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Steampunk Digest - June 29, 2018

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

Friday, June 29, 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.

Chicken Goggles

Goggles for chickens? That’s one of the “Seven Patents to Delight Your Steampunk Friends” in a blog post by Brooke Engerman on the National Archives website. “Whether your avian companion is traveling in your dirigible, or just hanging out in the backyard pecking at the dirt, your chicken will be ready for any kind of adventure,” she writes. The patent, awarded in 1903 to Andrew Jackson Jr. of Munich, Tennessee, was formally titled “Eye-Protector for Chickens.”

Jackson described his creation as follows: “This invention relates to eye-protectors, and more particularly to eye-protectors designed for fowls, so that they may be protected from other fowls that might attempt to peck them, a further object of the invention being to provide a construction which may be easily and quickly applied and removed and which will not interfere with the sight of the fowl.”

Other inventions on the list include a Flying Machine from 1869, a Toy Gymnast from 1876, and a “Diving Dress” from 1810. The latter “offers divers the convenience of being submerged underwater in a spacious tent-like dress.” Each item on the list includes a link to the original patent filing. The blog post was written in honor of the 10 millionth utility patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

You have until July 4 to take advantage of StoryBundle's Summer Steampunk Bundle, a collection of steampunk works from a Who’s Who of authors. For $5, you get three titles: Star Compass by Anthea Sharp; Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin; and Legend of the Skyfire Stone by Joseph Robert Lewis. For $15, you get those titles plus The Curious Case Of The Clockwork Menace by Bec McMaster; The Books & Braun Dossier by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris; Heart of the Kraken by A.W. Exley; Golden Heart by Christine Pope; Fall of Sky City by S.M. Blooding; and Clockwork Alchemist by Sara C. Roethle. You get two additional books by subscribing to the StoryBundle newsletter. The collection, available in a variety of digital formats, is curated by Anthea Sharp.

Chiaro and the Elixir of Life

Steampunk in virtual reality. Martov Co. plans a July 2018 release for “Chiaro and the Elixir of Life,” a virtual reality adventure for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR systems. From the developer’s website: “Dive into the magical realm of Neverain as Chiaro, a young engineer determined to unearth the long-lost secrets of the Alchemists, the mysterious and powerful creators of the fabled Alive Machines. Together with Boka, Chiaro’s steam-powered penguin sidekick, decipher the puzzles left behind by the Alchemists to unlock the enigma at the heart of Neverain — the Fountain of Elixir.” It’s been under development for two years.

Peter Graham of VR Focus got an early look. “Chiaro and the Elixir of Life already looks the part of an epic adventure, with gorgeous scenery and detailed characters. It certainly radiates years of work but there is some fine tuning still to be made, on the movement side especially. Yet that doesn’t diminish VRFocus’ interest in Chiaro and the Elixir of Life as another story-driven experience that will likely be welcomed by VR players.”

Martov launched a Kickstarter campaign on May 4, seeking to raise $7500 by July 3. As of June 28, it had raised $4391, well short of that goal.

We recently wrote about the forthcoming comic book adaptation of the popular Newbury & Hobbes steampunk mystery novel series. Now SyFy Wire has an exclusive preview. Author George Mann “is paired with artist Dan Boultwood, who brings a dark Disney-esque flair to these spooky capers and diabolical crimesolving in the murkier lands of Victorian England,” writes Jeff Spry. “I heartily nominate Mann’s absorbing steampunk series for an immediate live-action or animated feature film adaptation!” The first installment from Titan Comics is slated for release this September.

Newsarama has a preview of “Legenderry Red Sonja #5,” the latest installment in a steampunk comic book series featuring the exploits of Red Sonja. In this episode, “Gath’s explosive plan to bring about hell on earth is well on its way to completion and Red Sonja is the only one with any chance of stopping it!” Of course, you have to read installments 1 through 4 before any of that makes sense. Written by Marc Andreyko and illustrated by Rodney Buchemi, the series is a spinoff of Bill Willingham’s “Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure.” Publisher Dynamite Entertainment released the title on June 20.

Last week, we offered a preview of the Steampunk Weekend Festival at the Blists Hill Victorian Town near Birmingham, England. Now that it’s done, the Shropshire Star reports that the event drew “thousands of steampunk fans from across the country,” as “parts of the town turned into a fantasy world inspired by Jules Verne and HG Wells.” The story by Jordan Reynolds includes photos as well as a video featuring interviews with some of the costumed participants.

Leading up to the event, Female First reveals “10 Things you can expect at a steampunk festival”. “If you’re not familiar with steampunk and have never been to a steampunk event before, then the first thing to bear in mind is… expect the unexpected!” the reader is told. Apparently the writer was compelled to produce a Buzzfeed-style listicle, as the “10 things” include “all ages,” “laughter” and “more steampunks” in addition to steampunk fixtures such as corsets and goggles.

A Steampunk Midsummer Festival took place June 23 in Retford, a town in Nottinghamshire in England’s East Midlands region. The event included an all-day Garden Party at the Bassetlaw Museum, where the grounds “were transformed into an enchanted garden for the event, with fairyland characters and garden games with a Steampunk twist,” writes Lisa Porter of Lincolnshire Live. The event also included a Suffragette Parade, honoring the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the UK, and a Steampunk Market Place. Porter’s article includes a slide show, and you can also find photos on the event’s Facebook page.

Ray Guns

Will ray guns “ever be more than cool toys?” asks Dave Hall in a story for The Guardian. He traces the origin of the concept to the Martian death rays in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. “Military research into so-called directed energy weapons, continues to this day,” he writes. “So why, in the 21st century, are we still hurling bits of hot metal about?” He describes efforts to develop such weapons, but “so far, the chemical reactions in guns and artillery are just heaps more efficient.” Read it here.

Carol March McLernon, a self-published author in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, recently released Treasured Memories: Columbian Exposition of 1893, a children’s book that takes the reader on a souvenir-gathering tour of the World’s Fair. The author “hopes adults, too, will read the 28-page tome about a spectacular event in Chicago that became a defining moment in U.S. history,” writes Anna Marie Lux in The Gazette of Janesville. “Organized to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus in the New World, the exposition was a showcase for science, mechanics and industry. Inventors from around the globe, including the legendary Nikola Tesla, flaunted an explosion of new ideas.” Read the story here, or check out the book’s pages on Amazon and Google Books.

Online casinos are legal in some places and illegal in others. Microgaming, a company that makes software for these websites, recently released Fortunium, a steampunk-themed slot game. From the press release: “Loaded with thrilling features brought to life by stunning artwork, the thriving metropolis of Fortunium is the ultimate destination for innovators and entrepreneurs seeking acclaim and fortune. Welcoming players to the city are its famous founders, Victoria, expert navigator and acclaimed explorer, and Maximillian, industrious inventor of mechanical marvels. . . Hidden fortunes await in the golden city of Fortunium, which is now live on all platforms.” The company is based on the Isle of Man between Great Britain and Ireland.

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