantastic job — a huge, visually awesome action movie with perfect pace and a genuine emotional core. See it on the biggest screen you can.”

Other reviews are mixed. From Brian Truitt in USA Today: “This is the kind of visual spectacle where [producer] Peter Jackson excels, like Mad Max meets Godzilla, with cool airborne metropolises, all manner of winged and wheeled vehicles, a Terminator-like undead robotic guy and dizzying action. Unfortunately, there’s not much room left for fleshed-out personalities or narrative depth, making the whiz-bang wonder often feel too empty.”

And from Beth Elderkin in io9: “While most of Mortal Engines is a by-the-numbers dystopian teen saga, the chase between London and a small mining town is a feast for the eyes. . . I’d almost recommend seeing the movie just for that part—and single-named performer Jihae as the rebel leader Anna Fang, who is so cool it almost hurts.”

As of Dec. 6, the movie had a 40% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 47 out of 100 on Metacritic.

Allied Global Marketing, an entertainment marketing agency, is coordinating free screenings of Mortal Engines on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at movie theaters in Seattle and Portland, Oregon. As of Dec. 5, about 200 seats were available in Seattle and about 400 in Portland. To attend, send an email to the coordinators at their gmail (dot) com addresses, alliedseattlewa and alliedportlandor respectively (we’re listing them that way to confound any spambots that may be lurking). Include your full name and the number of guests you’d like to bring. They’ll reply with the theater locations. Screen times are 7 p.m. in both cities, but they’d like folks to show up at 6:15 p.m. The screenings are being coordinated by the agency’s Seattle office.

Steampunk artist Bruce Rosenbaum is expanding his efforts to promote “Steampunkinetics,” a program that uses steampunk art and design as an educational tool. In 2013, he collaborated with psychologist Ashleigh Hillier of the University of Massachusetts Lowell to implement a nine-week art and technology program for 15 young adults with autism. The participants used salvaged parts to build an elaborate Rube Goldberg contraption in which a pinball rolled through a series of tracks.

“We capitalized on the strengths of those on the autism spectrum including how they often excel with tasks centered on technology, mechanics, and understanding how things work,” Hillier wrote in a recent case study of the project (it’s available here as a PDF file).

“I’m now taking Steampunkinetics to expand it to other ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) groups and modifying it for other general population (neurotypical) groups including high school and vocational schools,” Rosenbaum says. He welcomes inquiries from museums, schools, and other organizations that want to learn more about the program. See his website for contact info.

Professor Elemental

Chap hop performer Professor Elemental has released a remastered edition of The Indifference Engine in honor of the album’s 10th anniversary. The double CD features 10 album tracks on CD 1 and remixes plus instrumental versions on CD 2. The tracks include two of his most popular recordings, “Cup of Brown Joy” and “Fighting Trousers.” It’s available on Bandcamp and his website for £10.00 ($12.72USD). You can purchase the digital album for the same price.

Photo by Matthew Kitchen Photography

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing have announced “Decade of Regression: Tenth Anniversary Tour,” featuring 10 performances in the UK from April 11-21, 2019. The tour has stops in Sheffield (Apr. 11), York (Apr. 12), Birmingham (Apr. 13), Cardiff (Apr. 14), Bristol (Apr. 15), Southampton (Apr. 16), London (Apr. 17 and 18), Leicester (Apr. 20), and Newcastle (Apr. 21). Tickets went on sale Nov. 30. See the band’s website for more info.

Author Gail Carriger has revealed the U.S. cover and other details about Reticence, the fourth and final book of the Custard Protocol series. “Bookish and proper Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when floating cities, spirited plumbing, and soggy biscuits collide,” reads the description. “Percy has always been on the outside – dispassionate, aloof, and hatless. But accidental spies, a trip to Japan, and one smart and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life. Except hats. He’s done with hats.”

It’s set for release in August 2019, giving readers plenty of time to catch up on the earlier volumes.

See the author’s website for more info.

More Carriger: Competence, Book Three of the series, opens in 1890s Singapore, and the author apparently has quite a following in the island nation. Speaking at a literary festival there in 2016, Carriger said that she might set Book Three in Singapore, noting that “I have a history of love affairs with port cities, melting pots and border towns.” Olivia Ho of The Straits Times wrote about those remarks in Nov. 2016 and followed up last month with an article about the book.

During Carriger’s 2016 talk, the moderator suggested that she include a Merlion, a mythical lion-fish hybrid that serves as the country’s official mascot. “While no actual Merlion appears in the book, the beast does play a role in the plot from offstage,” Ho writes. Ho’s story also discusses Carriger’s background as an archaeologist, her depictions of British colonialism, her five life goals (she’s achieved four) and her affinity for Singapore’s cuisine.

Steampunk also has a following in the Philippines, as Manila Standard “Simply Red” columnist Isah V. Red recently discovered when a friend hauled him to a local exhibition of steampunk art.

“The pieces in the exhibit were eye popping; a combination of industrial, neo-classic, and photorealistic visual style,” he writes. One aficionado is a dentist who has decorated his office with steampunk art. What surprised the columnist most were the prices these pieces could command, “more than a million pesos (about $19,000USD). . . and there are buyers.”

Entitled “Steamtrooper Unleashed,” the exhibit was produced by Steampunk Artists of the Philippines.

Time Traveler

December 8 is “Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day,” offering many opportunities for steampunk mischief. It’s a highly flexible observance in that you can pose as someone from any past or future era. If you opt for the past, here are some suggested activities. It goes without saying that you should dress in steampunk attire.

• “Ask strangers what year it is and respond in horror.” (Days of the Year)

• “Speak old English or Latin or any other ancient language when asked why you are dressed the way you are.” (Time and Date)

• “Misuse technology. When someone offers you earbuds to listen to a new song, sniff them to see if they smell good.” (National Day Calendar)

• “Carry on conversations with televisions.” (Wired)

Or, if you’d rather not risk an encounter with the authorities, consider hosting a time travel party or movie marathon.

Photo: Adobe Stock

The Key City Steampunk Festival will once again draw a Who’s Who of steampunk makers next summer to Frederick, Maryland. Organizer Wheeler Stone announced that Dave Lee, Thomas Willeford, James Neathery, and Michael Parodi are confirmed guests along with “in-house makers” Tobias McCurry, Brian Fadrosh, Lady De L’Etoile, Aleta Pardalis, Ginger Seibert, and Stone himself. Musical guests will include Frenchy and the Punk. Themed “The Many Worlds of Jules Verne,” it takes place Aug. 16-18 at the Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center. Vendor applications are now open, and discounted hotel rooms are available. See the Facebook page and website for more info.

The organizers of Grand SteamPunk Tour in Italy are inviting steampunks to visit their website on Dec. 8 for a screening of a short film about Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. They’re describing it as a “virtual memorial” for the 200th anniversary of the book’s publication. This will be followed by an event next spring at Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields), a large volcanic park near Naples. The website is in Italian and English.

Imaginarium Street Scene

We recently told you about The Imaginarium, a book series by Gary Nicholls that tells a steampunk tale in the form of photographic fine art. Parts of the book were shot in Belper, a historic mill town in Derbyshire, England, and this caught the attention of reporter Ed Dingwall of the Belper News. Some buildings from the town appear in a composite image (shown above) that also includes structures from Leamington, London, and other UK cities.

“Gary also used the Old’ King’s Head, on Days Lane, for interior shots but it was not just the town’s buildings which caught his lens,” Dingwall writes. “Residents Mark and Donna Sanders star among a cast of 150 well known figures on the steampunk costume scene.”

Learn more on Nicholls’ website. And if you haven’t done so already, check out our story and gallery, ”The Imaginarium of Gary Nicholls.”

Image © Gary Nicholls Photography.

Prolific Works, an ebook distribution service previously known as Instafreebie, is offering giveaways of 43 historical fantasy and fiction books through Dec. 31. The stories include Grave Voices, a steampunk novella by Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin. From the description: “When monsters start prowling the streets of New Pittsburgh, a shady monster hunter charges a fat fee to exterminate the creatures and Agents Mitch Storm, Della Kennedy, and Jacob Drangosavich step in to check things out.” It’s set in the same world as the one in their novel Iron & Blood. See the Prolific Works website and the authors’ website for more info.

Infinium Game Studio is on Kickstarter with Gauntlets & Gaslight, a set of “Gothic Horror Steampunk” rules and resources created for the Realm of Aquilae, the company’s roleplaying fantasy world. “Gauntlets & Gaslight describes weapons, armor, items, machinery, tools, vehicles, monsters, characters, spells, classes, factions, and more that breathe new, exciting, macabre life into your fantasy RPG campaign,” the developer writes.

It consists of three books: Incarnae of Aquilae: Bestiary, a collection of “golem/elemental constructs”; Artifacts & Artifice: Incarnae, featuring “mad-scientist-style steampunk artifacts”; and Gauntlets & Gaslight Forgebook, described as “the ‘core book’ of the project, intended to provide a wealth of rules and resources for gothic horror steampunk roleplaying.” It’s designed for the Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition game systems, but “the core concepts and innovations can arguably be used in any fantasy RPG rules system,” the developer writes.

The project launched on Nov. 30 and seeks $2500USD in funding by Jan. 7. See the Kickstarter page and the developer’s website for more info.

The fifth annual Market of Curiosities took place Dec. 1 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (near Harrisburg), featuring DIY artisans and vintage dealers — including sellers of steampunk wares — plus a circus performance. The Sentinel, the city’s newspaper, has a photo gallery from the event, including interactive steampunk sculptures from Dark Rain Design and a steampunk hat from Design by Night Accessories in Baltimore. You can also see photos on the Market of Curiosities Facebook page. The event is produced by Miss Ruth’s Time Bomb, a local vintage apparel shop.

Upcoming events

Steampunk Accomplice

Abney Park will join the Tank and Tilly vaudeville variety show for Steampunk Christmas, Dec. 8 in the parking lot at the Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks, 1023 N Florida Mango Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33409. The free event will also include an Artist Faire and a performance by local alt-rock duo Aceskully. Accomplice will be open all day (1 p.m.-1 a.m.) to serve food and drink. The brewery is supporting the event along with the City of West Palm Beach. Party-goers at last year’s event are shown above. See the Facebook page for more info.

The Denver Victorian & Steampunk Society will present Tea & Trifle - A Clockwork Christmas, a pot-luck holiday party at the Colorado Railroad Museum, 17155 W. 44th Avenue, Golden, CO 80403. Activities include tea dueling and a “Surprise Saint Nicholas gift exchange.” It will be held in the museum’s Victorian-themed Tahoe Dining Car. A $10 donation is requested. It happens Sunday, Dec. 9, from 10 a.m. t0 4 p.m. See the Facebook page for info.

And in the UK. . .

Greg Chapman will present the first of six Steampunk Christmas Shows, Dec. 7 at Shalfleet Village Hall on the Isle of Wight. During the 90-minute performance, Chapman goes on a time-travel adventure after receiving a mysterious gift. The show includes magic and comedy. See his website or the Eventbrite page for info. Performances are also scheduled for Dec. 14 in Emery Down, Lyndhurst; Dec. 19 in Worleston, Cheshire; Dec 21 in Brighstone, Isle of Wight; Dec. 22 in Arreton, Isle of Wight; and Jan 5. in Stratford St Andrew, Suffolk.

The Nottingham Industrial Museum will host “Steampunkalia,” a steampunk-themed holiday celebration, Dec. 8 and 9 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Scheduled performances include Gregory O’Regan’s Fire Breathing, The Flying Squadron’s Bird Display, Dr Corvus Marconi, The Steam Highwayman, Charlie Draper’s Theremin, and Ants Trepaneur. It will also include a Steampunk Craft Fair. See the website for info.

The Beverley Festival of Christmas is a large Victorian-themed holiday celebration and parade in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It takes place on Dec. 9 at multiple locations in the town of Beverley. Local steampunks are organizing a contingent for the parade, which begins at 10 a.m. See the festival website and Steampunks on Parade Facebook page for more info.

For more info about upcoming events, see our Steampunk Events page for the U.S. and Canada and our Calendar page for the UK and Ireland.

If you’d like to keep up with steampunk events and other news in the UK, we also recommend SteamPaper, a free monthly e-newsletter. The signup form is on the Asylum Steampunk Festival website.

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