Friday, May 11, 2012

Southern Boom in Steampunk!

Admiral Radha Narasimhan and Commodore Charles Babbage 
at "The Difference Engine" in Fort Worth, Texas
There is a big change in the convention scene that is happening gradually in the North, the East, and the West, but has exploded seemingly overnight in the South and Southwest just this year.  This is something called “Steampunk“, a blending of science fiction and old world charm, elegance, and adventure from the 19th century.  In the past, Steampunk events have generally been a minor attraction at anime conventions, at least down in the south, but that is all changing now.

In the last 12 months 12 different new and all Steampunk events have been announced, and most have already occurred, in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Why is this important you may ask? Simply because the incredible growth of "Steampunk" conventions in the US and especially the south is the fastest and most pervasive change in convention fandom I have ever seen.  This change in the landscape needs to be studied and understood.  We should try to understand why is it happening and where is it going.  It is especially surprising during such an economic downturn when all conventions are already struggling for attendance!

Some of the biggest obstacles they face are communicating with one another and avoiding scheduling too close to other events (especially megalithic anime conventions like A-kon).  Most of them also face the banes of any first time con in that they have little money, little public awareness of their existence, and little experience in running a convention.  We will just have to wait and see which events will grow and which will survive.  In any case, it's pretty certain, the convention scene will change and evolve, as it always has, though this has certainly been the biggest surge of changes I am aware of in any single year.

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