There’s nothing quite so effective at broadening one’s horizons than going to a science fiction con when one writes in a different genre (in my case, teen fiction). But when I got a look at the schedule for BayCon and saw that it was heavily flavored with steampunk, I knew I had to go for at least part of it. So, I put on my lace-up Oxfords, my middy blouse, my traveling coat, and my top hat with goggles, and assayed forth to explore Pyrocumulon, the city in the clouds and the theme of the con.
First stop for me, of course, was the vendors’ hall, where a person can find everything from a straw Regency bonnet to an Elizabethan leather waistcoat to a medieval sword, plus books, T-shirts, jewelry, and everything in between. I must say, the dragonfly necklace I picked up goes surprisingly well with a number of things in my wardrobe! And one of the sellers of steampunk clothing told me he appreciated seeing someone “with her look pulled together.” Heh.
I attended a panel on metaphysics and spirituality in science fiction, moderated by an Englishman who teaches philosophy at the university level. It was fascinating to hear how many of the panelists create their worlds by determining the worlds’ religious beliefs, since that has a direct bearing on the way the characters shape their societies.
The next panel was a discussion of the popularity of the Twilight series. From bloggers to those who write parody to a university prof who uses the Twilight books in a course on the literary development of the vampire, the panel was an interesting mix. There was no one conclusion about what makes the series so fascinating to its readers, but the hour of discussion was entertainment at its best!
The last panel I went to was a costuming panel on developing the steampunk look on a budget. My favorite costumes worn by attendees were made by a young couple who came as “steampunk atuomatons.” They explained how they created their windup keys and I had to take my hat off to their ingenuity–for if that isn’t a trademark of steampunk, what is?