Saturday, 30 August 2014

Steampunk at WorldCon

Those goggles get everywhere!
There were quite a few well turned out gentlemen in waistcoats and top hats wandering the halls - and Dr Geof was in the dealers' hall, with his amusing patches. He specialises in tea related ephemera, which is why he is exhibiting underneath the Cutty Sark at the moment. The last day is Sept 30th. He's also involved in Longitude Punk'd at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, until January 4th, 2015. On the hand bills (illustrated by Dr Geof) it says "Discover a fascinating world of Steampunk creations, inspired by the quest for longitude". We didn't have time to visit the exhibitions while I was in London, but we did stop to chat with Dr Geof in the dealers' hall when we passed by.
And there were panels, too. Steampunk is also a literary phenomenon, and comes under the umbrella of SF. We got to Beyond Blighty: world steampunk, where the panel was made up of one Venezuelan and three Germans, to represent writers beyond the Anglo-sphere. Joseph Remesar sets his work in London, all the same, though he has a Latino Scotland Yard detective, who is assigned to a difficult case because he can speak Spanish, so it's a different look at the greatest Steampunk city in the world. There was some artwork associated with this series in the art show, too, which looked intriguing.
One of the German ladies on the panel, Romy Wolf, has set her Steampunk series in Edinburgh. It's called Die Spione von Edinburgh, and is only available in German. This led to a discussion of other towns and cities that could easily be used as a setting for steampunk stories, rather than going back to London all the time.
One of the questions that was asked was why there was so little German steampunk, when Germany had been a great 19thC industrial area - I can't really say "nation" until 1870, and that's really one of the problems. German history is fragmented into the different principalities and electorates and so on. One lady on the panel was writing about the Kingdom of Bavaria and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and we learned some interesting German history on the way, like the importance of the date 1866 - the Austro-Prussian war, which threw up some interesting possibilities for alternate histories. One Dane in the audience suggested that for him, 1864 was more important, as Denmark had been invaded by the Germans - for which the panel apologised.
Sadly, the Germans considered that there was too small an audience for Steampunk literature to support them at the moment. I just wish I could read German better - the glimpse of the stories that the panel were telling was fascinating.

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