The biggest steampunk event of the year is just around the corner! Steampunk World’s Fair is one of Jeff Mach’s most popular events and the largest steampunk convention in the world. Earlier this year, I attended and wrote about my experience at two of Jeff Mach’s brand new conventions: the fairy-themed Glimmerdark and the three-day goth party that was Dark Side of the Con. Now it’s time to return to one of my old favorites. I have been attending Steampunk World’s Fair for about five years, and it never fails to impress. The convention takes over two hotels in Piscataway, New Jersey, and will be taking place next weekend, May 5–7.
While I was thrilled to attend two events this year with a more overtly dark aesthetic, I always feel at home at Jeff Mach’s steampunk events, despite not quite ascribing to that subculture myself. Goth and steampunk have much in common, which I’ve written about at length for the Steampunk Tourist blog. In short, though, I can always rely on a steampunk convention to bring me together with other people who enjoy literature, Victorian fashion, and tea. Below, I’ll share with you a few things that I’m looking forward to at this year’s SPWF in particular:
I’m very excited to spend some time with this year’s author guest of honor, steampunk writer Gail Carriger. Gail’s Parasol Protectorate series combines vampires, werewolves, and badass babes with the complex world of Victorian social etiquette. I read the first book many years ago and have been meaning to get back into the series. She’s got two other series set in the same universe, one about young ladies sent to espionage finishing school and another about a high-tech dirigible crew, along with a number of novellas and short stories. I will definitely be reviewing some of her works here in the near future. At SPWF, Gail will be hosting informal chats as well as a Q&A and signing. Another of my favorite authors, Leanna Renee Hieber, will be doing readings and signings in addition to a couple panels, including one on the Gothic novel. I always love hearing her expert thoughts on the subject.
Speaking of panels, this year’s Steampunk World’s Fair seems to have created an entire programming track designed just for me! The Nightshade Society is a brand new set of panels and workshops based around the concept of Dark Victoriana, which they define as “a surrealistic blend of Gothic horror, arcane mystery, and occultism in all mediums in seeking to fulfill what can be understood as your darker ‘flavor’ of Steampunk.” This track includes a panel on the intersection of the goth and steampunk subcultures, hosted by VampireFreaks, as well as panels with titles like “The Disorder of Death and the Rise of the Vampire” and “Steampunk and Fashionable Death: Victorian Mourning and Funerary Arts.” Also included in this track is the Steambones Workshop, in which you can create your own statement piece accessory out of a mink skull and some bones, gears, and clock parts. I’ll definitely be attending as much of this track as I can.
And then, of course, there’s the music. Apart from steampunk staples like Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band and Eli August and the Abandoned Buildings, there are also a number of darker musicians, including some familiar faces from Glimmerdark and Dark Side of the Con. Nigel Taylor will be back with his full band, Platform One, whose gothic synthpop always brings out all the spooky dancers. I’m also excited to finally sit down and listen to darkwave/industrial band Ego Likenesses, whose performances I always seem to miss. And once again, I’ll try to catch a few sets by Valentine Wolf, Jess-O-Lantern, and The Long Losts. VampireFreaks will be hosting a DJ dance party on Friday night, which as I’ve learned from the past two cons, tends to be the highlight of my weekend.
What are you looking forward to at Steampunk World’s Fair? Will I see you there? Let me know in the comments!