Welcome to SPWF

2017: Fires of Inspiration

Event Dates: May 5-7, 2017

Tickets for SPWF 2017 are now available!
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The Steampunk World’s Fair is the world’s largest Steampunk event!  Join us to meet internationally-acclaimed Steampunk author Gail Carriger; see one of the world’s most beloved Steampunk Bands, Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band; and for literally hundreds of hours of vendors, programming, shows, entertainment, and things to see, hear, do, and experience!

Want to find out about our other adventures?
Check out the Jeff Mach Events website.

The Radisson Hotel Piscataway-Somerset
21 Kingsbridge Road, Piscataway NJ 08854
732-980-0400
SOLD OUT of hotel rooms
Embassy Suites Piscataway
121 Centennial Avenue, Piscataway, NJ 08854
732-980-0500
SOLD OUT of hotel rooms

Some rooms are likely to open up closer to SPWF, so keep checking back.
An official overerflow hotel is available. We are actively looking for more official overflow hotels.


Dark Side of the Con

March 17-19, 2017
Radisson Hotel, Piscataway, New Jersey

Find out more at darksideofthecon.com

David Bowie and the power of transformation

January 11, 2016: David Bowie illustration concept word cloudYes, David Bowie’s death still hurts.  But there is only one way for me, personally, to mourn the death of David Bowie, and that is to look at how fearlessly he shaped and reshaped himself, becoming something new when his previous self wasn’t quite enough – and try to do the same in my own life, my own world, and my own events.

David Robert Jones was one of the great reinventors of our world – able to become some new thing in what seemed like a split second, and immerse himself in it so beautifully that we always new that it wan’t a costume. It was always himself – the ever-expanding being who not only took on new selves, but used every bit of his life experience to make the new self more complex, more intricate, more fascinating than the old. His changes might have been accompanied by costumes and props, but those were just the trappings that helped us understand the new Bowie faster. We never said, “Oh, that’s not what David Bowie does”; we always said, “My Gods – David Bowie does that, as well!”

As a person in the misfit community, my everysingleday is influenced by seeing people grow and change around me in ways that are much more visible, much more tangible, than is normal in the outside world. We meet so many people who start from “I wonder, am I into this?” – or “I’ve thought all my life I wanted that, but I’ve never…” and “…is it okay for me to want to be and do these things?” – and we have the joy of seeing them start to realize that yes, they are these things, they can be those things.

A fandom journey is a process of discovery and invention – and rediscovery, and reinvention. And we often need to hide almost all of it from outside eyes, but that’s okay. In fact, those moments when we can shed the scrutiny of the “normal” world, and be somewhere safe, and be our evolving, emerging selves – those are captured treasures, and they’re sweeter than wine.

David Bowie did his changes right out in the open, and he made the world accept it – no, he made the world love it. Even when he, himself, was challenged by his identity – what will the future make of his declarations, denials, and re-declarations of his bisexuality? – he still incorporated it into his own music and art.

Mr. Bowie had so many opportunities to stop, to be just one thing. By the time I first really heard his music, back in the early 1980s, he was already iconic, an elder statesman. He could have lived his entire life doing nothing but his existing work, his big hits to date, and still have had an incredible life’s work. He didn’t need to take risks, he didn’t need to change anything – or at least, it’s safe to say that he could have stayed stock-still and still been wealthy, still been successful, still been admired, still been a major artistic figure. But he never, ever did that. He kept working on new ideas and new things and new selves for as long as his body permitted.

For me, here’s how I’ll mourn:

I’ll dedicate myself to my own reinvention. To my understanding of who I have been, and what I’ve done – and who and what I might become and be. I’ll try to look at what I do – not just anything special or extraordinary, but my everyday moments – and take a moment to see them afresh, to look at them differently. I’d love to pick up my guitar and just start playing, and maybe I’ll do that when the day’s work has paused, but for now, I’m going to look for inspiration in a cup of coffee, in a memo, in a damn spreadsheet. I’m going to take any piece of my everyday that I can and infuse it with meaning and purpose; even the most mundane task, something I’ve done a thousand times before, is never something I’ve done in this moment, and this moment has potential unbounded.

Goodbye, David Bowie. Your voice has stopped, but you will inspire me as long as I live.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

Tea With A Dragon

Dragon. Fantasy creatures collection. Hand drawn vector illustration. Engraved line art drawing, black and white doodleA quiet dragon once invited
me to tea. And she ignited
the wood ‘neath the kettle, gently snorting.
I said, “I might just come-a courtin’
But I’m afraid of being eaten”.
She said,
“That’s fair.”

I said, “So what’s up with the captured maidens?
When villages you are raidin’
Why do you capture lady virgins?
This behavior’s really not encouragin’
A healthy attitude towards recognizing that women’s sexuality is a matter of their own agency, not one in which we value artificial and frankly patriarchal conceptions of the hypothetical value of lack of sexual experience. I consider this to be behavior which impacts society in a negative fashion.
She said,
“That’s fair.”

As we thoughtfully munched our scones
(Ground from tasty Hobbit bones)
She said,
“Look, no sooner am I spotted
Than some fool King, myth-besotted
Will chain his daughter to a rock
And act like it’s a big ol’ shock
When I carry off the poor girl
And nobody asks me what I plan to do with her. I mean, seriously, why is it that the prince always manages to stumble in before I eat the child? I don’t eat them! No that I have anything against eating people. I just like to eat sentient beings with whom I have some sort of actual disagreement. You don’t just randomly go around chewing people up simply because they’re available. I tend to unchain them, and ask them where they want me to drop them off. Shockingly enough, given their choice, they never actually want to stay in the kingdoms where their fathers tie them up and attempt to use their bodies as bargaining chips in their sick little socio-political games.”

I said,

“That’s fair.”

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

I am not beautiful.

I applaud the positivity of saying “You are beautiful”, but it doesn’t apply to me.. I’m not beautiful, inside or out.. And I don’t want to be.Young goth girl with a red hair covering her face

What I am is functional.. Not that beauty has no function, but I’m functional in a way which strips away loveliness. If there was some pretty inner glow at some point, it’s long been replaced by the cracked, chipped, dirty furnace room which is at my core..

It’s not a comely place.. The architectural flourishes have mostly been torn down to add more room for makeshift shelves, containing the accumulation of a lifetime of – learning? experience? knowledge? Let’s be honest: a lifetime of trying to get shit done, and not always in the best or smartest ways.. I’d always pictured the process would be like adding volumes to some pristine and lovely library, each one carefully put in place as the collection grew in some logical fashion.. It didn’t turn out quite like that.

My inside is like my outside: greying into white, not conventionally attractive, and forged with the kind of determination which both builds strength and muscle – and permanent injury from being too damn stubborn, or too damn persistent, or too damn unwilling to give up when maybe I really should have.

Don’t call me beautiful. I don’t have a need for it. I don’t have a want for it. If you want to compliment me, you could compliment something I’ve done – though even there, I don’t really want the compliment of words. Take what I’ve done, take what I can do, take what I have to offer, use it, and that – that – is more than beauty enough.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

Are you Steampunk/Goth/Geeky/Weird enough?

A simply-dressed woman wearing black clothes with a white collarAre you Steampunk enough?
Are you Goth enough?
Are you Geeky enough?

Yes. You are.

And I don’t mean that in the sense of unthinking compliment. I don’t mean it as cheering. I mean it as simple truth.

In almost every space where you might question whether or not you’re “enough”, the question defines you. If you’re thinking about it, if you’re considering it, if you’re putting out the effort of thought, then you almost certainly are. Unless it’s a contest, your first and best judge is yourself. If it’s a contest – then test yourself!

There are a few times when that question might go to others – if someone’s creating a safe space, for example, for some specific piece of identity. But even then – most of the time, you are still the best first judge. It might be a good idea to ask the space organizers if your identity fits their ideas on identity. But that’s not necessarily because you might not be “enough” – that’s because creating any space involves a number of decisions, and they might not align wholly with who and what you are. That’s still not on you – and again, if you have the politeness to ask, you’re still showing qualities which would make most spaces into better ones.

It’s the ones whose confidence is automatic and not based in life experience, it’s the ones whose assumption is that they’re always a perfect fit, who give me pause. Not because they’re necessarily bad, and not because they’re necessarily wrong, but because not considering that you might be wrong is a danger and luxury. It relies, at the very best, on other people telling you when you are wrong – and not everyone is willing to do that.

Are you “enough”? You are more than enough. You are *a multitude of enough”.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.

Steampunk Is For Everyone

Redhead woman posing with weapons in a storage space.I’ve weathered many conventions, from the anime days at Otakon to the comic book scene at Wizard World, and out of all of them, I’ve found something unique at steampunk conventions. One of the themes throughout most conventions of a geeky nature is the love for cosplay or dressing up. After all, who doesn’t want to don a costume and immerse yourself in the fandom of what you

Unfortunately, that enjoyment often gets dampened.

For the love of Cthulu, we’ve reached the point where groups like Cosplay is Not Consent and other such groups are necessary, due to the altercations that attendees deal with simply for wanting to enjoy the convention in their favorite costume. On top of that, those who are bold enough to cosplay end up facing fierce scrutiny by the other attendees, often mocked and ridiculed, either for not having the “right” body type to cosplay the character, or a poorly done costume (even if it was the best effort from a person who couldn’t sew). And these aren’t isolated cases either—most cosplayers have horror stories of rude comments, aggressive, or downright nasty behavior.

Now, I could go on about the minefield of problems at length, but what I wanted to point out was the contrast at steampunk conventions.

I’ve attended and vended quite a few steampunk conventions at this point, and what I’ve seen has been an all around air of acceptance. Yes, part of the reason could lie with the malleability of the content. Steampunk is a very changeable aesthetic and no real clear, defined rules, which opens the way for more creativity. Unlike dressing as Powergirl, where you’re expected to have tits out to Kansas, or Wolverine, where washboard abs seem to be a pre-requisite that few have the time to maintain, steampunk allows every body type to participate.

I’ve never seen so much creativity and self-expression from all ages and differing types of people than I have at steampunk conventions. From hand-sewn ballgowns to throwing on a vest and a pair of goggles, all modes are accepted. Even with different takes on pop culture, such as Steampunk Ariel, or Steampunk Flash, the focus is on the craftsmanship and ingenuity rather than nitpicking details of accuracy to the costume.

In that regard, steampunk is invaluable. It allows people to enjoy dressing up once more, rather than fearing judging gazes, or god forbid, jerks who slap stickers on cosplayers they find inadequate. The spirit of tinkering manages to inject some much needed positivity back into the world of cosplay—where it’s okay to dress up as something you love. Don a corset, throw on a pair of pirate boots, and add whatever accents you find appropriate. Love for steampunk allows those expressions of geekery to flourish rather than be stamped out by hordes of naysayers and critics.

Although I’m sure incidents still occur, the same as in any forum, the experience I’ve had of steampunk is one of creativity and expression, both a good breeding pool for innovation. And that’s what I’ve seen time and time again from this community, whether it be innovation in creating the coolest steampunk Proton Pack, sewing a gorgeous bustled Victorian gown, or simply innovation in how we treat one another as human beings.  After all, who doesn’t want to don a costume and immerse yourself in the fandom of what you love?


Today’s post is by guest author Kat McIntyre of katherine-mcintyre.com!

A modern day Renaissance-woman, Katherine McIntyre has learned soapmaking, beer brewing, tea blending, and most recently roasting coffee. Most of which make sure she’s hydrated and bathed while she spends the rest of her time writing. With a desire to travel and more imagination than she knows what to do with, all the stories jumping around in her head led to the logical route of jotting them down on paper. She writes novels with snarky women, ragtag crews, and guys with bad attitudes. High chances for a passionate speech thrown into the mix.