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Steampunk Digest - May 3, 2019

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

Friday, May 3, 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.

SteampunkVR Scooter
SteampunkVR Scooter Action

Erlebnispark Schloss Thurn, a theme park in Nuremberg, Germany, has opened Steampunk VR Scooter, a new attraction that combines bumper car rides with a steampunk-themed virtual reality experience. Participants drive the bumper cars while wearing VR rigs, which place them in a Wild West arena that appears to be much larger than the actual ride space. They perceive the cars as steampunk vehicles that travel faster than the real speed.

Players compete against each other and confront giant robots. To defeat the robots, they can join forces with other players and pick up enhancements during the game.

The ride was developed by VR Coaster GmbH and HolodeckVR, using motion-capture technology from Qualisys. You can get a sense of the action in this YouTube video.

Images: Qualisys/HolodeckVR.

The organizers of the Enchanted City Steampunk Festival in upstate New York are seeking a new location after they were unable to negotiate a deal to host the event in Troy. “The City of Troy has been wonderful to us,” stated an announcement on the festival’s Facebook page. “For the past five years they have been our primary funder and support system. We have just outgrown our home base. We are working hard behind the scenes to secure a new home and ask for your patience and trust during this process.”

Lead organizer Susan Dunckel provided additional details in a story in the Times Union of Albany. The festival budget was cut from $10,000 to $5000, she told reporter Amy Biancolli, and crowding is an issue because the area also hosts a busy Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. Past editions of the festival have drawn as many as 8000 people.

Dunckel told the paper that she’s speaking to representatives from the nearby cities of Schenectady, Glens Falls, and Lansingburgh about hosting the event. “Basically, there are three components that need to be met: location, budget and community partners,” she said. Meanwhile, the city issued its own statement about the financing issues, asserting that “we hope to find an outcome that benefits the festival and city, and ensures the event can remain in the Collar City.”

The Island of Dr. Moreau

IDW Publishing plans a July debut for a new two-part comic book version of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. Created by Ted Adams and Gabriel Rodríguez, it will remain “faithful to Wells’ plot, dialogue, and Victorian era setting,” the publisher says. But “Adams and Rodríguez replaced Edward Prendick – the original witness protagonist – with a new creation, Ellen Prendick. Her inclusion allowed the creative team to explore a new version of one of the world’s favorite stories through the eyes of a more active character with a different and refreshing point of view on the cursed island’s horrific events.”

Adams, the co-founder IDW, is also the writer and co-creator of Diablo House. Rodríguez is co-creator of Locke & Key. The comic book will be colored by Nelson Dániel and lettered by Robbie Robbins.

You can pre-order copies from your local comic book shop. See the IDW Publishing website for more info.

A troubled steampunk Western movie funded by the New Zealand Film Commission could finally be delivered this year, according to a report in Stuff, a popular New Zealand news site. Producers of The Ballad of Maddog Quinn received $90,000 NZD from the commission, but the project has been beset by delays, cost overruns, and unpaid bills for production services. This led the commission to hire a consultant and accountant to assess the situation and settle with the creditors.

The short film has been described as “a cross between Mad Max and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.” The producers say it’s currently in post-production. Once delivered, it will likely be entered in film festivals and may eventually be picked up for broadcast or online screening.

Callichimaera perplexa

Monsters and other imaginary creatures in steampunk are often based on real animals, and a recent discovery could provide fodder for new seafaring tales set in the past. Researchers led by a paleontologist from Yale University found evidence of a 95-million-year-old species described as “the platypus of crabs.” Dubbed Callichimaera perplexa (“perplexing beautiful chimera”), it’s “the earliest example of a swimming arthropod with paddle-like legs since the extinction of sea scorpions more than 250 million years ago,” states a university press release.

The creature “hints at how novel forms evolve and become so disparate through time,” said lead researcher Javier Luque. “Usually we think of crabs as big animals with broad carapaces, strong claws, small eyes in long eyestalks, and a small tail tucked under the body. Well, Callichimaera defies all of these ‘crabby’ features and forces a re-think of our definition of what makes a crab a crab.”

An artistic reconstruction is shown above. Callichimaera was about the size of a quarter, but if filmmakers can give us giant spiders, ants and squid, it’s easy to envision a jumbo platypus crab.

Image credit: Elissa Martin, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

The New Theatre in Sydney, Australia has adopted a steampunk aesthetic for a performance of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. The story of Professor Henry Higgins and his “makeover” of Eliza Doolittle was Shaw’s most popular play. This version is directed by Deborah Mullhall, with Steve Corner and Emma Wright in the lead roles.

“First presented in Vienna in 1913, this work draws on the late Victorian, early Edwardian sensibilities of the inhabitants of London,” writes Jade Kops in a review for Broadway World Sydney. “To add a level of interest to the work, Mulhall has opted for the corseted and cog adorned stylings of the Steampunk trend.” The steampunk aesthetic applies to the costumes and other design aspects, not the play itself.

The production premiered on April 23 and runs through May 25. See the New Theatre website for more info.

Another classic will get a steampunk treatment as the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati presents a rock musical comedy version of Sleeping Beauty. Writer/director Ken Jones recently appeared in a segment on WLWT-TV with a couple of costumed cast members.

“We’re set in this steampunk world with this factory going,” he says. “The princesses are reminiscent of Rapunzel and the Snow Queen, Little Mermaid, Snow White, [and] Cinderella, but they’re in that steampunk world. They want to be princesses at the Princess School,” but the title character “wants to change the world.” The segment also includes scenes from the performance.

The musical premiered on April 27 and runs through May 5 at The Taft Theatre. See the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati website for more info.

Didcot Railway Centre in the UK hosted its first steampunk event last weekend, and The Herald has a story and photo gallery. The event featured “music, fashion exhibits, authors, and the infamous tea dueling,” the paper reports. Some musical acts appeared on stage, but others played on the steam trains. Caroline The Musical Saw Lady proved to be one of the most popular performers.

“It is the first event of its kind to be held at the Didcot Railway Centre and organisers say it is too early to say whether it will host another event of its kind but dubbed it very successful,” the paper reports.


MidKnight Story

Mattia Ciurlino is on Kickstarter with MidKnight Story, a single-player role-playing video game set in a steampunk and fantasy world. It “will take you through wild islands, boundless deserts, and a fully explorable steampunk city, all accompanied by a captivating story and fast-paced battle system,” he writes. “Throughout the adventure you will encounter fascinatingly bizarre characters, enemies to defeat, enemies to escape from, and a very particular sword.” He’s based in Pescara, Italy.

The project launched on April 23 and seeks €45,000 ($50,487 USD) in funding by May 24. See the Kickstarter page and website for more info.

Oliver McNeil is seeking funding for Victorian Gothic & Adventure Soundscapes Vol 1 & 2, a series of sound recordings inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, and Bram Stoker. They’re produced to enhance the experience of playing RPGs and board games, including titles in the steampunk genre. The series includes 40 recordings, each running for 25 minutes.

McNeil is a photographer, game designer and theater owner based in the UK. He’s also produced Cthulhu, vampire, fantasy and sci-fi soundscapes.

The project launched on April 30 and seeks £400 ($521 USD) by May 26. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

North American Events

Gail Carriger is the Author Guest of Honor at DemiCon 30, a science fiction, fantasy, and gaming convention in Des Moines, Iowa. John Picacio is the Artist Guest of Honor. The convention theme: “It’s About Time.” The event runs May 3-5. Get details on the website.

Don’t Think-O De Mayo is a free music and dance festival near Austin for the steampunk, cosplay, sci-fi, goth, comic, Old West, geek and gamer fandom communities. Performers include the Space Corps, Thawind Mills, The Muse and the Martyr, and Unbound Dreams bellydance. It will be held May 4 at the J. Lorraine Ghost Town in Manor, Texas. See the Facebook page for more info.

Kraken Watch, May 3-5, is a steampunk gathering at a rustic oceanside resort on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “Soak in the raw beauty of the craggy coastline, the sea spray, the roar of the ocean, and the occasional kraken,” the organizers say. Planned activities include High Tea and a nature hike, weather permitting. See the Facebook page for more info.

Oddball Newt will present “Music and Maritime Mystery at the Mansion,” a steampunk event with music by Eli August and a maritime mystery game presented by entertainer and paranormalist Vince Wilson. It takes place on Saturday, May 4 at the historic Charles Cheney Inn in Manchester, Connecticut. It’s one of Oddball Newt’s “12 Months of Steampunk.” See the Facebook page for more info.

Coming up the following weekend: The Beer-Lesque & Carniv-Ale Show, May 11 at the Elgin County Railway Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario; Kenosha History & Steampunk Mini-Convention, May 11 in Kenosha, Wisconsin; and the Watch City Steampunk Festival, May 11 in Waltham, Massachusetts.

UK Events

Scarborough Vintage Fair on Sunday, May 5 will include a large steampunk area hosted by Whitby Steampunk Weekend. “You can expect Naughty Niceties, Frivolous Fun and Spectacular Sights featuring around 60 of the finest Steampunk and Alternative Stalls,” the organisers say. See the Facebook page.

The first Minehead Steampunk Festival takes place May 4-6 at Minehead, Somerset, on the coast in South West England. Performers include Ichabod Steam, The Retro Clones, The Wattingers, Doctor Gray and his Orchestra of One, Greg Chapman, Kiss Like Ether, Lux DeLioux, and French steampunk band Victor Sierra. Daytime events are free. Ticketed shows will be held Saturday and Sunday evenings.

These acts were originally scheduled to appear at the Steampunk Seaside Spectacular, which was to be co-located with the Llandudno Victorian Extravaganza in Wales. In March, the organiser announced a new event and location due to issues with the authorities in Llandudno. See the Facebook page for info about the new event.

Portsmouth Comic Con, May 4-5, will include a Steampunk Deck led by the Gosport Steampunk Society. Activities include nerf duels, target shooting, a photo booth, and tea duelling. See the website.

Coming up next weekend: the Raising Steam Festival, May 10-12 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire; Bradford Steampunk Market, May 11-12 in West Yorkshire; and Nene Railway Steampunk Weekend, May 11-12 in Peterborough.

As always, check out our Events Calendar for a comprehensive listing.

Top stories of the month

Here are the most-viewed stories from April in The Steampunk Explorer:

1. “A Visit to Jekyll & Hyde”, about the restaurant and bar near Charlotte, N.C.

2. “A Visit with the Steampunk Guru,” our profile of steampunk artist Bruce Rosenbaum.

3. “Makers at Clockwork Alchemy 2019,” featuring maker projects at the 2019 Clockwork Alchemy convention in San Francisco.

4. “Mad Scientists to Converge on Waltham,” a preview of the 2019 Watch City Steampunk Festival

5. “Gaslight Gathering Set for San Diego,” a preview of the steampunk event.

6. “Cosplay at Clockwork Alchemy 2019,” featuring amazing costumes at the steampunk convention.

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