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Steampunk Digest - Nov. 16, 2018

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

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.

Das Rheingold

L’Opéra de Montréal is staging yet another steampunk take on an opera from Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle. This time it’s Das Rheingold, the first of the four operas, and the shortest at a mere two-and-a-half hours. This production is based on a design by Brian Staufenbiel that was presented in 2016 by the Minnesota Opera.

Staufenbiel’s “vision borrows liberally from steampunk—all goggles and gears—and uses David Murakami’s clever, animated projections of water, caverns, flickering circuit boards, and a mist-shrouded, Gothic Revival Valhalla to suggest a world where science and nature are at war,” writes Natasha Gauthier in a story for Opera Canada. “It’s an imaginative, effective concept, but aesthetically it pinballs between Tolkien and Jules Verne, like someone spliced random scenes from Thor: Ragnarok into City of Lost Children. There have been worse mashups in the Ring’s history.”

Performances were scheduled for Nov. 10, 13, 15, and 17. See the L’Opéra de Montréal website for more info.

We previously reported on steampunk-infused Ring performances by the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Royal Opera House in London.

Photo: Yves Renaud

Author Shelley Adina writes in multiple genres, but “steampunk is my favorite,” she says in a recent interview with Madeline Holly-Rosing. “It offers me a huge canvas to paint on, with characters larger than life, yet who are people you’d want on your side in a scrap or a conversation.” She notes that one theme runs through all of her work: “Woman breaks out of the cage of other people’s expectations.”

She also discusses character development, her writing process, the importance of writer retreats, her forthcoming novella (Selwyn Place), and her affinity for chickens.

Adina has published 15 books in her Magnificent Devices series and recently released The Dancer Wore Opera Rose, Book 2 in the follow-on Mysterious Devices series. Selwyn Place, Book 16 of Magnificent Devices, is set for release on Nov. 19. See Adina’s website for more info.

Holly-Rosing, author of Boston Metaphysical Society, ran the interview in the latest issue of her email newsletter. You’ll have scroll down to read it. You can sign up here to have future issues delivered to your inbox.

Madeline Holly-Rosing

Holly-Rosing’s newsletter also revealed some “Big News” of her own. “I’m thrilled to announce that Source Point Press is set to publish the first six issues and the trade paperback of Boston Metaphysical Society in 2019,” she writes. Previous editions of the steampunk comic were self-published.

The stories are set in an alternate 1895 where technology advances have caused social and political upheaval. “That fear and the violence that followed caused a psychic rift to puncture the veil of space and time allowing the entity known as ‘The Shifter’ to escape. And the only people who stand a chance in hell of destroying it are: Samuel Hunter, ex-Pinkerton Detective; Caitlin O’Sullivan, Medium and Spirit Photographer and Granville Woods, Scientist Extraordinaire.”

Holly-Rosing will continue to have a table at conventions, “but every once in a while, you’ll find me hanging out with the great team over at Source Point,” she writes.

Andrew Ferneyhough paintings

Faina Lorah and Simon Tam of Nashville, Tennessee, have launched Gimi Geek, billed as “the world’s largest geek-themed fine art gallery.” The gallery features more than 150 works that are available for sale online, in categories that include fantasy, gothic, horror, nautical, science fiction, and (of course) steampunk. These are two-dimensional works in a wide range of media, including acrylic, chalk, pastel, pen & ink, oil, spray paint, and watercolor.

The gallery will display a new themed collection each month. So far, they’ve done “Happy Haunting” for October and “Geeksgiving” for November.

At least for now, this is strictly an online venture. “We do select pop-up events from time to time, but don’t have anything coming up,” Tam says.

Shown above are two works by Andrew Ferneyhough of Mayne Island, British Columbia. “Octophant,” a 12 x 12-inch acrylic on canvas, is available for USD$950. “Flight Lessons,” a 20 x 16-inch mixed media on canvas, can be had for USD$830. The images are used by permission of the artist.

Syndicated newspaper columnist Mary G. Pepitone recently spoke with steampunk maker Bruce Rosenbaum and San Francisco architect Andre Rothblatt about steampunk style in the home. As we’ve written previously, Rosenbaum has converted a 19th century Gothic church into a residence and gallery, an effort that was documented in episode 8 of “Amazing Interiors” on Netflix.

“Rosenbaum says this movement is picking up steam as the millennial generation grows weary of modern objects that have a built-in obsolescence,” she writes. In his words: “A Steampunk style lifts the curtain behind how things are made and how they work. . . Younger folks are looking for meaning, authenticity and experiences in their lives, and steampunk delivers on all cylinders.”

But in Rothblatt’s view, steampunk style “doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing design decision,” she writes. In 2012, the architect designed a steampunk-inspired bathroom “in an otherwise traditional Craftsman-style home” in San Francisco. The design “really celebrates pipes — with an accentuation on the joints — giving the bathroom a magical quality,” the architect says.

Read her column here.

Steampunk Tree House

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware, is once again offering a limited-edition Uber Growler, and this year the beer container’s design is based on the Steampunk Tree House (seen above). The growlers are hand-crafted by Romanick Pottery and cost $395 each. Only 35 are available, and to purchase one, you first must enter an online lottery. Names will be selected on Nov. 19.

The Steampunk Tree House was built in 2007 for Burning Man. It was constructed by Five Ton Crane, the Oakland, California, artist collective also known for the Nautilus Submarine Art Car, Storied Haven, and Raygun Gothic Rocketship. Forty feet tall and weighing eight tons, the Tree House has occupied the brewery grounds since June 2010. Brewery employees use the house for brainstorming sessions. Learn more on the brewery website.

Photo: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

The Echo Youth Theatre in Norwich, UK, will present a steampunk-themed performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Nov. 21 and 22. It’s an “abridged version” that “retains the language, magic and humour of the original and is suitable for all ages,” according to the website.

You can see photos of the cast, including some in steampunk garb, on the Echo Youth Theatre Facebook page. The Norwich Evening News has a brief write-up about the performance.

It takes place at OPEN, a venue in Norwich that’s operated by the non-profit OPEN Youth Trust. A portion of the ticket proceeds benefits the organization.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare will get a “deco punk” treatment as the Athenian Players is set to perform Hamlet at the Alabama Center for the Arts in Decatur, Alabama, near Huntsville. “Inspiration for the deco-punk theme came from a combination of steampunk — seen in the musical ‘Wicked’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ — and art deco — the style of New York’s Chrysler Building and Empire State Building,” writes Catherine Godbey in Decatur Daily.

Director Hugh Long told the reporter that “I love the steampunk genre, but I think it’s overplayed. . . What if we’re in the universe of steampunk, but go ahead 40 years to the 1920s? What if instead of focusing on gears and steam, we focus on goggles and lenses and how they distort how we view the world?”

The Athenian Players consists of students from Athens State University and Calhoun Community College, plus community actors. Performances are scheduled for Nov. 15-17. They also performed the play last weekend. The group’s Facebook page includes photos from the production.

New Kickstarters

A Steampunk Digest Kickstarter

Scotty White, a writer and podcaster in Mobile, Alabama, is raising funds for A Steampunk Digest Vol. 1, a 20-page anthology with five graphic stories set in a steampunk universe. Some were first intended for Steampunk Originals, a two-volume anthology series from Arcana Studios. They’re all written by White with JS Walker, Bracey, Patrick Halpin, and Carla Rodriguez contributing artwork. The project launched on Nov. 11 and seeks to raise USD$1200 by Dec. 11. See the Kickstarter page and White’s website for more info.

Los Angeles artist Will Vega is seeking Kickstarter funding for Monsters, described as “an ongoing horror comic book series set in Victorian London, which has been invaded by the likes of vampires, lycans, deep sea humanoids, and other ghastly creatures. . . The story revolves around aging vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, who’s been aware of the existence of vampires for a few decades but now finds himself surrounded by an onslaught of other hellspawn coming in from different parts of the world.” A “reimagined Dr. Frankenstein” also makes an appearance.

The project launched on Nov. 12 and seeks to raise USD$7000 by Dec. 12. Learn more on the Kickstarter page.

Three game companies in the UK are collaborating on Exploriana, a board game in which players guide teams of explorers in the late 19th century. “Facing peril at every turn, your brave explorers will search for fantastic animals, ancient cities, new varieties of orchids and treasures of extreme beauty,” we’re told. The game was designed by Miles Ratcliffe of Chaos Publishing Ltd. Triple Ace Games Ltd and Counters Out Ltd are also contributing to the venture.

The project launched on Nov. 6 and hit its goal of USD$7,791 within 24 hours. It concludes on Dec. 6. See the Kickstarter page for more info.

Mia E. Cotton, a writer and composer in San Jose, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for The London Rose, described as “a queer Victorian musical. . . set during the month leading up to the Oscar Wilde verdict. The show follows Edward Kingsley, a young man who has returned to London after escaping his former life as ‘Emily.’ With the help of his friend, Oliver Li, Edward goes boldly forward in creating a new life for himself.”

Cotton hopes to present the show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June 2019. The project launched on October 24 with a goal of raising USD$6000 by Nov. 30. Get the details on the Kickstarter page.

Katlyn Amieva of Tampa, Florida, is seeking crowdfunding for the re-opening of the Victorian Grace Tearoom in Brandon. “When I saw my favorite tearoom go up for sale, I knew there was nothing I wanted more than to keep it going,” she writes. “The money that will be gathered through this fundraising will go to improvements for the tearoom’s menu, structure and the Grand Re-Opening that we hope to deliver!”

Tampa has a thriving steampunk community, and one can envision this place as a local hangout.

The project launched on Nov. 2 and seeks to raise a modest USD$300 by Dec. 2. See the Kickstarter page for info.

Steampunk Events

TeslaCon 9: The Battle of Britain, Nov. 15-18, Middleton, Wisconsin, USA. See our recent story.

Yule Steam Expo, Nov. 17-18, Reno, Nevada, USA. See our recent story.

Rose City Steampunk Film Festival, Nov. 17, Portland, Oregon, USA.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, Nov. 17-Dec. 23, Daly City, California, USA.

Chicago TARDIS, Nov. 23-25, Lombard, Illinois, USA.

Steampunk Showcase, Nov. 24-25, Grantville, Pennsylvania, USA. See our story.

See our Steampunk Events page for a comprehensive list of upcoming events. And we’ve just added a new Events page for Canada.

Recently on The Steampunk Explorer

Exploring Historic Cemeteries, Part III: So far, our cemetery tour has taken us to the U.S., Canada, and Europe. But some of the most iconic burial places are elsewhere in the world. In Part III, we look at cemeteries in Asia, the Middle East, Australia, the Caribbean, and South America. The tour is based on 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads. See it here. You can also check out Part I (U.S. and Canada) and Part II (Europe).

A Steampunk Showcase in Central PA: Performances by The Cog is Dead and Night Watch Paradox are among the attractions as Steampunk Showcase debuts Nov. 24-25 in Grantville, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg. Night Watch Paradox will perform Magnificent Machines and Astonishing Tales, an original steampunk rock opera. The event will also feature a large vendor area as well as workshops and contests. Read about it here.


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