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Steampunk Digest - July 31, 2020

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

Friday, July 31, 2020
Seattle Kraken logo

In steampunk tales, the Kraken is a fearsome creature that dwells the ocean depths. But next year the Kraken will be on the ice as a new National Hockey League franchise in Seattle. Team officials announced the name and revealed the logo on July 23. They began with 1200-plus possible names, which they winnowed down to three finalists before settling on the Kraken.

“The Kraken is a mysterious beast, the largest ever imagined by mankind, and impossible to tame,” the team stated in a press release. “This legendary sea creature has natural ties to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest through the region’s deep maritime history. This name embodies a connection to the sea, and a curiosity with what lurks beneath.”

The team will be the NHL’s 32nd franchise. They begin play in the 2021-22 season, but “Release the Kraken” merchandise is already available online. The team said it will donate proceeds to local youth non-profits through Aug. 21. The Seattle Times reported that the team already has one official sponsor: Kraken Rum.

The Seattle Kraken announcement prompted Mike Perschon, aka the Steampunk Scholar, to make a modest proposal for his local Canadian Football team. “I’d like to recommend a name change that is equally mythic, economically assonant, and relevant to Edmonton as a city of stark seasons - the Edmonton Elementals,” he wrote on Twitter. “Before you dismiss this is as D&D nerdery, consider the four elements and their applicability to the elements our team plays in! And then consider too the marketing slogans for a quarterback as fast as fire and elusive as air, a defensive line as implacable as earth, etc.”

The team, previously known as the Edmonton Eskimos, announced on July 21 that it would drop that name after discussions with Inuit communities.

Steampunk Wedding
Photo: Shannon Pitcock (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr.

Planning a steampunk wedding? UK-based PKG Publishing wants to help with Outrageous Bride, a new magazine “for brides who break the mould.” The editors aim to offer “inspiration and ideas” for weddings with unusual themes, including steampunk, gothic, dieselpunk, pirate, fantasy, and medieval.

The magazine “is for all couples, inclusive of LGBTQ+, any gender, any background, any age, size and shape,” the publisher states. And they are eager to hear from couples who had or plan to have “a wedding that is unusual in any way.”

Issue 1 is currently available in print. Digital versions will be available at Readly, Magzter and Issuu beginning Aug. 15, the publisher says.

See the website for more info. The company also publishes Pinstriping & Kustom Graphics, a bimonthly magazine now in its 14th year.

Tesla Force artwork

In Tesla vs. Lovecraft, game developer 10tons Ltd pitted Nikola Tesla and his fanciful gadgets against monsters summoned by H.P. Lovecraft. Now, in Tesla Force, the inventor and horror author are teaming with Marie Curie and Mary Shelley to battle hordes of Great Old Ones unleashed in an experiment gone awry. It’s a rogue-lite top-down shooter in which you’ll be able to play as any of the four characters.

10tons plans to release an Early Access Windows version of the game Aug. 5 on the Steam platform. At first, only the Tesla and Curie characters will be available. The developer expects to exit Early Access within three months. They’re also planning console versions, but there’s no word yet on the time frame. See the website for more info.

Steam Powered Giraffe has released “Bad Days on the Horizon,” the latest in a series of singles to be included on 1896, the band’s forthcoming album. In this one, David Michael Bennett, aka The Spine, handles the lead vocals. As one fan observed, “he’s gone full cowboy.”

It’s available on YouTube as an audio-only video. You can purchase the single from iTunes, Bandcamp, or the SPG store. The full album, slated for release in Winter 2020, is available for pre-order.

Crystal Peake, an independent book publisher in the UK, has announced a steampunk-themed short story competition. Stories should be aimed at young adults (not children) and range from 2000 to 15,000 words. It is open to international authors. The entry fee is £5 (US $6.49).

“We are considering steampunk as retrofuturistic science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery,” the publisher states, alluding to the definition in Wikipedia. They will not consider gaslamp fantasy “unless it has some type of science fiction element.”

Judges include children’s author Colin R. Parsons. Winners will receive a contract to have their story published in a forthcoming anthology. They’ll get free copies, and 40 percent of net sales will be split among the authors.

The entry deadline is Oct. 31, 2020. Winners will be announced Jan. 20, 2021. See the website for more info.

New Fiction

Three book covers

Author Catherine Stein has released A Shot to the Heart, a new novella in her Sass and Steam steampunk romance series. The story is set at the 1904 Olympic Games, where archer Cora Maxwell aims to compete despite a devastating arm injury. She’s aided by an inventor who harbors secret feelings for her, and together they contend with rogue mechanical dragons, electrical mishaps, and vicious competitors.

It’s available in e-book and paperback formats from Amazon and other booksellers. See her website for more info.

Author Jon Hartless is re-publishing his steampunk motor-racing series, beginning with Full Throttle, which was first released in 2017. The books were originally published by Accent Press, which now has new ownership and chose not to continue the series, he told us. The new editions have different cover art and minor edits to the prose. He’s aiming to release the second book, Rise of the Petrol Queen, in August, followed by Fall of the Petrol Queen in September or October.

The books are set in an autocratic, class-conscious Edwardian-era society. In Full Throttle, working class heroine Poppy Orpington overcomes social prejudice to enter the elite world of motor racing. In Rise of the Petrol Queen, she sets up her own factory to make her father’s newfangled petrol-powered cars. Hartless says the stories were inspired by the Bentley Boys, a group of wealthy 1920s-era British racing drivers.

Full Throttle is available as an e-book or paperback from Amazon in the U.S. and UK. See the author’s Facebook page for more info.

Crowdfunding

Comic book producer Shane Amaya is on Kickstarter with Issue #5 of Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam, a supernatural Victorian mystery miniseries. It’s “not steampunk!” Amaya exclaims, but we believe steampunk is in the eye of the beholder, and this seems close enough.

The series tells the story of “Lord Percival Cawthorne, an American-born agent of the British Crown, his faithful manservant Runnymeade, and Miss Sally, the mysterious agent assigned to help them solve a mystery involving homicidal reanimates and Lewis Carroll’s most dangerous mathematical equations! To crack the case, the team must survive saber duels, steam-powered supercomputing engines, doomed airships, Russian femme fatales, and—most terrifying of all—strong-willed women!”

The comics are written by David Alton Hedges, a Los Angeles-based screenwriter, with art by Jefferson Costa of São Paulo, Brazil. Issue #5 will be 64 pages, double the typical length. They’re ultimately planning a 10-part series. They raised US $6,977 in a successful Kickstarter campaign for Issues 1-4.

The new campaign launched July 28 and has already passed its US $3000 goal. It concludes on Aug. 27. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Online Events

The Leeds Steampunk Virtual Market returns this weekend to Facebook. To participate as a trader or visitor, you need only click to join the Facebook group and answer a few questions. Participants are encouraged to make a small donation to Cloth Cat, a music charity based in Leeds.

The festivities include virtual coffee jousting, in which you submit videos of a dunking session with a biscuit and coffee mug. It takes place Aug. 1-2, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. UTC+01 (subtract 5 hours for U.S. Eastern time). Learn more on the Facebook page.

See our Events Listing for other happenings in cyberspace.

The organizers of Victorian Days in Belvidere, New Jersey are seeking speakers and performers for this year’s festival, which will be held virtually due to COVID-19. “In particular, we’re in search of speakers or interpreters focused on 19th century Black history or the 19th century immigrant experience,” they wrote on Facebook. They’re open to pre-recorded videos or participation in livestream events. Pre-recorded videos should be submitted no later than Aug. 15.

Organizers also accepting entries for the 2020 Victorian Days Plein Air Art Competition.

The virtual festival is scheduled for Sept. 12-13. Links to entry forms are available on the Facebook page.

Past events have drawn sizable numbers of steampunk fans. See the website for more info.

Quick Hits

Steampunk Venus rover ideas win NASA contest to ‘explore hell’ with clockwork robots (Space.com)

Steampunk Mecha RTS Iron Harvest Arrives In Open Beta Next Week (The Gamer)

Gotham by Gaslight: The OTHER Heroes of DC’s Victorian Reality, Explained (CBR)

Wisconsin: Steampunk jeweler among 32 exhibitors in virtual Art Fair on the Green (La Crosse Tribune)

Southern Maine Steampunk Fair moved to digital format (Portland Press Herald)

Florida: A New Steampunk Speakeasy In Town With A Lot Of Local History (St. Pete Patch)

UK’s Top 10 Subcultures Revealed (Rugby Observer)

Movie Review: Radioactive (History Answers)

Hold on and hope - Lincoln uphill traders reveal what life has been like since lockdown was eased (Lincolnshire Live)

Youtuber Plays Toto’s Africa On Tesla Coils (Wonderful Engineering)

The Real Dracula? (Heritage Daily)

Genetic Data Reveals More Horror From The Transatlantic Slave Trade (IFL Science)

Sacred Mound Helps To Rewrite The European Story Of America’s Colonization (IFL Science)

US Space Force hires a horse to boldly go where rockets can’t. (The beach) (LiveScience)

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