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Steampunk Digest - March 29, 2019

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

Friday, March 29, 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.


Cyan Worlds, best known as the game studio behind Myst, has launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign for Firmament, an immersive narrative adventure that will feature a steampunk aesthetic. The teaser trailer only hints at the storyline, but offers stunning visuals with steampunk gadgetry in a frozen world. Set for release in summer 2020, the game will be developed for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets, but will also be available for PCs.

The project launched on March 26 and seeks $1,285,000 USD in funding by April 26. Two days after the launch, Cyan had already raised about a third of that goal from nearly 5000 backers. An earlier campaign for the Myst 25th Anniversary Collection raised nearly $3 million. Cyan has teamed with Fangamer to develop merchandise for the various reward tiers. Backers will also have access to exclusive downloadable content and customizations. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Furious Tree Games is on Kickstarter with Widget Ridge, a tabletop deck-building game in which players use cards to construct steampunk inventions. For example, a Mechanical Bison can be combined with other cards to make a solar-powered Mechanical Bison with a parachute. Along the way, players amass gold to purchase inventions, and absorb an energy form known as Spark. The first player to have 100 Spark wins.

The campaign launched on March 26 and met its $14,800 USD goal within 48 hours. It concludes on April 27. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Steampunk Barista

Steampunk-themed coffee shops are nothing new, but SteamPunk Barista near Atlanta offers a twist on the concept: It’s a coffee shop on wheels. Michael and Mica Jablonowski of Woodstock, Georgia started the business in February after spending more than a year to build the trailer. It “was parked at Rudi Fine Jewelry on Saturday, but the couple plans to keep it at Woodstock Furniture and Mattress Outlet most weekends, rotating to other places in the area,” writes Shannon Ballew in the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News. “The barista will also be available for special public and private events.”

They embarked on the project after Michael retired from his job as a project manager. In addition to being a steampunk enthusiast, he plays in an Atlanta-area band called Steampunk Butterfly. You can see more photos on their Facebook page.

The Victorian era seems to be having a moment in the rarified world of high fashion. “Once again, fashion has become enamored with this period of time,” writes Vogue contributor Sophie Kemp in a blog post and slide show. Victorian styles have shown up at Rodarte and Alexander McQueen, she writes, as well as Fashion Month in London and Paris. She then suggests “15 ways to dress like it’s the 1800s,” including an Erdem Lucia Single-Breasted Jacquard Jacket ($2674 USD), The Vampire’s Wife Tassel-Embellished Woven Clutch ($358), and Ann Demeulemeester Floral Lace Gloves (a mere $220). No hats or corsets, however.

Burlingame PD

Some attendees at last weekend’s Clockwork Alchemy convention initially expressed alarm when a group of police officers showed up. It turned out that the men and women from the Burlingame (Calif.) PD were fascinated by the sight of so many people in steampunk outfits. “One shift told the other shifts, ‘Dudes you have GOT to check out these guys!’” remarked Gene Forrer, one of the volunteer organizers.

We’ll soon be posting coverage from the convention, but in the meantime you can check out photos on our Facebook page and the Fans of Clockwork Alchemy page.

The organizers are already accepting pre-registrations for next year’s event, which will be held March 20-22, 2020, at the same location: the Hyatt Regency SFO in Burlingame, near San Francisco International Airport. The theme will be “Marvelous Makers.” See the website for more info.

Frenchy and the Punk have set an April 5 release date for Hooray Beret, their latest CD. Pre-orders are now available through their website. They’ve already released four singles from the album, the most recent being ”Sing.” Based on fan reaction at their live shows, they say it’s one of the most sought-after songs from the album. The duo is set to appear at this weekend’s International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati.


Asterion Games has released Grimshade, a party-based steampunk fantasy game inspired by Japanese roleplaying games from the 1990s. A cast of seven heroes, including a talking badger, engage in combat against a variety of monsters within a fantasy world known as Ree’fah. Early user reviews are largely positive, though apparently the game was beset by some minor bugs on the first day of release (the developer has already issued a patch).

Grimshade was developed by Talerock, a small game studio in Russia. They raised more than $100,000 USD in a Kickstarter campaign last June. Asterion Games is the publisher. It’s available for Windows PCs on the Steam platform.

French artist P.J. Tardiveau has grabbed the attention of electronic music enthusiasts by transforming a Waldorf Streichfett Synthesizer into a steampunk synthesizer that he’s dubbed the SynTesla. “The entire structure is made of French Oak wood, with a Steampunk style,” he told Synthtopia. “The idea was to create a synthesizer that looks like an old electrical control panel from the late 19th century.” The story has photos of the project, including Tesla vacuum tubes used for pre-amplification and equalization.

The synthesizer also got write-ups from Enmore Audio and Electric Kingdom. You can see — and hear — it in action on the artist’s YouTube channel.

The organizer of the Wild West Steam Fest in Santa Ana, California announced on March 22 that the event has been canceled due to low ticket sales. It was set to take place April 6-7 at the Heritage Museum of Orange County. Ticket holders will receive refunds, they said. See the website and Facebook page for more info. It’s not to be confused with the Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention, which took place March 8-10 in Tucson, Arizona.


This weekend’s Big River Steampunk Spring Faire is a new indoor event from the folks behind the Big River Steampunk Festival in Hannibal, Missouri. The program includes live music, magic, vaudeville acts, panels, workshops, a fashion show, tea room, costume contest and facial hair contest. The event will have a “Ragtime” theme alluding to the era from 1890 to 1914.

It was originally set for the Coontz Armory in Hannibal, but flooding at that location forced a move to the Hannibal Inn at 4141 Market St. Admission for Saturday and Sunday (March 30-31) costs $29 per person or $15 for kids 10 and under.

Three separate premium events will take place on Saturday night: a 7 p.m. Ragtime Revue, 9 p.m. Great Gatsby Gala, and 11 p.m. Burlesque performance, all at the Star Theater, 215 South Main Street.

The Big River Steampunk Festival, one of the largest steampunk events in the U.S., takes place over Labor Day weekend. See the website for more info.

“Steamtastic Beasts” is the theme for the International Steampunk Symposium, March 29-31 at the Holiday Inn Eastgate in Cincinnati. Highlights include a weekend-long mystery game and the Steampunk Olympiad. Guests include maker James Neathery, author Leanna Renee Hieber and the above-mentioned Frenchy and the Punk. See our recent coverage of the event.

Steampunk will be well represented at the Creative Ink Festival, March 29-31 in Burnaby, British Columbia. Scheduled guests include steampunk/horror/fantasy author Bryce Raffle, steampunk/fantasy author Adam Dreece, and “Clockwork Millennials” author Dean Wells. Billed as a festival for writers and readers, it will include panels and workshops on the creative and business aspects of writing. See the website for more info.

TimeQuake, an immersive steampunk event, takes place April 5-7 at the BEC Arena in Manchester, UK. The program includes set builds, music, workshops, games, and parties on Friday and Saturday night. Attendees can peruse zones for different subgenres: “Desolation” (postapocalyptic); “Deadman’s Gulch” (Wild West); “SteamWars” (Empire vs Rebellion “with a punk twist”); “TimeLords” (time travel); and “Darkhold” (fantasy). It’s organized by the Ministry of Steampunk. See the website and Facebook page for more info.

Also set for next weekend: 221B Con, April 5-7 in Atlanta; and the Vintage Sewing Adventure, April 6-7 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As always, see our Events Calendar for all upcoming events.

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