A Day at BayCon 2018

We explored the science fiction convention for signs of steampunk, and here's what we found

Saturday, June 2, 2018
Steampunks Unite

Until this year, Clockwork Alchemy — the San Francisco Bay Area’s primary steampunk gathering — was held on Memorial Day weekend alongside FanimeCon in San Jose. As a result, many steampunk fans had to skip BayCon, the region’s major science fiction convention. That changed in 2018 when Clockwork Alchemy amicably separated from FanimeCon and moved to its own weekend in March. And so I found myself last Saturday afternoon at the San Mateo Marriott — BayCon’s home base — looking for signs of steampunk within the larger world of SF and fantasy.

I didn’t have to look far. One of the largest booths the Dealer Room belonged to Flying Skwirl, fine purveyors of steampunk gear who are well known to Clockwork Alchemy attendees. Later, I encountered authors Lauren Anne Hill and Trinity Adler in steampunk regalia, including Trinity’s “I Love Steampunk” T-shirt.

There was Christopher Erickson, looking dapper as the First Doctor Who, and a group from Sacramento who had recreated a set from “The Time Tunnel." (That was a 1960s TV series created by Irwin Allen, best known for “Lost in Space” and disaster movies such as “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno.”) One of the time travelers was Jim Welch, aka Marshall Draconos, whose steampunk gadgets have graced past editions of Clockwork Alchemy.

I also found myself discussing steampunk with other folks at the convention. Speaking with a couple of book dealers, I was curious to see how well steampunk books are selling these days. The shocking answer: The good ones sell and the bad ones don’t.

On hearing that I had launched a steampunk publication, some wanted to know how strictly I was defining the genre. All I could think to say was that I “cast a wide net.”

The convention’s theme was “Patchwork Fandom: Stitching the Generations Together,” the idea being to find common ground between older and younger fans. One session, “Growing Up in Fandom,” featured second- and third-generation fans discussing “what it’s like being a kid in fandom and how it shapes their lives.” Special guests included Writer Guest of Honor Tamora Pierce, an author of young adult fantasy novels, and Artist Guest of Honor Margaret Organ-Kean.

Check out some of the sights in the photo gallery below. Next on the calendar for many local fans is Worldcon 76, which will be held this August in San Jose.

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