Steam Con Returns to SW Florida
SWFL SteamCon to feature authors, cosplayers, music, makers, and . . . Hamster Wars?
Saturday, September 29, 2018
An event originally conceived as a book fair will return Saturday, October 13, to Fort Myers, Florida, as the SWFL SteamCon. In addition to appearances by steampunk and fantasy authors, the program will include live music, makers, costume contests, parasol dueling, tea dueling, and teapot racing, as well as a sporting event known as Hamster Wars.
Hamster Wars? Lead organizer Michelle Wassall explains: “Although it may be known by several names, Hamster Wars, as we are calling it, involves several mechanical hamsters in an intense battle of Last Hamster Standing.” She stresses that unlike the depiction in this video, “no live hamsters are to be used. . . The best hamsters of course are well decorated and dressed in cute little steampunk clothing but can also don their battle armor.”
The sport has an organizing body known as the World Association of Steampunk Hamster Clubs. The group’s Facebook page includes a detailed—though perhaps apocryphal—account of the sport’s origins. This rarely seen video from the Whitby Steampunk Hamster Club provides a demonstration of the sport.
Credit (or blame) for this activity can go to Mark Pettey of the Steampunk Stompers, one of three bands that will perform in a two-hour concert the evening of the event. Pettey suggested Hamster Wars to Wassall and will serve as an organizer of the combat.
Guest authors will include Charles A. Cornell, M.B. Weston, Jaimie Engle, Austin Sirkin, and Amanda Fasciano. Sirkin’s Gears & Gaslight session will cover steampunk and dieselpunk writing. Cornell will share advice on how to write retropunk fiction.
A costume contest at 1:30 p.m. will feature prizes for best steampunk, fantasy and kids’ outfits.
This is the second year for the convention, which was originally known as “SWFL Writers Showcase: Alternate Realities.” At first, it was to be “a book fair type of event,” Wassall says, but as the planning continued, they decided to add other steampunk and fantasy activities. They kept the original name last year to avoid confusion, but opted to change it for 2018.
SWFL SteamCon takes place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Araba Shrine Event Center, 2010 Hanson Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901. The concert will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 4-12. Younger kids will be admitted for free.
Pictured above: Makeup Siren, Escape the Clouds, and Charles A. Cornell. Photos are used by permission of the artists.