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Steampunk Digest - Feb. 1, 2019

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

Friday, February 1, 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.

Oliver

Image Comics has released the first issue of Oliver, a postapocalyptic re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Written by Gary Whitta and illustrated by Darick Robertson, the comic book series is set in a dystopian post-World War III London in which Oliver is genetically enhanced with superpowers. Additional issues are planned for February, April, and May.

Whitta, who wrote the screenplays for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Book Of Eli, originally conceived Oliver as a feature film. “The film never got made but the story always stuck with me and the thought struck me that it might be just as well told as a comic book,” he said in a Q&A with Vince Brusio of PreviewsWorld. He added that “Charles Dickens would probably be rolling in his grave. We took a lot of liberties with his classic story.”

See the Image Comics website for more info.

A steampunk owl was the winner in a snow-sculpting competition held Jan. 25-27 at the Black Mountain resort in Jackson, New Hampshire. Cousins Glenn Woodard and John Allen Woodard prevailed over three other teams and won the right to represent New Hampshire in the 2020 U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, according to a story in The Conway Daily Sun.

The New Hampshire Union Leader also has a story about the competition. Both stories include photos of the owl.

Steampunk entertainer Greg Chapman is out with Ghosts Of Steam, Volume One in an audiobook series featuring his “Ever So Slightly Exaggerated Tales.” The CD has four stories: “Ghosts of Steam,” “The Mystery of The Missing Mystery,” “That Sinking Feeling,” and “The Great Race.”

Based in the UK, he’s known for solo stage performances that include comedy, juggling, unicycling, escapology, and magic. See the website for more info.

Immortal Works Press has released Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel, Book Two in the Mormon Steampunk Anthology series. Edited by John M. Olsen, it includes stories by Scott William Taylor, Angie Taylor, Megan Rupp, Scott E. Tarbet, Finlay Lofthouse, Christopher Baxter, Bryce Moore, D. J. Moore, Mindie Erb, Heidi Wessman Kneale, Kurt F. Kammeyer, Kim May, and Judith and Michael Collings.

“This volume ranges through humor, the clever application of skills, old memories hidden away, alternate worlds, and those in need of help against terrible odds,” Olsen writes in his introduction. It’s available on Amazon.

Book One, All Made Of Hinges, was released last November. Book Three, Press Forward, Saints, is slated for release within the next couple of months. That was to be the final book in the series, but Immortal Works has issued a call for submissions for Book Four, A Mighty Fortress.

James Wymore, who edited All Made Of Hinges, posted the submission details on his blog. He notes that “the writer’s religious affiliation is completely irrelevant . . . The story must be in some sense ‘Mormon’ and in some sense ‘Steampunk.’ We’ll try to interpret those categories both broadly.” The submission deadline is April 23 “or until filled.”

Author Celine Jean is out with The Slave City, Book Three in her series The Viper and the Urchin. Set in a in a steampunk fantasy world, the story involves a team of misfits on a mission to rescue an inventor who has been imprisoned in a distant city. The misfits include “a foppish assassin with a fear of blood” and “a skinny pickpocket with dreadlocks and a big attitude.” The book is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback versions. See the author’s website for more info.

Video Games

Sunless Skies

Failbetter Games has released Sunless Skies, a “Gothic Horror” roleplay game set in the same universe as the developer’s Sunless Sea and Fallen London. “It’s an alternate history, where Queen Victoria has rebuilt London in the heavens,” explains narrative director Chris Gardiner. “But this isn’t space as we know it: it’s a windy celestial wilderness littered with offshoots of empire, ruined libraries, rebellious enclaves, distressing monsters, and domains of the dead.”

Players captain a spacefaring steam locomotive, collecting crew members, adding armaments, and going into battle against a variety of Sky-Beasts.

The game has been available in an Early Access version since 2017. It runs on Macs, PCs and Linux systems. You can view a trailer on the developer’s website and the Steam page.

Also available: Skyfarer, a free pen-and-paper RPG that accompanies the video game. You can download the sourcebook and digital character sheet from the Failbetter website.

Steamworld Quest

Image & Form Games has released a trailer for SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilamech, the fifth game in the SteamWorld universe. Like the other games, it’s set in a world populated by fantasy characters and steampunk robots. Unlike the others, this one takes the form of a turn-based roleplaying card game. The developer plans to release it initially for the Nintendo Switch, with additional platforms to be announced. Price and release date are TBA. See the website for more info.

Anticto has released an Xbox version of Steamroll, a steampunk-themed adventure and puzzle game “with a touch of minigolf,” the developer says. Players solve puzzles by shooting “steamballs” from the Scarabeus, a steam-powered vehicle that’s “half beetle, half armadillo.” The game was originally released in 2016 on the Steam platform for Macs, PCs, and Linux systems. It’s received mostly positive user reviews.

See the Microsoft and Anticto websites for more info.

That Brain has canceled development of 20,000 Leagues Above the Clouds, a steampunk-themed video game set in a world of airships and floating islands. The developers began the project in 2011 “as nothing more than an attempt for us to learn to program our own games,” they wrote on their website. But “we eventually found ourselves with a project that was so ambitious that finishing it would have required significant funding.” They pitched the game to publishers, but despite some positive response, they were unable to get the needed financing.

They’ve posted a demo version from 2015 that you can download for free. It requires a Windows PC with a gamepad. You can run the game with a keyboard and mouse, but you won’t be able to shoot.

Kickstarters

It’s Alive Press is on Kickstarter with Red Range: Pirates of Fireworld, a graphic novel written by Keith Lansdale and illustrated by Jok. It’s a sequel to Red Range, a 1999 graphic novel written by Joe R. Lansdale (Keith’s dad) and illustrated by Sam Glanzman.

The original story, set after the Civil War, involves Caleb Range, an African American man who becomes Red Mask, a vigilante doing battle against the Ku Klux Klan. Along with a young boy named Turon, he finds himself in a strange subterranean world populated by dinosaurs. “Things were really starting to get weird, when the story abruptly ended, with a promise of “Pirates of Fireworld coming soon!” the publisher says.

The new tale takes place immediately afterward. Caleb and Turon “are quickly confronted by a group of Steampunk-ish pirates in hot pursuit of a strange fellow who can only speak one name over and over again…Seetoc!”

Bleeding Cool has an interview with father and son about the new tale. “Caleb is the personification of the Western and Action hero mixed with social issues presented in a broad manner,” Joe explained. “Or so it was with the original. The latest version is dealing more with the science fantasy and adventure elements. Social issues aren’t at the forefront this time, but dinosaurs and pirates are.”

The project launched on Jan. 21 and seeks $6500 by Feb. 20. Reward tiers include variant covers and the original graphic novel. See the Kickstarter page and the publisher’s website for more info.

Steampunk cufflinks

Cuffs & Co of York, UK, is on Kickstarter with a set of steampunk cufflinks made from old watch parts. “If we reach our goal, we will buy the tools for our workshop to allow us to produce these unique style cufflinks as part of our stock range,” the company says. “The tools will also enable us to produce other designs working with parts and components. Future designs are already afoot!”

The campaign launched on Jan. 22 with a goal of raising £300 (about $393 USD). It was fully funded in four days. Reward tiers include vouchers (£5) and a single pair of cufflinks (£30). It concludes on Feb. 21.

The company has a storefront in York and an e-commerce site where you can purchase British-made cufflinks, collar stiffeners, belts, socks and more.

See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Nuno Xei of Waterloo, Ontario is seeking Kickstarter funding for a print edition of Raven Nevermore #2: “Tempter Sent”, the second in a nine-part horror-fantasy comic series. It tells the story of Captain Corvan Moore, “a relentless elite lawman in the metropolis of Cog Town. In the midst of a bloody campaign against mob boss Haggle Mortoni, Corvan is forced to confront his own mysterious heritage, and in doing so, reject a destiny he’s kept buried in his subconscious his entire life.”

The 32-page comic is written by Xei (pronounced “shay”) and illustrated by Emmanuel Xerx Javier. All nine issues are available in digital editions from ComiXology.

The project launched on Jan. 13 and seeks CA $2200 ($1675 USD) in funding by Feb. 12. See the Kickstarter page and the Xei’s website for more info.

UK author Mark Hayes has posted a Q&A with Madeleine Holly-Rosing, writer of the Boston Metaphysical Society comics. Among other topics, she discusses the authors that have most inspired her (Lois McMaster Bujold and N.K. Jemisin); the worst thing she’s done to one of her characters (“Killed them. Badly.”); and her advice to aspiring writers (read the interview to find out).

Last week, we wrote about her Kickstarter for Boston Metaphysical Society: The Spirit of Rebellion, the latest installment in the series. She met her $3855 USD goal in less than 48 hours and is now on to stretch goals. The campaign concludes on Feb. 22.

Upcoming Events

The Bull City Robotic Rodeo debuts Feb. 1-3 at the Durham Convention Center in Durham, North Carolina. Produced by the company behind the Festival of Legends, it will have a “Weird West” flavor with mechanical bull rides, bull whip workshops, and more. See our recent coverage.

The following weekend promises lots of steampunk action, with 13 Gears: An Eclectic Steampunk Event in Minneapolis; The Edwardian Ball in Los Angeles; The Victorian Valentine Affair in Lexington, Kentucky; and Whitby Steampunk Weekend in North Yorkshire, UK.


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