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Steampunk Digest - May 7, 2021

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

Friday, May 7, 2021
The Velocipede Time Machine

The Velocipede Time Machine, a steampunk sculpture designed by Bruce Rosenbaum, has landed in its new home: The Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware. The half-ton contraption occupies the lobby of the Visitor Center, which will be transformed into a showcase for the museum’s collection of 19th century patent models. Dubbed Nation of Inventors, the exhibition is set to open this fall.

Between 1790 and 1880, the U.S. Patent Office required inventors to submit small-scale physical replicas of their creations as part of the patent application process. The Hagley collection includes more than 5000 patent models, most of which arrived in 2016 when the museum acquired the Rothschild Patent Model Collection from Alan and Ann Rothschild.

Rosenbaum’s sculpture was inspired in part by three patent models: A velocipede (bicycle), an electric dynamo, and governor balls for a steam engine. Other inspirations included the time machine from the H.G. Wells novel and armillary spheres depicting celestial objects. Components include an early 1900s dental chair, 1890s bicycle handles, and old sewing machine parts.

The Velocipede Time Machine pilot

The machine is “piloted” by a life-size time traveler that bears an uncanny resemblance to the artist. This is in line with Rosenbaum’s other “Humachine” sculptures that incorporate historic inventors and authors.

The exhibition will also include a new model representing the time machine, a “patently false patent,” as Rosenbaum describes it.

The artist collaborated on the sculpture with Salmon Studios of Florence, Massachusetts. Dubbed the “Steampunk Guru” by The Wall Street Journal, he’s also known for the Steampunk House in Sharon, Massachusetts, near Boston. More recently, he and wife Melanie converted an old gothic church in Palmer, Massachusetts into a home, gallery, and workspace. Their project was featured in an episode of Amazing Interiors on Netflix.

The museum occupies a 235-acre property that includes the site of a gunpowder factory established in 1802 by E.I. du Pont. Other exhibits include a working 19th century machine shop, the E. I. du Pont garden, and the first du Pont home in America. Some indoor locations are currently closed due to COVID-19 safety guidelines.


Velocipede Time Machine – Hagley Museum (Modvic LLC)

A Visit with the Steampunk Guru (The Steampunk Explorer)

Watch City Steampunk Festival logo

Steampunk fans can journey to the Moon this weekend as the virtual Watch City Steampunk Festival takes place Saturday, May 8 on YouTube, Zoom, and Discord. The lunar voyage serves as the theme for the event, which will feature two tracks of online programming. Highlights include a Georges Méliès film fest, a virtual Mad Science Expo, and performances by A Halo Called Fred, The Eternal Frontier, The Busted Jug Band, Queen Mercy, and Dr. Nightshade’s Traveling Medicine Show.

The event will wrap up with a landing on the Moon and “an amazing surprise performer.” Most events will be available for later viewing on YouTube, but some will be live-only. See the complete schedule on the website.

The festival, usually held in Waltham, Massachusetts, is one of the largest steampunk gatherings in the U.S. The organizers chose to go online this year due to uncertainties about COVID-19.

Meanwhile, folks in New Jersey and Arkansas can experience the long-lost joys of in-person steampunk gatherings. The Rock N Roll Steampunk Fair in downtown Washington Borough, New Jersey, will offer performances by This Way to the Egress, Frenchy and the Punk, and This Complete Breakfast. Visitors can also shop for steampunk and music-related merchandise, including jewelry and clothing. It takes place Saturday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The borough is in Warren County, about 30 miles northeast of Allentown, Pennsylvania and 60 miles west of New York City.

Farther south, the Old Timers Day Steampunk Festival returns May 8 and 9 to Van Buren, Arkansas. Activities will include a kids’ zone, vendors, steampunk exhibitors, and entertainment. The city is near Fort Smith in the western part of the state.

As we reported previously, the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad is offering special deals for passengers on its excursion train between Springdale (near Fayetteville) and Van Buren. You can get a 10 percent discount if you wear steampunk attire, and moms can ride for half-price on Sunday, when the excursion will include the “Runway on the Railway Mother’s Day Spring Fashion Show” onboard the train.

The Key City Steampunk Festival is officially on for Aug. 13-15 at the Wyndham Gettysburg hotel in Pennsylvania. The organizers previously announced that they would hold off on selling tickets until they were sure they could run the convention within COVID-19 safety protocols.

This year’s theme is “Cthulhu vs. The Martians.” This Way to the Egress will take the stage on Saturday night following a variety show. Frenchy and the Punk will perform on Friday evening with Nathaniel Johnstone as the opening act. Other guests are to be announced.

Masking will be required in public areas, including outdoors. The organizers are also encouraging attendees to be vaccinated.

See the event’s Facebook page for details on ticketing and hotel registration.

Our friends at SteamPaper in the UK will present a free online “Scones and Social” afternoon tea and chat on Sunday, May 16. Lady M will show attendees how to make gin scones. The event will be hosted on Zoom. See the Facebook page for details.

SteamPaper is a monthly guide to steampunk news and events in the UK, delivered via email. You can sign up for free on the website.

Amazon Prime Video plans a May 14 premiere for The Underground Railroad, a new series adapted from Colson Whitehead’s acclaimed 2016 alternate history novel. The story is set in the Antebellum South, but in this timeline, the Underground Railroad is a real train with engineers and conductors. Thuso Mbedu portrays Cora Randall, a slave on a Georgia plantation who seeks her freedom. The series was directed by Barry Jenkins, whose 2016 film Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The novel won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize and 2016 National Book Award in the fiction categories, as well as the 2017 Arthur C. Clarke Award from the British Science Fiction Association.

So far, the series is earning highly positive reviews, with one critic describing it as “a staggering achievement.” As of early Friday it had a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It consists of 10 episodes, all to be released at once.

Netflix appeared to have a hit with The Irregulars, the supernatural horror series based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. But Deadline reports that the streaming service has cancelled the series despite high initial ratings and largely positive reviews from critics. The news was also confirmed by Variety.

The eight-episode series premiered on March 26. It follows a group of street kids in Victorian London who solve supernatural crimes at the behest of a sinister Dr. Watson. It scored well in Nielsen’s streaming ratings and placed high on Netflix’s own top 10 list. However, What’s on Netflix noted that ratings “quickly faded around the world” after the first week. As of Wednesday, it had a 78% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.


‘The Irregulars’: Sherlock Holmes Detective Drama Canceled At Netflix (Deadline)

‘The Irregulars’ Canceled at Netflix After One Season (Variety)

‘The Irregulars’ Season 2 Canceled At Netflix (What’s on Netflix)

The Irregulars Fans Outraged By Netflix’s Quick Cancellation (Comic Book)

It’s time for another Bandcamp Friday, in which the music platform waives its revenue share so artists get to keep virtually all sales. May 7 was supposed to be the last such promotion, but Bandcamp CEO Ethan Diamond announced in March that they’ll continue this year on the first Friday of each month.

The company launched Bandcamp Fridays last year. The goal is to help performing artists who lost revenue due to event cancellations related to COVID-19. The promotion starts at midnight Pacific time.

Numerous steampunk performers sell their music on Bandcamp. To make it easier to find them, we’ve set up a directory with links to their Bandcamp pages.

Book News

It appears that Gail Carriger has more tales to tell in her Parasolverse. In an email to her fans, the author revealed that she’s in the revision stage for the third novella in her Delightfully Deadly series. Mixing espionage and romance, the story involves London’s “greatest and most covert spy,” Agatha Woosmoss, whose best skill is “her ability to go forever unnoticed. Except by one man.”

Carriger is not yet ready to disclose the title or release date. “I’m doing something a little special with this one, but don’t worry, you will eventually be able to get it in ALL the ways you can get the other Delightfully Deadly books Poison or Protect and Defy or Defend,” she wrote.

You can keep up with all her doings by visiting her website and signing up for her newsletter.

The Nightshade Cabal, a paranormal steampunk thriller by Chris Patrick Carolan, has been shortlisted by Crime Writers of Canada for the organization’s 2021 Awards of Excellence. The novel, set in 1880s Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a finalist in the “Best Crime First Novel” category. Winners will be announced on May 27. See the author’s website for more info.

Author Honor Raconteur is out with Grimoires and Where to Find Them, Book 6 in The Case Files of Henri Davenforth. The stories, which combine mystery and fantasy, are set in an alternate world where Victorian-era technology mixes with magic. In this one, protagonists Henri Davenforth and Jamie Edwards are on the trail of a thief who has stolen powerful books of spells. It’s available in e-book and paperback formats. See the Goodreads page and Raconteur House website for more info.

Heather Massey has released all four books in a new steampunk romance series dubbed A Villainous Affair. She describes it as “an epic adventure about an unlikely pair of thieves who join forces to battle mobs, evil scientists, and a fascist regime for control of a powerful aether invention.” The titles are A Tale of Two Thieves, The Wizard of Aether, Dark Queen Rising, and Battle Royale. They’re all available in Kindle format. See the author’s website and Amazon page for more info.


Steampunk Dice

Arcane Dice of Świdnica, Poland is on Kickstarter with a series of RPG D6 dice sets with themes inspired by fantasy, steampunk, zombie, and post-apocalyptic genres. Each set consists of six dice.

The steampunk dice are available in four color schemes: Old Counter (black on ivory), Bronze Machinery (yellow on brown), Steam Device (black on white), and Steel Mechanism (black on grey). A minimum pledge of PLN 50 (US$14) will get you one set. They’re slated for delivery in December.

The campaign launched May 1 and seeks PLN 20,000 (US$5,280) by May 31. See the Kickstarter page and company website for more info.

Time is running out on the hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for My Father’s Work, a tabletop game from Renegade Game Studios of San Diego. Designed for two to four players, the game consists of multiple gothic horror scenarios, each with more than 350 story events in a branching narrative. Each player takes the role of a Victorian-era mad scientist.

The game is set for delivery in February 2022. It will not be sold through general retail channels. The company plans to sell it on the website, but says you’ll get the best deal as a backer on Kickstarter.

The campaign launched April 27 and met its US$10,000 funding goal in three minutes. Since then, it’s drawn more than $500,000 in pledges. It runs through Thursday, May 13. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Quick Hits

Valheim Goes Full Steampunk with The First Player-Made Airship (ScreenRant)

Eccentric retirement project transforms W. Wichita yard into ‘steampunk village’ (KWCH-TV)

Steampunks and Superheroes: Reviews of Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, Netflix’s Shadow and Bone and More (LA Weekly)

Five classic sci-fi movies from Central and Eastern Europe (Emerging Europe)

Jeff Wayne’s musical The War of the Worlds Leeds tour dates announced (Yorkshire Evening Post)

Thai Game ‘Airship Academy’ Has You Conquering the Skies of the Industrial Revolution (IGN Southeast Asia)

Walhalla (Australia) to host Steampunk Gala this August (Mirage News)

Details of stunning Maya acropolises and sophisticated civilization revealed by laser scans (Live Science)

The “Forgotten Plagues” Of Dancing Mania That Rocked Medieval Europe (IFL Science)

The Biggest Hoax In History (Literally): The Cardiff Giant (Ripley’s)

Why We Should Thank Sherlock Holmes For The Invention Of Forensic Geology (Ripley’s)

’There’s something out there’: The enduring legend of Tahoe Tessie (SFGate)

How scientists caught footage of ‘the kraken’ after centuries of searching (Live Science)

Researchers Reveal Their Technique For Catching Videos Of Elusive Giant Squid (IFL Science)

9 Inventions That Were ‘The Next Big Thing,’ but Totally Flopped (Interesting Engineering)

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