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
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.
I’m going to make a confession: I don’t know that much about fashion, even Steampunk fashion. And I’ve been a part of Steampunk fashion shows for nearly ten years now.
It feels rather wonderful, to tell you the truth.
I don’t mean that I’m proud of ignorance, or that I’m disrespecting knowledge of style – not at all. It’s just that I can ask these questions:
What is Steampunk fashion?
What era should Steampunk fashion portray?
What values should Steampunk fashion reflect? Victorian? Present-day?
…and feel really safe not knowing the answers.
I’m not like that about regular fashion. Do you know what’s in style this season? If you do, your understanding’s way beyond my own. I’ve always felt that, with so-called “real” fashion, that if I didn’t get it, I couldn’t be a part of it.
And that’s not unfair. Style is a specialized knowledge, and if you know what’s current, if you keep up with that whole skillset, you deserve the reward of being seen as someone who understands couture.
But you don’t have to do that in Steampunk.
There’s skill involved in looking splendid; that’s always going to be true. But nobody expects you to know it when you start out; in fact, nobody expects you to know it unless you decide you want to do so.
That’s pretty huge.
Picture a world of fashion with a maximum focus on talent, ability, doing interesting things, and choosing and wearing your clothes well…
….and a MINIMUM focus on drama, snobbery, or being mean to people who know less.
As a cultural phenomenon, this is essentially a new technology. I mean, I know at least a few people who are fashion designers, photographers, and models. Most of them don’t WANT a world that’s socially unkind or cruel. But to some extend, they are–ironically–going against the actual narrative of mainstream fashion as we know it. (There’s a reason why 2014’s hit fashion movie was called “Mean Girls“, not “Nice Women Sharing Good Clothing Advice With Each Other”.)
Having a method of finding and creating fashion, while dodging some of its most unkind aspects, is a little bit on the revolutionary side.
Steampunk keeps doing that. It has an odd advantage: we choose to do it, so we can choose to keep things that we like about the “regular” world, and discard at least some of those we dislike. This gives Steampunk fashion a serious advantage. After all, there’s tough competition to be the top fashion in a particular year; there have to be winners and losers. Steampunk embodies something like a century, and more than that, it’s an imaginary century. The Top Steampunk Fashions of my imaginary Steampunk world don’t have to be the Top Steampunk Fashions of YOUR imaginary world. They don’t have to compete; they can compliment each other.
What do I know about Steampunk fashion? I get to enjoy it, and I don’t need to worry that I’ll get it “wrong”. I love that.
Professor Mark P. Donnelly (S.S.S./ E.A.A./ B.F.H.S./ S.W.A.S.H.) has been studying armed combat in various incarnations since the age of thirteen. After years of research and training in the disparate disciplines of western martial arts, sport fencing, stage combat, tournament fighting and eastern martial disciplines, he moved from the US to England in 1996 to undertake a PhD in Medieval Archaeology through York and Oxford Universities.
Professor Donnelly is joining us for several events this year, more information coming soon!
“I’m sure life would be quite worth living without bacon; but I have no intention of finding out.”
-Steampunk Oscar Wilde
Here’s another recipe from The Steampunk Cookbook!
Bacon is rather like Steampunk: People keep saying that people will get tired of it, or that it will become overexposed. As we’ve seen, the opposite has happened. People seldom even go around talking about how bacon makes everything better; it’s just something that everyone knows, just as we know that absinthe causes inspiration, the best green cheese comes from explorations of the Moon, and top hats look better with goggles on them.
This is another of our extra-easy recipes, and that’s a good thing; we recommend making several batches, because we can pretty much guarantee that a horde of Steampunks will descend upon you and eat every single scrap. It’s quite flexible, too; it can go anywhere from movie night, to the gaming table, to a sophisticated cocktail party.
Yield: 1 dozen
Skill Level: 2
8 slices bacon
1 tomato, chopped
½ onion, chopped
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (16 ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease a mini muffin pan.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until evenly brown. Drain on paper towels.
Lightly sauté the onion in about a teaspoon of the bacon fat until it just starts to turn clear. Set aside.
Crumble bacon into a medium mixing bowl, and mix with tomato, onion, Swiss cheese, mayonnaise and basil.
Separate biscuits into halves horizontally. Place each half into cups of the prepared mini muffin pan. Fill each biscuit half with the bacon mixture.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Waves of steam are, as always, a plus.