Phyllis’ blog originally published November 2011. Bringing this back because costumes! And because whatever happened to American Steampunk!?
[For an update, check out Neverwas magazine’s opinion on that. Steampunk is alive and well–just not here.]
The weekend of July 22-24, 2011 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.