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Steampunk Digest - July 24, 2020

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

Friday, July 24, 2020

It’s a big weekend for virtual conventions, beginning with Comic-Con@Home, an online version of Comic-Con International. It opened on Wednesday and runs through Sunday, July 26. As we mentioned in our recent preview, it will feature more than 350 panels plus a virtual dealer hall and online masquerade. Highlights include “A Zoom with Joss Whedon” on Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Update: The Joss Whedon session was removed from the Comic-Con schedule. But you'll find many other panels and other programming on the Comic-Con website.

San Diego Comic-Con Panel
In screen: His Dark Materials panel at 2019 San Diego Comic-Con. Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC-BY SA 2.0) via Flickr.

But that’s not all. Michigan Magick and Machine 2020, also this weekend, is an online convention for the state’s Pagan and steampunk communities. It runs July 24-26. Panels include:

• “Opening the Steam Doors: Inclusion in Steampunk Fiction,” with Dave Robison, Jane Bailey, Paul Kemner, Ted Jauw, and K. Tempest Bradford;

• “The Intersection of History and Fantasy,” with Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris;

• “Absinthe, Alewives & Alchemy: Time Travel, Tea Leaves & True Tales,” with Kate Henriot Jauw and Ted Jauw;

• “Steampunk Aesthetics Through A Black Lens,” with Ofeibea Loveless, Sistah Geek, Lord Chaos, and Cassandra L. Jones;

• “Crowdfunding for Authors,” with Madeleine Holly-Rosing;

• “How to Create Technically Correct Sci-Fi Worlds,” with Nikki Woolfolk and Madeleine Holly-Rosing.

The suggested donation is $20. Proceeds will be split 50-50 between Pagans in Need, a food pantry with five chapters, and the National Bail Fund Network Rapid Response Fund. See the website and Facebook page for more info.

The Vespertine Circus and Unwoman will reprise their virtual stage production in performances on July 24 and July 31. The shows, which combine circus acts with Unwoman’s music, are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific time. The artists also performed on June 19 and 20. The show is rated PG, “with references to alcohol and the potential for strong language, but nothing violent or overly-suggestive,” the producers say. “It is designed for adults, but at least as kid-friendly as much of Cartoon Network.”

Tickets cost $15 via Eventbrite. You’ll need a PC-based browser to tune in — it won’t work on mobile devices.

Up next weekend is CoNZealand, the first-ever virtual edition of the World Science Fiction Convention. It replaces the real-world gathering, which was set to take place in Wellington, New Zealand. Highlights include panels, a virtual masquerade, and presentation of the Hugo Awards. Scheduled speakers include Alex Acks, Charlie Jane Anders, Cory Doctorow, Phil Foglio, David Levine, Catherine Lundoff, Cat Rambo, Rebecca Roanhorse, and William C. Tracy. The Guests of Honor are George R.R. Martin, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, Greg Broadmore, and Rose Mitchell.

It takes place July 29-Aug. 2. You’ll need an attending membership to participate. Adult memberships cost NZ $300 (US $200), or NZ $150 for unwaged New Zealand residents. See the website for more info.

Creaks Laboratory

Amanita Design, a Czech developer, has launched Creaks, a puzzle adventure game set in a mysterious mansion with steampunk and Victorian elements. The “Creaks” of the title are “eccentric avian folk and strange creatures,” which are dangerous when animated but become harmless furniture when you trap them under a beam of light. As furniture, they can help solve the game’s puzzles.

Creaks is available in versions for Windows, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The Windows and Mac versions are sold via the Steam platform. See the website for more info.

As promised, Frenchy and the Punk debuted “Sing,” a new music video based on a track from their Hooray Beret album. Patreon supporters can access a behind-the-scenes discussion of the song. See their website and the YouTube page for more info.

The Cog Is Dead Masks

Once again, The Cog Is Dead is doing its part to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Way back in March, the band posted a clever PSA to encourage people to wash their hands. Now they’re offering a series of cloth face masks with band-related artwork. “I made these available to encourage people to wear them in public and help reduce the spread of the virus,” says band leader John Sprocket.

The masks are made with a 100% polyester exterior and 100% cotton lining interior, with elastic ear loops. Cost is US $12.50 plus shipping. $1 from each sale will go to a nonprofit that feeds children in need.

Sprocket is continuing to host Streaming the Steam, a video series that runs each Thursday on YouTube. Recent guests included Marquis of Vaudeville, Professor Elemental, and Phantasmagoria. You can view each episode on the band’s YouTube channel.

The South Devon Players, a theater troupe in Brixham, UK, is holding virtual auditions for a steampunk-themed drama about Jack The Ripper. The production “explores various theories of Jack The Ripper’s identity (although it is never revealed, leaving the audience to draw their own conclusions at the final scene),” the producers write. “While there are myriads of theories about Jack The Ripper and other personalities living in Whitechapel at the time, we have kept to specific theories, and linked them together into a maze of drama and leads, reflecting the complexity of the investigations, while also running a linear, narrative drama.” Steampunk theming will appear mostly in sets, costuming and props.

Auditions will be held via Zoom. Performers from the South Devon region will get priority. The group is currently planning to stage the production from late October to mid-November at various venues in Southwest England. However, the dates could move to January/February 2021 due to the pandemic. See the website for more info.

Author Jessica Lucci has released Gustover Glitch, Book 3 in her Watch City steampunk trilogy. In this one, “our tenacious heroes time travel to a city in the clouds, intent on stopping the evil warlord Ziracuny before she starts,” the author says. “AI technologies complicate their mission, as they find themselves battling unseen forces.” It’s available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats. See her website for more info.

Quick Hits

Leaked Demo of Alleged Sucker Punch Game Looks Like a Steampunk Assassin’s Creed (Gamespot)

Mechinus Is A Steampunk Adventure In A Mechanical Ecosystem (TechRaptor)

Frostpunk Reviewed: The Dark Souls Of City-Builders (Play Analog)

The Steampunk Automatron Is the Stunning Hot Rod Built From the Ground Up (Auto Evolution)

Here’s How You Build a Fake Rat Rod Van From a London Cab in Just 7 Days (Auto Evolution)

Nearly 100 years ago, a man tried to blast off to Venus. Now the hunt for his rocket is on. (The Washington Post)

History on a plate: HH Bennett Studio preserves Victorian era photography technique (WDJT-TV)

A Dark and Stormy Night – Mary Shelley and the Origins of British Science Fiction (Anglotopia)

Studio Ghibli Theme Park on Track to Open in 2022 (That Hashtag Show)

Every Hayao Miyazaki Movie Including Spirited Away, Ranked (CinemaBlend)

How Historical Societies Are Bringing Their Recipes to Pandemic Cooks (Atlas Obscura)

Sold: An 1891 Patent by Granville T. Woods, Innovative Black Engineer (Atlas Obscura)

Comic-Con 2020: All dressed up and nowhere to go (San Diego Union Tribune)

When John Lewis Cosplayed at Comic-Con as His Younger Self (The New York Times)

Scientists accidentally create ‘impossible’ hybrid fish (LiveScience)

What Killed The “Mummy Of The Screaming Woman?” New Scans Reveal Likely Cause Of Death (IFL Science)

Iron age ‘murder’ victim unearthed outside of London (LiveScience)

Watch The Historic Moon Landing And Other Footage In Incredible New Detail Thanks To AI Enhancement (IFL Science)

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