- City Guides
Steampunk Digest - May 29, 2020
Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world
Friday, May 29, 2020
Steampunk fans in the U.S. now have a new streaming service to keep themselves occupied. WarnerMedia has taken the wraps off HBO Max, which features all HBO programming along with other WarnerMedia content as well as acquired programs and originals.
Among the highlights:
• Seasons 1-11 of Doctor Who, plus the next three seasons.
• Every season of Doctor Who spinoffs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
• All eight Harry Potter films plus Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
• Japanese animation films from Studio Ghibli, including Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Castle in the Sky is a steampunk classic. This is the first time the films have been available on a streaming service.
• Season 1 of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, an anime series with steampunk elements.
• Season 1 of The Alienist, a TV series based on the Caleb Carr novel about a team of investigators hunting a serial killer in 1896 New York City.
• Films and TV series based on DC Comics, including every Batman and Superman film released in the past 40 years.
• Films from Turner Classic Movies, including Time Bandits, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Fantastic Planet, Night of the Living Dead, The Blob, Freaks, Eraserhead, Vampyr, The 39 Steps, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Citizen Kane, Gangs of New York, King Kong, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, and a large selection of Charlie Chaplin films.
That’s in addition to HBO series such as Game of Thrones, Watchmen, Westworld, and His Dark Materials. In all, the service boasts 10,000 hours of content, WarnerMedia says.
The service costs $14.99 per month. Customers of HBO Now and cable subscribers who get HBO will have access at no additional charge. WarnerMedia is offering a seven-day free trial. It’s not yet clear when or if the service will be available in other countries.
Meanwhile, many steampunk fans are anticipating The Nevers, a forthcoming HBO science fiction series by Joss Whedon about a gang of super-powered women in 1899 London. Whedon has described it as “maybe the most ambitious narrative I’ve created,” which are strong words from the guy who created Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly.
The cast and crew spent six weeks last summer in London shooting the pilot episode, according to a blog post on the series website. Production resumed in December but was cut short in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Filming is now complete for two episodes of the 10-episode first season.
HBO announced last October that the series would premiere in 2021. It’s not yet clear if the production delay will push that back. You can keep up with developments on the website, which includes bios of the main characters and photos from the set.
Also expected for a 2021 release is The Gilded Age, a new HBO period drama by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. The first season is set in 1882 New York City and tells the story of Marian Brook, “the orphaned daughter of a Southern general, who moves into the home of her rigidly conventional aunts in New York City. Accompanied by the mysterious Peggy Scott, an African-American woman masquerading as her maid, Marian gets caught up in the dazzling lives of her stupendously rich neighbors, led by a ruthless railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife struggling for acceptance by the Astor and Vanderbilt set.”
HBO’s website has a list of cast members and bios of the characters they play.
Steampunk is often in the eye of the beholder, and at least one observer sees steampunk in Snowpiercer, a new TV series that premiered May 17 on TNT in the U.S. (it’s on Netflix in other countries). Based on the 2013 Bong Joon-ho film and the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, it tells the story of a massive train carrying what remains of humanity in a frozen postapocalyptic world. The upper class occupies the posh front part of the train, while the Prison Class is relegated to the back.
The film received critical acclaim, but the series “manages, gloriously, to bypass all that is great and almost all that is good about both of its sources of material, and turn it instead into a police procedural that just happens to be set on the aforementioned giant armoured train,” writes TV critic Lucy Mangan in The Guardian. “Think of it as steampunk Law & Order. CSI: Wastelands. NYPD Brrr, It’s Cold.”
She describes it as highly watchable “drama series trash” that sits “firmly in the Goldilocks zone: not too good, not too bad, holding together but never threatening greatness.” Reviews are similarly mixed on Rotten Tomatoes, where it currently has a 63% score on the Tomatometer.
But is it steampunk? You can watch the trailer and judge for yourself.
The series stars Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly, with Orphan Black creator Graeme Manson serving as showrunner.
The International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati, one of the first steampunk events affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, has thrown in the towel on an event for 2020. The convention was originally set for March 27-29, but on March 13, organizer Aloysius Fox announced that it would be rescheduled to Aug. 28-30. Last week, “we further assessed the situation, weighing the prospects for restoration of public health and safety in the next 14 weeks, and came to the conclusion that the only safe course of action was to cancel this year’s Steampunk Symposium,” he wrote in a blog post on the convention website.
Next year’s symposium is now scheduled for Aug. 20-22, 2021 and will carry over the “Weird West” theme planned for 2020. Tickets for this year’s convention will automatically roll over, but ticket holders also have the option to transfer tickets to another person or to the Chicago Steampunk Exposition, which is slated for April 23-25, 2021.
Other cancellations include the following:
Lodi Steampunk Garden Party, scheduled for June 20 in Lodi, Wisconsin.
Oddities & Curiosities Expos in Dallas and Detroit, scheduled for June 27 and July 18 respectively.
Leeds Steampunk Market, scheduled for July 4-5 at the Middleton Railway in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK.
Great Oregon Steam-Up, scheduled for July 25-26 and Aug. 1-2 in Salem, Oregon.
Labyrinth Masquerade Ball, scheduled for Aug. 14-15 in Los Angeles.
Portsmouth Comic Con, scheduled for Aug. 15-16 in Portsmouth, UK.
The 2020 SFWA Nebula Conference takes place online this weekend in place of the in-person conference. It will include panels, solo presentations, and workshops. The schedule is now posted. Registration costs $158.61 and is open to the public. It takes place May 29-31.
The Nebula Awards ceremony will be livestreamed for free on May 30 at 8 p.m. Eastern time (UTC -04). You can view a trailer on YouTube. On Saturday, May 23, the organization hosted a virtual reception on Facebook in which members of SAG-AFTRA read from works that are Nebula finalists. See the website for more info.
ConCarolinas, the longest-running science fiction and fan convention in North Carolina, was set to take place this weekend. In its place the organizers are hosting a virtual convention with a dealer room and a series of panels streamed via Twitch. They include three panels with steampunk author Maurice Broaddus: “Building a Professional Community in Speculative Fiction,” “Authors and Bards,” and “Con-Versation with Maurice Broaddus.” It runs May 28-31. The website also includes YouTube videos of presentations recorded earlier this month.
Lincoln steampunk clothing shop closes and moves online only (The Lincolnite)
Batman Reimagined as A Steampunk Superhero (Fandomwire)
Iron Harvest interview: Crisis on an alternate Earth (VentureBeat)
Cities of the dead: the Victorian obsession with graveyards (The Conversation)
How Britain’s grand houses descended into Victorian slums (History Extra)
Tudor and Victorian baking and how it influences us today (Napa Valley Register)
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