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Steampunk Digest - July 20, 2018

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

Friday, July 20, 2018

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.

Author Gail Carriger is out with Competence, Book 3 in The Custard Protocol series. “All alone in Singapore, proper Miss Primrose Tunstell must steal helium to save her airship, the Spotted Custard, in a scheme involving a lovesick werecat and a fake fish tail,” reads the description. “When she uncovers rumors of a new kind of vampire, Prim and the Custard crew embark on a mission to Peru. There, they encounter airship pirates and strange atmospheric phenomena, and are mistaken for representatives of the Spanish Inquisition.” It’s available in print, e-book and audio book formats, including signed hardcover editions. Learn more on her website.

Motor City Steam Con took place last weekend in Novi, Michigan, and local media outlets Detroit Metro Times and MLive were there with photographers. “With a foot in the past and a face towards the future, metro Detroit’s vibrant steampunk community received high marks for fashion cosplay,” Metro Times writes. “But there was more than just Victorian-inspired couture – panels, punk rock, and vendors helped to keep the mood bright.” See the gallery here.

MLive’s photo gallery focused mainly on the cosplay. You can also find photos and comments about the event on the Motor City Steam Con Fans Facebook page.

Steam Highwayman

Return of Steam Highwayman. UK writer Martin Noutch is seeking Kickstarter funding for Steam Highwayman II: Highways and Holloways, Volume 2 of his steampunk adventure gamebook series. The reader plays the role of the “Steam Highwayman,” riding a two-wheeled steam-powered cycle through an alternate-history England. The book is divided into 1500 passages, each with choices that take you on different paths through the story. The Kickstarter page includes a link to a demo version of the game.

Noutch has set a goal of raising $5232 by August 16. As of July 19, 59 backers had pledged $1907. Learn more from the Kickstarter page and Noutch’s website. Image used by permission of Martin Noutch.

Steampunk ballet meets Shakespeare. The Sierra Nevada Ballet (SNB) in Reno is set to present a steampunk-themed version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with performances scheduled for July 23 in Incline (Lake Tahoe), August 5 in Reno, and August 11 in Carson City. Director Ananda Bena-Weber “did some research into our community and discovered a large steampunk/Burning Man culture, which led her to design a steampunk fantasy ballet using both classical and hypnotic modern music styles,” writes SNB artistic director Rosine Bena in a story for the Reno Gazette Journal. Cindy Joy, whose fashion designs have been seen at steampunk events in Nevada and California, served as a costume consultant. Get the details on the SNB website.

Art Donovan, a pioneer of steampunk design, recently sat down for a Q&A with Nicole Teitler of The Independent, a community newspaper for the East End of Long Island. New steampunk artists, he laments, “are no longer taking any creative risks” and are relying too much on elements “such as the ubiquitous top hats, brass accessories, goggles, and corsets.” But “luckily, there are still artists who continue to take risks and continue to create breathtaking works of great originality.” He also reveals that his favorite steampunk-styled film is Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.”

Donovan is best known as the curator of ”Steampunk. Devices + Contraptions Extraordinaire,” an influential exhibition that ran from October 2009 through February 2010 at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, England. His artistic work consists mostly of lamps. Learn more from his website.

Bruce and Melanie Rosenbaum, known for their Steampunk House in Sharon, Massachusetts, are featured in “Amazing Interiors,” a new Netflix home makeover series that’s set to debut on July 20. The producers wanted to film the original Steampunk House, but the couple recently moved into a repurposed 1876 gothic church in Palmer, Massachusetts. “Netflix thought their new home would even make a more compelling story,” states a news item on the Rosenbaums’ website. “Production crews came on 3 separate occasions [over six months], each film day lasting between 12 and 14 hours.” The story includes photos of the production crew at work.

Bruce Rosenbaum was also in the news recently as the curator of “Discover Steampunk,” an exhibition at the Museum of Idaho in Idaho Springs.

The Washington County Museum in Portland, Oregon is hosting “Steampunk: An Art Invitational,” an exhibition that runs through August 30. It includes the works of 11 artists from the Pacific Northwest, plus items from the museum’s collection. “Artists are showcasing, and in most cases selling, all kinds of different art forms, from professional photography and fine art to amazing sculptures, jewelry, costumes, weaponry, and much more,” writes Mandy Feder-Sawyer in Forest Grove News Times. The museum has scheduled a demonstration day on August 11 in which visitors can meet the artists. Learn more from the news story and the museum’s website.

Age of Brass

“Rebel Women” of Victorian times. “With regressive gender politics and a restrictive legal system, the Victorian era is not exactly remembered as an empowering era for women,” writes Nadja Sayej in The Guardian. “But the Museum of the City of New York is shining a light on a set of oft-forgotten figures: the 19th-century heroines who broke all the rules in a new exhibition called Rebel Women, a tribute to the ‘nasty women’ of the era.”

The exhibition, which runs through January 6, 2019, includes photographs, fashions, posters and other items “illustrating the lives of New York’s female activists who fought for equal pay, abortions, divorce and ‘free love’,” she writes.

You can also find stories about the exhibition in AM NewYork and Artdaily.org, or you can visit the website. Image used by permission of the museum.

Steampunk Honesdale takes place this weekend in downtown Honesdale, Pennsylvania, a city near Scranton that’s known as the birthplace of the American railroad. The free festival features vendors, a costume contest, rides in a steam locomotive, and lots more. Our preview of the event was the most-viewed article in June and is on track to be the most-viewed for July as well. Local media outlets are also weighing in: You can read about it at PAHomepage.com, NEPA Scene, and The River Reporter.

Patent Pending. That’s the name of a new cocktail bar in downtown Manhattan that occupies the Radiowave Building, where inventor Nikola Tesla once maintained his home and laboratory. The bar pays homage to Tesla through its décor and cocktail menu, which includes selections such as “AC/DC,” “Radio Waves,” “Cosmic Rays,” and “Currents & Coils.”

“An immigrant, an innovator and a patriot, Tesla dreamed of a world which few others could imagine,” the website states. “He was an eccentric genius, an ‘Electric Messiah’. We toast to him and the countless others that think outside the box, persevering against all odds.”

Surface magazine included Patent Pending in a roundup of new Manhattan cocktail bars. “This intimate speakeasy-style cocktail den features exposed-brick walls and archways, blue banquettes, and a long bar illuminated by Edison bulbs,” writes Laura Itzkowitz. As for the drinks, “try the Strange Magic, a low-ABV refresher made with vodka, Madeira, strawberry, grapefruit, lemon, Prosecco, and seltzer.”


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