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Steampunk Digest - July 6, 2018

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

Friday, July 6, 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.

eSpec Books

eSpec Books, a speculative fiction publisher, has released three new steampunk titles. The Clockwork Witch by Michelle D. Sonnier, is “a debut novel about a young girl in a witching family that shows no traditional talent until suddenly she discovers something new, technomancy,” the publisher says. It’s available on Amazon.

Jeff Young’s Spirit Seeker: The Adventures of Kassandra Leyden, is “a series of short stories about a medium recruited by the investigative branch of the government.” It’s also on Amazon.

After Punk: Steampowered Tales of the Afterlife is “an anthology where Death gets ‘Punked and the afterlife is modded out.” Edited by Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Greg Schauer, it includes stories by Jody Lynn Nye, L. Jagi Lamplighter, David Sherman, Gail Z. Martin and Larry N. Martin, Jeff Young, Michelle D. Sonnier, Bernie Mojzes, David Lee Summers, Jeffrey Lyman, James Chambers and Ackley-McPhail. Get it on Amazon.

The Kindle versions of the books sell for $2.99 each.

A steampunk city will rise this weekend in Tampa, Florida as Aethertopia makes its debut in the Entertainment Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds. As we reported back in May, it will be an immersive experience with seven districts, each associated with a Maker Guild: Hatters (headwear), Inventors (devices and technologies), Assassins (weaponry), Storytellers (fiction, music, dance and acting), Artists (painting, sculpture and crafts), Explorers (airships, rockets, travel gear), and Seamsters (costumes). Projects in each district will be eligible for Audience Choice Awards and “Best of Show” awards.

The organizers have recruited three Expert Maker judges to determine the “Best of Show” winners: Abney Park founder and leader Robert Brown; professional prop maker Olivier Xavier; and cosplay wizard Thirl Hupp, aka Professor Cornelius Thriftium.

Adult admission at the door is $75 for a two-day pass, $55 for a Saturday-only pass and $39 for a Sunday-only pass. Discounts are available for students and kids ages 4-12. See the website for details.

Gear Con 8 is happening this weekend in Portland, Oregon, with a lineup of guests that includes Good Co., Cece Otto, Dogwood & Johnstone, and Professor DR Schreiber, “the Historical Conjurer.” This year’s theme is “The Great War,” “observing the centennial of the WWI armistice, exploring steampunk militaria, and looking ahead to dieselpunk retrofuturism,” the website says. It takes place July 7 and 8 at the University Place Hotel. See the website and Facebook page for details.

Steampunk will be a big part of the programming at the eighth annual Galacticon, which takes place July 5-7 in conjunction with the Roswell UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico.

Activities include a Steampunk Belly Dance workshop, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, and an Awesome Steampunk Ball, 9 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, with The Marquis of Vaudeville providing musical entertainment. Also on tap are cosplay contests, a film festival, a Doctor Who TARDIS photo op and lots more. Special guests include actor Garrett Wang, who portrayed Ensign Harry S. L. Kim on “Star Trek: Voyager.”

Most of action is at the Roswell Mall, with Peppers Grill & Bar serving as the venue for the Awesome Steampunk Ball. Various ticket packages are available. The Roswell Daily Record has a preview, and you can get additional details from the event website.

80 Days

“80 Days,” a video game inspired by Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, is one of the “10 Short Video Games to Take on Vacation” in a recent roundup by GQ’s “Grown-Ass Gamer” columnist Joshua Rivera. The game “is one of the most elaborate choose-your-own-adventure stories you’ll ever see,” he writes. “You play as Passepartout, manservant to the eccentric Phileas Fogg—a British gentleman who has made a foolish wager that he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. As Fogg’s valet, you’re the one responsible for most of the work of actually figuring out how this is going to work.”

Originally released in 2014 by inkle, it’s now available for Macs, PCs, and Apple and Android mobile devices. Learn more on the developer’s website.

Verne’s novel is also the inspiration for Mr Fogg’s House of Botanicals, a bar that’s set to open July 26 in London. Drinks will be based on the “weird and wonderful botanical collection” that Phileas Fogg would have gathered in his global travels, writes Julie Delahaye of the Daily Mirror. “Downstairs you can expect drinks inspired by Amazonian plants, luscious leaves and tongue-tingling spices, while upstairs will serve The Secret Language of Flowers Menu, a floral inspired bonanza,” she writes. “Each and every drink there will be represent a different flower, and the emotion which Victorians associated with it for a quirky throwback to the past.”

Inception Group, the company behind the new bar, has three other locations inspired by the Verne character: Mr Fogg’s Residence, Mr Fogg’s Tavern and Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour. You can read the story, or head straight to the bar’s new website.

Steampunk is well represented in the Wylde Wood Collective, a recently opened shop in New Westminster, British Columbia featuring art, clothes, accessories and jewelry made by local artists. “Celebrating faerie, myth, steampunk and goth themes, The Wylde Wood Collective is a one-of-a-kind destination for fantasy enthusiasts,” reads a press release announcing the opening.

The founders include Tracey Ernst, who makes steampunk and faerie-themed jewelry, and the shop also has steampunk creations by one Randy McCormick, according to a story in the New Westminster Record. Learn more on the shop’s Facebook page.

Hatton Cross Steampunk founder David Lee “still has trouble coming up with the exact definition of steampunk,” writes John Walsh in a profile for the Gloucester Mathews Gazette-Journal in Gloucester, Virginia. “His daughter, Jessica Lee, however, takes a good shot and calls the steampunk genre ‘what the people of the Victorian era thought the future would look like.’”

The profile describes how father and daughter discovered steampunk, and includes photos of Lee’s projects. You’ll have to be a subscriber to read the entire article, but there’s still plenty of info in the preview.


Back in April, we told you about Frostpunk, a “society survival” video game set in an alternate-history 1886 England beset by extreme cold. The latest reviewer to weigh in is James Ide of the Daily Mirror. “The dark visual style fits the tone without being bland or uninteresting,” he writes. “Your workers even leave footprints as they trudge in the snow to collect resources. The shadows and lighting from the precious few heaters and generators look beautiful and does an excellent job of representing the last flame of humanity.”

As we reported, other reviews were generally positive as well. Read Ide’s review here.

Richard Wilks’ Aquatrope is one of the notable works we mentioned in our recent coverage of the San Diego Automotive Museum’s “Steampunk with a Retro Twist” exhibition. Another Wilks creation, the “Evotrope,” is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC.

Smithsonian Insider has a video about the mobile contraption, which was inspired by 19th century animation devices such as the Zoetrope. “It’s built on three unicycles,” he explains, one for steering and two to provide power. The video shows how he can change the blades in the large wheel to make different artistic statements.

The Evotrope is part of “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” an exhibition that runs through January 21, 2019. Learn more about the project on Wilks’ website.

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