Nova Albion 2011 Recap

The Nova Albion convention was held during the weekend of March 25-27 and my original review was running onto six pages, so before I post that, here’s the more condensed version (although it might not seem like it).


When I first started going to conventions, it was about the panels, the entertainment and the information for me. I wanted to hear interviews with actors and authors, attend various panels and presentations, and when I needed a quiet break, watch the fan videos and films.


That element is still there for me but as I got to meet people and make new friends, it’s the joys of spending time with them which remains in my mind and heart once the convention becomes a memory. It just takes a simple ‘hello’ to get things started. At steampunk conventions and events, it’s easy to meet people and find common interests. I’ve made new friends by talking to a presenter after their panel, joining a public conversation during Lobbycon (the gathering of people in the lobby before the official start of the convention), and simply by complimenting someone’s outfit.


Nova Albion was an amazing weekend for me because it was a reunion on so many levels, and a chance to meet new people. I was meeting friends from other conventions, finally meeting some friends in person I had only talked with online, and getting some time to talk with people that I only had time to say “Hi” to in passing before.


James Ng, Ay-Leen the Peacemaker, Jaymee Goh and I had made plans before the convention to connect around our varied schedules and at least have dinner together one night. Food and meals are a great way to find some quiet time and share some good conversation with people.

Photo from TempestedBird

We were happy that Ekaterina Sedia, author of Alchemy of Stone and the upcoming Heart of Iron, could join us one night for dinner. Kaja Foglio also joined us for dinner on the last evening. One of the best dinner events, though, was Saturday night when there was a “Girls Night Out” and a “Guys Night In.”


For the “Girls Night Out”, Ay-Leen and Jaymee headed out with Ekaterina, Kaja, Cherie Priest, Anina Bennett, Liz Gorinsky, and Alice Bentley in tow. All I got from them was this picture but they certainly had a good time.

For the “Guys Night In,” Paul Guinan, James and I lazily went to eat in the hotel restaurant. Good food, great conversation, and no picture to share! It was shared moments over food like this that really make steampunk event so enjoyable and fulfilling – strengthening friendships and making new bonds with people.


It was also Steampunk Scholar Mike Perschon’s birthday weekend and we took the opportunity to continue the fun and frivolity by settling in for a dessert celebration. Mike was inconveniently unable to participate in the celebration directly, but we weren’t going to let details like that stop us.

Aside from all that food (!), the sharing, and the laughter, there was still work for some of us at the convention. First, I was interviewing all five of the Guests of Honor – Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, talking about Boilerplate and the upcoming movie by J.J. Abrams; Major Catastrophe, who created the three story, self propelled, Victorian home, Neverwas Haul, along with his crew of friends and family; . Kaja Foglio from Girl Genius web comic; Cherie Priest talking about her newest book, Bloodshot, and the upcoming books in the Boneshaker universe, Ganymede and Inexplicable; wrapping up with James Ng, discussing his amazing and iconic Chinese steampunk series.

Photo from TempestedBird

For my last panel of the convention, I joined the amazing Jean Martin from SFSF on the “Building Fan Communities Online and Off” panel. Jean lead with great questions about social networks and media, how to get the word out, what works and what doesn’t, and how to keep the energy, enthusiasm and the group going over the long term. There was good back and forth discussion with everyone there and I left with several good ideas of what to try next for myself and Airship Ambassador.

Photo from TempestedBird

There were a lot of other panels, programming, and things to see and do. Jaymee and Ay-Leen’s presented Steampunk Around the World, where they discussed multiculturalism in steampunk. Working together very well and playing off each other, they presented important topics in a pleasant light hearted manner which was informative and entertaining. Viceroy Chang maintained order during the Q&A session, and there were many good tips and pointers about navigating respectful inclusion of other culture’s ideas and imagery and awareness of how others may react and respond.

Photo from TempestedBird

Vernian Process, Veronique Chevalier. Unwoman, Brass Farthing, Lee Presson, Jon Magnificent and others presented great entertainment during the weekend. Dancing, singing, shouting, laughing, and a whole lot of merriment!


One thing I enjoy about all the creativity in our community is how easy and fulfilling it can be for us to be admirers, supporters and outright fans of each other’s work. There were many amazing handcrafted goods in the vendor’s areas, and in so many great outfits. Two moments stood out for me – first when James signed one of his prints for Ekaterina, and she signed her new book for him!


The other was during the stage transition, our group was hanging out in the hallway when the members of Vernian Process came by and there was an exchange between Ay-Leen and Janus Zarate, the VP bass player, complimenting each other on their respective works.


With so many people to meet and talk with, so much programming and so many events, it was only inevitable that I would not see everyone or spend enough time with them.


League of Steam was in the room right next to mine, but I realized it too late, and we only had a chance to talk for a few minutes total during the whole weekend. Excellent performance and entertainment by them – make sure you see them when you can!


Tom Banwell is one of the artists on the Airship Ambassador Gallery page, and while I recognized his work at the convention, I totally missed having the opportunity to meet him in person.


Andrew Mayer is another who I missed in person. We follow each other on Twitter but it would have been great to talk with him about his upcoming steampunk superhero duology, Society of Steam, which will be published by Pyr Books in May 2011.


While I got my copy of Exhibition Hall 16 from Chris Garcia, we didn’t get any mealtime together like at previous conventions. Similarly, I greeted Kevin and Andy as they brought in their Tiki Dalek for the Museum showing, got and gave a quick hug with Gail Carriger as we passed in opposite directions, and chatted several times with Dan Sawyer, the Programming Director for Nova Albion this year.

Photo from TempestedBird

At least I was able to grab a few people to record promo spots for the Airship Ambassador YouTube channel, AATV, The Steampunk Channel.


Once the convention was over, and we would each head to our separate destinations, it was all those little moments which created and strengthened our friendships, and those friendships would be our lasting and continual connections, with email, chat, Skype, Facebook and Twitter support, until we see each other in person again at the next convention.


See the list of conventions and events around the world here.

Hope to see you there, too!

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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