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Steampunk Digest - October 12, 2018

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

Friday, October 12, 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. The email version also includes summaries of recent stories posted on The Steampunk Explorer.

Steampunk was the theme for the 2018 AV Awards ceremony, held Sept. 28 at Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The awards, organized by AV Magazine, recognized manufacturers, distributors, and other companies in the audio-visual industry. The theme was most apparent in the branding, which featured a steampunk character named Gizmo.

One attraction was an AV mirror that adorned guests with virtual hats, mustaches, and monocles. But the coup de steam was an AV system that projected a video animation — including Gizmo — onto a six-foot-tall cake.

Writing in AV Magazine, Zoe Mutter described the artistic and technical challenges in creating the project. Cakemaker Angie Scott had to build the confection to precise measurements, and then Motion Mapping created the animations and video. “Finally, a detailed plan for the rigging and projector placements was produced to accurately map onto the cake,” she writes. The article includes a photo gallery showing the projections on the cake.


Monday, October 8, was World Octopus Day, celebrating the cephalopods that have become steampunk icons. Why have a celebration? “They’re smart. They can change color and texture. And they are fantastic photo subjects,” writes Joseph Tepper in the Dive Photo Guide.

And this from the National Marine Aquarium in the UK: “With their eight arms, three hearts, and colour-changing skin, we adore octopuses. . . From our two octopuses on display, Copper and Neptune, to their 289 species of brethren, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate these crazy creatures.”

The celebrations can take unexpected forms. A UK marketing communications firm used the day to launch The Predictopus, an oracle that produces an “Octoscope” once you’ve answered eight questions. And back in 2015, The Forward culture intern Talya Zax took Inky, her plushie octopus, on a tour of Jewish history in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Her bosses must have been pleased, because she’s now deputy culture editor.

World Octopus Day was the kickoff for International Cephalopod Awareness Days: Nautilus Night (Oct. 9), Squid Day/Cuttlefish Day (Oct. 10), Kraken Day (Oct. 11), and Fossil Day (Oct. 12). The latter is “for all the incredible suckers that have gone extinct but left an impression with us.”

Photo: Adobe Stock

Ada Lovelace

This was also the week we celebrated Ada Lovelace Day, honoring the 19th century English mathematician often regarded as the first computer programmer. Held the second Tuesday of October, it’s “an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM),” states the Finding Ada website. “It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.”

The site includes a list of events and a tribute to Lovelace by Sydney Padua. Padua is author of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage, a graphic novel set in an alternate reality where Lovelace and Charles Babbage build a working Difference Engine.

Here’s a roundup of media coverage related to the event:

Ada Lovelace Day: We should never forget the first computer programmer(The Independent)

Ada Lovelace Day 2018: five inspiring women in science you need to know(Evening Standard)

Are women in science any better off than in Ada Lovelace’s day?(The Guardian)

A Funny Thing Happened on Ada Lovelace Day…(Hackaday)

The Loring Greenough House (LGH) in Boston will host a steampunk-themed murder mystery dinner on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The historic house in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood will be transported back to 1899 as the estate of George Sweet, 5th Earl of Coddingham. “Put on your best steampunk outfit . . . for a night of intrigue, speculation, steam, and murder! Unravel all the mysteries while enjoying a catered buffet dinner, beverages, and server-passed hors d’oeuvres.”

Tickets cost $60, or $50 for LGH members. It’s limited to 35 spots. Proceeds benefit the programs and preservation of the house. Originally constructed in 1760, the house is now owned by the Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club, which maintains the property as a “center for social, cultural, historical, and educational activities.” See the website and Eventbrite page for more info.

The Florence Steampunk Society will present “Fall into Steampunk and Wine,” an event scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13, at Victorian Church Inn, 302 East 2nd St. in Florence, Colorado. The program includes live music, costume contests, parasol dueling, and a hat competition and auction. Finger food, wine, beer and “Steamaritas” will be served. Tickets cost $7. Florence is about 35 miles west of Pueblo and 40 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. See the group’s Facebook page for more info.

Extraordinary Contraptions

Steampunk rockers Extraordinary Contraptions have released “En Absynthia,” their fourth studio album. “It’s their most ambitious studio album to date,” the band’s publicist says. “They draw creativity from the mundane, the magical, and everywhere in between to spin yarns of scientific romance, dimension-hopping fantasy, and alternate timeline escapism.” The four-piece band consists of Aelus Kristoff von Stadberg on guitar, Dimitri von Stadberg on bass, Miss Sephora Bostwick on keyboards and accordion, and Teodore Birchard on percussion (as you might have surmised, those are their steampunk stage names). All four contribute vocals. The album is currently available on Bandcamp and will soon be available through iTunes, Spotify and other digital outlets. You can preview the tracks on Bandcamp. Contact the band directly for a CD.

The band will be performing on Friday, Oct. 26, at the Atlanta Steampunk Exposition, and on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the 2018 Geek Gala at Noah’s Event Venue in Charlotte, NC. See the band’s website for more info.

Applause Theatre & Cinema Books plans a Nov. 6 release for Steampunk FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World of Goggles, Airships, and Time Travel. Author Mike Perschon, an assistant professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, is known for his Steampunk Scholar blog and his academic studies of the genre.

The book is part of the publisher’s FAQ Series, which examines performance artists and other aspects of pop culture. It’s available from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Steampunk Horror

Horror meets steampunk in DeadSteam, billed as “A Chilling Collection of Dreadpunk Tales of the Dark and Supernatural.” Edited by Bryce Raffle, the anthology has a foreword by Leanna Renee Hieber and stories by David Lee Summers, Jen Ponce, Wendy Nikel, Karen J. Carlisle, and Jonah Buck, and others.

Raffle discussed the book in a guest post on Carlisle’s blog. “Initially, when I came up with the concept for the DeadSteam anthology, I had it in mind that I wanted to showcase the dark, supernatural side of steampunk,” he writes. Steampunk often focuses on Victorian technology, but “I began to see other inspiration in that time period. . . In particular, I began looking at the Victorian penny dreadful.”

It’s available in e-book, paperback and hardcover formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. See the website for more info.

Photo: Adobe Stock

Uncommon Universes Press plans an Oct. 18 release for Faithless, Book 2 in the Ironfire Legacy series by Janeen Ippolito. It’s billed as a “steampunk fantasy adventure with much intrigue, unexpected romance, sudden tragedy, and a snarky cat-dragon.”

From the description: “One wild night, Shance Windkeeper discovers he’s married to a death unicorn. But that’s the least of his troubles. As an agent for the Lawless, Shance is working with dragonshifters Kesia Ironfire and Zephryn Nightstalker, trying to end the dragon-human war and the organization that masterminded it. While on a mission in the Scepter of Knowledge, the Lawless is hit with a devastating death unicorn attack. Out of the wreckage new allies emerge.”

The book is the subject of a blog tour that runs through Oct. 25. A Facebook launch party is scheduled for Oct. 19. It’s available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. See the book page and author’s website for more info.

Natalie Cuddington is seeking Kickstarter funding for Tickets to Karasvale, which she describes as a “teen fantasy novel with steampunk elements about kidnapping, love, betrayal, murder, stealing, and magic.” She hopes to raise $2300 by Oct. 21 to pay for a cover and the interior layout. It will be her fifth self-published novel. See the Kickstarter page and her website for more info.

Colin Maxwell is back on Kickstarter with a campaign for Episode 2 of ElectroMagnetic, a “steampunk adventure comic set in an alternative history where Britain is at war with steam-powered India.” He successfully completed a campaign for the original comic in July. The new story follows “the continuing adventures of Professor James Clerk-Maxwell as he battles terrorism on the streets of London while war rages on the Indian subcontinent.” The campaign launched on Oct. 1 and seeks to raise $1058 by Oct. 31. If you submit a photo and increase your pledge by £20 (USD$26.40), artist Paul Tonner will draw you as a steampunk. Learn more from the Kickstarter page and Maxwell’s website.

The Museum of Idaho (MOI) in Idaho Falls is hosting an exhibit of steampunk works by local artists. “The 27 paintings, drawings, photos, and mixed media works were inspired by the museum’s current Discover Steampunk exhibit and the steampunk genre in general,” states a press release from the museum. “The exhibit represents a collaboration between The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho (TAM), which invited the artists, and MOI, which granted the artists free access to the Discover Steampunk exhibit.” The exhibit runs through Nov. 15. Most of the artwork is for sale. See the museum website for more info.

Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire, England hosted Steampunk Day on Oct. 6, and the Belper News has a brief story with photos. “‘Steampunks’ arrived for a host of activities featuring alternative history combined with science fantasy for all the family,” the paper reports, noting that it’s one of the museum’s most popular events. Organizer Michael Crane observed that it’s not easy for steampunks “to keep a low profile dressed in top hats and goggles, or dressed as a flamboyant pirate, or dressed in faux armour brandishing a customised Nerf gun.”

Bruce Sterling

Science fiction author Bruce Sterling will discuss ”How to Be Futuristic” during a talk at The Interval, the bar/café/museum that serves as the headquarters of The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. Sterling is best known to steampunk fans as the co-author, with William Gibson, of The Difference Engine. From the description: “. . . we have to say something about the future, since we have to live there. So what can we say? Being ‘futuristic’ is a problem in metaphysics; it’s about getting language to adhere to an unknowable reality. But the futuristic quickly becomes old-fashioned, so how can the news stay news?”

The talk takes place Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Pacific time. Tickets are sold out, but foundation members can access a live stream of the talk. Memberships begin at $8 per month.

Kim Stanley Robinson, another well-known science-fiction author, will discuss the legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin in a talk scheduled for Nov. 13. Tickets go on sale two weeks in advance, first to Long Now members.

Back in August, we wrote about a steampunk invasion of The Interval, including its prototypes of a 10,000 Year Clock under construction inside a mountain in West Texas.

Photo of Bruce Sterling by Pablo Balbontin Arenas [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons].

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