We’d like to welcome back Emilie P. Bush, author of Chenda and the Airship Brofman. Today she’s going to talk about her recent trip to the Steampunk World’s Fair.
Here in the Deep South, we have a quaint phrase for something that has just a little too much going on: It looks like 10 pounds of flour in a five pound sack. Sometimes we don’t say flour, but rather something a bit less… genteel.
The phrase only comes to mind in connection with Steampunk World’s Fair, in so much as this event had SO much going on, it trickled out of the ballrooms and meeting spaces, through the corridors and onto the Springtime New Jersey grass. Yes, it took SPWF to draw this southern girl to New Jersey. I know. I’m shocked, too. But I have underestimated the allure of the Garden State until now.
Steampunk World’s Fair offered a broad variety of entertainment – from the simple homey mandolin strumming of Matt DeBlass to the full on driving rhythms of Voltaire, the music never stopped. I, voted class band geek in high school, was especially tickled with Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band. Very entertaining as they wandered through the hotel.
Mix and mingle was the way of it throughout the fair. The performers rubbed elbows with the fans around the clock. Professor Elemental, visiting from across the pond, basically stood in the hotel’s lobby, chatting up huge number’s of fans and offering to sing bits of your favorite raps! Also a delightful and friendly chap all around, Jake Von Slatt offered up detailed guided tour of his converted school bus.
Writers flocked to the Library of Lost Literature, hosted by Quirk Books and Weird Tales Magazine. I got to know Ben Winters, co-writer of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the forthcoming Android Karenina, as well as Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the bestselling 2009 Victorian fantasy novelThe Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. The library’s simple plan to deliver brief author reading on the hour every hour was simply brilliant. It was like going to a fine chocolate shop and being able to taste all the delectable delights straight from the candy man’s hand.
Let’s not forget the shopping. Merchants were EVERYWHERE – All the first floor hotel rooms (where shoppers looked past end tables and mattresses to examine merchandise), around most of the ballrooms and throughout the hotel courtyard. I’m not sure I even got to them all!
Before I leave you with the impression it was all fun and games, there were serious activities as well, all of which were very well attended. Social Issues in Steampunk, a panel discussion on race, gender, class and ethnicity in Steam, was unexpectedly well attended – tripling the number of available seats. I too had a crush of visitors for my Steampunk Persona Workshop, expecting 25 and, in the end, entertaining 70 souls.
Whisper Merlot – SPWF’s Programming manager, did an excellent job keeping half of the canaries flying at all times on the over-loaded airship (pardon me for mincing that old joke). Originally planned as a 500 attendee event, the final participant count topped 3300.
I look forward to next year, and more excitement and musical adventure, but in the end, I have just one more expression, this time from Jaws: I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Emilie P. Bush – Author of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semi-finalist book Chenda and the Airship Brofman – lives and writes in Atlanta. Be sure to visit her in Charlotte, NC, at Con Carolinas / Deep South Con, or July 4th Weekend at the MENSA Annual Gathering. Chenda and the Airship Brofman is available at Amazon.com and also as an e-book from the Kindle store.