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Steampunk Digest - September 6, 2019

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

Friday, September 6, 2019
Daredevil Dive 1
Daredevil Dive 2

Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio has announced plans for a steampunk-themed thrill ride dubbed “Daredevil Dive Flying Machines.” Set to debut next summer, it will feature six four-seater flying contraptions engaging in aerial acrobatics such as loops, banks, and dives. At 48 feet, it will be the “world’s tallest ride of its kind,” Six Flags says.

The ride will be the latest attraction in Crackaxle Canyon, an area that replicates a 1920s boomtown. To complement the ride, Six Flags plans to add steampunk theming to the Canyon, including signage with gear-like effects. See the website for more info.

Photo courtesy of Amazon Studios.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Sept. 5-Sept. 15, will provide an early look at several notable period dramas featured in our recent “Fall Movie Preview, Steampunk Edition.” None of these are steampunk films, but all have elements that should appeal to steampunk fans:

The Aeronauts (above) is based on a balloon flight that set a world altitude record in 1862. It stars Felicity Jones as balloon pilot Amelia Wren and Eddie Redmayne as meteorologist James Glaisher. Wren is a fictional composite of several historical figures, including Henry Coxwell, who joined Glaisher on the actual record-setting flight. The movie screens Sept. 8 in Toronto and opens Dec. 6 in theaters. Distributed by Amazon Studios, it will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime beginning Dec. 20.

The Lighthouse is a horror movie starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as lighthouse keepers in the 1890s. Directed by Robert Eggers, it premiered in May at the Cannes Film Festival, receiving critical acclaim. At TIFF, it screens on Sept. 7 and 8. The film opens in theaters Oct. 18.

Harriet is a biopic about 19th century anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman. Starring Cynthia Erivo in the title role, it premieres at TIFF on Sept. 10. The film opens in theaters Nov. 1.

TIFF is also hosting the world premiere of The Personal History of David Copperfield, based on the Charles Dickens novel. Written and directed by Armando Iannucci, it stars Dev Patel in the title role, along with Tilda Swinton as Betsey Trotwood, Hugh Laurie as Mr. Dick, Peter Capaldi as Mr. Micawber, Ben Whishaw as Uriah Heep, and Benedict Wong as Mr. Wickfield. It’s slated to appear in theaters in 2020.

See the TIFF website for a complete schedule.

80 Days Poster

Inkle Studios plans an Oct. 1 release for a Nintendo Switch version of 80 Days, its steampunk adventure game based on Around the World in 80 Days. The game takes the form of an interactive story where players use an airship, submarine, mechanical camel, and other vehicles to circumnavigate a 3D globe.

Originally released in 2014 for iOS and Android devices, it was named one of the top 10 video games that year by Time magazine. The developer followed up in 2015 with Mac and Windows versions. See the Inkle Studios website for more info.

Michelle Deck, a singer-songwriter in Branson, Missouri, has released Unplayed: The Chronicles of Lady Lyric, a seven-song EP that she describes as ChamberSteamPop, or “classically infused pop music with a steampunk twist.” It includes a steampunk re-imagining of the classic song “Danny Boy.” “Lady Lyric” is a reference to her steampunk persona, Lady Lyric d’Avalon. It’s available as a CD or digital download from her website and CD Baby. Downloads are also available through iTunes, Amazon and other digital music platforms.

Mark and Tania Morgan of St Kilda near Melbourne, Australia are seeking a buyer for their “steampunk paradise,” an apartment featuring “a mix of elegant Victorian style and bold touches of industrial and machinery elements,” according to a report in the Herald Sun, a local newspaper. The furnishings, mostly purchased online, “include a glass-topped table with an Alien theme, futuristic silver armchairs, and light fittings crafted from industrial pipes and pieces of machinery,” the paper reported.

The Morgans were seeking AUD $850,000 to $900,000 (US $578,960 to $613,017) at an Aug 24 auction. They failed to find a buyer, but selling agent Paul Manczak said he was confident that a deal will close soon. He added that it could become an Airbnb.

Mad Science!

An international team of scientists is proposing use of gigantic hydrogen-filled airships, 1.5 miles long, as an environmentally friendly alternative to seafaring cargo vessels. The airships would fly at an altitude of 6 to 12 miles, the scientists suggested, using the jet stream to achieve an average speed of about 100 mph. The airborne behemoths would be faster than cargo ships while consuming much less energy. The proposal was outlined in a paper published in Energy Conversion and Management: X, an open-access journal.

Hydrogen is a highly flammable gas, and history will recall that the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 ended the era of giant passenger airships. But the scientists suggested that the risks could be minimized by automating the airship operations, locating ports in isolated areas, and steering clear of large cities.

One skeptic is Eric Lanteigne, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Ottawa. Aside from the hydrogen issue, “there’s a whole bunch of design challenges associated with building something that long,” he told Jeremy Deaton in a story for NBCNews.com.

Researchers at the Finnish Meteorological Institute have their own modest proposal: Using steam-filled balloons to lift space rockets to high altitudes prior to launch. The thinner air makes it easier to launch the rockets, they write in The Aeronautical Journal, and steam has advantages over helium and hydrogen. Their paper was based on computer simulations of the balloon’s ascent.

Parks Canada has released video and images from HMS Terror, one of two ships lost in the Canadian Arctic during the Franklin Expedition of 1845. An underwater archaeology team explored the wreckage over seven days in August, using a remotely operated vehicle to map the interior. They reported that the cold water, darkness, and layers of sediment created an ideal environment for preserving the artifacts. The ship’s contents “have been essentially frozen-in-time for approximately 170 years,” Parks Canada said.

Led by Captain Sir John Franklin, the ill-fated expedition consisted of two ships, the Terror and HMS Erebus, which were seeking to cross the Northwest Passage. They became icebound near King William Island and all 129 men aboard eventually perished. Researchers found the wreck of the Erebus in 2014, followed two years later by discovery of the Terror.

Event News

Steampunk Rendezvous, Sept. 13-15, is held at multiple locations in Winthrop, Washington, a town that takes you back to the days of the Wild West. The schedule includes a potluck barbecue, live music, a photo shoot, and a gear swap. Otherwise, visitors are encouraged to see the town’s Old West attractions. Winthrop is about 180 miles northwest of Spokane and 190 miles northeast of Seattle. See the website for more info.

Steampunk Honesdale returns Sept. 14 and 15 to the Pennsylvania town that gave birth to the American railroad. Activities include vendors, train rides, tea dueling, and a costume parade (Sunday only). Most events take place on Main Street. It’s in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 30 miles from Scranton. See the website for info.

First Gear Steampunk Pirate Festival on Sept. 14 is a new steampunk gathering from the Vermillion Area Arts Council in Vermillion, South Dakota. The program includes vendors, games, art making, costume contests, and stage shows. Proceeds benefit the council. Get the details here.

SWFL SteamCon & Fantasy Expo happens Sept 14 at the Araba Shrine Event Center in Fort Myers, Florida. Special guests include comic creators Matt Knowles & Steph Cannon and authors Jaimie Engle, Amanda Fasciano, and R.M. Rose. The musical line-up features Bernewell & DeGraf, For Love or Money, and Mark Rossmore. See the website.

The Hastings Steampunk Circus of Curiosities, Sept. 14-15 in East Sussex, UK, will feature performances by Professor Elemental, Victor and the Bully, Montague Jacques Fromage, Alice’s Night Circus, Paul Voodini, Victor Sierra, and Greg Chapman. The program also includes a parade, dog competition, fashion show and facial hair competition. It all happens at the St Leonards Showground near Hastings. See the Facebook page for details.

Crich Steampunk Weekend features a program of steampunk activities at Crich Tramway Village, a restored period village south of Sheffield, UK. This year’s event is expanded to two days, Sept. 14-15. Learn more on the website.

Up this weekend in the USA: Fall in love with COGS Gaming in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from the organizers of COGS Expo; and Belvidere Victorian Days in Belvidere, New Jersey.

And in the the UK: Eastbourne SteamPunk Festival, Sept. 7-8 in Eastbourne, East Sussex; Stourport Steampunk and Vintage Spectacular in Stourport-on-Severn, North Worcestershire; and the Steamhenge Steampunk Fair at the Alabaré Wilton Emporium in Wilton, Salisbury.

New on Patreon

Content exclusively for our Patreon supporters.

Steampunk Mario Bros.

Steampunk Highlights (and more) at Silicon Valley Comic Con. This is a preview of a photo gallery coming soon to The Steampunk Explorer, bigger and better than the ones we posted on Facebook. Highlights included the Steampunk Mario Bros. (above) and The McVengers, a fast-food take on The Avengers (yes, really). They’re led by McThor, a cross between the Marvel superhero and Ronald McDonald. Patreon supporters can see it here.

Using Wikimedia Commons for Fun and Profit (or Non-Profit). Part Two of a continuing series about free images and other media assets for steampunk creators. Wikimedia Commons provides more than 55 million media files that are free to use for commercial and non-commercial projects. But it has a complicated structure with thousands of interlinked categories and subcategories, and even the search function can be a challenge. This how-to will help you sort it out. Read it here.

You can get access to these posts by pledging $1 per month or more through our Patreon account. You can cancel at any time.

Top Stories of the Month

These were the most-viewed stories in August:

1. Postcards from the Asylum (Asylum Steampunk Festival).

2. Steampunk in the Land of Dracula (Tour of Cluj-Napoca, Romania).

3. Steampunk Fest Returns to Hannibal (Big River Steampunk Festival).

4. A “Time Machine” of Living Art (Pageant of the Masters).

5. Steampunk Fun at the Cog (Railway to the Moon Steampunk Festival).

6. Steampunk Digest - August 16, 2019 (Early reviews for Carnival Row; New Zealand’s Monster Penguin; etc.).

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