Jeff Mach‘s Steampunk World’s Fair is the world’s largest Steampunk event! Everyone is welcome, from the veteran Steampunker to the simply curious. Come an join us for a weekend of merriment, we’d love to meet you!
Out with the Old, in with the New
The Steampunk World’s Fair 2017 was a rousing success! We’d like to thank everyone who attended this year’s event. We’d love your feedback; please feel free to share it with us via our feedback form!
Next year’s event, Steampunk World’s Fair 2018, will be at the Radisson and Embassy Suites of Piscataway, New Jersey, May 4-6th, 2018. Hotel rooms are available at our popular overflow hotel and tickets are available now as well!
New and don’t know where to start?
No problem! First, we recommend reading about what the Steampunk World’s Fair is. Then, take a look at our Entertainment line-up and our Merchant roster to get an idea of the things you can expect to enjoy at our event. Our VIP & Add-on event listings are a good way to see all the extra, premium content we have to offer, too! Then, when you’re ready, take a look at our Buy Tickets page to join us at the next SPWF.
The Latest from our Curators
“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
― Neil Gaiman, “The Kindly Ones”
Steampunk: Exactly what the hell are we creating here, anyway?
I’m going to let you in on a huge secret here: Steampunk is imaginary. But just because it’s imaginary doesn’t mean that it’s not real.
Consider how odd our ideas of “reality” are. Does a locked door stop you from going through? Not if there’s an emergency fire axe. Does a door marked quote “authorized personnel only” keep you out? Not if you are authorized – or rude – or have a mission – or are fearless.
So many barriers are of the mind, not the physical world. Hell, even barriers of the physical world are overrated; ask the athlete or the survivor who “can’t go another step”–and then puts one foot in front of the other until they get there.
Steampunk is a product of thought, inspiration, dream, and spirit. Without those intangible things, it we would never create anything “real”–that is, tangible things, things which everyone perceives as being “real”. Humans would never make, transcend, build, invest, or dream. They would, in short, not be human.
So how about we break some barriers of Reality together?
We’re going to offer you some pathways and portals into the glorious alternative realities, the rich places in the mind, heart, and passion, which are Steampunk. It’s my hope that you can use them for any world of the imagination with which you might care to work or play.
The unreal world awaits your royal pleasure, O Majesty of the Mind.
Let’s jump in!
If you’re like me, you spend a great deal of time thinking about the important things in life: Steampunk, and cocktails. If you’re a LOT like me, you spend as much time as possible combining the two.
What are some ways to make a truly great Steampunk cocktail? Here are a few pointers that I’ve picked up over the years.
First off, if you’re thinking of something sweet, did you know that it is entirely possible to get tiny edible top hats? It is! I’ll admit a secret: I have always wanted to purchase some of them and place them atop a cocktail, but I haven’t yet. I’m giving this secret away to you in case you want to try it first. Please let me know how it turns out!
For sweet drinks, consider this simple combination of flavor and color: take dark rum, pour it halfway into the glass, and add some grenadine. You’ll get a splash of deep red which looks a little like a heart, and it will give you bit of a candied flavor. Then be extra Steampunk and go overboard by putting in some actual candy! (You can even make your own Steampunk candy molds, if you want to.)
In general, if you want to theme your drink, you could use bourbon for something with a Wild Wild West Steampunk; Gin for something British; and Absinthe for something that will make you see airships and possibly travel through time. (Do NOT try combining all three into one drink. Trust me on this one. I’ve heard it can be done, but I believe it involves some sort of dark magic.)
That being said, combining gin and green absinthe will give you something with a lovely light green tinge, and a powerful kick, as well. Absinthes vary tremendously, of course; but choosing something with a strong anise flavour will give you a nice bite, which will compliment the kick of the gin. And you can always add to the verdant look with another sweet alcohol – Midori. Midori doesn’t have a Steampunk tradition, but I find it quite tasty.
(You can get the same color possibilities with vodka, but vodka has a bit less Steampunk history; also, vodka is best consumed neat, preferably while standing atop a snow-covered Russian steppe while grimly awaiting the approach of Napoleon’s army).
I could – and likely will – write whole articles on Absinthe. But if we’re looking for a sweet cocktail with bourbon, let me give this simple advice: bitters! As you might know, despite their name, these drink spices come in a variety of flavors. I’d recommend picking one which really suits your own tastes – this, of course, has the added bonus which comes with all cocktail experimentation: It means you get to try out lots of lovely beverages while you’re figuring out what you like best!
Jeff Mach Events
Did you know that there is a million bucks hidden in the house next door?”
“But there is no house next door.”
“No? Then let’s go build one!”
There is a lie of omission which has fucked up the lives of many a creator and entrepreneur, and it’s a very popular lie. It happens whenever anyone says, “Follow your dreams!” and doesn’t add “…repeatedly, because the first several attempts are very likely to fail”.
It’s absolutely true that most people with dreams need encouragement – lots of encouragement. It’s scary and difficult to try to break out of where you are, and do something new, especially if it’s something that few people, or no people, have ever done before. And you should absolutely support your local dreamer, but–
But frequently, a large part of that support comes in a “certificate of attendance”-style – “Hey, that’s great, you have dreams! Definitely follow them! Go for it!” Because that’s what we get told – “Tell people to follow their dreams”. Because we love that tale – we love the story of the person who has the courage and vision to dream big, and who tries to make those dreams real, and who finally succeeds against all odds.
Do you actually know anyone who’s had that experience? I don’t. Having the skills, and the knowledge, and the infrastructure to create something successful your first time – is rare. And most of the time, some of it is something not easily distinguishable from luck – the right idea at the wrong time seldom succeeds. And sure, there’s something in knowing when the time for something is right. But there’s also the good fortune of being around at a moment when your idea can find acceptance.
How do you assure that your dream will come true, then, if you don’t have tons and tons of experience, knowledge, and resources?
You don’t.. At least, not to start.. Not the first iteration of that dream.
What you can do is be ready. Not “ready to fail” – don’t defeat yourself before you start. But “ready for what happens”. If what you have is success, fantastic! If what you have isn’t success – then, tell me, what will you do to succeed next time?
In steampunk, as with any world of fantasy, when someone asks me for a definition, I tend to get the broadest definition possible.
Why would I want to do that?
Because inclusivity is part of the power of worlds of the imagination. Yes, obviously, we need to have a framework from which to start. But that framework can very much be open to interpretation–hell, geeks have been debating the interpretations of scifi, fantasy, and fandom classics for over 50 years now. But the power isn’t precisely in how strongly someone has defined the boundaries of a world; it’s in how much that world impacts us.
I could take a lot of examples from Steampunk – the simplest being that if you go to any Steampunk event and find two people who both have chosen Steampunk personae, I’ll guarantee that their personae will come from slightly different Steampunk “worlds”. That’s because there IS no one Steampunk world.
But I’d rather use an outside framework for our sample – say, Harry Potter, wherein J.K. Rowling makes magic absolutely magical by essentially giving us very little of the metaphysics behind it. We get lots of pieces of magical ideas and theories and spells–but no coherent magical system; “Magic happens when you do magic things, and it produces magic effects which are sometimes predictable and sometimes otherwise”. And it works – because the world is so deep and rich that we want to get lost in it, and we don’t worry that JKR didn’t tell us how it happened – we spend our time creating our own ideas of what was going on in the cosmology of that Universe.
(Here’s a fascinating article which discusses the effects of Harry Potter books on measured neurological response. I’d argue that Steampunk does the same thing.
Sure, you could theoretically invent a definition of Steampunk which makes no sense; “Steampunk is wearing an elephant on your head” for example. But you know what? If you do it to create something funny or interesting or interestingly surreal, people just smile and enjoy it. If you d it tot mess with people in a mean, unkind way, they’re just going to ignore you, and possibly ask you to leave. You’re not going to break Steampunk, or any other genre, by messing with its “logic”. This is a world of imagination; it’s everyone’s imagination, not just yours!
And that means that, with every action you take inside the genre, the community will tend to seek things which will make the community better and happier, and tend to reject things which are like the make you less happy. (There are of course examples of politics, drama, and people acting quite badly. I don’t mean to suggest that every scene is idyllic. But I do genuinely both believe that worlds of the imagination, given the choice, will go positive; and that if there’s negative and pain, our response should be to fight the causes of that pain–not to give up and just say, “Well, it’s drama, so I don’t want to be a part of it”.)
If I was the imagination are not yet as free and open accepting as they could be, then let’s focus on getting them to that place!)
What kind of Steampunk do you want to be a part of? What kind of Steampunk community do you want to see? That choice rests, not on some unknown mass of people or even on local politics. Ultimately, in the age of information and the Internet, that choice rests solely with you.
There’s nothing more steampunk than the plants that grow through cracks in concrete. Nothing can contain us and none can tame us. We make. We grow. We listen. HUMANWINE’s Mother has new songs for us.