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Steampunk Digest - May 28, 2021

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

Friday, May 28, 2021
Sanctuary II attendees
Photo: John Naylor, Ministry of Steampunk

Steampunk fans in the UK ventured forth and gathered in person as the Ministry of Steampunk hosted Sanctuary II last weekend at Kelham Hall and Park in Nottinghamshire. Many attendees, including Ministry director John Naylor, shared their impressions and posted photos on the Welcome to the Asylum Facebook page.

“Hundreds of us got together for an amazing weekend of smiles,” Naylor wrote. “Everyone was mindful of safety and polite almost without exception. Kelham Hall and Park has started to reveal its gems, which show it could be the ultimate UK steampunk venue.”

Sanctuary II attendees
Photo: John Naylor, Ministry of Steampunk

Naylor also posted new details about “The Town That Never Was,” the immersive steampunk event scheduled for July 17-18 at Blists Hill Victorian Town in Telford. The program will include an Airship Pirates display, Speakers Corner presentations, a steampunk arts and crafts market, and performances by the Belly Fusion Dance Collective. Tickets will be sold in advance for timed entry slots to reduce crowding at the gate.

He’s hoping to release news about the Asylum Steampunk Festival “sometime between Friday and Tuesday,” he writes. Plans for the event — the largest steampunk gathering on Planet Earth—have been up in the air due to COVID-related regulatory uncertainties. It’s typically held in late August in Lincoln.

In the U.S., many fan conventions are held over Memorial Day weekend, and this year is no exception. However, as the pandemic continues to linger, the action is happening mostly in cyberspace. Among the events:

• WHOlanta Virtual Tardis 2021 is a convention focused on Doctor Who and other British media. The program includes fan panels and a virtual masquerade, all streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. It takes place May 29. Links: Website | Facebook

• Balticon 55 is produced by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS), which uses the event to present the Compton Crook Award for best first novel in science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

This year’s virtual convention has an extensive program with close to 300 presentations. It includes sessions on historical topics such as “19th Century Gambling,” “Charles Darwin and the Fossil Record,” “Overused and Underused Historical References,” and “A Profusion of Plaid in the Victorian Era.” Special guests include Seanan McGuire, C.J. Cherryh, Alyssa Winans, R.F. Kuang, Micaiah Johnson, and Arkady Martine. It happens May 28-31. Links: Website.

• ConQuesT is a science fiction and fantasy convention usually held in the Kansas City area. Guests include authors Becky Chambers and Dan Wells, and artist Toni L. Taylor. It takes place May 28-30. Links: Website | Facebook

• FanimeCon, held annually in San Jose, is a large anime convention billed as being “by fans, for fans.” Until 2018, it was held in conjunction with Clockwork Alchemy, the Bay Area steampunk convention. It takes place May 28-31. Links: Website

• Kawaii-Kon Online is an anime and comics convention held in Honolulu. This year, the organizers will host an online event May 29-30 on Twitch, followed by an in-person convention in November. Links: Website | Facebook

Statewide Steampunk Day, which had been scheduled for May 29 on Zoom, has been postponed to January 2, 2022.

Cogs and Corsets logo

Steampunk fans in the Midwest will soon be readying their airships for Cogs and Corsets, which returns to downtown Bloomington, Illinois 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.

Though the main event happens Friday night, the organizers will present two free online webinars on Saturday: “The Skinny on the Scanties” at 10 a.m. Central Time and “Urban Transit - Moving in the City” at 1 p.m. They’re also planning a ticketed Saturday morning breakfast buffet on the lawn of the Vrooman Mansion.

See the website for more info.

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Steam Powered Giraffe has posted a new music video featuring the band’s soulful take on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Bryan Barbarin handles lead vocals with guest performer Lacey Johnson on piano and backing vocals. Watch out for the animated stars. The single is available for purchase on Bandcamp and the Steam Powered Giraffe store.

The Eternal Frontier is also out with a new music video, this one featuring a performance of “It Never Rains in Southern California.” It includes video and images from the band’s appearance at the 2019 Gaslight Gathering in San Diego. Look for cameos by Doc Phineas and Abney Park’s Robert Brown.

It’s the first of five videos the band plans for release in the next several months. All were previewed at two recent virtual events, the Freaky Mutant Weirdo Variety Show and Watch City Steampunk Festival.

If you’re hankering to see Baron Von Zipple and Professor Adam Smasher in person, they expect to return to live performance at the 38th New Jersey Lottery Festival of Ballooning, scheduled for July 23-25 at Solberg Airport in Readington, New Jersey.

Book News

Author Shelley Adina is out with The Judge Wore Lamp Black, Book 5 in her Mysterious Devices series. The action takes place in Port Townsend, Washington in an alt-history 1895, where Daisy and Freddie Linden are arrested as spies and brought before “Hanging” Judge Wilson Bonnell. Later, their long-lost father is accused of murdering the judge and they find themselves in search of the real killer.

The novel is available in paperback and e-book formats from multiple booksellers. See the author’s website for links and an excerpt.

Laura Strickland has released Steam Tinker, Book 8 in her Buffalo Steampunk Adventures series. The title refers to protagonist Lionel Pike, who rebuilds old automatons that are otherwise headed for the scrapyard. “When Sofia Gregory brings him her wrecked steam unit and confides it’s also her best friend, he agrees to attempt a repair,” we’re told. “He doesn’t suspect his kindness will open a door to peril, or that he’ll end up risking his heart.”

It’s available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon and other sellers. See the author’s website for links.

Curiosities is seeking submissions of short fiction for an upcoming anthology focused on weird/occult detective stories in a “retropunk” vein, including steampunk, dieselpunk, and related genres. Stories may also be adapted into audio podcasts. “We want to be taken on an adventure in a time that never was,” the publisher states. “Curiosities stories are weird, quirky, often dark, and fun.”

Pay is five cents per word for original stories or one cent per word for reprints. Maximum length is 7500 words. The submission window is June 1-30, 2021.

See the website for full submission guidelines. The publisher also has some openings for readers to screen submissions, likely from June 1 through July 15. Send queries to Kevin Frost at the same email address listed on the submission page.

Quick Hits

‘The Nevers’: Designing the Aliens and Victorian Inventions for Joss Whedon’s Supernatural Thriller (mild spoilers) (IndieWire)

Blackpool cafe gets a steampunk revamp (Blackpool Gazette)

Steampunk-themed restaurant Jekyll & Hyde expanding again with new location in downtown Waxhaw (Charlotte Business Journal)

Why Did So Many Victorians Try to Speak with the Dead? (The New Yorker)

A Novel Imagines a Victorian England Ruled by France (The New York Times)

Stephen King Epix Series ‘Chapelwaite’ Gives Us Its First Look at a Dismayed Adrien Brody (iO9)

Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin Clifton and Steps star Claire Richards join War of the Worlds arena tour - venues and dates (The Scarborough News)

Steampunk Crosses with Super Mario In This Fantastic Video Game Fanart (Goomba Stomp)

Steampunk Pirate Game Black Skylands Enters Early Access On June 11 (ScreenRant)

This digital deck-builder about life in a travelling circus is having a free open beta (PC Gamer)

Montblanc’s Around The World In 80 Days Collection Inspires Adventure (Forbes)

This low slung electric bike is the perfect mix of sci-fi and retro futurism (Yanko Design)

Curtiss One electric motorcycle’s radical design: Slim, symmetric & a large dose of steampunk (Financial Express)

The Ghost Subway Station in Paris Where Films Come to Life (Atlas Obscura)

San Francisco’s Feusier Octagon House, designed by phrenologists, to hit market (SFGate)

Cicada Swarms Were Documented by a Black Naturalist in the 18th Century (History.com)

10 of the Worst Jobs in the Victorian Era (Mental Floss)

How the ‘Queen of Thieves’ Conned French Riviera Wealthy (Atlas Obscura)

Frederick Douglass: The slave who became a statesman (Live Science)

Hindenburg disaster’s earliest moments captured in newly released footage (Live Science)

Security: The Long History of the Lock and Key (Ancient Origins)

4 Female Inventors Who Revolutionized Industry and Technology (Thomasnet)

AI and Storytelling: The Holodeck Is in Sight (Computer Graphics World)

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