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Bruce Boxleitner’s Lantern City Shines a light on Steampunk Fans at Dragon*Con
Created by EBush on 9/3/2012 9:35:04 PM

Emilie Bush recaps Bruce Boxleitner's panel for Lantern City at Dragon*Con.


Bruce Boxleitner listens to a fan's question at D*C 2012Milling around behind a black drape stage-side in one of the Atlanta Westin’s ballrooms, Bruce Boxleitner brushes his fingers over the white ray gun on his black t-shirt, pointing at the Dr. Grordbort’s Laboratory logo. “When I saw it, I just had to have it.”

This seems to be Boxleitner’s attitude about all things Steampunk.  “I keep asking people around, do you know what Steampunk is? And people don’t know.” And, he goes on to say, that is a great place to be.  “I’ve always known about Steampunk… and I know what I liked when I saw it. I’ve always been in to alternate history. In Hollywood we’ve taken you everywhere. But we’ve not taken you to a real Steampunk world. I want to take a TV audience to a world of Steampunk.”

At a packed ballroom event Sunday afternoon at Dragon*Con, Boxleitner and his team treated Steampunk fans to a teaser trailer of his latest vision – Lantern City. The one hour drama poses a complicated question: How far would you go to be with the one you loved. Executive producer and co-creator of Lantern City Trevor Crafts says it’s more than just a physical distance. “It’s more than getting on a plane. It’s being willing to throw away everything that you thought what was real, reality, just to have one more minute with that person.”

Boxleitner and Crafts say the premise involves four characters from the real world trying to find their way in a parallel earth. The story involves the various classes of Lantern City, and how the characters survive. Head writer Matthew Daley says that the story arcs over a long period, potentially 5 seasons. Boxleitner says the tone of Lantern City is dark, “- like Boardwalk Empire in a Steampunk world,” with characters that are sometimes evil, and sometimes just doing what they need to survive. And there are A LOT of characters – about 40, says Daley. And he adds the city itself is a something of a character, too. A character that will be brought to life with collaboration from Steampunk makers - like Brute Force Leather chief Thomas Willeford, who appeared alongside Boxleitner and Co. at the Dragon*Con event. “We are not going to be the people who screw up a great genre,” says Crafts, who insists that Willeford and the other collaborators are there to keep the look and feel of Lantern City true to Steampunk.

L to R: Thomas Willeford, Trevor Crafts, Matthew Daley and Bruce Boxleitner signing autographs for fans in Dragon*Con’s Alternate History Track

Artists, costumers and even musicians in the genre are being invited to share their creations on the show’s website – LanternCityTV.com – in the forums section. Which begs the question, aren’t the Lantern City folks all worried about the he said / she said litigation about intellectually property issues? Crafts says no, citing that the show’s website clearly outlines terms of agreement, and notes that the response has been significant. However, several makers have responded to the site saying they cannot agree to the terms, and declined to participate. Crafts adds that the program will be a “multi-national gallery show of Steampunk,” saying that there will be a process by which the contributors to the show will be recognized.

Discussion of Lantern City throughout Dragon*Con’s Alternate History Track came with murmurs from the con goers – “It’s for the FANS!” and a collection of satisfied head nods, but Lantern City has as yet no home. Boxleitner says they are working hard to find a network to take the show into its lineup, and has his sights set high – hoping for a deal with a premium cable network. Boxleitner, star of Babylon 5, Tron, Smokewood and Bring ‘Em Back Alive, is no stranger to storytelling set outside of the here and now, but he vows that he will not appear in the program – not even in a cameo.

At an autograph session after the teaser event and fan Q&A, I turn the question of “What is Steampunk?” back on Bruce Boxleitner and Trevor Crafts, who look at each other for a moment, and Crafts replies, “Someday, I hope the definitive answer to that is... Lantern City.”

Emilie P. Bush is the Editor in Chief of Steampunk Chronicle, and a best selling author. Her novels: Chenda and the Airship Brofman (a 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi-finalist) and The Gospel According to Verdu, both available at your favorite on-line book retailer, on Kindle, and in all other digital formats from Smashwords.com (worldwide distribution).  Look for the follow up of her best selling children's book, Her Majesty's Explorer, in Steamduck Learns to FLY! on October 10th at Amazon.com
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