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Steampunk Digest - September 15, 2023

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

Friday, September 15, 2023
Costume Contest
Photo by Curt Knapp

As promised last week, we’ve posted a photo gallery and report from the Big River Steampunk Festival, which took place over Labor Day weekend in Hannibal, Missouri. Our correspondent Curt Knapp described it as one of the best yet, and it was likely the biggest ever, as the local visitors bureau estimated total attendance at 21,500. That’s an increase of 1500 from 2022.

Curt was especially impressed by the parade that opened Saturday’s festivities, as well as the costume contests on Saturday and Sunday. He also enthused about the weekend’s entertainment. “The volunteers got this one right,” he said.

See the photos: Big River Steampunk Fest 2023


Erica Mulkey, the singer-songwriter-cellist who performs as Unwoman, is planning a Sept. 22 release for Desire Paths, her ninth album of original compositions, and now our readers can get a sneak preview by streaming it on our website.

Her songwriting and production skills appeared to hit a peak with her previous album of originals, Of My Own Space and Time I Am Queen, but there’s no letdown with her latest effort. Both are masterpieces and are worth your listening time.

As with her other releases, the music consists of richly layered vocals, cello, and electronic instruments, all recorded in her home studio.

The album is available now for pre-order on Bandcamp. She’s planning a listening party on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. Pacific time. And if you’re in the SF Bay Area, she’ll be performing at a birthday and launch party on Thursday, Sept. 21, beginning at 7 p.m., at Spire the Church, 825 Athens St. in West Oakland.

Hear the album: Sneak Preview: Listen to Unwoman’s Latest Originals Album ‘Desire Paths’

Unwoman was the guest in the latest edition of Type Tune Tint, the podcast by Tom Kranz that also featured The Steampunk Explorer a few months back. Topics included her production techniques, how she got into music, and lots more. The podcast also featured tracks from the new album. It’s available as a video or in an audio-only format. Both versions are available on the podcast website.

Abney Park will perform another streaming concert, but this time with a twist. “In a dusty cobwebbed corner of the attic, we came across the original instruments that we used to tour with,” writes band leader Robert Brown. “And there, on the pre-historic hard drives and floppy disks of the nineties, we found some of the original backing sequences to songs that we hadn’t been able to play in years. So we’re going to have a live streaming concert straight from our recording studio and we’re going to bring back all of our early music just for you longtime fans!”

Entitled “Songs from the Attic,” it’s set for Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. Pacific time. Tickets cost $15 for either the live concert or a video download, or $20 for an audio download formatted as a live album. You can get all three for $35. As with their other virtual concerts, you can purchase a $100 VIP all-access pass that includes a “seedy and disreputable” after party with a second concert.

Tickets are available via Kickstarter.

Atlas Obscura will present another online lecture series featuring steampunk “re-imagineer” Bruce Rosenbaum. The program, consisting of four 90-minute sessions, is similar to the series he delivered last December and January.

It will begin Monday, Nov. 27 with an introduction to steampunk, followed by sessions on art concepts (Dec. 4), the art and design process (Dec. 11), and the business of steampunk art (Dec. 18).

Tickets cost $60, $75, or $90 based on ability to pay. You can also apply for a random drawing to receive a no-pay ticket, but quantities are limited. See the website for more info.

The Lioness and the Rat Queen cover art

Tiny Fox Press released The Lioness and the Rat Queen, the second volume in Noah Lemelson’s Slickdust trilogy. It’s a follow-up to the author’s well-received debut novel, The Sightless City, set in an alternate world that combines elements of steampunk, dieselpunk, and fantasy. The new story involves three vigilantes who travel to a wasteland in search of a murderous tycoon.

The book is available in digital, paperback, and hardcover formats from multiple booksellers. See the author’s website and publisher’s website for more info.


The Amherstburg Uncommon Festival returns to downtown Amherstburg, Ontario, Sept. 15-17, with a fantasy and steampunk theme. Most activities are free, including games, music, dance, puppetry, magic shows, circus acts, teapot racing, and a costume contest/parade. .

The location is in southern Ontario near Detroit. Learn more on the website.

SWFL SteamCon, the Southwest Florida steampunk and fantasy convention, takes place Saturday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the German American Social Club in Cape Coral. The program includes a costume contest, teapot racing, tea dueling, and parasol dueling. The music lineup features Love or Money and Mark Rossmore’s Escape the Clouds. Tickets cost $10. Kids under 12 will be admitted free (one per paid adult, or $5 for additional kids’ tickets). See the website and Facebook page for more info.

The Whippany Railway Museum in Whippany, New Jersey, will host its first-ever Steampunk Day with steampunk vendors and rides in an early-1900s club car/caboose. Photo ops will be available in front of an antique steam train.

Four train rides are scheduled. Adult tickets range from $18 to $26 depending on which car you ride in. Kids’ tickets (12 and under) cost $13 to $25. Tickets include entry to the museum. It’s set for Sunday, Sept. 17 from noon to 5 p.m. The museum is located at 1 Railroad Plaza, Whippany, NJ 07981. The location is near Morristown, about 30 miles west of New York City. See the website and Facebook page for more info.

The third Saturday of the month means it’s time for another edition of Boston’s Monthly Steampunk Gathering. The events are organized by Boston-area steampunk fan Scott Silva.

It’s set for Saturday, Sept. 16, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Blackmoor Bar & Kitchen in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Attendance is free but participants are encouraged to sample the establishment’s food and drinks.

See the Facebook event page for details about this month’s get-together and check out the Boston Area Steampunk Gatherings Facebook group to learn about future events.

Steampunk faves Frenchy and the Punk will perform at the Enchanted Fairy Festival, slated for Sept. 16 and 17 at Springettsbury Township Park in York, Pennsylvania. The duo are scheduled for two sets each day, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Festival tickets cost $10. Learn more on the website and Facebook page.

Colfax Railroad Days returns Sept. 16 and 17 to Colfax, California, celebrating the city’s role in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Activities include historical re-enactments, model train displays, a Union Pacific railroad display, live music, and craft vendors. The location is near the Tahoe National Forest, about 50 miles northeast of Sacramento. See the website and Facebook page for more info.


Here’s a look at ongoing Kickstarter campaigns:

Ars Mechanica: Dawn of a New Age – A D&D 5e-compatible tabletop RPG set in a steampunk city. The campaign reached its €100 (US$109) funding goal on launch day. It runs through Sept. 28.

Ecryme – An English-language adaptation of a French tabletop RPG, set in a dystopian, postapocalyptic steampunk world with paranormal elements. The campaign met its US$15,000 funding goal within 48 hours. It runs through Sept. 28.

Hope & Fire – An LGBTQ+ young adult fantasy steampunk novel by L.J. Black. The campaign had reached 42 percent of its US$500 funding goal as of late Wednesday. It runs through Sept. 27.

Picking Up Steam – Three steampunk anthologies from eSpec Books. The campaign reached its US$2300 funding goal a few days after launch. It runs through Sept. 18.

Seasons of Soldark – A collection of four novellas by Liz Delton described as “cozy fantasy with a dash of steampunk.” The campaign was fully funded four minutes after launch. It runs through Sept. 21.

Steampunk Vintage Car – A model car built from Lego-style bricks. As of late Wednesday, the campaign had raised 32 percent of its HK$78,300 (US$9988) funding goal. It runs through Sept. 20.

Elsewhere in the Aether

Steam-powered spectacle takes over downtown Fergus (CTV News)

Gallery: Fergus goes steampunk for Cogs and Clockwork (22 photos) (Guelph Today)

Yes, There’s A Reason Charles Dickens Novels Are Everywhere In Starfield (ScreenRant)

The Wild Burton-Verse Theory That Links ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ With ‘The Corpse Bride’ (Collider)

Video games: Gunbrella, a stylish 2D steampunk western platformer with bullets in its brolly (Rock Paper Shotgun)

Remedium: Sentinels arrives on console to wipe out the plague! (Big Boss Battle)

Lies of P: A Steampunk Soulslike Adventure (Game Is Hard)

Kickstarter Highlights: Explore Steampunk Worlds in ‘Ecryme’ (Bell of Lost Souls)

Steam and Sorcery: Elements of Steampunk in RPGs (Game Is Hard)

Ebenezer and The Invisible World is a Dickensian take on Metroidvanias (Shack News)

Steampunks enjoy opportunity to explore Gunby Hall on Heritage Open Day (Lincolnshire World)

’Magical artifacts’ found along centuries-old pilgrimage route to Mecca may have protected against evil eye (Live Science)

When California and Florida Attracted Settlers With Promises of a Perfect Climate (Smithsonian Magazine)

Where Did the QWERTY Keyboard Come From? (Smithsonian Magazine)

14 Forgotten Inventions That Were Way Ahead of Their Time (MSN)

Conspiracy Theorist Asks “If Dinosaurs Actually Existed, Wouldn’t Their Bones Be Everywhere?” (IFL Science)

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