Seattle Steamcon 2009 Report
This was my first convention in about 10 years. I don’t know why I don’t go to more, but I plan to remedy this situation. Scroll down for my pictostory from the event!
Steamcon was Seattle’s first Steampunk-specific convention. It featured panels, art, vendors, RPG and gaming, and musical/cultural events. I had a great time. Here are some of my takeaways.
- Style: Victorian-era style is fabulous. This is the first convention I been to where the prevailing style was topcoats and evening dresses. I felt like I was at a retro formal event. And these clothes were not just costumes. These were professionally tailored outfits. And, of course, there were goggles. Lots of goggles. Although sometimes a monocle was substituted.
- What is Steampunk: I attended more than a few panels that tried to define Steampunk. Here’s what I gathered: Steampunk is retro/future, predominately focused on the technology, style, and social attitudes of the Victorian era. There is no one book that defines the genre; in fact, many of the panelists seemed to be calling for that One Book or movie they could point to. The problem is that the genre is so broad and varied that it defies description. There’s an “anything goes” attitude to it.
- First vs Second World: Steampunk can be divided into two general types. First World is alternative history, set in our past. Second World is Steampunk set an alternate universe of sorts, or in our future. Second World usually involves a heavier dose of Fantasy.
- Characters: Steampunk does seem to entail a few interesting character types. To name a few:
- The Mad Scientist—The crazy fool who thinks electromagnetism could someday light cities.
- The Industrialist—The capitalistic magnate who orders the construction of giant telescoping cannons to shoot Aether-trapping nets.
- The Mechanic—The person with the knowhow to use gluenium to fasten the clockstrap to the cantilever.
- The Poet (or Prophet)—The person with social vision who imagines a world where ice is not just for winter, and kids no longer wear gas masks.
- Nobody Knows Shit: I got this feeling that the panelists were begging for more Steampunk literature. The genre is still in it’s infancy, and there’s no right or wrong. The real question Steampunk asks is…why are we here today? What decisions led us to this point? And how would the world be different if these decisions had been made differently, or people like Edison or Tesla had never lived? It’s about what could have happened. What if there’s no electricity? What if computers came along 100 years earlier?
- Conventioneers are Freakin’ Awesome: There is a reason many great books include a “bar scene.” It’s because that’s where all the kewl stuff happens. They oversold this event. They had expected 400, 1300+ showed up. Every room was packed to the gills and hotter than hell, so I made my way to the bar early and often for refreshment. Many a hearty laugh was shared over a soda or a double-bourbon and 7.
All in all, I thought it was a pretty good event. Great styles, good panels, lots of varied entertainment. Many first-convention glitches.
I’ve crafted a small picto-story from the event. I apologize for the deplorable condition of the photographs, but the iPhonium is a primitive contraption at best for pixilated imagography.
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