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Steampunk Digest - December 4, 2020

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

Friday, December 4, 2020

Editor’s note: Even in normal times, December is a slow news month in the steampunk world. So Steampunk Digest will be reducing frequency this month to biweekly instead of weekly. The next issue will appear Dec. 17, followed by a year-end issue on Dec. 31.

Writer/producer/director Joss Whedon shocked many of his fans last week by announcing his departure from The Nevers, the forthcoming HBO science fiction series set in Victorian-era London. The news was first reported by CinemaBlend.

“This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing The Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer,” Whedon wrote in a statement to CinemaBlend. “I am genuinely exhausted, and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change.”

HBO followed with a statement indicating that it will go ahead with the series, which recently completed production of Season One: “We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021.”

Joss Whedon
Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Illustration effect by The Steampunk Explorer.

The news came after actor Ray Fisher alleged that Whedon displayed “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior on the set of Justice League, the 2017 superhero film from Warner Bros. Pictures. Whedon had taken on post-production duties after the departure of director Zack Snyder. However, it is not clear if Whedon’s departure from The Nevers was related to the accusations. HBO and Warner Bros. are both WarnerMedia properties.

One of our friends at The Nevers Podcast described Whedon’s move as “a punch to the gut.”

“To me, it doesn’t feel right for the series to continue past its first season without Joss’ involvement,” wrote Matthew (aka Culture Inject), who founded the podcast as well as a fan site devoted to the series. “However, so many talented actors have been cast in this series. It would be a shame to say goodbye to them after only one season.” He expects that Douglas Petrie or Jane Espenson, who are currently executive producers, will take charge. Both are longtime Whedon associates.

Steampunk fans have high hopes for The Nevers, which will tell the story of “The Touched,” a group of Victorian women “who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that could change the world.” Whedon described it as “maybe the most ambitious narrative I’ve created.” The cast includes series lead Laura Donnelly along with Nick Frost, Denis O’Hare, Olivia Williams, Zackary Momoh, Tom Riley, Ann Skelly, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ben Chaplin, and Pip Torrens.

Mask of the Rose

Failbetter Games, developer of the popular Sunless Skies and Sunless Sea video games, has announced Mask of the Rose, a forthcoming title set in the same Fallen London universe. It will be a “romantic visual novel” that serves as a prequel to the other games.

The story “follows the lodgers in a boarding house a few months after Victorian London has been transported underground,” said creative director Emily Short. “There’s no sunlight. Not all of your new neighbours are human. Parliament is underwater, and the mysterious Masters of the Bazaar are now in charge. The story is about how you all adjust to a world that works differently from everything you’re used to – and the friendships and romances you form while there.”

Artistic influences will include film noir, Victorian photography, and Blitz-era Britain.

The developer is planning a Kickstarter campaign for the game in February 2021. It’s set for release in 2022.

Mask of the Rose is one of two new games Failbetter has in the works, but the developer is keeping quiet about the second one. “We can say that its game mechanics are very different from our past work, and that it takes place in a new setting,” said CEO Adam Myers. Learn more on the developer’s website.

Armour Games Studios has announced A Rogue Escape, a steampunk-themed virtual reality adventure set for release in 2021. It’s described as a “complete rebuild” of Nauticrawl, a video game that challenges players to pilot an escape from a hostile planet. The publisher has released a brief trailer that gives you a sense of the visuals. They’re planning versions for the Oculus and SteamVR platforms. Learn more on the website.

Abney Park, Frenchy and the Punk

Abney Park and Frenchy and the Punk are among the scheduled performers at FaerieCon Live from Home 2020, a live stream event happening Dec. 11-13. The musical lineup also includes Martine Kraft, Lindy Fay Hella, Niel Mitra, Marya Stark, Priscilla Hernandez, Rosamundi, Woodland, Wendy Rule, Rob Van Barschot, Louisa John-Krol, Black Magdalene, Thundercrow, and Hannah Fury.

Many of these acts also appeared at Faerieworlds Live from Home in August. As before, the event will consist of a free public stream plus VIP programming with exclusive premium content. VIP tickets cost $45.

Frenchy and the Punk will wrap up the year with two live streaming shows timed for audiences in North America and Europe. The first is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. Eastern time, followed by a second performance on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 8 p.m. London time. They’re selling tickets on a “pay what you want/donation” basis.

The duo are also offering a sale on merchandise, including apparel, accessories, a sticker book, and CDs. It runs through Dec. 11. See their online store for more info.

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys has released War Gospel, “an anthem of hope, and anthem of love, and anthem of revolution,” in the band’s own words. The Boston-area band, which has performed at the Watch City Steampunk Festival, describes its sound as “a Dada-esque circus carnival run amuck, and just plain good ‘not-always-so-clean’ fun.” It’s available for purchase on Bandcamp.

A Halo Called Fred cover

Congrats to A Halo Called Fred, whose latest release was named by music columnist Bob Makin as 2020’s best independent album from a band in New Jersey. The title deserves a sentence all its own: Go Home Drama You’re Drunk and Other Tales of Going through Hell to Escape the Evil Monkeys. Makin, a columnist for New Jersey Stage, described it as “an extensive collection of hysterically satirical, weirdly irreverent, expertly crafted tunes. In 40 years of writing about music, I’ve never had as much fun and laughed so much as I did while writing the review for this awesome album.”

If you’d like to hear what the fuss is about, the album is available on Bandcamp.

A Halo Called Fred frequently performs at steampunk events in the Northeast, and recently collaborated with Thomas Willeford’s Brute Force Studios on the music video “Giant Robot.” Learn more on the band’s website.

Speaking of Bandcamp, the first Friday of the month is upon us, which means it’s time again for Bandcamp Friday. As readers will recall, this is a promotion in which musicians get to keep all sales instead of forking over a portion to the service. It runs Dec. 4 from midnight to midnight Pacific time.

Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond wrote that the platform would offer the promotion through the end of the year, so this could be the last one.

Numerous steampunk performers sell their music on Bandcamp, and to make it easier to find them, we’ve set up a directory with links to their Bandcamp pages.

Ben Gerstein, an artist and musician in Santa Barbara, California, has posted a video featuring his collection of antique and vintage eyewear, including sunglasses, goggles, and safety glasses. Most are from the U.S., but it also includes glasses from France, the UK, Russia, India, and Japan. He amassed the collection over 13 years while working in New York City. The video is nearly two hours long, but the YouTube page includes links that allow you to jump to specific items.

He’s also posted photos on Adobe Spark, though it’s a huge page so it takes a long time to load.

Quick Hits

Mysterious silver monolith disappears from Utah desert (AP)

Visitor: Monolith toppled by group who said ‘leave no trace’ (AP)

Classic Sci Fi TV: The Wild Wild West (1965) (Cancelled Sci Fi)

What Sunk David Fincher’s ’20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’? (Collider)

Inside the Box – Episode 3 – Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman (CriterionCast)

New A Wake Inn Trailer Shows VR Horror Action (UploadVR)

Mini Review: Tesla Force (PS5) - Twin-Stick Roguelite Needed More Time in the Lab (Push Square)

Tesla Force Review (Gamespew)

A Victorian gothic hair salon in Minnesota (St. Cloud Times)

Hannibal History Museum hosting festive ‘Merry Potter’ fundraiser (Hannibal.net)

40 historical photos as rare as they are surprising (The Courier)

Bizarre New Deep-Sea Comb Jelly Found Off Puerto Rico (IFL Science)

Octopus Arms Don’t Have A Mind Of Their Own, But They’re Still Freakishly “Clever” (IFL Science)

Polar Explorer’s Final Hours Revealed After Researchers Notice Black Spot In His Diary (IFL Science)

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