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Dragon Con Is Happening This Weekend. Here’s a Steampunk Guide

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Dragon Con is happening Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, and despite constraints imposed by COVID-19, attendees can look forward to an extensive program of presentations covering all aspects of geek culture, including steampunk. If you can’t make it to Atlanta, this year’s convention will offer multiple tracks of virtual programming on YouTube, Facebook, and Dragon Con’s own video network.

Most convention activities take place in five downtown hotels: Sheraton Atlanta, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, and Hilton Atlanta Downtown. AmericasMart Atlanta at 240 Peachtree Street NW will host the Vendor Hall and Comics & Pop Artist Alley.

Alternate & Historical Fiction Track

As before, the Alternate & Historical Fiction (A&HF) track will be home to most, but not all, of the steampunk-related content. Most A&HF sessions will be held at the Sheraton.

Highlights include:

A Q&A with Zach McGowan, who portrayed Captain Charles Vance in the Starz pirate drama Black Sails. (Friday, 11:30 a.m., Sheraton/Grand Ballroom)

“Writing Historical Fiction for a Modern Audience” with Leanna Renee Hieber and Walter Hunt. (Friday, 11:30 a.m, Sheraton/Macon)

“Gentleman Jack: An Intimate Conversation about Anne Lister,” about the 19th century LGBTQA+ pioneer featured in the HBO/BBC period drama Gentleman Jack. (Friday, 2:30 p.m., Sheraton/Macon)

“Cosplay Dilemmas: Rocking It When It’s Hot,” a “no-/low-sweat approach to wearing vintage fashion” with Tony A. Ballard-Smoot and Pamela Cole. (Friday, 4 p.m., Sheraton/Macon)

“Temporal Jeopardy,” a historical quiz show with Tony A. Ballard-Smoot, Laura Hayden, and K.D. Willliams. (Friday, 8:30 p.m., Sheraton/Augusta)

“Building An Alternate History World,” a panel for readers and aspiring writers, with Katie Cross and Cecilia Dominic. (Saturday, 11:30 a.m., Sheraton/Macon)

“A Gentleman’s Accessories,” a discussion of essential historical fashion accessories with Jason R. Merrill. (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Sheraton/Augusta)

“Her-Storically Speaking: Women Who Beat the Status Quo,” a discussion of real-life women who broke glass ceilings. (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Sheraton/Macon)

“Through the Stones,” an Outlander fan panel presented in conjunction with the Brit track. (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., Hilton/Galleria 5)

“Historical Fiction Mad Libs” with Dragon Award nominees Jason Anspach and D.J. Butler. (Saturday, 4 p.m., Sheraton/Macon)

“Ahoy, Mateys! Pop Culture Pirates,” about romantic portrayals of pirates, including stories that inspired Pirates of the Caribbean, Black Sails, Peter Pan and other media franchises. (Saturday, 7 p.m., Sheraton/Augusta)

“Her-Storically Speaking: Women of Color Who Have Shaped History,” with Georgia McBride, Alledria Hurt, Dr. Chatee Omisade Richardson, and Liz Carpenter. (Sunday, 1 p.m., Sheraton/Macon)

“Gumshoes, Shadowy Figures & Meddlesome Kids,” about sleuths and spies real and imaginary. With Leanna Renee Hieber, Bernadette Johnson, and Dr. Chatee Omisade Richardson. (Sunday, 2:30 p.m., Sheraton/Augusta)

“Scandalous: Unearthing Historical Gossip,” in which authors David Boop and Jonathan P. Brazee discuss secrets they discovered when researching books and stories. (Sunday, 7 p.m., Sheraton/Macon)

In addition, the A&HF track will host “Manor House Mystery Room,” a Victorian-themed escape room game, on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Sheraton/Valdosta room. Teams of 6 to 8 players will have 25 minutes to solve a mystery.

Sunday activities also include Splendid Teapot Racing at 10 a.m. and the “Neverwas Jukebox Jamboree” with DJ Doctor Q at 10 p.m., both in the Sheraton/Grand Ballroom. The latter event replaces the Mechanical Masquerade from previous Dragon Cons.

You can find a complete schedule of A&HF programming on the Dragon Con website. Also check out the A&HF Facebook page for updates. For a broader look at the program, you can download the Dragon Con app for Apple and Android devices, which includes panel descriptions and a handy scheduling feature. Or look at the Dragon Con Quick Start Guide, a PDF file with essential info about the convention including a schedule overview.

Other Tracks

The Nevers
Photo: HBO / Keith Bernstein

Steampunk fans might also be interested in presentations in the Brit, Costuming, or Anime/Manga tracks, all at the Hilton, or in the Robotics and Makers track at the Sheraton.

Notable panels include:

A discussion of the Syfy series Warehouse 13 with Eddie McClintock, who played Secret Service agent Pete Lattimer. (Friday, 2:30 p.m., Sheraton Grand Ballroom A-F)

“The Nevers – Touched by a Galanthi,” a discussion of the HBO sci-fi series. (Friday, 4 p.m., Marriott/M302-M303)

“Goth 2021: Release the Bats,” a panel on the U.S. dark music scene with Aurelio Voltaire, Jess-O-Lantern, Adria Stembridge of Tears for the Dying, and Tom Ashton of The March Violets. (Friday, 8:30 p.m., Westin Peachtree 1-2)

“Corsetry – Traditional vs. Modern” with Pamela Cole and Rebecca Huguet. (Saturday, 4 p.m., Hilton 302-305)

“Airships: Science Meets Steampunk,” a discussion of “the logistics, construction, and operation of airships with a review of historical weapons/tactics.” It’s presented by Robert Mosher and Merle Robinson of the National Security Decision Making Game, an RPG founded 30 years ago at Dragon Con. (Sunday, 11 a.m., Westin Augusta C-D)

“Leathercrafting Techniques” with Chuck Dorsett and Sean M. Patton. (Sunday, 5:30 p.m., Hilton 302-305)

Musical Performances

Aurelio Voltaire. Photo: Svetlana Kovalenko

Musical highlights at Dragon Con include the following:

Aurelio Voltaire will perform Saturday at midnight in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom.

Marquis Of Vaudeville will perform Saturday night at 1:30 a.m. in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom and Sunday night at 10 p.m. in the Hyatt International North Ballroom.

Frenchy & the Punk will perform at midnight Sunday in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom. In addition, Scott Helland is scheduled for three performances of his solo Guitarmy on One show: Friday, 7 p.m. in the Hyatt Concourse; Saturday, 8:30 p.m. in the Westin Concourse II; and Sunday, 1 p.m. in the Hyatt Concourse.

Valentine Wolfe will perform a live score for the silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on Saturday, 8:30 p.m., in Westin Peachtree 1-2. In addition, the duo will provide atmospheric music as part of a “Spooky Tales” panel on Friday, 11:30 p.m. at the Westin Chastain 1-2. They’ll also perform Thursday, 11 p.m. in the Hyatt Centennial II-III; Friday, 1 p.m. in the Hyatt Concourse; and Sunday, 2:30 p.m. in the Westin Concourse II.

V is for Villains will perform on Sunday night, 1:30 a.m., in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom.

Jess-O-Lantern will perform Saturday, 2:30 p.m., and Sunday, 8:30 p.m., in the Westin Concourse II; and Friday, 11 p.m., and Saturday, 11:30 p.m., in the Hyatt Concourse.

You should check the program and app for any scheduling updates.

Virtual Programming

Bridgerton photo: Netflix

In addition to the in-person presentations, Dragon Con will offer an extensive program of streaming panels via YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, and DragonCon TV.

Access to DragonCon TV costs $10, which also includes selected content from past conventions. You’ll be able to access programming until June 1, 2022.

Some A&HF content will be available on the A&HF Facebook page. These virtual sessions are not listed in the Dragon Con mobile app.

Steampunk-related highlights include:

“A Conversation with Cherie Priest,” an interview with the author about “her early life, her books, and more.” She’s best known to steampunk fans for her Clockwork Century novels including the Hugo-and Nebula-nominated Boneshaker. This panel is part of Dragon Con’s Urban Fantasy track and carries a “Mature Audience” disclaimer. (Thursday, 10 p.m., YouTube)

“Bridgerton: Our Love Affair with Regency Romance,” a discussion of the hit Netflix period drama, with Amanda Prescott, Andrea La Rosa Jimenez, Emily Myerscough, and Jenna Johnson. (Friday, 4 p.m., DragonCon TV fan track channel)

“Victorian Death Customs” with Leanna Renee Hieber, Beth Dolgner, Gail Z. Martin, and Ruti Turner (Friday 7 p.m., Facebook & YouTube)

“Theater on the High Seas: Pirate Improv,” a mock pirate trial with audience participation. This is an in-person session that will also stream on the A&HF Facebook page (Friday, 10 p.m.)

“Celebrating 35 Years of American Girl,” a look at American Girl dolls and books, which featured girls from multiple eras and backgrounds. (Saturday, 10 a.m., Facebook & YouTube)

“Diversity in Modern Historical Drama,” a discussion of period dramas with racially diverse casting, with Alan Zhu, Amanda Prescott, Christian Oh, Emily Myerscough, and Monica Madon. (Saturday, 7 p.m., Facebook & YouTube)

“For the Love of All Things Sassenach,” a discussion of the novels that inspired the Outlanders TV series. This is another in-person event that will stream on the A&HF Facebook page. (Sunday, 10 a.m.)

“The Unhelpful Legacy of Mad Scientists,” a look at “the mad scientist archetype” in science fiction media and how it “has contributed to damaging public trust in scientists.” Part of Dragon Con’s Science track, this is a replay of an in-person session from Friday. (Sunday, 4 p.m., DragonCon TV fan track channel)

“Mistakes That Changed History” with Bill Fawcett, Tamsin L. Silver, Clay Griffith, and Professor Upsidasium. (Sunday, 7p.m., DragonCon TV)

DragonCon TV will also stream the Friday Night Costume Contest (8:30 p.m.) and Sunday’s Masquerade Costume Contest (8:30 p.m.) on the main event channel.

Other highlights include the Dragon Con Parade, which will stream at 10 a.m. Saturday on DragonCon TV and the DragonCon TV YouTube channel. In-person attendance will be limited to attendees with five-day badges.

Virtual Hallway Costume Contest

This year's Dragon Con will feature the return of the online costume contest, where you can participate from home. You dress up in your favorite costume and have your photo taken. Photos must include a “Dragon Con 2021” sign. Photos taken at the convention will be disqualified.

Entries will be judged by Dragon Con’s followers on social media. Winners will be announced during the Sunday night Masquerade Costume Contest. Prizes include Dragon Con memberships and convention swag. Registration will open on Friday at 10 a.m. See the website for details.

Dragon Awards

As we reported, balloting for the 2021 Dragon Awards will be open until midnight Saturday. The awards allow fans to vote for their favorite works in 15 categories covering books, movies, TV shows, games, and comics. They include a category for “Best Alternate History Novel.”

You don’t have to be an attendee to vote. You can register until midnight Friday. The awards will be presented Sunday at 4 p.m. in Hyatt Centennial I.

Health and Safety

As we previously reported, Dragon Con will require all attendees “to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of arrival before entering the convention.”

Masks will also be mandatory, and attendance at panels and other venues will be reduced to two-thirds of room capacity. Epic Photo Ops, which handles celebrity photos, will have its own guidelines, including limits on how many fans can be in a photo.

See the Dragon Con website and Facebook page for updates.

Event info: 

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