Steampunk Digest - March 1, 2019
Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world
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Legion M Entertainment has signed veteran TV and film producer Andrew Cosby as showrunner for Evermor, a sci-fi fantasy steampunk TV series inspired by Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron sculpture in Sumpter, Wisconsin (shown above). The series will follow teenage orphan twins in rural Wisconsin who discover a machine that allows them to travel to alternate Earths.
Cosby is co-founder of comic book publisher BOOM! Studios and co-creator of the SyFy TV series Eureka. He’s also the screenwriter for a forthcoming Hellboy movie.
Legion M describes itself as the “world’s first fan-owned entertainment company.” It has raised more than $5 million in funding from more than 10,000 investors. The new series is co-created by Legion M members Perry Covington, Erik Figi and Tya Kottler. Covington and Figi are the co-writers. The company will serve as executive producer and is seeking investment and distribution partners. See the project slate for more info about the company’s productions.
The Stupid Cupid Steampunk Ball took place Feb. 23 in Manchester, Connecticut, featuring performances by Victor and the Bully, Montague Jacques Fromage, and Offbeat Souls, plus author presentations and a fashion show. Reports indicate that a fun time was had. It was the latest installment in “12 Months of Steampunk,” a series of events in Connecticut organized by David Carlson of Oddball Newt. He’s posted lots of photos on the Oddball Newt Facebook page.
Next up is the St. Patrick’s Parade & Festival, in Norwich, Connecticut, where Carlson is organizing a steampunk contingent. It takes place on Sunday, March 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the city’s downtown. Carlson advises participants to gather at 11 a.m. at 351 Main St, in front of the YMCA. See the Facebook page for more info.
Tor.com Publishing has released The Haunting of Tram Car 015, a novella by P. Djèlí Clark set in an alternate-world Cairo of 1912. From the description: “The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities — handling a possessed tram car. Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.”
The book has received praise from Locus, NPR.com, and Everfair author Nisi Shawl. In a review on the Tor.com blog, Alex Brown observes that it has steampunk elements while avoiding some of the problems she has with the genre. “Without the Victorian era, you don’t get steampunk, but you also don’t get the Victorian era without the brutality, exploitation, desecration, and destruction of imperialism,” she writes. “In Haunting, Clark shifts the focus from the British to the Egyptians. . . In just over 100 pages filled with monstrous creatures and fanciful magic, Clark critiques the patriarchy, imperialism, and Westernization under the guise of a slight plot about a haunted public transit trolley.”
See the Tor.com website for more info and links to booksellers.
Author Shelley Adina is out with Holly Cottage, a short novel (124 pages) that’s Book 17 in her Magnificent Devices series. It’s a tale of events that transpire after Maggie Polgarth purchases a cottage near Vauxhall Gardens in London. “But the south bank gangs have not forgotten the Lady of Devices,” states the blurb. “If they cannot touch her, it’s only a matter of time before they take their revenge on someone closer to hand. . . If you like old-fashioned adventure, brave women, clever children, and strong-willed chickens, you’ll love this short story set in the Magnificent Devices steampunk world.”
It’s available in print and ebook formats. See her website for more info.
Game publisher Wired Productions announced that the PC version of Close to the Sun will be available exclusively from the Epic Games Store. The store is accepting pre-orders for the game, a horror adventure set in 1897 aboard a mysterious ship created by Nikola Tesla.
“Journalist Rose Archer steps aboard the Helios in search of her sister Ada,” states the description. “She quickly discovers not all is as it seems. Grand halls stand empty. The stench of rotting flesh lingers in the air. Silence. A single word is painted across the entrance… QUARANTINE!”
Developed by Storm in a Teacup, the game is slated for release later this year. The developer signed Wired Productions as the publisher in December.
Epic Games is the company behind Unreal Engine, a widely used set of game-development tools. The Epic Games Store is a new venture that will compete with the popular Steam distribution platform for PCs and Macs. The game will also be available for consoles.
Early reviews are highly positive for Sunless Skies, the “Gothic Horror” roleplay game we discussed back on Feb. 1. The game is set in an alternate-universe 1905 where players captain a spacefaring steam locomotive. It is “a hostile world,” writes Simon Parkin of The Guardian, “and much of the game’s challenge and delight come from snatching opportunity from the jaws of calamity. . . the farther you travel from home, the greater the chance of seeing awful things that will increase your ‘terror’ meter.”
And this from Christopher Byrd in The Washington Post: “Sunless Skies is a majestically cruel game. I abandoned one campaign after the crew on my space-faring train devolved into a ragtag band of cannibals.” He notes that much of the narrative is delivered in the form of short, well-written text messages that scroll across the screen, and “it’s a treat to see a game exult in the power of language to this degree. I can’t wait to get back to it.”
Sunless Skies currently has a score of 86 on reviews aggregator MetaCritic. Developed by Failbetter Games, it’s available for Macs, PCs, and Linux systems. See the developer’s website and the Steam page for more info.
Matthias Linda is on Kickstarter with Chained Echoes, a 16-bit fantasy roleplay game that includes steampunk elements such as mechanical warriors and customizable airships. It’s set on the continent of Valandis, where a group of heroes must stop a war and destroy a “devastating, god-made weapon, the Grand Grimoire.”
Linda is from Germany, but the game will be English-only at first. It’s under development for PCs, Macs and Linux systems, but he says he’ll also release it for Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 if he meets his stretch goals.
The campaign launched on Feb. 5 and seeks €60,000 ($68,263 USD) in funding by March 7. See the Kickstarter page for more info.
How would you like to create your own steampunk game? Marta Gil of Gametopia, a Spanish game studio, offered some pointers on the genre in a recent blog post. Aesthetics are indispensable, she writes, but storytelling is also important. She also discusses color schemes, weapons, and various modes of transport. The games she cites include Bioshock Infinite, Deponia, They are Billions, and The Howler.
The blog post ends with an invitation: “Do you have any steampunk idea in mind? Any revolutionary game? We want to hear you!”
When Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened in Orlando in 1971, one of the original attractions was “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Submarine Voyage,” a ride inspired by the 1954 movie. It closed 25 years ago, but across the world at Tokyo DisneySea, the “concept lives on in a different form,” writes Joshua Meyer in WDW News Today, an online publication (not affiliated with Disney) that covers the company’s theme parks.
He takes readers on a visual tour of the ride, which simulates an underwater voyage in a mini-sub. It’s set within Mysterious Island, which includes a large replica of the Nautilus submarine from the movie.
“During the ride, Nemo communicates with you in Japanese via his Aquaphone,” Meyer writes. “Passengers aboard the subs explore an aquafarm, a mysterious reef, and a ship graveyard.” They also experience an attack by a giant squid, which knocks the vessel into a trench. At the bottom, “you discover the lost city of Atlantis,” where green merman help the sub resurface, “giving you a web-handed wave goodbye.”
WhimsyCon, billed as “Denver’s Steampunk and Costuming Convention,” takes place March 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center. The guests of honor are author and artist Roberto Rodriguez Calas and costumer Erin Card. Other guests include Hugo-winning science fiction author Connie Willis. It’s produced by Shiny Garden, which also runs the Myths and Legends Con and HexaCon. See the website and Facebook page for more info.
The Mitchell Park Conservatory in Milwaukee will host the Gardens & Gears Steampunk Wonderland Faire, described as “a gadget filled garden party showcasing the culture, arts & craftsmanship of the Steampunk era & lifestyle.” Visitors are encouraged to dress in steampunk attire or as Alice in Wonderland characters. It takes place Saturday, March 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The conservatory is known for its large climate-controlled domes. See the website and Facebook page for more info.
“Mission Steampunk,” on Tuesday, March 5, is a steampunk-themed fundraising event that will benefit the Mission Inn Foundation in Riverside, California. The foundation operates a non-profit museum within Riverside’s historic Mission Inn, which is considered the largest Mission Revival Style structure in the U.S. The group also conducts hotel tours and develops educational programs.
The event will include live entertainment, silent and live auctions, and an appearance by Brett Waterman, host of Restored on DIY Network. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. in the museum, with the main event happening from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Atrio and Galleria. Guests can also visit the St. Francis Chapel. Tickets cost $85 for individuals and $150 for couples. See the website for more info.
Steampunk author Jaymee Goh suggested the Mission Inn as a stop on our ”World Steampunk Tour” last year.
LarpCon, March 1-3, is a convention for the LARP (Live Action Role-Play), cosplay and steampunk communities. Activities include panels, talks, demos, a costume competition, combat tournaments, and the UK Larp Awards. It takes place at the Hermitage Leisure Centre, Silver Street, Whitwick, Leicestershire LE67 5EU. See the website for more info.
The Leeds Steampunk Market takes place March 2-3 at the Abbey House Museum in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Activities include live performances, authors, artists, coffee jousting, historic games, flying owls, and steampunk traders. See the website for details.
Housekeeping note: We recently added several hundred events to the 2019 calendar. It includes comic cons, science fiction conventions, Renaissance fairs and book festivals in addition to steampunk events. Many steampunk listings now have links to past stories about the events. Don’t hesitate to shout if you’re aware of an event we haven’t listed.
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