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Steampunk Digest - June 28, 2019

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

Friday, June 28, 2019

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.

Aethertopia, the immersive steampunk event scheduled for June 29 and 30 in Tampa, Florida, has been canceled. Lead organizer Anthony Sakovich cited low ticket sales in an announcement posted on the event’s website. This came a week after a scheduled appearance by steampunk band Abney Park was postponed. Sakovich wrote that he plans to send refunds to ticketholders, but he’ll be paying out of his own pocket, so “it’s going to take me time.” The event was organized around seven districts comprising a “Nomadic City of Steampunk Makers.”

In response to the cancelation, some Tampa-area steampunk vendors are planning small pop-up events this weekend where folks can socialize and patronize artists who would have appeared at Aethertopia.

The first is scheduled for Saturday, June 29, noon to 6 p.m. at the SpookEasy Lounge, a haunted teahouse in Tampa (see the Facebook event page). It will include a photo op at 2 p.m. and a costume parade at 3 p.m.

On Sunday, folks will meet at Waypoint 6 Tavern & Geekery in Largo from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. This event will feature a costume contest at 3 p.m. It’s described as a crossover between a con and steampunk invasion. Again, see the event page.


The distributor of The Current War has released the first two trailers for the forthcoming film about the feud between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse over electric power transmission in America. Slated to open in October, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Edison, Michael Shannon as Westinghouse, and Nicholas Hoult as Nikola Tesla. Tom Holland of Spiderman fame plays Samuel Insull, who was Edison’s personal secretary.

The original version of the film received mixed reviews after it was screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Then its release was delayed due to the bankruptcy of The Weinstein Company. Since that first screening, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has added five scenes and cut the movie’s running time by 10 minutes.

There’s no telling if the film will be successful, but one thing is clear: We can expect lots of bad puns from headline writers. A few samples from the trailer’s release: “The Current War debuts an electrifying movie trailer”; “Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicholas Hoult Make Sparks Fly”; “The shocking Pa. connections to Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and their new movie.” Rolling Stone did somewhat better: “Battle of the Bulb: Watch Edison, Tesla’s Electric Fight in The Current War Trailer.”

The trailers are nearly identical, but the second is a bit shorter than the first.

Clockwork Detective

Ellysian Press has released The Clockwork Detective by RA McCandless, the first book in the Constable of Aqualinne series. From the blurb: “Aubrey Hartman left the Imperial battlefields with a pocketful of medals, a fearsome reputation, and a clockwork leg. The Imperium diverts her trip home to investigate the murder of a young druwyd in a strange town. She is ordered to not only find the killer but prevent a full-scale war with the dreaded Fae. Meanwhile, the arrival of a sinister secret policeman threatens to dig up Aubrey’s own secrets – ones that could ruin her career.”

The novel has been praised by pioneering steampunk author James P. Blaylock, who described it as “my kind of book: a wonderful, fully realized, utterly plausible Steampunk world with a dynamite plot, great characters, and the best dirigibles this side of anywhere.”

McCandless is scheduled for a reading and book signing on Saturday, June 29, 1 p.m., at the Riverside Main Library in Riverside, California. See the publisher’s book page and author’s website for more info.

Author Gail Carriger is planning two August events in the San Francisco area to launch Reticence, the fourth and final book in her Custard Protocol series. She’ll be at Borderlands Books in San Francisco on Aug. 6 at 6 p.m., followed a day later with a 7 p.m. appearance at Books, Inc. in Alameda. On August 10, she’s planning an online launch via Facebook Live. After that, she’s off to Dublin, Ireland for WorldCon.

Here’s how she describes the new book: “Bookish and proper Percival Tunstell finds himself out of his depth when floating cities, spirited plumbing, and soggy biscuits collide. . . Percy has always been on the outside – dispassionate, aloof, and hatless. But accidental spies, a trip to Japan, and one smart and beautiful doctor may have him renegotiating his whole philosophy on life. Except hats. He’s done with hats.”

Reticence is currently available for pre-order via Amazon and other booksellers. See her website for more info.

Bruce Rosenbaum

Steampunk maker Bruce Rosenbaum and his wife Melanie are offering tours of their “Steampunk Wonderland Church” in Palmer, Massachusetts through a promotion on Groupon. That’s the same church featured in an episode of Amazing Interiors, the Netflix series about unusual homes. The tour includes Rosenbaum’s steampunk gallery and workshop. The discounted prices range from $65 for a single person to $549 for groups of 10. Tours are by appointment.

Groupon users gave mostly positive reviews to an earlier offer from 2013. That was for a tour of the Rosenbaums’ Steampunk House in Sharon, Massachusetts. They moved to the new property in 2016. See our previous story, ”A Visit with the Steampunk Guru,” for more info about his work.


Steamortal Games is on Kickstarter with The Green Conquest, a steampunk-themed tabletop strategy game for two to four players. It’s set in toxic, lawless mining zones where clans battle one another by building war vehicles. Each player leads a clan of drivers, with the goal of having the last vehicles on the board.

Steamortal Games consists of two brothers near Aix-en-Provence, France. This is their first Kickstarter campaign.

It launched on June 26 and seeks €30,000 (about $34,078 USD) by July 26. See the Kickstarter page and website for more info.

Ben Bernard of Dayton, Ohio is on Kickstarter with Gilded Suns, described as a “Victorian and steampunk-inspired campaign setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.” It’s set in a late 19th century world with huge airships, secret cults, and conflict between great powers. “Engineers invent new gadgets, and guns are common. Far to the east, the fading days of samurai clash against rampant colonialism. And in the frontier, players have the opportunity to found their own kingdoms.”

Funds raised by the campaign will pay for artwork and the initial print run of a hardcover book. The campaign launched on June 20 and seeks $10,000 USD by July 20. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

We Discover Geeks is seeking $2000 USD in Kickstarter funding to support PA STEAM Fest 2019, a free event scheduled for Aug. 31 at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The festival will have a steampunk theme while also promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Makers, the organizer says. This is the first year for the event.

The Kickstarter campaign launched on June 15 and concludes August 9. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Scarlet Danae of Italy is on Kickstarter with Volumes 1 and 2 of L’incubo di Biancaneve (Snow White’s Nightmare). Writing in Italian, the author describes it as “a retelling of the Grimm fairy tales in a Steampunk and grotesque key,” as translated by Google. “The events take place in a steampunk, indeed, medieval-punk setting: between toxic gases, cruel queens, ruthless antagonists and grotesque gags.” It’s intended for an adult audience.

The campaign launched on June 18 with a goal of raising €680 (about $772 USD) by Aug. 17. As of June 27, it had received just €1 from a single backer. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Event News

Allen Chung has announced the dates and location for the second Steampunk Showcase in central Pennsylvania, along with a name change that will expand the scope of the event. The Steampunk and Fantasy Showcase is slated for Nov. 16 and 17 at the Spooky Nook Sports Center in Manheim near Lancaster. The complex includes the Warehouse Hotel for folks who want to stay overnight. The name change reflects “our inclusion of all things fantasy from Dragons to Gears, From Elves to Pirates, from Silk to Broadcloth,” he says.

He’s currently taking applications for vendors, entertainment and panelists. Tickets will cost $30 with discounts for military, firefighters and law enforcement.

That’s the same weekend as Teslacon in Madison, Wisconsin, but last year’s inaugural event also posed scheduling challenges as it was held over Thanksgiving weekend.

You can send queries through the website, though it still lists the dates for last year’s event.

Castle Hill, a historic mansion on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts, is hosting a Steampunk Party on July 12 that will double as an interactive theatrical game. “Throughout the evening, participants will meet steampunk characters, solve puzzles and make choices that determine how the story unfolds,” the organizers say.

The 54-room mansion was completed in 1928 for Richard Crane, president of a company that made bathroom fixtures. The property is now owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations, a non-profit conservation and preservation group. It has served as a shooting location for several movies, including The Witches of Eastwick.

Tickets to the party cost $44 for Trustees members and $55 for non-members. See the Facebook page or event page for more info.

This Weekend

Steampunkalia is a steampunk festival happening June 29 and 30 at the Nottingham Industrial Museum in the UK. The programme includes a craft market, tea dueling, and gaming. Musical guests include Sorts and The Cogkneys on Saturday and Captain of the Lost Waves on Sunday. Attendees can also explore the museum’s attractions. See the website and Facebook page for more info.

Steamy Tech takes place June 29 at the Charles Cheney Inn in Manchester, Connecticut, promising “music, makers, vendors, food, art, dancing and an afternoon of fun.” This new event is one of “12 months of steampunk” produced by Oddball Newt. See the Facebook page for info.

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