I’ve returned from three days in Port Raleigh, an aether and nautical port that is constantly moving through space/time and only able to stabilize its location for short periods. Otherwise known as ConTemporal, a new science fiction and steampunk convention in North Carolina. After doing Illogicon, StellarCon and ConCarolinas this year, I think ConTemporal might be my favorite. In part, because I really love steampunk, the Victorian/Edwardian/Civil War/Wild West time period, and walking around this convention made me feel as if I’d stepped into a BBC costume drama. But I also enjoyed myself because the people — staff, guests, vendors and attendees — were so interesting and friendly. I had a fantastic time. It was not just a convention but an experience.
Because of my history with steampunk jewelry, I sat on a steampunk accessories panel to discuss costuming, Victorian accoutrements and the necessity for tetanus shots and blue medical gloves if you’re going to start perusing flea markets and taking apart broken watches.
But I spent most of my time in the bazaar, selling my handmade wares and talking up my Stellarnet Series. Being a very steampunky event, there wasn’t much interest in my cyberpunk novels, but I did give away several of my publisher’s “I (heart) Steampunk” stickers and a few of their steampunk promo postcards. Want to read Kilts & Kraken, Prehistoric Clock or Under Her Brass Corset? You can get 10% off at CarinaPress.com with the code CARINA10. And what’s great is you can buy their eBooks in ePub format. You don’t have to use a Nook or Kindle — though all Carina Press titles are available for these devices, too, and wherever eBooks are sold.
I met David Lee, the principal artist of Hatton Cross Steampunk: Fine Accoutrements & Contraptions of False Perception. His steampunk art has been featured at the “Steampunk Bizzare Exhibit” with Dr. Grymm in the Mark Twain Museum in Hartford CT and has been exhibited in various steampunk conventions on the east coast. His “Gentleman’s Flying Apparatus” aka “The Morgan Aeronautical Destroyer of Satan’s Arrogance” has been nominated for “Best non-goggle accessory” in the Steampunk Chronicle’s Readers Choice Awards.
A woman with a love of kilts that far surpasses my own (which I didn’t think was possible), Jennie Breeden is the creator of the autobiographical webcomic The Devil’s Panties. She was also involved in a kilt-blowing party that had something to do with, yes, men in kilts and one or more leaf blowers. How I wish I’d booked a room in the hotel instead of driving the 45 minutes back home. If anything could keep me from wanting to sleep in my own bed, it’s kilt blowing.
Brute Force Studios sold leather goods, including what looks like a steampunk version of the Net bracers in my cyberpunk Stellarnet Series. Thomas Willeford (aka Lord Archibald “Feathers” Featherstone) and his products have been featured on television (MTV, BBC, “Castle”, “Oddities”), online (Wired, BoingBoing, Popular Mechanics, Playboy TV), and in several print publications.
The Imperial Anti-Piracy Squadron, a multinational force comprised of a Zeppelin wing and a company of Sky Hussars, were on hand to protect us from any thieving airship buccaneers. I met the charming Graf Georg Wilhelm Heinrich August von Ziger, or “Ziggy,” the Captain of the SMS Halcyon zeppelin, and his on-board battle surgeon/OB-GYN Oberleutnant Hermann Einstein. Einstein is renowned for both his aptitude at healing battle-wounds and his self-alleged gynecological specialty: The treatment of Hysteria by manual massage.
I chatted with author, artist and Hugo-award winner Kaja Foglio, co-writer and illustrator of the Girl Genius comics and novels and artist for over fifty Magic: the Gathering cards. We talked about the Yogscast, of all things, after she recognized Honeydew and Bluexephos on my t-shirt.
There are some more pics below, but this blog post this doesn’t even begin to cover the number of amazing characters and curiosities of this convention. I can’t wait for next year!
– J.L. Hilton