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Steampunk Digest - October 5, 2018

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

Friday, October 5, 2018
Grand Elephant

Nantes was the birthplace of Jules Verne, but today the French city earns a place on steampunk bucket lists for other reasons. At the top of the list: Le Grand Elephant (seen above), the centerpiece of Les Machines de l’île (The Machines of the Isle). “This showstopping animatronic pachyderm is guaranteed to make jaws drop – the sheer level of detail making it look almost real,” writes Stephen Davy-Osborne in France Today. But “the elephant is only the tip of the iceberg,” as the Galerie des Machines includes “a veritable menagerie of mechanical birds and insects” and the 80-foot-high Carrousel des Mondes Marins.

The city also has other attractions, he writes, including Le Voyage a Nantes, a 12-kilometer trail of kinetic sculptures and other art installations that runs each summer.

Photo by Duch [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons.

The OVAL Gallery at Citi-Center in Henderson, Kentucky, is planning a juried steampunk exhibition from Nov. 14 through Jan. 4, and it’s issued a call for artists to submit their works. The Steampunk’d exhibition is open to 2D and 3D artworks in all media. Each artist may enter up to two pieces. Entry fee is $20 (one artwork) or $30 (two artworks) for members of the Ohio Valley Art League (OVAL). Fees for non-members are $25 and $40 respectively. Entry deadline is Nov. 7. Juror Joan deJong will select recipients of first-, second, and third-place awards, with cash prizes of $100, $75, and $50 respectively. See the OVAL website and the exhibit prospectus (PDF) for more info.

The gallery is located at 230 Second Street, Henderson KY 42419. It’s in western Kentucky, just south of Evansville, Indiana.

National Tramway Museum

Steampunk Day returns Oct. 6 to Crich Tramway Village, a tourist attraction in Derbyshire, England, featuring trams built between 1873 and 1982. The program includes tea dueling, a treasure hunt, a Suffragette march, Victorian poetry and prose reading, snake charming, and Soluna Dance’s “exotic steampunk dance.” Attendees can also see a steampunk motorcycle and steampunk camper van.

“If you’re planning to visit dressed as a Steampunk, you can enjoy discounted admission rates and there’s a competition for ‘best dressed’ Steampunk decided by public vote, with prize for the winner,” reports Amber Valley Info.

Photo by PeterSkuce [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons.

Steampunk Voodoo Spice

Steampunk Spirits, an artisan distillery in Gateshead, UK, has unveiled Steampunk Voodoo Spiced Rum, a new concoction described as “a blend of the finest Caribbean rums infused with vanilla, ginger and a kick of black pepper.” It has a backstory involving an Englishman’s 1900 encounter with a Voodoo priestess in the Caribbean. Until now, Steampunk Spirits has been known for its gins.

Blogger “Olivia” of The Northernist had a taste and described it as “absolutely gorgeous.” She also spoke with Steampunk Spirits owner Charlie Gibbs, who presented a more up-to-date account of the rum’s origin. It also got a write-up from companion blog The Southernist.

The new Hendrick’s Gin distillery in Girvan, Scotland, is not open to tourists, but freelancer writer Mark Ellwood recently paid a visit and filed a report for Bloomberg. “Steampunk Meets Science,” the headline reads in part, and it’s easy to see why when you view the giant stills that dominate the entranceway. The facility also contains a lab for master distiller Lesley Gracie, who created the original recipe for the popular gin. Here, “steampunk-like wrought iron stools sit alongside modern rotovapors and wooden apothecary-style cabinets filled with bottles of experimental distillations of unusual herbs,” he writes.

Though it’s closed to the public for the “foreseeable future,” the distillery will allow tours by bartenders and “select VIPs.”

Maiden of the Machine

Portland cartoonist Caitlin Like is seeking Kickstarter funding for a print edition of Maiden of the Machine Volume 1, the first installment of her “gothic romance meets science horror” graphic novel. The story: “Elizabeth Watson is an orphaned young woman living with her former adventuress sister Abhaya.” She “is about to be engaged to a man who doesn’t respect her, and is quickly losing her resolve to be a respectable young woman. But when she tags along with her sister to her seemingly simple bodyguarding gig, things… Do not quite go as planned. Suddenly, it’s up to Elizabeth to rescue the famous industrialist Victor Lovelace from the terrible clutches of sky pirates! And perhaps, just maybe, himself?”

She’s been selling the first three chapters at conventions, and the first four chapters are available online. Her goal is to publish the four chapters and additional material “in a single, beautifully bound package.”

The project launched on Oct. 1 with a goal of raising $11,000. It ends on Oct. 31. See her website and the Kickstarter page for more info.

Waltham, Massachusetts is known for the Watch City Steampunk Festival. But it’s also the inspiration for Watch City: Waltham Watch, a new steampunk adventure by author and poet Jessica Lucci.

The story is set in 1884. From the description: “Professor Tess Alset is on her way to a personal engagement when disaster strikes, thrusting her into a new city’s hidden strife. Ziracuny, the power-hungry mayor, and her mysterious associates infiltrate the political and economic structures of Waltham, while inequality between Subtonian immigrants and Walthamites worsens. Tess becomes embroiled in the battle for freedom, and leads a revolt against tyranny.”

In an email interview with the Waltham News Tribune, Lucci said she was “inspired by a series of conversations I had about how easy it is to take our dynamic culture for granted. . . I drove past the Watch Factory one day and in a flash, ideas melded in my mind, and the novel began.”

See the Goodreads page for more info.

Fairfield Scribes is out with When to Now: A Time Travel Anthology, and among the stories is “Ten Minutes Past Tea Time,” a steampunk novelette by Elizabeth Chatsworth. A brief description: “A Victorian spinster-scientist and a Viking shield-maiden find passion and danger in dark-age Ireland.” Fairfield Scribes is a group of writers and editors in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

The editor is Alison Bain. She writes in the foreword: “This anthology started out like most things in the Fairfield Scribes—with someone posing the question: ‘Who wants to be the editor for our time travel anthology?’ and everyone else putting their fingers on their noses and saying, ‘Not it!’ Being a bit slow on the uptake, I was the last one to realize it was an actual, official Scribes’ vote.”

It’s available on Amazon in Kindle ($2.99) and paperback ($11.99) formats.

A self-published steampunk novel set in Thames, New Zealand, has been nominated for First Horizon Award, a category of the Eric Hoffer Award that recognizes “superior work by debut authors.” Out of Time by Thames resident Dianne McLean-Folau (writing as DE McLean) is about a “guy from our time who’s just living a very ordinary life,” she tells writer Teresa Ramsey in a story for Stuff, a New Zealand website. “All of a sudden he’s been kidnapped by time-raiding pirate slavers and transported into a Steampunk reality that he has to come to terms with.” She self-published the novel with Xlibris, which nominated her for the award.

She plans to sell the novel at Steampunk The Thames, a festival scheduled for Nov. 8-11 at various locations in the city.

Thames is also home to Steampunk Central, a new arts center that hosts workshops for makers and costume designers. The workshops are run by volunteer tutors with an aim of “getting more people involved in creative art in the community,” said volunteer Tania Knudsen in another story from Stuff. The facility includes sewing machines and leather tools, and during a Tinker Workshop, visitors can learn “how to attach metals together by techniques of welding, braising, riveting and more,” writes Teresa Ramsey.

The Steam Rollin’ festival in Manchester, Connecticut, was forced indoors due to rain, but “guests still were in awe,” writes Quoron Walker in the Hartford Courant. The story is light on words but includes a nice photo gallery depicting the steampunk antics. The event included performances by Frenchy and the Punk, hooping artist Cait the Great, folk-rock trio The Guinea Pigs and other acts.

The Big River Steampunk Festival in Hannibal, Missouri, was recently honored with the Pathfinder Award at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The award “recognizes the efforts of individuals and organizations that successfully target specific niche markets,” writes Harold Smith on the website of KHMO-AM. The award was also noted by Jim Roberts of WGEM-TV in Quincy, Illinois.

Held over Labor Day weekend, the festival was founded in 2014 by Lisa and Ken Marks.

Inkronicity, a tattoo and arts studio in Billings, Montana, is hosting a silent auction for steampunk-themed tattoos on Friday, Oct. 5. “We’ve spent weeks with our imaginations on overdrive and pens to paper to create phenomenally unique sleeves, backpieces as well as smaller tattoo concepts, all anticipating their synchronistic home,” co-owner April Dawn told the Billings Gazette. The event, scheduled for 4:30-8:30 p.m., will also feature live music. The goal is to raise funds to allow Inkronicity to purchase its building and expand its studio. Admission is $10. The event takes place at the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Murdock Gallery, 401 N 27th St., in Billings. The Inkronicity website includes a gallery of tattoo designs.

Manna Gallery in Oakland, California is presenting ”Marconi’s Machines,” a multimedia installation by Dan Weber. He describes it as a “unique sound installation consisting of five quirky machines. Each machine produces a different program of sound, all playing simultaneously.”

From gallery partner Mark Lightfoot: “Radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi imagined a machine that would be able to retrieve all sound that had ever been made. . . If you possessed such a machine, what sound would you most desire to bring back? A loved one’s voice, a piece of music, a day that changed the world?” This short YouTube video serves as a preview.

The installation runs through Nov. 10. A reception is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6 from 2-4 p.m. The gallery is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 12-5 p.m. and on first Fridays from 5-9 p.m. It’s located at 473 25th St., Oakland, CA 94612.

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