Steampunk is without a doubt all a-buzz about Tron star Bruce Boxleitner’s latest media project, Lantern City, which he promises to be the “first true Steampunk TV show” and “not shy away from the issues of the time”. Considering how the community has been let down before in popular media depictions of Steampunk, people are cautious yet intrigued about the upcoming television show. However, it can be safely said that most fears were put to rest after the impressive panel and sneak peak given at this year’s Dragon*Con. Steampunk Magazine not only had the great pleasure of being there, but also had the chance to speak with both Bruce Boxleitner and Producer Trevor Crafts about the project.
The Dragon*Con panel and sneak peak was packed and we were able to get some glances at some exclusive concept work and heard those involved with the project detail how the Steampunk community was to be “integral to the show”, a theme mentioned various times in interviews and at the convention. Calling inspiration from the Wild Wild West television show (“but not the movie, to be clear”, Boxleitner stated), the show seems to be on the right track towards become something new and exciting, an open-source television show of sorts in an era where Hollywood barely listens to the concerns of the hardcore fans. Steampunk are already getting involved through the forums and at conventions, approaching Boxleitner and Crafts with many different ideas, suggestions, and even character proposals, as witnessed personally at the Lantern City poster signing.
Taking place in a new and original location that both Boxleitner and Crafts promised to be “exciting, dark, imaginative and never before seen”, Lantern City seeks not only to explore issues of class, technology, corruption, despotism and so forth, but seeks to answer the question of “how far would you go for to be with the one you love?”, promising to keep viewers entertained with elements of romance, danger, excitement and other fantastical storytelling and visual elements. When representing Steampunk visually, a task Boxleitner stressed that they did not “want to mess up at all”, it seems not only have they done their research, but have also already begun incorporating notable Steampunk makers and ideas into the show in an open-source sort of model, most notably seen through Thomas Willeford of Brute Force Studios, most commonly known to the general populace for making the arm Nathan Fillion was wearing in the Steampunk episode of Castle. Willeford made it very clear that the show was in no way “going to be anything but Steampunk” and that the neat gadgets and the like he was designing would reflect issues of social stratification, noting that “the rich guys will definitely have way different tech than those on the street, who will turn to craftier methods”.
Wherever it is that Lantern City takes us, it will no doubt be an exciting ride, especially for Steampunks, who are beginning to get major exposure in popular media and now possibly in an accurate and unique way. Those involved with the project are passionate about what they are working on and it is in the opinion of the author that this could, to be frank, be pretty damn good, as a show and for the community. However, it’s up to us as a movement to make sure it doesn’t stray too off-path, but as Boxleitner pointed out: “If we didn’t include the Steampunk community, it wouldn’t really be Steampunk and we’re happy to see all of the great ideas out there”.