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Steampunk Digest - January 31, 2020

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

Friday, January 31, 2020
Professor Elemental

Chap hop artist Professor Elemental is looking for a nemesis, and he’s asking steampunk fans for assistance. He doesn’t need your help to find an evildoer — he’d like you to create one. “At the end of the School of Whimsy album, Professor Elemental was trapped in his mansion by a mysterious villain,” we’re told. “Who was it? Why do they hate Professor Elemental? What do they want? How will they defeat the Prof?”

He’d like you to draw or describe this character, who will be portrayed by Mos Prob on the Professor’s next album, appropriately entitled Nemesis. The villain will also star in a new comic book. The competition runs for the month of February. Entries will be posted on the website, and the winner will be determined by a public poll. Three runners-up will also be featured on the album. See his website for submission rules and a downloadable prelude to Nemesis, “Outro (The Beginning of the End).”

Winterbourne work

The Ao5 Gallery in Austin, Texas is hosting an exhibition of work by The Impossible Winterbourne, and the steampunk street artist is scheduled to appear there on Friday, Feb. 7. He’ll be reading from The AlphaBots, his alphabetical guide to whimsical mechanical creations from AquaBot to ZombiBot. The gallery show includes his robotic sculptures along with paintings and signed copies of his book. His sculptures can also be seen outdoors in cities around the world.

The gallery is located at 3005 S Lamar Blvd., Ste C-110B in Austin. See the gallery website for more info.

Early reviews are in for Tesla, Michael Almereyda’s “period science drama” starring Ethan Hawke as Nikola Tesla. Based on those reports, we can say this isn’t your conventional biopic. “What starts as an earnest (if lyrical) profile of the man who invented Elon Musk soon explodes into something more appropriately postmodern when Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison get into a heated ice cream fight, and a woman’s voice comes over the soundtrack to inform us that it probably didn’t happen this way,” writes David Ehrlich in IndieWire. Overall, he graded the film a “B.”

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter also gave the film a thumbs up with caveats. “This match of filmmaker and subject was never going to yield a straightforward biographical drama and its approach will not be for everyone,” he writes, adding that the film is likely to be “commercially challenging.” However, he praises the performances of Hawke as Tesla and Kyle MacLachlan as Edison.

Tesla had its world premiere Jan. 27 at the Sundance Film Festival. Prior to the screening, Almereyda told attendees that one of his influences was Drunk History on Comedy Central.

The Verge also has a review, and MEA WorldWide posted an interview with Hawke about his work on the film. There’s no word yet on when it will be unleashed on the movie-going public.


In case you haven’t heard, Amazon is planning a multi-season TV series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s reportedly not a retelling, but a prequel set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before the events in the trilogy.

One of the writers on the series is Gennifer Hutchison, who recently created a stir on Twitter when she hinted that she’d like to work on a TV adaptation of Dishonored,, a popular video game with steampunk elements. These were her words: “Let me write a Dishonored TV series, you cowards,” which prompted fans of the game to speculate on the possibilities.

Later, however, she tamped down the excitement. “I love the Dishonored franchise, but my tweet was me sharing that love, not indicating any serious plan to pursue it,” she wrote. “[Though] I adore it, these things are much bigger than a single ‘lemme do this!’ tweet.”

Nevertheless, it gave us a nice excuse to show this screenshot from Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, the most recent release in the series.

Immortal Works Press is planning a Feb. 18 release for A Mighty Fortress, the fourth installment in the Mormon Steampunk Anthology series, and the book is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It features “tales of semi-sentient temples that walk and fly, a missionary’s unfortunate encounter with hostile natives whose mechanical knowledge far exceeds his own, a hidden treasure trove and a kidnapped girl saved by Porter Rockwell, a magical trip back in time to an airship-seized Zarahemla, a giant lake monster attacking the machinery keeping a Mormon settlement afloat,” and more.

Contributors include Michaelbrent Collings, Bryce Beatty, Berin Stephens, Elizabeth Mueller, Roy Hayward, Jenna Eatough, Kevin Folkman, James Pyles, Nathaniel Givens, Carl Duzett, Lee Allred, Justin Riley, John D. Payne, Sean Smith, Christopher McAfee, Jay Barnson, and David J. West. Holli Anderson is the editor.


Steam Highwayman

Martin Noutch is on Kickstarter with Steam Highwayman III: The Reeking Metropolis, the latest in his steampunk adventure gamebook series. Once again, you play the role of a character traveling through an alternate-history England on a two-wheeled steam-powered cycle. “Will you thrive as the hero of the Revolution, gain wealth as the leader of a street-gang, serve as an undercover agent, or become, worst of all, a Member of Parliament? Through which tunnels and which crooked streets will you pursue evildoers and victims? Will you take up burglary or impersonation, become a con artist or an acrobat, steal the Crown Jewels or jump aboard an airship bound for distant lands?”

He estimates it will have about 270 pages and 1500 passages. Each passage offers choices that take you on different paths through the story. The books can be played as standalone adventures, he says, but they form a seamless story.

The campaign launched on Jan. 23 and has already passed its £6000 (US $7810) goal. It runs through Feb. 22. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Renée J. Fleury of Danbury, Connecticut is seeking Kickstarter funds for her first novel, Sky Hawke: Building Steam. She describes it as “a swashbuckling steampunk adventure, inspired by my own personal journey of self discovery.” The Kickstarter page includes a prologue. She’s currently editing the book and plans an April 2020 release.

She’s seeking $1000 to help cover the costs of publishing and promotion. She expects to sell the book at steampunk and literary events, and plans to present panels on topics mentioned in the story, including “pirates and privateers, Tesla vs Edison, and antique aviation.” The campaign launched Jan 29 and runs through March 28.

PlayWay, a game publisher in Poland, is on Kickstarter with Dieselpunk Wars, a single-player video game in which you build and deploy combat vehicles including tanks, submarines, and airships. The company is aiming for a release in June and they’ve already set up a Steam page in addition to posting a trailer on YouTube.

The campaign launched Jan. 20 and seeks CA $10,000 (US $7574) by Feb. 19. See the Kickstarter page and Facebook page for more info.

Mad Science!

Squid Komodo
Photo: Nhobgood (CC BY-SA) via Wikimedia Commons

Scientists keep learning more about the biology of the squid, one of the iconic creatures of steampunk. Last week we reported about a team of researchers that published a draft genome of the giant squid. Now scientists in Australia have used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to reveal secrets about the brain of Sepioteuthis lessoniana, more commonly known as the bigfin reef squid.

“The modern cephalopods, a group including octopus, cuttlefish and squid, have famously complex brains, approaching that of a dog and surpassing mice and rats, at least in neuronal number,” said Dr. Wen-Sung Chung of the University of Queensland. This gives them the ability to count, recognize patterns, and solve problems, according to a press release from the university.

“We can see that a lot of neural circuits are dedicated to camouflage and visual communication, giving the squid a unique ability to evade predators, hunt and conspecific communicate with dynamic color changes,” Chung said.

He added that their research lends credence to theories of convergent evolution, in which organisms independently evolve similar traits. “The similarity with the better-studied vertebrate nervous system allows us to make new predictions about the cephalopod nervous system at the behavioral level,” he said.

Compared with the giant squid, Sepioteuthis lessoniana is a relative featherweight, measuring up to 13 inches. The research was published in the journal iScience.


The fifth Stupid Cupid Steampunk Ball takes place on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Cheney Hall in Manchester, Connecticut. Produced by Oddball Newt, the event will feature performances by Victor and the Bully, Montague Jacques Fromage, The Eternal Frontier, and Ensemble Davuli with Nathaniel Johnstone. The program also includes a fashion show, British tea, and vendors.

The first Whitby Steampunk Weekend of 2020 is set for Feb 8 - 9 at the Whitby Pavilion in North Yorkshire. The program includes workshops, tea dueling, a costume exhibition, live entertainment, and more than 80 sellers of steampunk wares. The steampunk cabaret on Saturday evening will feature performances by Alice’s Night Circus, Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers, and Tenpole Tudor. The second Whitby Steampunk Weekend is scheduled for July 24-26 in the same location. See the website for more info.

Quick Hits

Miniature golf course transports you to a steampunk fantasyland (KGO-TV)

Geek Road Trip: Evermor, the steampunk sculpture park ascending to TV immortality (SyFy Wire)

ModVic LLC creates Springfield, MA ‘City of Firsts’ wall art and conference table (ModVic)

Mercedes G63 Steampunk Edition Is A Stunning One-Off (CarBuzz)

Mercedes-AMG G63 “Big Daddy” Gets Steampunk Copper Etched Look from Carlex (Auto Evolution)

The characters of steampunk anime series Full Metal Alchemist: Solf J. Kimblee, Riza Hawkeye, Roy Mustang, Pride The Homunculus (CBR)

Q&A with steampunk authors MC D’Alton and Melanie Page (Female First)

Q&A with steampunk author Madeleine Holly-Rosing (First Comics News)

Whitby Steampunk Weekend preview (Discover Yorkshire Coast)

Bartlow’s Dread Machine Feels Like a Steampunk Arcade Cabinet (Gamespew)

Black Skylands Promises Skyships, Jetpacks and Steampunk Slaughter (Gamespew)

’Abyss Crew’ Gets Early Access Date (Worthplaying)

The Final Challenge In Frostpunk’s Latest DLC Expansion, The Last Autumn, Is A Labor Dispute (Happy Gamer)

A steampunk artist on the move in western North Carolina (The McDowell News)

Temple celebrates 15 years of goth, steampunk dance nights (Knoxville News Sentinel)

Atlanta theater puts a steampunk spin on ‘The Hobbit’ (Marietta Daily Journal)

Restaurant review: A steampunk-themed eatery in South Africa (Eat Out)

“Witch Bottle” Used To Ward Off Evil Spirits Found At US Civil War Fort (IFL Science)

Florida weather forecast: Cloudy with a chance of falling iguanas (LiveScience)

Why this 15th-century ‘Jesus-lamb’ painting is creeping people out (LiveScience)

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