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Steampunk Digest - June 4, 2021

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

Friday, June 4, 2021
Newark Castle
Newark Castle. Photo by Jessica Paterson (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr.

The Asylum Steampunk Festival is moving to a new location in Newark-on-Trent this year due to concerns about large crowds in Lincoln, the usual home for the August gathering. Ministry of Steampunk director John Naylor announced the move Wednesday in a statement on the Ministry website and Welcome to the Asylum Facebook page.

“We will be putting features into both the [Newark] castle and marketplace with other venues to be confirmed,” he wrote. The organizers also plan to set up a base at nearby Kelham Hall for an expanded version of the group’s Sanctuary event, with a shuttle bus connection between the locations. The festival will be held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, which runs through Monday, Aug. 30.

The Ministry originally proposed a scaled-down festival in Lincoln that would be limited to venues with controlled entry, without any public or open-access programming. But local authorities expressed concerns that tourists might show up anyway, potentially leading to large crowds and public health risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Past festivals have drawn an estimated 100,000 visitors, making it the world’s largest steampunk gathering.

Asylum Steampunk Festival
Participants at the 2019 Asylum Steampunk Festival. Photo by Lara Ra / Shutterstock.com.

“Steampunk is a very attractive and welcoming scene but this brings with it an audience over which we have no direct control,” Naylor wrote. Previously, local government councils and the Lincoln Business Improvement Group (BIG) provided assistance, “but for 2021 we were told we would have to manage it all ourselves. As a volunteer based arts organisation this left us in an untenable position. We cannot control who comes to the streets of Lincoln but are apparently responsible for them if we bring some of our community for a gathering behind closed doors. We were therefore advised that we should not run the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln this year but should look for an alternative location.”

He added that the festival hopes to be back in Lincoln in 2022, but “for this year we must ask the world’s Steampunks and interested visitors to please stay away.”

Naylor also asked for more patience as the Ministry works out the details for the new location. See the Welcome to the Asylum Facebook page for updates.


Statement from the Ministry of Steampunk Regarding Asylum 2021 (Ministry of Steampunk)

Lincoln Steampunk festival set to be moved out of the city over covid fears (Lincolnshire Live)

Lincoln loses steam: Iconic steampunk festival moved to Newark (The Lincolnite)

Newark is the new venue for Lincoln’s Steampunk festival as authorities warn of risks (Newark Advertiser)

Maurice Broaddus and Dacre Stoker will be the Author Guests of Honor this weekend at ConCarolinas, a science-fiction convention happening virtually in cyberspace and in-person at the Hilton Charlotte University Place in Charlotte, North Carolina. The program includes tracks on writing, film, geek life, science, and the paranormal.

Broaddus, best known to steampunk fans as the author of Pimp My Airship and Buffalo Soldier, will discuss his work in a Saturday afternoon session. He’ll also participate in panels on “Authors and Bards,” “Multiple Income Streams for Authors,” “Writing Novellas,” and “All About Agents.” Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Dracula author Bram Stoker, will lead several presentations related to his ancestor’s classic novel.

Other speakers include authors William C. Tracy, Quincy J. Allen, Robert Bevan, J.D. Blackrose, Nancy Dunne, and Michael G. Williams.

The event takes place June 4-6. Virtual membership costs $20 and provides access to all live streamed content, as well as one-year access to recorded content. See the website for more info.

Also this weekend:

Cogs and Corsets, the “Steampunk Happening” in Bloomington, Illinois, returns for one night only on Friday, June 4. The program includes a steampunk market, maker exhibition, nerf dueling, dirigible races, and costume accessories contest, plus a free musical performance by Michelle Deck, aka Lady Lyric d’Avalon, the Time-Traveling Trouvère. Learn more on the website.

The SFWA Nebula Conference is going virtual again June 4-6. It’s hosted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and the program is geared toward professionals in the field. However, you don’t have to be an SFWA member to participate. Registration costs US$125.

One highlight is presentation of the 56th Annual Nebula Awards. The ceremony will stream on Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern time on YouTube and Facebook, so anyone can watch. See the website for more info.

Steampunk fans will also have choices next weekend as two virtual events are taking place.

The Society for the Ethical Treatment of Kraken in Winnipeg will present Steampunkin’ Around the World, an online convention featuring performances by “steamgoth” band Victor Sierra and Victorian horror troupe Phantasmagoria. Author Gail Carriger will participate in an online tearoom session and a panel on how she uses historical research to develop her characters. Other guests include maker Wheeler Stone and authors Beth Daniels, John R. White, Victoria Szulc, and Gary Ruse.

It happens on Saturday, June 12, beginning at 10 a.m. Central Time. Get more details on the website.

Meanwhile, the organizers of Clockwork Alchemy will present Transmissions from the Aether, a free virtual event set for June 12-13. The organizers haven’t posted a schedule yet, but The Steampunk Explorer is slated for two presentations: One on steampunk artistry at Maker Faire plus a retrospective on The Steampunk Explorer itself. The latter will include tips for creators and others who want to get coverage on the site. Clockwork Alchemy is the major steampunk convention for the San Francisco area, and The Steampunk Explorer had its semi-official launch at the event in 2018.

Again, you can get the details on the Clockwork Alchemy website.

Author Jessica Lucci has released Steampunk Pride, a collection of LGBTQ-themed short fiction featuring “pirates, magi, princesses, airships, mechanoids, automatons, masquerade balls, and multi-faceted LGBTQ romance,” she writes.

She discussed the book in a Facebook Live videocast on June 1, noting that “you don’t have to be steampunk to enjoy it and you don’t have to be LGBTQ to enjoy it. You just have to enjoy a nice short story.”

It’s available in Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon, or in paperback from her Etsy store.

Mad Science!

Airlander First Flight
First flight of the Airlander in 2019. Photo © Hybrid Air Vehicles.

Could a new era of airship travel be upon us? Well, maybe sort of. Hybrid Air Vehicles, a company based in Bedford, UK, has developed a vessel called the Airlander that combines technologies used in airships, fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters. It features a helium-filled hull like an airship, but the company describes it as a hybrid because it’s heavier than air and relies on aerodynamics, as in an airplane, for 40 percent of its lift. For takeoff and landing, it uses vectored thrust similar to that of a helicopter.

It was originally developed for military use, but the company foresees commercial applications including adventure travel and short-hop inter-city flights, such as Liverpool-to-Belfast or Seattle-to-Vancouver. The Guardian reported that the company hopes to begin serving routes in 2025.

Cabin Lounge Concept
Cabin lounge concept. Image © Hybrid Air Vehicles.

The vessel can be configured to carry up to 90 passengers, the company says. It has a top speed of 130kph (80mph), which is slower than conventional aircraft. But the company says this is offset by the Airlander’s ability to take off and land in small spaces, so passengers don’t have to drive to and from an airport.

One big selling point is energy efficiency. For example, a Seattle-to-Vancouver flight in a conventional aircraft produces 53.15kg of CO2 per passenger compared with an estimated 4.61kg per passenger in the Airlander, the company says.

For adventure travel, the Airlander can cruise at relatively low speeds and altitudes, with full-height windows so passengers can enjoy the scenery, the company says. OceanSky Cruises, a Swedish travel company, plans to use the vessel for excursions over the North Pole.


Airships for city hops could cut flying’s CO2 emissions by 90% (The Guardian)


Erika Rae Heins of Oak Harbor, Washington is on Kickstarter with a pair of 2022 art calendars: Once Upon a Time in Middle-Earth and Blooms and Bones. The latter features quotes from classic poems with Victorian gothic illustrations of flowers and bones. She also sells the artwork on Etsy as postcards, notecards, coffee mugs, and 8x10 prints.

The Middle-Earth calendar features illustrations inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The campaign launched on May 27 and has met its US$1500 fundraising goal. It runs through June 24. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Quick Hits

Datebook: After A COVID Year, Steampunk Fest Cogs and Corsets Marks The Return Of Whimsy (WGLT-FM)

The Nevers Part 2: Will Claudia Black Return For The Second Season On HBO Original Series? (Spoilers) (The CineTalk)

Steampunk-inspired lamp designs to add some grunge + cool factor to your living space! (Yanko Design)

Two Twin Cities makers are creating cool engine- and pedal-powered two-wheelers (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

John Steinbeck’s estate urged to let the world read his shunned werewolf novel (The Guardian)

Review: Sherlock Holmes’ daughter vs. Jack the Ripper in series’ latest (The Post and Courier)

The Outrageous Bride magazine that is tapping into new trend for zombie, Goth and even Viking weddings (Business Live)

Benoît Sokal, Creator of the Syberia Steampunk Game Series, Has Passed Away (Game Rant)

Black Skylands Hits Steam Early Access in June (The Nerd Stash)

Iron Harvest: Operation Eagle Review (TechRaptor)

Steampunk-themed restaurant to open in downtown Waxhaw, NC (WSOC-TV)

Genealogy Basics: 8 Tips for Tracing Your Family Tree Online (Mental Floss)

A Long-Lost Library of Emily Brontë Poetry and Other Literary Artifacts Is Hitting the Auction Block (Mental Floss)

What can the Aztecs tell us about themselves? The secrets of their ‘indigenous annals’ (History Extra)

Why San Francisco Victorians didn’t originally have garages (SFGate)

Sunken cities: Discover real-life ‘Atlantis’ settlements hidden beneath the waves (Live Science)

Exploring the boundaries of time travel (CBS News)

Frame From Infamous “Alien Autopsy” To Be Sold As NFT For $1 Million (IFL Science)

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