Steampunk Digest - Sept. 28, 2018
Our weekly roundup of news and other happenings in the steampunk world
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Wagner’s Ring gets steampunked. The Royal Opera House in London is staging a steampunk-infused performance of the Ring, the massive series of operas composed by Richard Wagner. “Director Keith Warner supplements Wagner’s symbolic toolkit with additional paraphernalia,” writes Flora Willson in The Guardian. “Das Rheingold, the Ring’s first instalment, sets up the cycle’s backstory, but unfolds in Warner’s staging like a surreal TV shopping channel, with a flurry of carry cases and rubber fish, loud sartorial detailing and steampunk gadgetry.”
The other installments are Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods). They’re performed over four nights, with each opera ranging from two-and-a-half to five hours. The first cycle began Sept. 24 and runs through Oct. 1. Three more cycles are slated, with the final performance of Götterdämmerung set for Nov. 2. The Oct. 28 performance of Die Walküre will be broadcast live to selected movie theaters in the UK, Europe and Canada. (The Guardian story says it will be viewable in the U.S., but the Royal Opera House website indicates otherwise.)
The website notes that “tackling Wagner’s Ring Cycle can seem a daunting task,” so the opera house is also offering a series of classes and panel discussions, including a “Beginner’s Guide” on Sunday, Oct. 14. Photo: Royal Opera House.
The Anno 1900 Steampunk Convention takes place Sept. 29 and 30 at the Industry and Railway Park in Fond-de-Gras, Luxembourg. Programming includes maker demonstrations, a Victorian market, a “Tesla experience,” and a Saturday evening performance by French steampunk band Victor Sierra. The park is an open-air museum that includes a steam train and iron mine.
“Take the steam train to Fond de Gras at the end of September and you will be forgiven for thinking that tunnel was a worm hole carrying you on a magical journey to an alternate history,” writes Jess Bauldry in the Delano Daily. The article notes that it’s the largest steampunk event on the continent, drawing attendees from Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France and the the UK.
See the event website for more info.
Submarine tours are part of the action as the second Subaquatic Steampunk Weekend takes place this Saturday and Sunday at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, UK. Activities will also include a Maker’s Challenge, the Ladysmith Tea Run, and live entertainment. Musical guests include Captain of the Lost Waves, Alice’s Night Circus, Victor and the Bully, and Ichabod Steam and his Animatronic Band.
The museum is home to historic subs, including the World War II era HMS Alliance, the X24 midget sub and the Holland 1 (shown above), built for the Royal Navy in 1901. See the website for more info.
Author Cherie Priest is best known in the steampunk world for her Clockwork Century Universe series, including the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated Boneshaker. But she also works in other categories of speculative fiction, and is out now with The Agony House, a ghost story for young adults.
From the blurb: “Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family’s money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast. Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn’t seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it’s clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.”
Illustrated by Tara O’Connor, the novel is available in e-book, hardcover and paperback formats. Signed copies are available from the University of Washington Book Store. See her website for ordering info.
Gail Carriger, another star of the steampunk literary world, has disclosed the cover art and pre-order details for The Omega Objection, the second novel in her San Andreas Shifters series. This, too, falls outside the steampunk genre. Call it gay werewolf romance: “Tank is working as a bouncer when he notices something odd about the new sexy-as-sin bartender. He’s odorless, he’s amazingly popular with shifters, and he’s terrified. . . Isaac is trying to escape his past. He hides in San Francisco because everyone knows that there are no werewolves in the Bay Area. Until one walks into his bar.”
She cautions her readers that the “book contains M/M sexy times, mild themes of dominance and submission, and horrible puns. If you get offended easily, then you probably will.” It’s set for release on November 4.
Because it’s a departure from her popular Parasolverse stories, she wrote this one as “G.L. Carriger.” She explained why in a blog post last year after the release of her first San Andreas Shifter novel. “I worried that my name was now strong enough to sucker readers into expecting things: gentleness, steampunk, sweet romance, Victorian food & clothing,” she wrote. “I have established Gail Carriger expectations with 17 or so books now. So it’s up to me to shift those expectations.” G.L. Carriger is “still me. Just tweaked.” The post is worth reading for her insights into the subtleties of literary branding and marketing.
See her website for more info on the new book.
Mollie E. Reeder’s self-published steampunk novel The Electrical Menagerie has received a glowing review from Booklife, a website by Publisher’s Weekly devoted to independent authors. The novel tells the story of Sylvester Carthage and Arbrook Huxley, producers of a robotic roadshow in a world of floating islands. “Reeder has created two dynamic and delightful characters in Carthage, a shy illusionist and inventor, and Huxley, a worldly con artist who is still very naive; they will grab the reader’s heart,” writes the unnamed reviewer. “The world Reeder builds for them, with floating islands, sky trains, and robots, is just as incredible.”
The results are in for a six-week classroom test of an educational bundle based on A Journey With Strange Bedfellows, a graphic novel by Jan C.J. Jones. Jones reports that the bundle was tested by high school English teacher Craig Robotham in Australia. “The kids loved the unit,” Robotham said in a press release from Jones’ company, Forest Rose Productions LLC. “It caught their imagination, got lots of them reading… Anything that gets kids reading is, in my view, already a success.”
The bundle consisted of the novel plus a four-episode audio drama and educator’s guide. Jones describes the novel as a Victorian Gothic horror tale based on short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bram Stoker, Jack London, Jerome K. Jerome, Wilkie Collins, and Hector H. “Saki” Munro. The book was illustrated by David Stoll.
It’s available in paperback for $24.95 on Amazon, or as a digital download from ComiXology. The audio drama is available from CD Baby and Amazon. She’ll be discussing the project at Maker Faire Denver, October 13-14 at the National Western Complex. See the project’s website for more info.
A steampunk dune buggy was among the highlights at the Midcoast Mini Maker Faire, which took place Sept. 8 in Camden, Maine. Retired film director Jack Churchill built the contraption over two-and-a-half months with assistance from an electrical engineer, writes Kay Stephens in the Penobscot Bay Pilot. “I wanted people to stop on the street, look at it and say ‘WTF?’” he told the reporter. The project began when he rescued a 1973 Volkswagen dune buggy. “Steampunk accents are evident in the details; in the rivets, leather, copper, brass,” Stephens writes. “To get the authentic rusted-out look on the aesthetic parts of the buggy, Churchill applied three coats of vinegar, followed by a coat of hydrogen peroxide and salt.”
“A lot goes into one of Katie Paterwic’s costume creations,” writes Iris Van Rynbach in Hartford Magazine. “Working in the world of steampunk and cosplay. . . requires design sense, sewing skills, a love of fashion and a deep knowledge of popular culture.” That’s the lead-in to a Q&A in which Paterwic discusses her work: How she got into fashion design, the challenges of working as a full-time artist, and the surprises she’s encountered. She also offers advice for other artists: Don’t stagnate, keep up with trends, and “keep expanding. . . But don’t get sucked into the newest thing — sometimes it’s not as challenging.” Read the interview here.
FuturePast is the theme for the 14th Annual IngenuityFest, scheduled for Sept. 28-30 at the Hamilton Collaborative in Cleveland. Produced by Ingenuity Cleveland, the music and arts festival will feature five stages of entertainment plus six “Festival Villages” with art installations, maker projects, sustainability demos and more. Performances will include circus acts, fire arts, comedy, dance, and poetry slams. Musical guests include the Afrofuturistic hip-hop/soul duo Oshun, Denver indie rock band Dressy Bessy, Cleveland’s Tesla Orchestra and Pittsburgh’s Squonk Opera. See the website for more info.
The Downtown Arts District in Orlando will host “La Maschera Goes Steampunk,” a steampunk-themed fundraising event scheduled for Friday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., at The Abbey, 100 S. Eola Dr. in the city’s downtown. “We celebrate this genre because of its creative style and inspiration from the extraordinary fictional machines found in the works of HG Wells and Jules Verne,” states the event listing. Activities will include live entertainment, a costume contest and a silent auction. Costumes are not required, but are encouraged. Tickets cost $50. See the website for more info.
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