Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seattle Steamcon 2009 Report

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.

Welcome to World Airship Lines. We are expecting a small delay, so please enjoy your complimentary tea sandwiches and finger cakes.

2009-10-23 Steamcon 2009 006
That’s not our Captain, is it? He looks a tad…off.

2009-10-23 Steamcon 2009 002 
The four hour wait for the airship was abominable. These fine ladies succumbed to fatigue.

2009-10-23 Steamcon 2009 008 
“It’s here! To the Airship!”

2009-10-23 Steamcon 2009 010 
“Sir, I believe your watch and my wrist sundial are not in full agreement.”

2009-10-23 Steamcon 2009 013 
Marvelous day for an airship ride. Marvelous day indeed.

2009-10-24 Steamcon 2009 006 
An Officer of World Airship Lines will escort you to your cabin.

2009-10-23 Steamcon 2009 003 
“Welcome. I’m so glad they put you in my cabin. I’ve always wanted a cabin mate like you. Mwahahaha.”


  1. This looks like an outstanding amount of fun. I only hope that we get a steampunk convention here in the south. And soon. I would absolutely love to attend one.

    Cheers to you friend, for attending and sharing.

  2. I've heard of it, but didn't know what it was, and didn't want to look stupid, so I never asked. It does look cool though. And I love the idea of writing in a genre where there aren't set rules yet.

  3. Andrew, thanks for the comprehensive discussion on Steampunk. I have a much better understanding of it. I'm intrigued.

  4. Sweet, I now want to find a way to include steampunk in my current project. Problem is, it's set much farther back than the Victorian era. Crap, guess I'll have to wait for the next project.

    PS. I just want to say I disagree! Not really, lol.

  5. What a cool convention. Thanks for the descriptions of steampunk. I was aware of it only vaguely and now I realize why--it's not a clearly defined genre yet. Although it looks like it's getting there. And it also looks like loads of fun.

  6. Steampunk, I love it. What is it about dressing up like an idiot, or handsome pilot, that relaxes everyone? Of course, garters would not relax me, too itchy. Glad you had a great time!

  7. Yes, the garters and corsets and bustiers and bustles were impressive indeed. Except when sitting, the women seemed most comfortable in their taffeta and chemisettes.
    And the men of course upheld their end of the bargain with their tophats and topcoats and riding britches.
    And yes I am attempting to script in a more Victorian fashion, replete with antiquated adjectives and a more passive vocal attenuation, all in preparation for this year's famous and celebrated National Novel Month of Writing.


Constructive comments are welcome.
OpenID Required.