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Steampunk Digest - January 10, 2020

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

Friday, January 10, 2020
Victoria Clarke in Steam Powered

Steam Powered, a steampunk-themed screenplay by Kendrick Wallace, took first place in last month’s New York Genre Screenplay Competition, in addition to the top honor in the science fiction category. It tells the story of Victoria Clarke, an early 20th century British aviator “in a steampunk-inspired world of fantastical inventions, flying airships and ruthless half-machine, half-human warriors.”

Wallace, who works as a visual effects producer for feature films, tells us he got the idea for the story while working on a steampunk photo shoot. He’s currently trying to attract interest from production companies or influential talent in Hollywood.

As part of his effort to get attention, he self-published the screenplay as an e-book and paperback, and it’s now available on Amazon. “I’m also working on a novelization, which I hope to have completed by summer,” he says.

His visual effects credits include work on Into the Woods, Stephen King’s It, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, and Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Professor Adam Smasher and Baron Von Zipple, who perform at steampunk events as The Eternal Frontier, are starring in a new music video that serves as a promotion for Gamechanger Audio, a Latvian manufacturer of guitar pedals. It features their original composition, “PLASMA Pedal Safety Song,” a cautionary tale about the dangers of modifying the company’s Plasma Pedal High Voltage Distortion Unit.

The Professor tells us he first encountered the company in 2018. “Virtually all of the wares in their product line had major inherent steampunk vibes,” he says. Other products include the Third Man Plasma Coil, which features an image of Nikola Tesla’s Wardenclyffe Laboratory. Gamechanger brought a production crew to the U.S. in April 2019, and they released the video on Christmas Eve.

You can keep up with the band’s activities on their Facebook page.

Panasonic VR Eyeglasses

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is about the last place where you’d expect to find steampunk gear. However, tech journalists are using terms like “steampunk impressed” and “steampunk inspired” to describe new virtual reality eyeglasses that Panasonic is demonstrating at the trade show. The company touts these as the world’s first ultra-high definition VR eyeglasses capable of displaying High Dynamic Range images. In plain English, this means that they will, in theory, deliver highly realistic VR experiences while being more comfortable to wear than existing VR rigs.

Early coverage is based largely on a Panasonic press release describing the glasses as a “reference product” that will undergo further development. Upload, one of the top VR news sites, cautions that OLED microdisplays, such as the ones used in the glasses, are costly and have a narrow field of view.

But are they steampunk? As pictured, not really. But if you add some paint, leather, brass, and other accoutrements, we do see possibilities. Given the growing number of steampunk-themed VR experiences, they could become a nice attraction at steampunk events.

Books

Stoker & Wells: Order of the Golden Dawn, the graphic novel by Steven Peros and Barry Orkin, is now available in a digital edition from Comixology. As we previously reported, it stars H.G. Wells and Bram Stoker in an adventure that inspires each to write a novel: The Time Machine and Dracula.

Fans in the L.A. area can meet Peros on Sunday, Jan. 12 at the Long Beach Comic Expo, where he’ll be on a panel with Tony Fabro, Steven Prince, Christie Shinn, and Russell Nohelty. He’ll also discuss his work as a co-writer on SHI: Return of the Warrior, a forthcoming graphic novel by Billy Tucci that raised $68,600 on Indiegogo. The panel, entitled “Beyond Traditional Comic Books: New Ways to Reach an Audience,” begins at 12:30 p.m.

Canadian author Eve Langlais is out with two new books in her Mecha Origin steampunk romance series. Book Three, Spinning Wheels, involves a pair of steampunk cyborgs and a seer who can help them find more gears for their bodies. Book Four, First Gear, tells the story of Jool, destined to become the first prophet for the Mecha Gods. Both are available as e-books and paperbacks from multiple booksellers.

Book One, Steampunk Cyborg, was released last March, followed in September by As the Cog Turns. See her website for more info.

Matthew W. Quinn has released Battle for the Wastelands, a post-apocalyptic tale that he describes as Stephen King’s The Dark Tower meets Game of Thrones. Set in a “desolate world where dirigibles rule the skies,” it tells the story of a young man who joins a war against a tyrant’s legion of Flesh-Eaters. It’s available in e-book and paperback editions from Amazon.

Based in Atlanta, Quinn is a prolific author of horror, science fiction and fantasy. See his blog for more info.

Desiree Ultican, a graphic designer in the Kansas City area, has self-published her first novel, a steampunk tale entitled The Empress of the Clouds. Set in the late 19th century, it tells the story of a widow who takes over her husband’s airship company while contending with an embittered Southern millionaire and Count Frederick von Zeppelin. Ultican says she chose to self-publish — with help from a cover illustrator and editors — after several years of trying to get it published traditionally. It’s available in Kindle and paperback versions from Amazon.

Crowdfunding

Leather steampunk belt bags

Gemma McGee of Great Malvern, UK is on Kickstarter with a series of leather steampunk-style belt bags. They will come in several varieties, including a basic bag with one main pouch (above left); “Bold as Brass” with horse brass in front; “Doggie Bag” for dog walkers; the “Reader/Writer” with space for a book and notepad; and “The Shakespeare” (above right). You can get them for pledges starting at £30 (US $40).

The campaign launched Jan. 1 and seeks £500 (about US $655) by Jan. 31. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Quick Hits

Steampunk Motorcycle Runs On Compressed Air, Is Pure Hacking Art (Hackaday)

Steampunk Fonts to Use for Creating A Futuristic Design (Design Your Way)

Review: ‘Frostpunk’ Lets You Make The Rules As Humanity Faces Oblivion (Uproxx)

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight Gets a Prime 1 Studios Statue (Bleeding Cool)

Stage Door Series Presents Journey to The Center of The Earth (Broadway World Central Pennsylvania)

Turmoil at the Romance Writers of America (Claire Ryan blog)

Romance writers association calls off annual awards (The Associated Press)

Towering Tumbleweed Traps Cars, Semi-Truck in Washington (LiveScience)

Demon with Forked Tongue Found on Clay Tablet in Library of Assyrian Exorcists (LiveScience)

Events

The Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in Santa Ana, California will host “20/20/20: Legends of Steampunk,” a month-long festival in February celebrating the 20th anniversary of the school’s Creative Writing Conservatory. Pioneering steampunk authors James P. Blaylock and Tim Powers were founders of the conservatory, which offers writing classes and other activities modeled after Master of Fine Arts programs. OCSA is a public charter school for grades 7 through 12 that focuses on arts education.

Scheduled events include a steampunk reading, a spoken word performance, an “Alternative Earths” dance collaboration, and a performance of Peter & the Starcatcher, described as “a unique interpretation of Peter Pan’s origin story.” A Book Art Gallery at OCSA and Chapman University will feature new cover art and interior scenes illustrating works by Blaylock and Powers. Guest authors include Karen Joy Fowler, Garrett Calcaterra, Kristen-Paige Madonia, Sarah Nicole Smetana, and Lewis Shiner.

Many events will be open to the public. The festival ends on Feb. 29 with a Grand Finale and Birthday Bash for Powers, who will turn 17 (in leap years). See the website for more info.

The Key City Steampunk Festival, previously held in Frederick, Maryland, is moving across the state border to a new venue, the Wyndham Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It’s scheduled for Aug. 14-16 with the theme, “Cthulhu/Martian Invader.” Organizers Brian Fadrosh and Wheeler Stone hosted a video walkthrough of the facility that can be viewed on the event’s Facebook page. You’ll also find a vendor application and a link to reserve hotel rooms at the group rate.

Oddball Newt will host a Victorian Skate Fantasy, Saturday, Jan. 11, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Bolton Ice Palace, 145 Hopriver Road in Bolton, Connecticut. Guests are challenged to “maintain balance and poise” on the ice while dressed in steampunk or Victorian garb. It’s the first event in “12 Months of Steampunk,” a series of events for steampunk fans in Connecticut.

Next up is Stupid Cupid Steampunk Ball 5, Feb. 1 at Cheney Hall in Manchester, Connecticut. The program will include a fashion show along with performances by Victor and the Bully, Montague Jacques Fromage, The Eternal Frontier, and Ensemble Davuli with Nathaniel Johnstone.

Next weekend:

Midwinter Feast, Jan. 18, is a steampunk gathering hosted by The Society for the Ethical Treatment of Kraken in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The program includes a four-course meal, guest speakers, raffle prizes, and a puppet theatre.

Bonita Springs Mini Maker Faire, Jan. 18, will offer a showcase for makers, inventors and do-it-yourself projects in Southwest Florida. An organizer told us they’re hoping to feature steampunk artists and other creators. Maker Media, the company that produced big Maker Faires in New York and the San Francisco area, ceased operations last year, but its successor, Make Community, continues to license the Maker Faire concept to local organizations around the world. This one takes place at the Center for Performing Arts, 10150 Bonita Beach Road SE in Bonita Springs, Florida.

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