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Steampunk Digest - November 22, 2019
Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world
Friday, November 22, 2019
Moody Gardens, a non-profit tourist destination in Galveston, Texas, has opened 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Interactive Adventure, an immersive experience that simulates an undersea voyage in a steampunk submarine. The journey includes encounters with a giant squid, killer whale, and other sea creatures. The sub will also tour a coral reef, Antarctic ice caves, undersea volcanoes, and an ancient lost city.
The show was created by Super 78 Studios, a Los Angeles company that develops interactive experiences for theme parks, museums, and other destinations. It uses Super 78’s Geppetto animation system, which allows a performer to portray a 3D character who can interact with the audience. In this production, the performer takes the part of Deep, a robotically enhanced pufferfish. The performer can also control lights, sounds, bubbles, and scents.
The exhibition is within the Discovery Pyramid, a science museum that’s one of three main attractions at Moody Gardens. The others are the Aquarium Pyramid and the Rainforest Pyramid.
It’s not yet official, but it looks like the organizers of Steampunk the Thames in New Zealand succeeded in their effort to set a Guinness World Record for largest gathering of steampunks. They reported an unofficial tally of 252, which was short of their goal of 400 but still enough to surpass the previous record of 236 set earlier this year in Australia. (As we reported previously, the Australian record has not yet been officially recognized by the Guinness organization, but that's the number Steampunk the Thames was attempting to beat.)
To be considered for recognition, organizers had to meet the Guinness organization’s stringent requirements, which included screening of participants to ensure that everyone wore proper attire and a steampunk gadget.
They made the attempt Saturday, Nov. 9 on the Kopu Bridge in Thames. You can see a photo of the gathering on the Steampunk the Thames Facebook page.
Back in October, we wrote about the forthcoming release of The King’s Man, a prequel to the Kingsman spy movies. Set in the early 1900s, it appears to have steampunk elements, at least based on the trailer. But now you’ll have to wait longer to see the film, as 20th Century Fox has delayed its opening from Feb. 14 to Sept. 18, 2020. It stars Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Oxford, who mentors young spy Conrad (Harris Dickinson) as they battle a gang of tyrants and criminals, including Rasputin. The film is produced and directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed the first two Kingsman movies.
Coded Clay Interactive has released an early-access version of Nation Breakers: Steam Arena, a 2D combat game in which steam-bots on Planet Piston attempt to obliterate one another in the Steam Arena. It features 36 arenas and three environmental themes. The developer is aiming for a final release in about six months. It’s available for Windows PCs via the Steam platform.
Benitez Productions is out with Lady Mechanika: Sangre No. 4, the penultimate issue in a comic book mini-series that takes the steampunk heroine to Spain. In this one, “events from the past converge with the present as Lady Mechanika begins to unravel the mystery of La Madrina,” we’re told. It features a prologue written by Joe Benitez and M. M. Chen with art by Benitez and Martin Montiel. The main story is drawn by guest artist Brian Ching. See the website for more info.
Author Elizabeth Chatsworth has inked a deal with Equinox Books to publish her gaslamp fantasy The Brass Queen in June 2020. The story, set in 1897, features the adventures of Miss Constance Haltwhistle, a British aristocrat and rogue inventor, who teams with inept U.S. spy Trusdale to search for a scientist with an invisibility serum. “As royal foes create an invisible army to start a global war, Constance and Trusdale must learn to trust each other,” we’re told. “If they don’t, the world they know will literally disappear before their eyes.”
Chatsworth, who is also a SAG-AFTRA actor, portrays Constance in a free audio chapter on her website.
Shelley Adina has released Gwynn Place, Book 19 in her Magnificent Devices series. In this one, Lady Claire welcomes a new baby sister to the family. Meanwhile, eight-year-old Nicholas heads for Eton accompanied by tutor Alden Dean. “But Nicholas never reaches Eton, and Alden Dean never returns. Old enemies have not forgotten old slights, and they’ve chosen the perfect moment to strike. Their aim: To force Claire and Andrew to give up the Helios Membrane, an invention that can change the fortunes of an entire country.”
It’s available in versions for the Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers. See her website for more info.
Author Jeannie Lin is out with Tales from the Gunpowder Chronicles, a collection of three steampunk novellas set in Asia: Big Trouble in Old Shanghai, The Island of the Opium-Eaters, and Love in the Time of Engines. The latter is a prequel to Gunpowder Alchemy, the first book in The Gunpowder Chronicles series, which was released in 2014. The stories pit China’s gunpowder against the steam engines of British invaders. It’s available in multiple digital formats. See her website for more info.
Battleground Productions will present The Christmas Case: A Lady Brass Mystery, a holiday-themed theatrical production in which the lady detective and her daughter investigate the theft of a valuable sapphire. It’s written and directed by John Longenbaugh, who describes it as “blending two parts P.G. Wodehouse to one part Agatha Christie.” Battleground Productions is also the company behind the Brass steampunk audio dramas.
The play runs Thursdays through Saturdays from Nov. 29 to Dec. 21 at The Chapel Theatre, 4107 SE Harrison St., Milwaukie, Oregon, near Portland. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. with additional Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. There will be no performance on Dec. 19. Tickets cost $22 to $28 except for opening night and the Midwinter Festival on Dec. 21, when they’re $30. The festival will feature holiday activities between the final matinee and evening performances. See the website for more info.
The sea is full of strange-looking creatures, but few are as colorful as the disco clam (Ctenoides ales) and peacock mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus). The clam, also known as electric flame scallop, appears to be bioluminescent. But its colorful flashing is due to nano-spheres of silica in its mantle lip that reflect ambient light.
University of Colorado biologist Lindsey Dougherty, who discovered the mechanism that causes the flashing, is now trying to figure out how the clam evolved to be so colorful. Her hypothesis: The colors warn predators that it tastes bad. Along with colleague Jingchun Li, she recruited mantis shrimp to test the idea. Despite the odd appearance, the shrimp are powerful predators with claws that can damage much-larger prey.
The researchers gave the shrimp a choice between red meat from the clam’s exterior and white meat from its inner muscles. The shrimp went for the white meat, and chemical analysis also indicated that the red tissue probably tastes bad. That appeared to support the hypothesis. But the shrimp also devoured white meat that had been dyed red. “Whether or not the red color is a warning needs more research,” Dougherty said, and she continues to test clam recipes with help from local high school students. Learn more in this story from the university.
Photos from Winter Wonderland Expo and Ball in Reno. (This is Reno)
Castle Talk podcast: Interview with author and gothic expert Leanna Renee Hieber. (Bleeding Cool)
Steampunk party launches Discovery Space renovation in Australia (The Armidale Express)
“Rock opera’s taking a ‘steampunk’ turn” (Henley Standard)
Cover Reveal: Mysteries of Cove, a new steampunk series (Marie Leslie)
First Look at Around the World in 80 Days at Village Arts in San Diego. (Broadway World)
19th century false teeth made from hippo ivory could fetch thousands at auction (IFL Science)
Five Adorable Animals That Can Kill You (SciTech Daily)
The Science of a Hit Song – Unlocking the Secrets of Musical Pleasure (SciTech Daily)
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