Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Roots, the branches, the pesky leaves

So, as some of you may know, The Library Eternal made an appearance at the Steampunk World's Fair this past weekend.  Aside from some lack-of-permits-related-mayhem.  I think I can say we all enjoyed ourselves.   The musical guests were fantastic, the costumes astounding, the chances to drop $300 dollars in one merch booth ample, and the company more than pleasurable.

However, I do have one complaint.  The complete disconnect between what is steampunk now, where steampunk came from, and where steampunk is going.  I'm not saying this should have been a panel, although I think it would be a very appropriate one, I'm saying I didn't see enough of what SHOULD have been at the Steampunk World's Fair.  For the record, I also had this issue with Faeriecon, so I'm not just sticking it to the STWF planners.  This is an issue that tends to plague a number of conventions.

Perhaps I'm just spoiled by going to too many Science Fiction/Fantasy conventions, but I'm used to a strong track of panels and discussions.  I like talking about literature.  I like talking about media.  I like meeting people who know a thing or two about both.  Mostly, I think it's important to realize that Steampunk is like horror in the fact that it can really be retrofitted to function in any genre.  Right now, if Steampunk were a tree, literature would be the roots, media would be the farthest reaching branches, and the fashion industry would be all those leaves that blow into worlds unknown.

I'm not saying there wasn't ANY of this.  There was, just not enough and it made my heart a little bit sad.  Lets look at it this way, I am an author, I went to the convention and hung out with my author friends.  Besides the signings and the readings, most of them were on one panel...the same one.  Usually these authors have a chance to be on at least three panels.  It's important because not only do the readers of steampunk literature (which isn't a small group, ladies and gentlemen) get to learn about a wealth of literature that they may not have ever known about, but they get to talk about it with people who are just as geeked out about it as they are.  PLUS, it allows authors to get their name out there and sell some books.  Win win.

True story:  On the last day I went to a panel that wasn't about literature and ended up sitting next to one of my favorite authors.  She'd been there all weekend and hadn't been on a panel or done a signing.  I had no idea she was even there.  Now, she may have done this on purpose, but most authors I know will take the opportunity to reach out to potential readers when they get the chance.  I'm going to say that she either didn't know she could be on a panel or hadn't wanted to because there weren't any panels for her to be on.  

Perhaps we should allow people to volunteer for panels when they register next year?  I mean, you don't have to be famous to know something about the genre, some fans are highly intelligent.  I've met some really awesome nobodies just because they were on panels about things they were interested in.  The fans want to talk too!

Some ideas for next year might include: "Supernaturals in the Steampunk Genre," "The Steampunk Classics," "What Makes a Steampunk Novel," and "Who is Reading Steampunk."

Besides that there a a TON of series and movies with steampunk influence.  Yes, there were some movies being shown, but they were making their debut.  What about what's already out there?  Here's an idea:  Get a room put a projector in it and air steampunk anime 24/7.  It's not like there's a shortage of that and it gives people something to do besides standing around and clogging the halls.  Plus it's anime and I love anime :)

Finally, with practically everyone in costume, I'm surprised there wasn't a panel on how steampunk is influencing the fashion industry...maybe there was and I just wasn't looking...

Anyway, those are some ideas that might help to improve any convention no matter what the genre is.  We have to think outside the box and really examine how one genre movement can influence many different areas.  It's like that swarm of bees in Africa causing a tsunami in Japan.  Connections people, we don't live in a vacuum.

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