- City Guides
Steampunk Digest - July 17, 2020
Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world
Friday, July 17, 2020
The Big River Steampunk Festival is the latest steampunk event to throw in the towel on 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Held over Labor Day Weekend in Hannibal, Missouri, it’s one of the largest steampunk gatherings in the U.S.
“We had been working on different layouts, formats, whatever contortions necessary to present the festival in a way that was still identifiable as the Big River Steampunk Festival this Labor Day weekend,” the organizers announced on Facebook. “Every solution, though, created new problems; every answer, more questions. For a myriad of health, safety, and legal issues only present in a pandemic, we have had to add ourselves to the extensive list of conventions/festivals/faires who have had to postpone or reschedule their plans. The virus wins... this round.”
They expect to be back in 2021 with the same time-travel theme they were planning for this year.
Here are other recent cancellations:
• Gaslight Steampunk Expo, scheduled for Oct. 1-4 in San Diego. This year’s theme, focusing on the Paris World’s Fair of 1889, will roll over to next year’s event, which is set for Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 2021.
• C.O.G.S. Steampunk Expo, scheduled for Oct. 16-18 in New Jersey. It was originally set for May 15-17 and then rescheduled. “Our hope was that our country would be able to face the struggles of these trying times and find a way to safely return to normal by October,” the organizers stated. “Unfortunately, that is not the reality we are facing today.” Next year’s event is now slated to take place May 14-16, 2021 at the same venue, the APA Hotel in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
• The summer edition of the Surrey Steampunk Convivial, scheduled for July 25-26 in Surrey, UK. The organizers have their “fingers crossed” about the fall convivial, which is currently set for Oct. 10-11.
• WhedonCon, scheduled for Oct. 30-Nov. 1 in Los Angeles. It was originally set for June 5-7 and then rescheduled. The organizers are planning a virtual event in its place. The convention focuses on the works of writer/producer Joss Whedon.
• The Beer-Lesque & Carniv-Ale Show in St. Thomas, Ontario. It was originally slated for May 9 and then postponed to Aug. 29.
• Oddities & Curiosities Expos in Buffalo (Aug. 15) and New Orleans (Aug. 29).
• Belvidere Victorian Days, scheduled for Sept. 12-13 in Belvidere, New Jersey. In its place, the organizers will host a virtual event.
• The Canal Day Music & Craft Festival, set for Aug. 15 in Wharton, New Jersey.
• The Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, scheduled for Sept. 11-13 in Marietta, Ohio.
Here’s a new entry for your video watchlist: Radioactive, a biopic starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie. First screened at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, the film was released in March in the UK and gets its U.S. premiere July 24 on Amazon Prime.
Curie (1867-1934) was a physicist and chemist known for her groundbreaking work involving radioactivity, a term that she coined. In 1903, she became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and she won a second Nobel Prize in 1911.
Early reviews were mostly but not unanimously positive. Critics praised Pike’s performance, but some were not happy with the “flawed script and counterproductive storytelling choices.” Learn more on the website, or view the trailer above.
While we’re on the subject of radioactivity: Chris Crocker-White, “Hardware Hacker in Residence” for software developer Balena, has raised eyebrows in the maker community for a steampunk-style Geiger counter powered by a Raspberry Pi computer. “I liked the idea of combining the modern technology on the inside with the timeless look of brass, copper, toggle switches, dark hardwood, and glass on the outside,” he wrote in a blog post describing the project. “The idea was now to build something that looked old and had that distinctive steampunk style, but was up to date and Internet-connected.”
Housed in a wooden box, his contraption uses three Nixie tubes to display the counts-per-minute reading. “The copper parts you see in the project are made from standard plumbing supplies,” he wrote. He paid particular attention to the fasteners. “Throughout the development of this project I found myself continually swapping fasteners and trying different combinations to see what looks best,” he wrote.
The organizers of the Coldwater Steampunk Online have announced details for this year’s event, which replaces the annual festival held in Coldwater, Ontario. Though it will largely be online, some activities will take place in the town of Coldwater. These include workshops, art installations, scavenger hunts, and cultural exhibits, but with measures to ensure public safety. Instead of happening over one weekend, the event will run from Aug. 6 to Sept. 2.
Online programming will include live entertainment, artisan demonstrations, and workshops. In addition, the organizers announced several competitions, including a creative writing contest, photo contest, and costume contest. The latter will follow this year’s Gaslamp Fantasy theme. You can win a festival T-shirt by donning steampunk headgear and posting a video message: “Happy 10th Anniversary Coldwater Steampunk Festival!”
Learn more on the festival website.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. was a steampunk-infused Weird West TV series that ran on the Fox network in 1993-94. It was praised by critics and drew a cult following, but was cancelled after one season due to low ratings. Now cast members will join showrunner Carlton Cuse to revive the show — sort of — in a live streaming reunion later this month. Stars Bruce Campbell, Kelly Rutherford, Christian Clemenson, and John Pyper-Ferguson, plus guest star Baron Vaughn, will do a live table reading of the first episode, followed by a discussion about the show.
Set in 1893, the series starred Campbell as the title character, a bounty hunter hired by wealthy industrialists to capture an outlaw gang. Fox ran 27 episodes.
The event will stream on House Seats on Friday, July 31, at 8 p.m. Eastern time. It will be available for 48 hours after the air date. Tickets cost $12.50. Proceeds benefit Color of Change, a racial justice organization, and the Writer’s Guild Foundation.
RockGame and SpiffyBit have announced Scrapnaut, which they describe as “a top-down, base building survival game with steampunk elements.” Players build and manage farms in an open world with different biomes. The game was developed by SpiffyBit with RockGame serving as publisher. They’re planning to release an Early Access version on Steam in the fourth quarter.
Frenchy and the Punk are planning a Friday night premiere for “Sing,” a new music video based on a song from their Hooray Beret album. “This is one of those songs that fast became a fan favorite,” they wrote in a message to fans. The video goes live at 7 p.m. EDT (GMT -04). You can set up a reminder by visiting the YouTube page and clicking on the bell. Patreon supporters received an early link. See their website for more info.
Victor Sierra will be at it again with a live-streaming performance this weekend, this time for The Gothic Community Facebook group. It’s set for Saturday, July 19, 6 p.m. CET (that’s 12 noon U.S. Eastern time). Learn more on the band’s Facebook page.
We still don’t have a cure for COVID-19, but in case you need to ward off vampires, an auctioneer in the UK is ready to help. Hansons Auctioneers is accepting bids for an antique vampire-killing kit, part of an online auction that runs through July 21. The contents include a pocket pistol; pocket knife; rosary beads; two sets of pliers; three glass bottles; shark’s teeth; three crucifixes; and an 1842 edition of The New Testament. It’s packaged in a velvet-covered box with brass mounts.
The kit is currently owned by an unidentified individual in the West Midlands region of England. Far from being a vampire hunter, this person purchased the kit at an antiques fair. “I loved the look of the Gothic box and, when I opened it, I just had to have it,” they said in a blog post from the auctioneer.
Starting bid is £1200 (US $1511). Hansons estimates that it will fetch £2000-£3000.
As we’ve reported previously, historians and scientists now believe that at least some vampire scares of past centuries were reactions to infectious disease outbreaks.
Cullen Bunn Brings Cosmic Steampunk Horror to Kickstarter (Bleeding Cool)
The War of the Worlds Studio: The Criterion Collection (Under the Radar)
When Wells met Pal and Welles (The Courier-Gazette)
’Time Machine’ Radio Play Supported By Shaker Arts Council (Patch - Shaker Heights, Ohio)
Undisciplining Victorian Studies (Los Angeles Review of Books)
The bat-virus détente (Knowable Magazine)
Mummification: The lost art of embalming the dead (LiveScience)
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