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Steampunk Digest - March 13, 2020

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

Friday, March 13, 2020

Coronavirus takes its toll: Organizers of Clockwork Alchemy in the San Francisco area and the International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati announced on Friday that both events have been postponed due to public health orders related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Clockwork Alchemy, originally scheduled for March 20-22 in Burlingame, California, was postponed until March 19-21, 2021. The International Steampunk Symposium, originally set for March 27-29, will be held August 28-30.

We’ve posted a new story with additional details about the events in California and Ohio. It follows an earlier story about the impact of the virus on steampunk events in the U.S. and UK.

We also posted a page listing other steampunk-related events that have been cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak. We will keep it updated as we learn of other changes.

This column has been updated to reflect the latest developments about the steampunk events.

Avionics VM
Photo: MB&F M.A.D. Gallery

A couple weeks back, we told you about the EV-1, a limited-edition electric motorcycle from France with wooden fairings and a retro-steampunk vibe. Now a couple of designers in Poland have come up with the Avionics VM, a limited-edition electric bicycle with wooden components that harks back to the 1930s. It features a 5000-watt electric motor powered by a 24-amp lithium-ion battery pack. Electrical components are housed in a waterproof wooden chest underneath the seat.

It can reach a top speed of 36 mph (58 km/h) but can be programmed for lower-speed modes that use less power.

The MB&F M.A.D. Gallery in Geneva, Switzerland is selling the e-bikes in a limited edition of 52 models.

Time Machines
Tropidacrix Dux
Photos: MB&F M.A.D. Gallery

MB&F is a Swiss watchmaker whose M.A.D. galleries specialize in horological works and “Mechanical Art Devices,” hence the acronym. We couldn’t help noticing a couple of other artists whose works are currently featured at the Geneva location.

Florian Schlumpf’s “Time Machines” (above) are kinetic sculptures with exposed clock mechanisms. They include the Wall Machine in the center, which measures 2.1 x 2.2 meters (6.9 x 7.2 feet) with a 1.8-meter (5.9 foot) orbital drive.

“MeCre” (“Mechanical Creatures”) by Gaby Wormann are bionic insects inspired by the works of Franz Kafka, H.R. Giger, and Pierre Matte. The artist takes prepared insects and outfits them with gears, plates, and other mechanical parts. Each is displayed in a handmade wooden frame. The gallery is currently exhibiting nine of her pieces.

New Fiction

Laura Strickland is out with Cross Checking, Book 7 in her Buffalo Steampunk Adventures series. In this one, heroine Maddie MacGillicuddy impersonates a man to land a job, and finds herself recruited by a city magnate to join a tournament hockey team. It’s available as an e-book from Amazon, B&N, and other sellers. Get more info on the author’s website.

UK author Mark Hayes has released Maybe: A Victorian Steampunk Mystery, Book 1 in a series dubbed “A Ballad of Maybes.” As the British Empire faces a threat from a criminal conspiracy, protagonist Benjamin West finds himself at the funeral of “Mr. Maybe,” a Polynesian engineer somehow connected to the disappearance of West’s father in the Amazon basin.

Hayes has also penned “The Elves and the Bootmaker,” a new short story featuring Hannibal Smyth. He’s the central character in a series of earlier novels set during the reign of an apparently immortal Queen Victoria. The story appears in the fourth volume of Harvey Duckman Presents, a multi-genre anthology scheduled for release in April. It’s now available for pre-order. You can find links to booksellers in this blog post.

Wordwraith Books has released Bargain at Bravebank, Book 1 of a new Western steampunk adventure series by J.R. Frontera. Set in an alternate-history Old West, the story involves a hero with a metal leg seeking personal redemption and the freedom of his kidnapped sister. It’s available as an e-book and audio book, the latter narrated by Roger Clark. Book 2, Bastard of Blessing, is set for release in February 2021. See the author’s website for more info.

Author Shelley Adina has released a digital box set with the first three books of her Mysterious Devices series: The Bride Wore Constant White, The Dancer Wore Opera Rose, and The Matchmaker Wore Mars Yellow. She describes them as “clockwork cozy mysteries” set in the same world as her Magnificent Devices series, but this time in an alternate-history Wild West. Get the details on her website.


London-based film producer Abigail Goulding has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Copycats, described as a “dark Victorian comedy, based on the true story of copycat killings inspired by Spring-Heeled Jack.” The short film was written and directed by Philip Good, who has previously directed music videos and commercials. The cast includes Pearl Mackie, who played Bill Potts in series 10 of Doctor Who.

Spring-Heeled Jack was a demonic creature who became the stuff of urban legend in 19th century Great Britain, with many alleged sightings beginning in 1837. The stories were an inspiration for The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack, a steampunk novel by Mark Hodder that won the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award.

Copycats has been shot and edited, and now the producers are seeking £3000 (US $3847) to pay for visual effects and festival submissions. The campaign launched March 2 and concludes April 1. See the Kickstarter page for more info, including a trailer.

Quick Hits

A Weekend in the Wild West and an Interview (David Lee Summers)

Recommended Reads: Fantastic creatures, hidden perils in steampunk novel ‘Dangerous Territory’ (MLT News)

Long Island theatrical troupe presents a steampunk Sherlock Holmes (Dan’s Papers)

Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman (Under the Radar)

15 Best Alien Invasion Horror Movies Ever Made (Gamespot)

5 Things Future Horror Movie Remakes Can Learn From The Invisible Man (CinemaBlend)

10 Obscure (But Awesome) Sci-Fi Movies You Can Stream Today On Netflix (ScreenRant)

’Abyss Crew’ Early Access Delayed By A Month (Worth Playing)

Four ‘SteamWorld’ series games coming to Google’s Stadia, including free Pro titles (9 to 5 Google)

The vehicle building/combat game “Dieselpunk Wars” is coming to Steam this June (TGG)

New Yorkers show off their best coronavirus fashion in stylish face masks (Metro)

Author Q&A: Historian Iwan Rhys Morus on the life and myth of Nikola Tesla (Physics Today)

James Clerk Maxwell, “Scotland’s forgotten Einstein,” celebrated at final resting place in Parton

These Women In Science Changed The World, Here’s How (Medical Daily)

If We Can Make Animals Smarter, Should We? (Vice)

Newly Described Species Of Wacky Insect Named After Lady Gaga (IFL Science)

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