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Steampunk Digest - May 8, 2020

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

Friday, May 8, 2020

Netflix has premiered the English-language version of Drifting Dragons, an anime series from Japan about an airship crew that hunts dragons and turns them into gourmet meals. Based on a manga by Taku Kuwabara, it’s been described as an “anime Moby Dick” with dragons taking the place of whales. It premiered in Japan in January.

The series has drawn a mixed response from viewers and critics, with some expressing unease at the parallels with whaling. Others have criticized the lack of plot and character development, though some gave it high marks for its aesthetics. The first season consists of 12 episodes running about 25 minutes each.

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Twin Engine, an anime production company in Japan, has released a two-minute pilot for Kurayukaba, a steampunk film set in an alternate world where a young detective investigates mysterious mass disappearances at night. The company is now seeking 20 million yen (US $187,000) on Japanese crowdfunding site Motion Gallery to produce a 40-minute feature film. It’s in Japanese, but there’s minimal dialog, and it’s worth watching for the visual style and jazzy film score.

The full feature film, directed by Shigeyoshi Tsukahara, is set for release in March 2021. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, studios in Japan “have been forced to either stop or work under difficult conditions,” according to an English translation of the crowdfunding page. “However, for this very reason, we believe it is important to keep the creative spirit alive.” To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the producers say they’ll be using remote conferencing software as they work on the film.

Close to the Sun

Close to the Sun, the horror adventure video game inspired by Nikola Tesla, is now available on the Steam and GOG gaming platforms. The PC version was originally released in May 2019 exclusively on the Epic Games Store. It was followed later by versions for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch consoles.

The game is set in 1897 aboard a ship that’s home to wild inventions by Nikola Tesla. Players take the role of Rose, a young journalist who boards the ship in search of her sister. Developed by Storm in a Teacup and published by Wired Productions, it received mixed reviews from critics.

Close to the Sun went live on the new platforms on May 5 and will be available at a 25 percent discount for the first week. See the developer’s website for more info.

Book News

Science fiction and fantasy editor Diana M. Pho, who is also known for her Beyond Victoriana steampunk blog, is now available for freelance editing and consulting work. This comes after Macmillan Publishers instituted layoffs in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Pho was one of several editors with Macmillan division Tom Doherty Associates to receive pink slips. Doherty’s Tor Books is one of the top imprints in science fiction and fantasy.

Pho’s work as an editor has included books by George Mann, Robyn Bennis, and P. Djèlí Clark. This year she received her third Hugo Award nomination in the Professional Editor, Long Form category. You can learn more about her services on her website.

Other laid off editors included Melissa Frain and Diana Gill, who are also offering freelance editorial services.

Renée Fleury has released Sky Hawke: Building Steam, Book 1 in her Sky Hawke steampunk adventure series. The Sky Hawke of the title is airship captain Kira Hawke, who enlists the help of a young Nikola Tesla as she deals with a dangerous conspiracy. It’s the debut novel for Fleury, who is also a professional photographer.

We previously reported on her Kickstarter campaign for the book, which raised $1011 to cover publishing and promotion costs. See her website for more info.

Smashwords, a popular e-book marketplace, has extended its ”Authors Give Back” promotion through May 31. During the promotion, you can get selected e-books for free or at discounts ranging from 30 to 60 percent off. It was originally set to run through April 20.

Participating steampunk authors include Maurice Broaddus, Madeleine Holly-Rosing, David Lee Summers, Joseph R. Lallo, Michael Tierney, and Marilyn Vix. Here’s a link to the steampunk and retropunk works in the promotion.

Gareth Ward’s The Clockhill and the Thief is a finalist in the 2020 Sir Julius Vogel Awards presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand. It’s one of five finalists in the “Best Youth Novel” category. The steampunk novel from Walker Books Australia is a sequel to The Traitor and the Thief, which won the 2018 award in the same category. You can learn more about the book on the publisher’s website.

The awards are named for a former New Zealand Prime Minister whose 1889 book, Anno Domini 2000 - A Woman’s Destiny, is believed to be the first full-length science fiction novel by a New Zealander. The book is set in a utopian world where women hold many positions of authority. The full text is available on the Victoria University of Wellington website.


Gears Card Games

Jack in the Box Games of Copenhagen, Denmark is on Kickstarter with Gears, a steampunk-themed card game in which players assemble crews and launch attacks against their opponents. The game is set in the company’s Rockyclouds universe.

It’s available in three box sets — Archibald’s Reign, Wendell’s Revenge, and Nesterin’s Scheme — each supporting two players. You can use multiple boxes to play with more than two players.

The campaign launched May 5 and quickly surpassed its DKK 5000 (US $723) goal. It runs through June 4. See the Kickstarter page and company website for more info.

Online Events

The Raising Steam Festival has announced the schedule for this weekend’s virtual event, which replaces the physical gathering that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Each day will feature three one-hour sets with multiple performers. Saturday’s lineup includes Frenchy and the Punk and Victor Sierra, who take the virtual stage at 9 p.m. Sunday’s bill includes Montague Jacques Fromage and the Cogkneys (1 p.m.); Australia’s Littmus Steampunk Band (4 p.m.), and The 1855 (7 p.m.). All times are UTC+01. Subtract 5 hours for U.S. East Coast time, or 8 hours for Pacific time. See the Facebook page for more info.

Also this weekend: The Evansville (Indiana) Steampunk Society is hosting its Splendid Teapot “Shelter in Place” Race on Saturday, May 9 via Zoom meeting software. Each participant will set up a course following a design from the organizers and then race their teapot while a Zoom-compatible video camera captures the action. Prizes will be awarded. Registration begins at 11:45 Central time, but you should leave a comment on the Facebook page to indicate if you plan to enter. The racing begins at noon and runs through 1:30 p.m. See the Facebook page for rules, Zoom link, meeting ID, and other details.

See our listing for other upcoming online events, as well as recurring and ongoing events.

Last weekend’s Leeds Steampunk Market in Yorkshire, UK was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, so organizer Jo Dee Burgoyne-Neal set up a virtual market on Facebook in its place. Traders could post photos and links to their items in a variety of categories, including books, sculptures, accessories, jewelry, homewears, and headwear.

The next in-person Leeds Steampunk Market is scheduled for July 4-5 at the Middleton Railway. Burgoyne-Neal says she’s keeping her fingers crossed that it can proceed, but if not, she’s planning another virtual market for that weekend.

Event Changes

Steampunk Days at Cowtown Saloon, scheduled for May 16-17 at the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita, was postponed until a later date.

The Steampunk Tea and Bazaar, scheduled for June 13 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was postponed until 2021. The Society for the Ethical Treatment of Kraken, which sponsors the gathering, will host an online event in its place. See the Facebook page for details.

The Oddities & Curiosities Expo - Austin, scheduled for June 20, was cancelled. The Minneapolis expo was rescheduled from June 13 to October 10. See the expo website for details.

The Colorado Renaissance Festival, set for June 13-August 2 in Larkspur, moved its opening date to Aug. 1. It’s now scheduled to run through Sept. 20. See the website for info.

The Iowa Renaissance Festival & Gathering o’ Celts, scheduled for May 23-31 in Middle Amana, was postponed until this fall. See the website for info.

The Koroneburg Renaissance Festival, set for May 23-June 21 in Corona, California, was cancelled for this year.

The Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire, scheduled for June 20-July 5 in Ansonia, Connecticut, was cancelled for this year.

Quick Hits

Insect Lab uses real insects in their steampunk bug sculptures (The Gadgeteer)

This Gear Lamp Makes Your Room Look Like a Steampunk Factory (Technabob)

Get Up Close With The ‘Steampunk’ Mercedes G-Class From Carlex (CarScoops)

7 podcasts about Queen Victoria and the Victorians to listen to right now (History Extra)

5 Cirque du Soleil Shows You Can Watch For Free Right Now (604 Now)

Sakura Wars review: Sega’s much loved steampunk series returns, but lacks balance (Mirror)

Sakura Wars is An Inspired Concept That Just Doesn’t Blossom (Cog)

Liquid metal research invokes ‘Terminator’ film — but much friendlier (EurekAlert)

Top Stories

These were the top stories in April in The Steampunk Explorer:

1. Steampunking Surgical Masks

2. Burning Man Goes Virtual in 2020

3. The Colors of Steampunk

4. Steampunks: Time to Get Sewing

5. Steampunk Digest: April 3, 2020

6. Steampunk Digest: April 17, 2020

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