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Steampunk Digest - March 6, 2020

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

Friday, March 6, 2020
Georgetown Steam Plant
The Georgetown Steam Plant in Seattle. Photo credit: Derivative work by J. Smith, based on photos by Joe Mabel / CC BY-SA

Seattle’s historic Georgetown Steam Plant will be transformed into an art, science, and education center under the auspices of a new non-profit that will fund a $10 million renovation of the facility. The plant, built between 1906 and 1907, is notable for its huge Curtis steam turbines, which powered the city’s streetcars and a rail line to Tacoma. They’re the last remaining operational models of the engines.

The plant is owned by Seattle City Light, the city’s electric utility, which has offered public tours since 2014. It’s currently listed in The Steampunk Explorer Seattle City Guide as one of the region’s “Steamiest Places.”

The new Georgetown Steam Plant Community Development Authority plans to lease the facility and oversee a makeover expected to take three to five years. The effort will be led by Sam Farrazaino, developer of two art studio complexes in the area. The deal, which requires City Council approval, was reported by Crosscut, a local online news outlet.

Sega is planning an April 28 North American and European release for Sakura Wars, a reboot of a popular steampunk-themed video game first released in 1996. It’s set in an alternate-world 1940s Tokyo in which a squad of young theatrical performers pilot steam-powered mechas to defend the city against demons. It will be available for PlayStation 4.

The game was released in Japan in December. Sega is also planning an April 2020 premiere for an anime TV production based on the game, the Anime News Network reports.

See the Sega website for more info.

Jules Verne and the Shape of Fantasy

Also set for a spring release: Jules Verne and the Shape of Fantasy, a 2D narrative adventure game from Gametopia, a Spanish developer. In the story, the author is trapped in an alternate world inspired by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Traveling in the Nautilus, Verne seeks to “return imagination and creativity to a world invaded by gray industrialization,” the developer says.

The game will be available for Windows PCs. See the website for more info.

It’s a follow-up to Gametopia’s Allan Poe’s Nightmare, based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. However, that game runs on mobile devices.

New Fiction

MK Alexander has released The Ship, a steampunk tale set aboard “the largest vessel ever built by humankind.” It takes place “at the turn of the century, though I’ll not say which century,” the author writes. Otherwise, “I can say little more without issuing a spoiler alert.”

It’s available in paperback and e-book versions. See the Goodreads page for more info.

Balboa Press is out with Hidden City of Alchemy, a steampunk novel by Australian author Melissa Coleman. “A smart and brave heroine with a love for inventing discovers a dangerous family secret in a diary after her mother is kidnapped by German spies,” states the blurb. “Lizzie must leave London and travel to France while learning the shocking truth about her ancestor and about a chemical which could destroy the world, if it should fall into the wrong hands.”

It’s available in paperback only. The author’s website links to Australian sellers, but it’s also available in other countries via Amazon.

Dioscuri Press in Dublin, Ireland is releasing new editions of The Great Iron War, a dystopian steampunk adventure series by Dean F. Wilson. It’s set in an alternate 19th century where rebel forces are pitted against invaders known as the Regime that turn humans’ unborn into demons. Book 1, Hopebreaker, came out Jan. 28, followed by Lifemaker on Feb. 11, and Skyshaker on Feb. 25. Next is Book 4, Landquaker, which is due out on March 10. See the author’s page on Amazon (U.S., UK) for links to the books.

Mad Science!

Steampunk costume designers may someday have a flexible new option for illuminating their work. Researchers in Canada have developed a technique for creating light-emitting fabric that uses ultrasheer pantyhose coated with a thin conductive gold film. They say it retains semitransparency and stretchiness, in contrast to current approaches that rely on stiff wires or optical fibers sewn into the fabrics.

“Users want light-emitting displays that are integrated into fabrics so that they are soft, lightweight, stretchable, washable, and wearable—just like ordinary clothing but with light-emitting panels that can illuminate the user or display graphics/information,” says Tricia Carmichael, a professor of surface and materials chemistry at the University of Windsor in Ontario.

The researchers used the technique to create fabric with an illuminated smiley-face emoji and a display that can show the numbers zero through nine.

Though gold is expensive, the coating is 1000 times thinner than a human hair, which will limit the quantities needed. “We are optimistic about the ability to scale up the technology,” Carmichael says. The biggest obstacle is the need for a lightweight energy source.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Matter. See this press release for more info.

Quick Hits

Photographer Campbell Addy Captures a Sartorial-Meets-Steampunk Moment (Interview Magazine)

The James Blaylock Interview – The PKD of it All (Zamilon File)

Designing a Steampunk Font: More Research and Inspiration (Nicole Whipkey and Nupur Shukla)

Designing a Steampunk Font: Final Draft (Nicole Whipkey and Nupur Shukla)

Steampunk convention at Old Tucson draws wild sights, elaborate costumes, friends for life (Arizona Daily Star)

Review: Full Metal Alchemist Omnibus #1 (volumes 1/2/3) (Literally Graphic)

Karen Haber Reviews The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, New edition illustrated by Ale + Ale (Locus)

Review: Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today (Refinery 29)

Five pairs of brother inventors and scientists who changed the world (Infosurhoy)

1893: Tesla stuns a St. Louis crowd with his first demonstration of radio (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Predictive Text: ‘Frankenstein’, ‘1984’ And Other Books That Foretold The Future (Economic Times)

Steampunk fans in Oregon raise money for people with disabilities (Salem Reporter)

Steampunk, showtunes focus of inaugural fundraiser in Indiana (You Are Current)

Statue Of Nellie Bly Being Added To Pittsburgh International Airport (KDKA-TV)

Steampunk paraphernalia among the curiosities at new shop in Wangi Wangi, Australia (Lakes Mail)

Kansas City writer uses Joplin’s mining heritage as subject for her steampunk novel (Joplin Globe)

Steampunk jewelry workshops at Minnesota library (Mille Lacs Messenger)

Steampunk at Spring Craft Show in Winnipeg (Winnipeg Free Press)

Bizarre ‘ice volcanoes’ erupt on Lake Michigan beach (LiveScience)

Top Stories of the Month

These were February’s most-viewed stories in The Steampunk Explorer:

1. This Column is Troll Proof (Prof. Elemental commentary):

2. Steampunks Gather in Whitby

3. Nights of Edwardian Whimsy in SF (Edwardian Ball/World’s Faire)

4. Steampunks to Gather at WhimsyCon

5. Sneak Peek: More Steampunk Parodies

6. Steampunk Digest - February 7, 2020

7. Steampunk Digest - February 28, 2020


The Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret in Bristol, Connecticut, originally scheduled for March 14, is on hiatus until 2021. The steampunk event served as a fundraiser for the New England Carousel Museum. See the Facebook page for more info.

The Redwater Creek Steam and Heritage Society will present its annual SteamFest Tasmania festival, March 7-9 at the Sheffield Steam and Heritage Center in Murals, Tasmania. The event, featuring demonstrations of steam-powered machinery, will also include parasol dueling and daily steampunk costume contests. It covers nine acres and is expected to draw 10,000 visitors, according to a report in The Advocate, a local newspaper.

The Examiner, another local paper, reported that the organizers were inspired to add steampunk programming after a couple of visitors attended last year’s event “in garments that would have made Jules Verne himself proud.” Society member Brenton Wheare told the paper that “I’m an enthusiast now.”

See the festival website for more info.

Also this weekend. . .

Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention, March 5-8 in Tucson, Arizona, is one of the larger steampunk events in the U.S. It’s known for its Old West ambiance thanks to its unique location, the Old Tucson movie studio and theme park. The organizers have lined up an impressive roster of entertainers and presenters, including Italian steampunk band Poison Garden, author/illustrator Brian Kesinger, and a Who’s Who of steampunk makers and costumers. See our recent story for details.

Leeds Steampunk Market, March 7-8, includes live performances, authors, artists, coffee jousting, historic games, and sellers of various steampunk wares. It’s held inside the Abbey House Museum in Leeds, UK.

And next weekend. . .

Geneva Steam Convention, March 13-15, has adopted “The Zozzling 20s” as its theme for 2020. We’re told that “Zozzled” was a term used during the era to decribe someone who is inebriated. Activities include panel discussions and a vendor area. It takes place at the Lake Lawn Resort & Spa, 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee.

A Night at the Museum invitation

The Fitchburg Art Museum in Fitchburg, Massachusetts will present “A Night at the Museum: Steampunk Masquerade,” a party that will raise funds for the museum’s programs and exhibitions. The 21+ event will feature Neo Victorian food, cocktails, and music. Steampunk attire is encouraged. It’s set for Saturday, March 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $50.

The theme is inspired by the museum’s spring exhibition, “After Spiritualism: Loss and Transcendence in Contemporary Art.” See the website for more info.

Update: Due to the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) pandemic, the Steampunk Masquerade has been postponed until fall 2020. Tickets purchased for the March event will be honored at the resceduled event this fall.

Night Watch Paradox, a steampunk band from Baltimore, is set to take the stage on Friday, March 13, at the Big Frederick Gaming Convention in Frederick, Maryland. The show begins at 9 p.m. The entertainment line-up also includes the Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble that plays video game music. They’ll be performing two shows on Saturday, March 14, at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Attendees can also play a variety of board games, RPGs, and card games. Panels will cover topics such as world design, Game Master skills, and gaming history. The convention runs March 13-15 at the Clarion Inn & Event Center. See the website for more info.

Night Watch Paradox is also slated for performances on Saturday, March 28 at Cult Classic Brewing in Stevensonville, Maryland; on Friday, April 17 at Muchmore’s Brooklyn in New York City; and on Saturday, April 18 at Wings Falls Steamposium in Glens Falls, New York. See their website for details.

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