Clockwork Alchemy in San Jose, CA marked the first time I’d attended a convention wholly dedicated to steampunk – and it was a lot of fun! The crowd had about the highest percentage of people in cosplay I’ve seen, all in elegantly designed Victorian or Steampunk attire, and many I talked to are regular participants in the local ren faire or Dickens Fair – a really cool event around Christmas time that takes the theme of A Christmas Carol and extrapolates a whole convention center with prop-storefronts and everything. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this convention, but I was quite pleased to find on a search of their programming before the event that all of their content was themed, and most importantly there was NO POLITICS. How refreshing! My wife and I decided to get a babysitter for the kids for a Saturday – Sunday morning jaunt to the con. I only wish we had more time!
The first thing we did was hit the dealer room, which was small but packed with cool themed craftsmen. I needed a new hat since losing my tophat for my steampunk attire a couple of years back, and I found a wonderful hat that the guy who designed it put a ton of work into. It’s gorgeous. Found some cool things for my wife as well like a teacup holster. And we met a craftsman who made a metal pendant version of my Grand Rislandian Army insignia – which readers of this blog will have a chance to win closer to release.
After that we looked into the programming. I’m no crafting person myself, but they had a ton of how-to-make-it-yourself content, of which would be of interest to a lot of people (cool costuming can get expensive!). They also had a “war room” where it was a big open room with live self-defense and weaponry demonstrations. I didn’t participate but I did watch and it was in depth and really cool. Next time that’s something I want to try when I’m not wearing a big heavy leather themed costume.
They also had a tent, outside which they had morning to evening dance and music performances. Really cool! I live streamed a little sample of that on Periscope on Saturday.
Beside that was the highlight of the entire convention, which I wouldn’t have thought at first, but my wife was pretty excited about – the tea room. They have a real brewer who made her own loose leaf blends, and set things up properly with china and the like, while people in themed costume serve you. It may sound a little silly or mundane but the atmosphere there was very themed and so wonderful that I was impressed – not to mention the tea blends they had were incredibly flavorful. It was free as well. Needless to say, the room was packed the whole time with a long wait, but it was well worth it.
We also visited the evening concert on Saturday night and played a cool board game Dicenstein in the gaming room with some nice folk. That ended up with a fun chat in the hotel bar with some folk we met through the online literary world.
Sunday, I travelled through author’s alley and talked to a lot of cool people including Harry Turtledove, the master of alt-history writing himself. I also met a great guy named Steve DeWinter who has a “Steampunk Oz” series that looks really cool, and M. Holly-Rosing, who wrote the comic for the Boston Metaphysical Society, which I’d seen online before. Was really cool to meet these folk! All in all it was an incredibly pleasant experience and I wish I could have spent another day there, as I know I missed the cool steampunk fashion show and ball on Sunday evening that looked like they would have been perhaps the most fun events of the convention.
And then the best part were the cool like-minded people. It was fun to chat steampunk with so many and share my bookmarks for my forthcoming release, which was very well received by all. My wife and I look forward to participating next year and hopefully we can contribute a little more with the release of For Steam And Country and perhaps a sequel if I can manage it in time for their event.
One more thing: I told a lot of people at the convention, but starting June 1, I’m going to be running #SteampunkMonth on the blog here, in which I’ll try to post some steampunk content every day through the month of June. I want everyone to join me in this and bring about a Steampunk revival on social media. Don’t be shy, join in the fun!