Steampunk Oregon Style

by Phyllis Irene Radford

The weekend of July 22-24 saw PDX Gear Con, Portland, Oregon’s first convention dedicated solely to Steampunk.  Since I sold my first SF/F trilogy in 1993, I’ve attended a lot of Cons, big and small, successful and not so much.  Rarely have I been so energized as I was at the conclusion of the con.

Costumes led the way.  Nearly everyone indulged, even me, even if only with a hat and goggles over greasy overalls.  Innovative gadgets, displays, and panels.  And two hallways filled with vendors.

As a start up Con, attendance was around 200.  This gave an intimacy to the gathering not found in my more usual venues.  Everyone had a chance to see and talk with most everyone else.  I had the time to get to know my audience better.  I could promote my own limited experience in Steampunk without feeling like I was pushing.  The attendees wanted to find more, more, more ways of indulging in their hobby.  All of the authors present (among them Cherie Priest, M.K. Hobson, Andrew Mayer, Mary Robinette Kowal, and about ten others I’m forgetting) were treated with respect and awe.

The programming was all Steampunk, exploring the etiquette of high tea, the global implications, the philosophical underpinnings, and the raw fun of the subgenre.  I think the fun is why Steampunk will last longer than a few years.  We can thumb our noses at pedantic historical scholars, at the morays of the Victorain civilization that still corral our lives but has become outmoded.  We can look to the future through Steampunk with optimism, even if we do have to put a rose-colored tint on our goggles.

Phyllis Irene Radford is a founding member of the Book View Café.  Though raised in the seaports of America she was born in Portland and has lived in and around the city since her junior year in high school.  She thrives in the damp and loves the tall trees.

For more about her and her fiction please visit her bookshelf here on BVC

Or her personal web page


About Phyllis Irene Radford

Irene Radford has been writing stories ever since she figured out what a pencil was for. A member of an endangered species—a native Oregonian who lives in Oregon—she and her husband make their home in Welches, Oregon where deer, bears, coyotes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers feed regularly on their back deck. A museum trained historian, Irene has spent many hours prowling pioneer cemeteries deepening her connections to the past. Raised in a military family she grew up all over the US and learned early on that books are friends that don’t get left behind with a move. Her interests and reading range from ancient history, to spiritual meditations, to space stations, and a whole lot in between. Mostly Irene writes fantasy and historical fantasy including the best-selling Dragon Nimbus Series and the masterwork Merlin’s Descendants series. In other lifetimes she writes urban fantasy as P.R. Frost or Phyllis Ames, and space opera as C.F. Bentley. Later this year she ventures into Steampunk as someone else. If you wish information on the latest releases from Ms Radford, under any of her pen names, you can subscribe to her newsletter: Promises of no spam, merely occasional updates and news of personal appearances.

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