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Steampunk Digest - May 31, 2019

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

Friday, May 31, 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.

Steampunk NZ

The Steampunk NZ Festival is happening this weekend in Oamaru, a town in New Zealand’s South Island that bills itself as the world capital of steampunk. It kicks off on Friday night with the Fire and Steam Festival, followed by weekend activities that include a steampunk parade, tea dueling, fashion show, and hypnotist stage show. This is the event that gave birth to teapot racing, and the program also features Monster Pot Racing, in which teapots are mounted on radio-controlled monster trucks. The theme this year is tied to the 200th birthday of Queen Victoria.

Oamaru (pop. 13,950) is also home to Steampunk HQ, an art gallery that occupies a former grain elevator building originally built in 1883.

All this prompted the local newspaper to profile some of the individuals who brought steampunk to town. Rebecca Ryan of the Oamaru Mail spoke with Steampunk HQ co-founders Brian de Geest and Jac Grenfell, as well as festival organizers Iain Clark and Helen Jansen.

Clark, aka Agent Darling, traces the event’s origins to a steampunked beer mug. “It attracted a lot of attention and inspired a lot of creativity,” Ryan writes, leading to the birth of the Victorian League of Imagineers. That group launched an art exhibition that evolved into what’s now the largest steampunk festival in the Southern Hemisphere.

Steampunk HQ

Author Shelley Adina is out with The Matchmaker Wore Mars Yellow, Book Three of her Mysterious Devices steampunk series. From the description: “Daisy and Frederica Linden have tracked their missing father to Bodie, the most dangerous town in the Wild West, where bad men murder without guilt and single ladies are as rare and valuable as gold. Here they must depend upon the help of the society of absent friends, that secret network of boardinghouse keepers who know everyone’s business—and make secrets their stock in trade. But some secrets are fatal, and when the local matchmaker pays the price with her life on the night of the Autumn Ball, the ladies of the society beg Daisy and Freddie to help them find the killer of their fallen sister.”

The e-book version is available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online booksellers. See her website for more info.

Author Karen J. Carlisle has released The Department of Curiosities, described as a “steampunk tale of adventure, a heroine, mad scientists, traitors and secrets” set in the early 1880s. The protagonist, Miss Matilda Meriwether, goes to work for the department, a “keeper of secrets” in an alternate-history Victorian empire. She “realises this is the perfect opportunity to uncover the truth she has been searching for. But the Queen has other plans for her.”

The e-book version is available now on Smashwords. It will also be available as a paperback. See her website for more info.

Wet Plate Steampunk

When creating steampunk images, why not use the same photographic techniques employed in the 19th century? That’s the approach taken by Oleksandr Malyy, a photographer in Kiev who has mastered the wet collodion process. “While a big chunk of steampunk imagery relies on getting the style and aesthetics right, the antiquated look that is uniquely wet collodion makes it even more effective,” writes an anonymous blogger at The Phoblographer. “This is why the genre and subculture is also a favorite subject of many wet plate photographers today.”

Malyy’s “Wet Plate Steampunk” work can be seen in his Behance portfolio. A couple of examples are shown above. They are reproduced here under a Creative Commons license that allows non-commercial use. The blog post also references the work of Markus Hofstaetter, who fabricated a handheld wet plate camera.

Leviathan's Art

Back in November, Phillip Mothershed presented his steampunk art — and a history of the genre — at the Garland County Library in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Now he’s set for a repeat performance on Saturday, June 1 at 2:30 p.m. “I was surprised by the interest on what I thought was a niche art style,” said the library’s Paul Kagebein in a story in The Sentinel-Record. “I now see that is has a big appeal which is gaining interest every day.”

Mothershed, who creates jewelry and clocks, will discuss his artistic techniques and give away one of his pieces. You can see more of his work on Facebook, Instagram and Etsy.

BBC4 in the UK is airing Victorian Sensations, a three-episode series that examines the rapid changes in British society during the 1890s. Two episodes have aired so far. In the first, mathematician Dr. Hannah Fry explored the decade’s advances in technology, including electricity, X-rays, and safety bicycles. In the second, actor Paul McGann learned “how fears of moral and imperial decline terrified 1890s Britain” and informed the works of Oscar Wilde and H.G. Wells. Next up is “Seeing and Believing,” in which author and psychotherapist Philippa Perry looks at “how the late Victorian passion for science co-existed with a deeply held belief in the paranormal.”

UK residents can view the full episodes through the BBC iPlayer. Folks outside the UK can view clips, but otherwise are left to hope that the series will be picked up for streaming or broadcast in their locales. See the BBC4 website for more info.

The Toronto Reference Library in Canada is presenting “Retro Futures,” an exhibit that offers “a nostalgic journey to futures-that-might-have-been.” It features items from the Toronto Public Library’s Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy, including books, magazines, and artwork.

Writing in Boing Boing, science fiction author Cory Doctorow notes some examples: “[O]riginal Buck Rogers cartoons from a 1935 edition of the Toronto Star, collectible Jules Verne cards from 1900; pulp covers illustrating early visions of video-phones, life under domes and rapid transit and much more.”

The exhibit opened May 18 and runs through July 28. The library is also hosting a series of talks by science fiction writers. On June 17, Karl Schroeder will discuss “Science Fiction’s New Place in the Boardrooms of America,” followed by Madeline Ashby’s “History of the Future” on July 15. On May 27, Hugh A. D. Spencer led a screening and discussion of The First Men in the Moon, a 1964 film based on the H.G. Wells novel.

The first Stroud Steampunk weekend took place May 25-26 in Gloucestershire, UK, featuring performances by Professor Elemental, Victor Sierra, and Captain of the Lost Waves. Photographer Simon Pizzey of the Stroud News & Journal was there, and the paper has posted a report and photo gallery.

Weekend Events

The Hampton History Museum in Hampton, Virginia is hosting the 7th annual “Steampunk: Visions of Future Past” exhibit on June 1 and 2. Activities will include the Great World Suitcase Challenge, a steampunk maker competition featuring works that incorporate a suitcase or similar enclosure. Dave Lee, Aela Badiana, Andy Fraser and Michael Parodi of Hatton Cross Steampunk will serve as judges. The event will also have teapot racing and author readings. Admission on both days is free. It’s produced as part of the city’s Blackbeard Pirate Festival.

On Saturday evening, the museum will host a “Geared-Up Gala” celebration with performances by Tornado Bait, Mosquito Cabaret, and Wicked Hips Belly Dancers. Tickets to that event cost $10 in advance and $12 at the door. See the museum website for more info.

The Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, California will host the Iron Horse Family Steampunk Carnivale, featuring steampunk artisans, a costume contest, craft workshops, an escape room, and trolley rides. Doctor Solar, Dyno Staats, and Clan Darksail’s Whiskey Flat Players will provide the entertainment. It takes place June 1 and 2. Admission costs $20 for ages 12 and above. See the website for more info.

Cog County Faire VI takes place May 30-June 2 at the White Lake Beach Resort in Montello, Wisconsin. Vourteque leads an entertainment lineup that also includes Sons of Temperance, Mermaid Echo, and Chicago theatrical troupe Phantasmagoria. It’s hosted by resort owners PJ Shultz and Sarah Lash, who are self-described “steampunk geeks.” See the website and our recent story.

Masquerade Marketplace is an art show, craft fair and steampunk cosplay gathering set for June 1, 6 p.m.-11 p.m., in Dover, New Hampshire. Attendees in costume will get a 5 percent discount from vendors. See the Facebook page for info.

A Splendid Day Out happens May 31-June 2 in Morecambe, a Victorian seaside resort in North West England. The programme includes tea dueling, teapot racing, live music, and a local edition of the Great World Suitcase Challenge. Musical guests include Montague Jacques Fromage. The theme this year is “Utopia-Dystopia.” See the website and Facebook page for info.

As always, see our Events listing for all upcoming events in North America and the UK.

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