You never forget your first, and Steamcon was my first steampunk convention.
Steampunk conventions were really just getting started in the mid to late 2000s. There was Salon Con in 2006, Steam Powered (California, USA) in 2008, and Asylum (England, UK) in 2009 – just weeks before the first Steamcon in Seattle, Washington, USA.
Searching for ‘steampunk’ on the internet was turning up more and more items in 2009. Keyboards and other items from Jake Von Slatt and Datamancer often led the list. Steampunk Magazine had a few issues out by then, and the Brass Goggles forum was already linking people together in the Aether.
Somehow, and thankfully, a passing notice on Facebook or the internet during the summer caught my attention, alerting me to the event, right in my own backyard! I had been following the slow growth of steampunk online since my first computer in 1990. Now, instead of just a few posts or comments, here was a group of people getting together in person – I couldn’t possibly pass it up.
Organizer Diana Vick relayed in an interview that she and her team were only expecting about 500 people for a first time convention. 900+ showed up, and every year, the number of attendees kept growing.
Walking into the hotel lobby was like walking into a wonderland. Tim Powers was the author guest of honor. Cherie Priest was there with Liz Gorinsky from TOR, talking about her first steampunk book, Boneshaker. The halls were filled with top hats, corsets, and breathtaking creativity in every direction. Phil and Kaja Foglio were there talking about Girl Genius, their online comic.
Panelists talked about books, movies, fashions, and history. People stopped routinely anywhere there was space to ask others about their outfits, how something was made, or where it was bought. Contact information was exchanged, and friendships were formed.
The following year, I returned as a panelist, doing the live version of interviews that I was doing on Airship Ambassador. Nine hours of interviews in essentially forty-eight hours, including a fantastic standing-room-only chat with Gail Carriger. Abney Park returned that year as the musical entertainment.
From 2009 to 2013, Steamcon brought together thousands of people to celebrate steampunk, bringing in stellar guests including authors James Blaylock and K.W. Jeter, and Lady Mechanika artist Joe Benitez. Steamcon also introduced the Airship Awards to honor the best in five categories as voted on by the attendees of the convention.
It was an amazing five weekends of great memories, new and renewed friendships, and experiences. Steamcon ended in 2013 but left a lasting impression on those who attended.