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Hullaballoo and the future of Steampunk crowdfunding

The promotional still from the lovely short pictures which, we still hope, will someday come into being. 

You know what I’m really excited for?  “Hullaballoo“, perhaps the best-funded Steampunk Kickstarter of all time.

But I’m not that excited for the movie.  After all this time, I have no idea how the movie will be.  Hopefully, it’ll be splendid, but that’s not really my concern.

My concern is seeing it happen at all.

Hullaballoo was pushed heavily, and its social presence is still, to this day, managed by – some of Steampunk’s more challenging characters, to wit, the people behind the Steampunk Goodreads abomination.  (I don’t mean to use sensationalist language, but frankly, we of the Steampunk community know why we banned those two figures, and they have, to this day, never even acknowledged, much less apologized for, this or their other actions.  Honestly?  I used to be friends with them.  I miss the good I saw in those people.  But I can’t let the bad go unanswered, because it continues.)

“Hullaballoo” might be incredible.  The team is fantastic.  The art is fantastic.  The ideas are fantastic.  It’s going to be a fantastic addition to the Steampunk Universe.

If it ever happens.

I’ve run many a crowdfunding campaign.  It can be hard to get every single bit out there.  My rock opera is way behind in getting people the live album we promised; we had a mic failure and cast illness.  But we sure as hell got the full live video out, and we fought to get everything else we promised to everyone.  And we absolutely made sure that when we hit our goal, and then went over it, we made the production happen, on time, come hell or high water.  We delivered all of our funding promises, and are just waiting on the one bonus – and actually, we’ll be releasing that next week.

That doesn’t make me cool or special.  That’s just, I think, the minimum we should ask of people whose Kickstarters get funded:  That we see some of the meat of what we were promised.

Let me stress again: I sure as anything am not attacking Hullaballoo, and I’m only bringing up the old Goodreads scandal in passing; even that is just to provide context, it’s not the core of this article.

Did you back Hullaballoo?  Did you see rewards?  There’ve been bits of content released over the past few years as teasers; are you satisfied with them?  What are you hoping for out of this?








Mad Science: A Bit Of Steampunk Verse

Mysterious red-haired woman in Victorian dress in the winter parkCode Of The Shocking Pink Illuminatus
(To Be Read With Closed Eyes)

Never surrender your Transylvanian soul.
They have the money, the power, the logic; theirs are the
guns, the good beer, the air-conditioning, and the light of day.
But we have the Mad Science.
We draw the blood of destiny. We autograph madness. We
scribble in the margins of the books of Fate.
We are the professionals.
We are the grand meddlers.
We hum thoughtcrime in barbershop quartets; we throw open the
vast doomgate of Things Best Left Unknown; we penetrate the great
telepathic obscenities of salad (if you use Russian Dressing, you
are one of THEM! Be warned: we know where you hide your tuba.)
We are concealed, but we are by no means gone; subtle, but
strong.
Let them control What Is.
We are the caretakers of What Might Be.

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.








Why we’re a Steampunk Festival, not a Convention

Are we really defined by being a festival, and not a convention?  For me, the answer’s yes.  Steampunk girl with googles

I do love conventions.  But think about conventions.  Trade shows are conventions.  Academia has conventions.  Your corporate job probably has, or attends, conventions.  I happen to enjoy all of those things.  They’re not bad things.  BUT…

Think about what it means to be a festival.  Let’s try this on a few ideas, and see how they sound:

Music Festival versus Music Convention.  Now, I’m a musician.  A music convention sounds exciting to me; I can learn great things, I can buy a new pickup for my guitar, I can talk shop with other musicians.  I’d enjoy going.  But it’s not a Music Festival.  At a music festival, I’d sing all day and dance all night and spend the whole time rocking out.  (That’s even if it was a classical musical festival; you can ABSOLUTELY mosh to Mozart.)

Renaissance Festival versus Renaissance Convention.  I’m biased, I’ve never been to a Renaissance Convention.  But I picture it as very scholarly, with lots of talks about the Renaissance, its historic origins, its affects on modern life, its lessons, and how we might look at that time period.  All of which is cool; I’d be into that.

But I’m still more likely to buy tickets to a Renaissance Festival, where I can throw my kilt on, buckle on my sword, quaff mead, eat giant turkey legs, and mosh to some wicked lute playing.

Steampunk Festival versus Steampunk Convention.  I’ll be fair: In practice, people don’t really make a distinction; the first Steampunk events were called “Conventions”, presumably after the Science Fiction Conventions after which they were modeled, and now all Steampunk events, including mine, get listed as cons.  And we probably are closer to the audiences of, say, a science fiction convention-listing website than a music-festival website.  But our spirit is absolutely wild, high-spirited, exciting, full of entertainment and joyous experiences!  We don’t like being called a Convention; we love Conventions; but we’re a Festival through and through.

A polite festival, though.  All of our moshing is extremely mild-mannered.  We are, after all, Steampunk.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.








Did Steampunk come from Goth?

Goth/Steampunk retro man wearing black cylinder. Gray background.Why do I think Steampunk descended, at least in part, from Goth?  Lots of reasons.  And not just because this weekend is the opening of our collaboration with Vampire Freaks – “Dark Side Of The Con: America’s 3 Day Goth / Dark Alternative Convention“.  There are reasons why we get along so well together – and I’ll get to that in a bit.

Exhibit A: Abney Park.  One of Steampunk’s first and most prominent bands absolutely started in the Gothic world and became a Steampunk band.  It’s indisputable.  You can tell it perfectly well from their music, and that’s part of why so many Gothic bands have made so many Steampunk audiences happy.  It’s a common ancestor.

Exhibit B: Gothic Fashion.  Seriously, my friends, do you know who was wearing Victorian and Edwardian clothing, and top hats, and generally anachronistic clothes, long before most of us knew the word Steampunk?  It was the Goths, of course.

Exhibit C:  The evidence of our own eyes and friends.  Look at any group of Steampunks, and you will find a goodly percentage of them who have Goth in their past.  Search your heart.  You know it to be true.

Heck, don’t search your heart.  Search the back of your closet.  The place where you keep all the black clothing, with the black accessories, the stuff that goes with the black shoes, the black cane, and the black looks that “normal” people used to give you when you walked into restaurants.

And best of all,

Exhibit D: Because if we decide this is true, we suddenly both have a new family, and this time, we get to choose who’s in it.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.








Sleepovers: A Slightly Steampunk Poem

mythological kraken tentacles with the sea and skyWhy, exactly, do we associate squid with Steampunk? My guess is that Kraken scene from that one “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” movie.  It may be peculiar, but it’s canon: tentacles are Steampunk.  So in that spirit, I present to you this Steampunk poem. It’s sort-of a kid’s poem. Depending on the kid.

What kind of kid
Has a giant squid
To take to bed at night?

No teddy bear
Is lying there
When they turn out the lights.

I’d be a-feared
Of such a weird
Companion to squeeze

Huge eye of green,
Arms sixteen
No legs, no nose, no ears!

But my best friend
Whom I do spend
My time with, when she’s handy

Says giant squids
Are great for kids!
In fact, she thinks they’re dandy!

I’m ready to run–
“Do you have one?”
I ask, as my mind panics

“Don’t worry,” she says,
And offers me Pez,
“I don’t have one.
I have six.”

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  








What is Steampunk?

Girl in a stylized steampunk costume posing on a dark background.

Every month, we ask, “What is Steampunk?”, and we think about it again.

Here’s a practical answer you can use: Steampunk is a creative focus, based re-imagining the 19th century, which you can use for any form of inventiveness.  It could be music, art, dress, writing, games – and those are just beginning points.

Steampunk uses a near past, a past close enough that we can find its clothing in thrift stores, but far enough that it’s clearly a different world.  That’s a pretty unique place.  Dieselpunk is wonderful, but different; it’s hard for the 1940s not to be overwhelmed by the Third Reach.  Come closer in time, and we’re still actually dealing with the hippie movement, with the remnants of the greed and challenges of the Disco Area; and while the 80s were marvelously weird, they’re well within the living memory of hundreds of millions of people.  It’s hard to feel like you have free creative reign with a time which is, in a sense, directly visible in our own world.

Go back to the 18th century or before, and you’re going too far to have Steampunk’s critical proximity.  Without mass production, industrialization, organized science, and, hell, decent dentistry, you have a wholly altered world. While I don’t like putting “science” and “magic” into two categories which are automatically opposed to each other (but thoughts on the scientific study of magic, while absolutely relevant to the 19th century, are for another day) – I’d like to put forth a theory:

In 1786, J.H. Müller proposed a difference engine, but could not get it funded.  Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine was proposed in 1822, and received its first funding in 1823.

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe that’s the moment Steampunk started – a world which had the concept of modern computers and was ready to make them, but was more than a century away from the electrical knowledge needed to begin the Information Age.  You had a world which was beginning to have very deep knowledge, but wherein it was still widely believed to be possible that knowledge was finite, and the world was ultimately something which could be understood.  You just had to explore hard enough, search bravely enough, create innovatively enough – and you might figure it out.

What do you think?

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  








Events are home

There’s a 3D computer graphics of a cyborg woman with a headdress in science fiction stylesimple goal I have for every Jeff Mach Event: I make weekend-long homes for unusual people.

What does that mean?

The second martial arts school I attended was literally in the back of an alley, up a long flight of stairs. And leading to the school door, there was a pair of signs. The first was a standard martial-arts school notice, “Please remove shoes”. This simple act gave a physical reminder that I was leaving one place—“the street”—and stepping into a different world, with different rules.

The second was at the top of the stairs. “You are entering a traditional karate dojo. Please act accordingly”.

How did one “act accordingly”? I knew many common rules and practices—I also knew that every school I had seen had its own style, rules, approach. What was proper in one school might be utterly wrong in another.

Yet the practical value of that sign was enormous. It always gave me pause, called to my mind all of my associations with training grounds, what I learned there, and who and what those things made me. “Act accordingly”: know what you have come to do, know what you are doing, at least in your own mind. Or, at the barest minimum, recognize in your gut that you’ve come to a place where things are different. Don’t just take that difference passively, when it enters your space; make it a part of your consciousness.

And thus. And so.

You’ve entered our world, a place where we belong, a place where we are not the outsiders, a place where what we do matters, is meaningful, is real, and we are NOT the only ones who know it.

Steampunk, Rocky Horror, Renaissance Faires, Geeky spaces; it doesn’t matter.

Leave the outside world for outsiders.
We bring our homes with us, inside us, we foster them with love and passion.  We’re different–not better, just not the same–and sometimes, we realize: we are not alone.

And that place?  That place is home.

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  








Three Great Steampunk Webcomics

The total number of incredible Steampunk webcomics is, of course, “Lots”.  Webcomics and Steampunk, in many ways, grew up together, and it’s not surprising that some of the oldest and flat-out best webcomic tales are of Steampunk universes and spirit.

Here are a few for you to consider:

1. Girl Genius. Girl Genius is perhaps the best-known of all Steampunk webcomics. With its gloriously splashy, colorful Style and its long-running, intricate-but-never-frustrating plots, it’s been delighting us for longer than most people have even known the world “Steampunk”.

There’s a particular bonus gem here, too – sure, the concepts are fascinating, the plots are intricate, the dialogue brilliant and witty.  But even with all that, it took me two or three readthroughs to really appreciate just how much information and invention is packed into each, not to mention each comic arc,  Girl Genius isn’t simply a great webcomic; it follows that old Walt Disney concept “Be better than you need to be”.

Check out the comic.  If you take a careful look, you will notice that in almost every panel there is some new bit of Steampunk inventiveness, whether it’s in the dialogue or in the art or in the ideas. It is a world of such a Steampunk immersion that what might, in other places, stand out and pop and make you stare–happens in pretty much every single panel, until you’re overflowing with Steamy goodness.  What might be a game-changer elsewhere is background or filler in this comic. Girl Genius is full of hidden gems, and even if you’ve already read it, I recommend reading it again, with a careful eye towards seeing just how much they pack into everything they do.

2.  Boston Metaphysical Society. This tightly-plotted, articulate, and lovingly illustrated comic does that thing which Steampunk often attempts and seldom does well: it creates its own characters, and has them interact with notable and favorite hereoes of Steampunk, even including Nikola Tesla–and integrates them seamlessly.  It’s like watching a movie full of brilliant young actors, with a great script, and then suddenly seeing Bill Murray walk in and do something brilliant, but not world-changing or plot-destroying.  You recognize the archetype’s power, but it always enhances, it never dominates.

All too often, we see this in a sort of Mary Sue universe wherein the famous characters end up being essentially invulnerable due to the plot armor of our affection.  (Woe betide the Steampunk writer who kills off Mr. Tesla without good reason!)  Boston metaphysical has a different take. While those characters are not infrequently in fully mortal peril, none of the characters are not superheroes. They are very smart people with advanced minds, tackling powerful but not invincible forces.  And that means that every comic packs suspense, possibility, and intrigue.  You never really know what will happen, and when the plot does unfold, you’re left deeply satisfied.  

3. Scenes from a Multiverse. I know what you’re saying. If you know this comic, you know that it is not Steampunk, and you know that I have left out many other comics which certainly are very very clearly traditionally Steampunk. Why am I highlighting “From A Multiverse”?

It is because, while the setting and design of that comic is not specifically Steampunk themed, John Rosenberg plays with a vast whimsical universe where just about anything can happen.  And then he tightens that focus so that each comic is an individual set up of some sort of unusual extrapolation of reality, taken to the next level for comedic and intriguing effect. It’s incredible – and absolutely, completely in keeping with the spirit of our wild, yet mannerly, Steampunk culture.

If you are looking for a mind-expanding but completely coherent, splendidly and gorgeously (if simply) drawn comic, then this is a brain explosion of potentiality. I recommend every Steampunk read it and have their minds just a little bit blown.

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  








I am not beautiful.

I applaud the positivity of saying “You are beautiful”, but it doesn’t apply to me.. I’m not beautiful, inside or out.. And I don’t want to be.Young goth girl with a red hair covering her face

What I am is functional.. Not that beauty has no function, but I’m functional in a way which strips away loveliness. If there was some pretty inner glow at some point, it’s long been replaced by the cracked, chipped, dirty furnace room which is at my core..

It’s not a comely place.. The architectural flourishes have mostly been torn down to add more room for makeshift shelves, containing the accumulation of a lifetime of – learning? experience? knowledge? Let’s be honest: a lifetime of trying to get shit done, and not always in the best or smartest ways.. I’d always pictured the process would be like adding volumes to some pristine and lovely library, each one carefully put in place as the collection grew in some logical fashion.. It didn’t turn out quite like that.

My inside is like my outside: greying into white, not conventionally attractive, and forged with the kind of determination which both builds strength and muscle – and permanent injury from being too damn stubborn, or too damn persistent, or too damn unwilling to give up when maybe I really should have.

Don’t call me beautiful. I don’t have a need for it. I don’t have a want for it. If you want to compliment me, you could compliment something I’ve done – though even there, I don’t really want the compliment of words. Take what I’ve done, take what I can do, take what I have to offer, use it, and that – that – is more than beauty enough.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.




Three ways to make any Convention or Festival experience better.

I’ve been running conventions, festivals, and events for well over two decades now. There have been tremendous changes within that time, unsurprisingly – for example,  quite relevant to my own life and career, it’s not like the3D computer graphics of a lady with fantasy clothing and weaponsre were really any Steampunk events 20 years ago.  Not anywhere in the entire world.

But there are a few principles which I can say have remained quite constant. I thought I would share three of them with you now.

1. What you get out of it is always going to be, in part, up to you. I think we have all had the experience of someone who goes into a film or play determined to hate it, and while it is sometimes possible for the medium to win that person over, most often it is a self-fulfilling prophecy:  they do, indeed, hate it. In a similar fashion, an event can win you over even if you’re going in with an attitude of negativity. But it certainly is not likely that if you’re determined to be unhappy, you will be unhappy, and if you’re determined to be happy, you will enjoy yourself.

2.  Dress, first and foremost, for yourself. A lot of people put a great deal of thought, and sometimes a great deal of worry, into what they will wear to a fandom event or a  subcultural festival. That’s quite understandable; clothing is a language, and it does do a lot of speaking for us. But there is a really simple key to this: dress any way which helps you feel like you are where you want to be, doing what you want to do. Everything else after that becomes easy.

3 . And finally, remember this: the rules they told you about socialization when you are in kindergarten seem childish because they were enacted for and by children, and given to you for reasons that might have seemed arbitrary or overly simple even as a child. This is because we tend to instruct children in social mores in terms which rightly seem insipid or insufficiently justified when we look at them as adults.  That is NOT because they’re not helpful rules So when you say things like  

“ Be nice to others if you want them to be nice to you”,  it sounds like a platitude or a threat,  instead of what actually is: a perfectly rational and sensible transaction. But use those rules.  Use them as an adult. In essence, recognize that if you are in a place where everyone is there to have a good time, your actions matter.  Actions which facilitate other people (and you!) having a good time, actions which show an awareness of other people’s wants and needs and general personhood–those things will will tend to increase the level of everyone’s happiness. And actions you take which disregard those things unnecessarily, whether it be needless meanness or selfishness or aggressiveness… well, not only will you have a worse time, but so will everyone else.

These are three Simple Rules, but I think you will find them highly applicable, and while they’re quite obvious, people do not always use them, and they really should.   I would like to see more people giving this simple philosophy a try. I believe the results would be quite lovely.

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  




What does it take to run geek/nerd/steampunk conventions at hotels?

Winter landscape with old hotel at nightWhen people say, “What does it take to run weekend-long Steampunk, Fairy, or Goth events,” I generally say:

A hotel that actually WANTS your weird friends to hang out in it.

This is more unusual than you’d expect..  If you’ve not booked a hotel before, your feeling might be, “Well, it’s business; you’re bringing them money; they’re in business to make money, right?”

But it’s not unlike, say, restaurants that wouldn’t serve longhaired hippie folks in the 60s, or clubs that wouldn’t let you in unless you were wearing day-glow naugahyde pants with a purple polyester shirt..  They feel they have a certain image to maintain, and they make certain assumptions about who and what you are..  Hotels are often scared that your strange people will scare off their corporate clients.

Sure, your strange people are ALSO their corporate clients, and hotels are slowly learning that some of the businesspeople in suits and ties during the week ARE the ones showing up in Steampunk Pokemon outfits on the weekends, and they don’t appreciate having hotels condescend to them or their friends..  But that learning process is extremely slow, and sometimes it moves backwards..  There are still people in corporate boardrooms (and not always the oldest or most old-fashioned) who fear that potential “normal” clients will see your “weird” clients and decide not to patronize their hotel.

(By the way, the popular euphemism for scifi, geek, fantasy, horror, and other conventions and festivals, in the hotel business, is often “association groups”..  Don’t be surprised to hear yourselves called that.)

There’s also still a general belief that we’re the troublemakers.. It’s certainly true that some of our folks party (and, indeed, I would NEVER have expected how hard nerds party; that IS true).  But we’re seldom the ones making trouble, because we’re all really invested in coming back, and in seeing hotels welcome our kind.

Wedding parties, on the other hand?  Wedding parties are a holy terror.   If you’re ever in the position to speak to a hotel about holding an event, and they ask if your people are problematic, you can say, “Some of our people party, but not to excess.  You and I both know that a single wedding party will cause you as much trouble as any three association groups put together”.  Because it’s true – you get wedding people who feel it’s their genuine duty to party, and who may never see that hotel again; they certainly are hoping that their event only happens once.  So they’re not invested in coming back!

But even now, even with the rise of fandom, even with the recognition of fandom, even in a world where, say, I can tell a hotel, “It’s a Steampunk event”, and there’s a chance they’ll know what I mean before I even explain it–

it’s still a core rule.  Parts of society don’t accept us.  And you know, if the people at your local diner look at you funny, maybe you patronize that diner anyway because they’ve got good coffee or something.  But NEVER, if you have any way of avoiding it, go to a hotel that doesn’t respect and WANT your business.  Because they just won’t take care of you and your attendees, and that will hurt your event, no matter what else happens.

I’m pretty lucky – the two primary hotel organizations I work with have been partners with me for a long time–one for over six years, one for almost twenty!  And to be honest, I’ll follow good management to a new hotel.  Because the core remains the same:

A good event makes a home for people who have trouble feeling at home elsewhere.  Find a hotel that wants to help you do that.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.




Special All-Request Concert with ENSMB!

Photographer Credit: Babette Daniels Photography

You might have heard us talking about a Q&A with ENSMB – well that has now morphed into a private all-request concert just for the 100 lucky folks who purchase this $10.00 add-on.  Wow!!! What a bargain!

Ticket buyers will even get to help choose the songs!  Look for a voting poll soon – voting will only be for a limited time and only for concert ticket buyers! So buy your ENSMB add-on concert ticket now to make your choices part of the event!


Formed from the most talented deadbeats and drifters that could be rounded up, this group of raucous and rambunctious musicians will honk, wail, blow, beat, bounce, scream and serenade their way into your hearts. Playing anything that won’t break from vigorous use; their instrumentation is a unique blend of brass, winds, violin, accordion and an eclectic rhythm section.




Three great Steampunk moments in mainstream music

Billy Idol dancing with himself.

Billy Idol’s Steampunk bolt of lightning. I do not own this photo.

I have loved music since I was thirteen, perhaps much younger.  And I grew up in that weird time when MTV was getting started. Strange fact: MTV, like Steampunk, brought weirdness to the rest of the world partway through accident and partway through force of will. When the financial forces behind MTV created the now-iconic channel, they had no money at all, and a lot of space to fill.

What DID they have?  A bunch of experimental films, mostly created by experimental bands whose record labels were, to put it kindly, desperate for attention. So they made whatever the bands felt would fit their artistic vision..within their tiny, tiny budgets and the laughable video low-budget special effects technology of the times.

Who knows what would have risen to the top in the age of autotune and an ability to make amazing things happen with no more than a laptop and a few hundred dollars in software?  But that wasn’t the world they lived in.  So music videos could be weird and experimental…and they succeeded.  And suddenly, major record labels wanted in on the act, and, as major franchises do, they said, “Wait, what’s selling now? Let’s do that!”  What was selling was weird… so artists were suddenly free to be weird.  QED: The music of the 1980s.

And that spirit continued, and it’s why so many music videos could take so many odd artistic chances, and why so many artists could do peculiar things.  I’m going to give you a mixed bag of three of my favorites.

#3.  Pete Townshend’s “A Friend Is A Friend”.  To be honest, I love rock operas, and I love Pete Townshend, and I’ll admit that I love everything he’s ever done.  But you have to figure: Only a rock start with major clout could get a record company to let you write–and then film!–an entire rock opera about a misunderstood giant robot who needs to save the earth from an evil giant bird.  That being said, that robot is massively Steampunk, and if you haven’t seen it, you owe yourself the pleasure:

#2.  Will Smith’s “Wild Wild West”.  This video is actually the reason this article isn’t entitled “the top three Steampunk appearances in classic rock videos”.  That being said, I could watch this video forever.  It’s become less common these days, but when I first got started in Steampunk, the way we used to explain it was, “You know ‘Wild Wild West’?  Yeah, with Will Smith.  Steampunk’s kind-of like that, only with less dancing.”

I’d like to think that now Steampunk is still like that, only with more dancing.

#1. Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”.  There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who think that Billy Idol singing semi-gibberish while using clearly Frankenstein-inspired machinery to destroy zombies in some sort of post-apocalyptic London is awesome and totally Steampunk

….and those who are wrong.

Watch the video and decide for yourself!

~Jeff Mach

_____________

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.




How To Get Ready For A Convention Or Festival

Steampunk World's Fair attendees

From The Steampunk World’s Fair 2014, by Babs Who Takes Pictures

As a person who runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, I am an expert in con preparation. In fact, I can sum up how to plan for a convention in less than a dozen words:

Give up. Give up NOW. Show up in nothing but Aquaman underwear and a tie and beg the front desk for a toothbrush.

However, I realize that not everyone will choose this option, because sometimes, the hotel doesn’t have very good toothbrushes. So for everyone else, I offer these handy hints:

1. How to avoid the stress of last-minute packing: All convention packing happens during the three-hour period after which you were supposed to leave for the event. This is unchangeable; there’s nothing you can do about it. But there is a working technique to soothe your pain:

(a) Pack for this event. You’ll be three hours late.
(b) Forget your suitcase at home. Show up naked, as instructed above. Then, just leave your suitcase untouched until the next event, and when the next event comes, you’ll totally be ready!

2. How to avoid getting Con Crud. Con Crud is a terrible thing – it’s the illness that spreads through an event due to the proximity of lots of people in a relatively small, enclosed space. But there’s a remedy.

(a) Get lots of sleep, take lots of vitamins, eat regularly, and have good personal hygiene habits.
(b) However, nobody actually does this. That’s okay. For a small fee, most events, including mine, will simply encase you in a huge block of Carbonite. This will prevent illness, as well as saving you money on food, and it makes packing irrelevant! It’s the perfect solution.

3. How to plan out all of your activities in advance. It can be hard to keep the mental focus you need in order to have good times. Fortunately, good preparation can serve you in good stead here.

(a) Think about activity you want to enjoy, and what you’ll need to do in order to get to it in the right place in the right time.
(b) Carefully place those plans within that famous suitcase full of writings which Hemmingway lost on a train. When the actual event starts, simply project an aura of confidence by shouting, “SHUT UP, I GOT THIS!” and firing up your Invisibility Cloak.

4. How to deal with seeing your ex at events. This is a serious and difficult subject. But there’s a simple solution:

(a) Blindfolds.
(b) Not for you, of course. Convince your ex to wear a blindfold the entire event. If you and your ex are not on good terms, this is best accomplished through reverse psychology: “BOY, I BET MY EX ISN’T CAPABLE OF SPENDING THE ENTIRE EVENT WEARING A BLINDFOLD”. Post that to your social media. Your ex will be challenged by your dare and put on a blindfold just to spite you. Trust me. 2% of the time, this works 100% of the time, assuming your ex is the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

5. How to make sure you have fun at events.

(a) Just go into the event with a positive attitude, a friendly demeanor, and a determination that you want to have a good time. Don’t stress too much, don’t worry too much; the event is there to help you be happy, and all you need to do is let it!
(b) If this doesn’t work, just eat Pixy Sticks and other forms of raw sugar until you’re basically bouncing off the walls like a rubber ball being continuously shot out of cannons. Keep bouncing long enough, and eventually, you’ll probably run into your soulmate and be happy forever. If this doesn’t happen, consider the possibility that you’re in the wrong movie. Fire the director, hire a new script, and have the whole thing re-shot by Michael Bay.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.




Steampunk & Goth have a common enemy

In preparation for our collaboration with Vampire FreaksDark Side Of The Con, America’s only 3 day GoYoung goth girl with a red hairth festival – I thought I might put together a bit of conversation about whether or not Goth and Steampunk truly to go together.

Steampunk and Goth have a number of differences, as well as an extraordinary amount of commonalities.  But in the end, they share one absolute irrevocable enemy: the boring, the mundane, the everyday.. I will not go so far as to call it the “normal”. because I don’t know that I would say normalcy. in and of itself. is a negative.. But the sort of normalcy which requires all things be norma in order to be be acceptable–that is the true and entire enemy of Goths and Steampunks alike..

It’s possible that Goths and Steampunks sometimes stay away from each other is because of our very similarities.  Certainly, there are so many Steampunk places which were first pioneered by Goth, and Steampunk doesn’t generally go around giving credit.  And that would irk anyone.  I mean, whence, exactly, came the revival of Edwardian and Victorian styles in general? Whence the top hats, damn it?  It’s Goth, Goth, Goth.  I mean, however would anyone in the United States alone settle on Absinthe as the drink of their culture? Oh, I do genuinely love absinthe…but it’s not the sort of drink that simply happens naturally.  It needs to be chosen, and chosen for specific reasons.  More on that later..

Relatedly, Abney Park is often pointed out as being one of the first most influential, most widely known Steampunk band, and one of the bands which helped forge Steampunk music.. Hell, this is no secret, or at least no secret for anyone who has access to either Wikipedia or simply someone with a knowledge of Darkwave.  It’s simple: Abney Park began as a Goth band.. And they’re hardly the only ones.

Frankly, in my own experience, when someone like The Long Losts wants to play our events, we’ll book them for The Steampunk World’s Fair and Dark Side Of The Con, and in both places, they’ll fill audiences with pleasure.

That is not because of some particularly discerning musical ear among our own attendees.  Oh, I will admit to being fondly biased in favor of the idea of our attendees, but it’s not their good taste which permits crossover bands success at a variety of events.  It’s the fact that, in truth, we havea shared goal in Goth and Steampunk alike.

We are looking to create, not just a look, or a style of music, or even an attitude, but rather a culture on top of the rest of culture.. We are trying to create a world that underlies, and sometimes overlies, the world of the mundane and the ordinary and makes it a  better, more enthralling, more enchanted place.

We can do it.  And we will do it.  Together.

Who’s with me?

~Jeff Mach
www.patreon.com/jeffmach
_____________

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.  




What is Goth, then?

spirit of Halloween in a cemetary at nightToday’s the last day to get $20 off of Dark Side Of The Con with promo code “vampirefreaks”, and so I thought I’d do something Gothic.  You might have seen my recent entry wherein I crowdsourced the question “What is Steampunk?” I thought, given how quickly  is coming up, I might try the same thing with the eternal (or at least undead and ever-living) question: “What is Goth?”

Here are some of my favorite responses:

“Goth is an appreciation, understanding, or love of the macabre and all things dark.”
~Sarah DeLeon

“My middle name.”
~Eden O’Clair

“An amazing lifestyle.”
~Austin Bounds

“Goth is what happens when Steampunks discover black.”
~Jeff Mach

“There are a great many dichotomies in this world, including light vs. dark and order vs. chaos. Goth is being in touch with the dark side.”
~Christopher Pinky Gazeent

“Seeing the beauty in what others deem not.”
~Stephanie Linn Hardick

“I never saw “being different” in and of itself as the point to “being Goth” — dressing different from most others, maybe, but the point to me was to get together with people who liked the same music and clothes, or at least very similar music and clothes, and go to clubs, go to movies, go to coffee-houses and hold poetry readings and, in general, just have some good harmless fun. Did I look like a dork? Sure, but so did everybody else in the club. We weren’t “being different”, at least not all of us, we just were different and the point was to stop bitching about being different and just have fun.”
Ruadhán J. McElroy

“The Goths were a proud East German people whose clashes with the Roman Empire would one day bring about its end. :)”
~Brian McKinley

(Quotes sourced and collected by yours truly, Jeff Mach.)

_____________

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.




How to enjoy the perfect afternoon tea

Conceptual illustration with ghost serving tea on a tableSteampunks love tea, but more than tea, we love the idea of tea-time, an oasis during which we might sip stimulating boiled plant-leaves and eat things that are like cookies but fancier, and like cake but smaller, and like toast but called something cooler, such as “scones”.  It is my goal to show you how to enjoy an absolutely perfect afternoon tea.

  1. Become a Steampunk Mad Scientist and study villainy assiduously.  This is not, strictly speaking, essential, but it will aid deeply in the other bits.  Also, it’s significantly more fun than pretty much any other major, most particularly Organic Chemistry.
  2. Hatch a deeply villainous plot.  This is where your skills from #1 come into play, particularly the Mad Science.  If your assistant doesn’t pause at least once to say, “No!  No!  This is against all laws of Man and Nature!”, you’re probably doing it wrong.  Don’t be discouraged.  You’re just undercaffeinated.
  3. Become fabulously wealthy.  This is why we suggest you not just study villainy, but study it terribly well.  Otherwise, you run into the challenges of villainy gone awry: infamy, jailtime, and being stuck in a dead-end job perpetually asking the toffs, “‘ere now, Guv’nor, do you want crisps with that?”
  4. Purchase the finest tea place in the land. Pro tip: Yes, being evil and powerful, you could make any tea place “the best” by obliterating all the others, but you will quickly find that you have ended up with “the best tea place which still exists” instead of “the best one you could possibly find”.  There’s a tremendous difference; one of the two tends to burn the toast.
  5. Gently inform the serving staff that they are to serve you the finest tea one can possibly have, or they will spend the next thousand years guessing which part of their oddly immortal bodies you will next feed to your crocodile. When they point out that (a) this is gross, and (b) your crocodile won’t live that long, apologize profusely, and simply explain that you could really do with a good cuppa, and if they help you out, you won’t destroy everything they love.
  6. Enjoy your tea.  I’m sure you will.  Pro tip:  Everything tastes better when you’re evil.

~Jeff Mach

_____________

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.




On Steampunk Holiday: The origins of Cogsday

Beautiful woman in vintage style dress and hat holding dynamite on dark studio backgroundIt’s challenging to create worthwhile new programming ideas, and I can safely tell you that the amount of time we spent on trying to figure out how to develop a new VIP event was approximately 237 years.  If you see Hermione, tell her I’ll get her Time-Turner back to her right after 2020.

I knew I wanted to invent a holiday, something festive, something with traditions, something a little silly, but also something people could take seriously as a chance to essentially thank Steampunk for giving us this vast playground of the imagination.  I batted it around forever, and finally had a conversation with Professor Adam Smasher of The Eternal Frontier, who helped us out by incorporating this Thirsty Squid into our scheme.

Figuring out Cogsday, The Steampunk Holiday took a lot of time and energy.  Let me hand you over to the good professor, to give you his original thought.  It’s a little like what you see in the link above, only this is the Director’s Cut.

History meets Ficstory! By Professor Adam Smasher

What is Cogsday and why do we need to celebrate it? (Why Steampunks MUST celebrate Cogsday):

The Steampunk phenomenon itself, has long been celebrated by magnificent events hosted on Terra firma, occasionally in the aethersphere and upon the water. No matter how truly wondrous all of these celebrations continue to be…
They have all, either only touched upon or completely overlooked one very important Steampunk frontier, THE BRINY DEPTHS OF THE SEAS!!! Sure you will see the obligatory cephalopod displayed here and there at conventions! But, our fellow Steampunks, we must not overlook this important frontier any longer! It is not incidental, it is crucial and here is why!

Chrononauts we are…
But does anyone know where the earliest known example of a gear wheel (A.K.A. Cog), was discovered? If per chance you guessed, the briny depths of the sea, you are 20,000 % correct! 


What is Cogsday and why do we need to celebrate it? (Why Steampunks MUST celebrate Cogsday):

The Steampunk phenomenon itself, has long been celebrated by magnificent events hosted on Terra firma, occasionally in the aethersphere and upon the water. No matter how truly wondrous all of these celebrations continue to be…
They have all, either only touched upon or completely overlooked one very important Steampunk frontier, THE BRINY DEPTHS OF THE SEAS!!! Sure you will see the obligatory cephalopod displayed here and there at conventions! But, our fellow Steampunks, we must not overlook this important frontier any longer! It is not incidental, it is crucial and here is why!

Chrononauts we are…
But does anyone know where the earliest known example of a gear wheel (A.K.A. Cog), was discovered? If per chance you guessed, the briny depths of the sea, you are 20,000 % correct!

The Antikythera mechanism was discovered in the Antikythera shipwreck, near the Greek island of Antikythera. The wreck was found in April 1900 by Greek sponge divers, who retrieved numerous artifacts, inclusive of bronze and marble statues, pottery, unique glassware, jewelry, coins, and THE MECHANISM! Thought to be a mere a lump of corroded bronze and wood at the time,
The Mechanism went unnoticed for two years, while museum staff worked on piecing together more obvious artifacts. Then, on 17 May 1902,
archaeologist Valerios Stais was examining the finds and noticed that one of the pieces of rock, had a GEAR WHEEL embedded in it! The largest gear it contains is approximately 5.5 inches in diameter and originally had 223 teeth. Stais initially believed it was an astronomical clock, but most scholars considered the device to be prochronistic, too complex to have been constructed during the same period as the other pieces discovered. It has since been argued that The Mechanism, dates back to 323 B.C. and it has been called, “The Portable Cosmos!”.
Prochronistic they say? Bolderdash we Chrononauts say! While we may never know the absolute birth date, of the superlative creation known to us as, “The Cog”. We do know it’s earliest known incarnation was discovered at the bottom of the sea and identified between April 1900 and May 1902! So I ask you my fellow Chronoauts, does it not make absolute sense to celebrate, “Cogsday, as the simultaneous birth and/ or discovery of the Cog”???
YES!!!, of course it does!!! That is precisely why Cogsday, THE WORLD’S FIRST EVER STEAMPUNK HOLIDAY, will be celebrated, in force, annually in May, at the world’s largest and most prestigeous Steampunk event, “The Steampunk World’s Fair!”!!!
Accept no substitutes! The very fisrt annual Cogsday begings at 11:00P.M. on Saturday May 6
th. 2017. Attendance will be granted to special ticket holders only, so buy your tickets NOW!!!
In short, Cogsday is THE birthday celebration of the Cog!
Ahhh… But the mystery deepens…
What type of entertainment might one encounter within a Cogsday celebration?
What manner of Cogs-liday traditions will be born from it’s embrace?
To this end we quip, “Welcome to, The Thirsty Squid!”…
Where brine minded Chrononauts can get their flippers wet!
In 1976 the legendary, Jacques Cousteau dove on the wreck of
The Antikythera, and found additional pieces of The Mechanism! The staff at The Steampunk World’s Fair, was also able to substantiate rumors, that Captain Nemo himself, posessed ancient Greek documents, was well aware and in search of, “The Mechanism”! Nemo sought to repair or reverse engineer it, harness it’s power and control the world from his own subaquatic armchair! But alas, he was unable to locate it! So you might ask, how did the the staff at S.P.W.F. gather this important information, about the elusive Captain Nemo’s desires? Would you believe they retrieved it directly from an intoxicated Captain Nemo himself? Well… It’s true!!! The staff were all on hand one night at the only known, aetherial and exclusive watering hole, Captain Nemo himself has ever frequented, “The Thirsty Squid!”.
Nemo was comfortable at The Thirsty Squid and believed himself to be in the company of, like minded evil geniuses (And he was probably accurate!). On that one particular night and after numerous toasts, he outlined to the SPWF staff, in great detail, his meniacal, mechanical desires! So, if The Thirsty Squid seems like a speakeasy that you would like to imbibe at, ticket holders for the Cogsday celebration are in luck! While The Thirsty Squid has been known to emerge erraticly, from the murky depths of the brine. There is but one night it emerges each year, that you can set your chronographs to! At precisely 11:59 P.M. during the Cogsday celebration, Saturday of The Steampunk World’s Fair!
The Thirsty Squid by way of Cogsday, will feature a performance/ serenade by the Steampunk musical duo, “ The Eternal Frontier”, as well as Burlesque and a host of suprise guests!!!

The Antikythera mechanism was discovered in the Antikythera shipwreck, near the Greek island of Antikythera. The wreck was found in April 1900 by Greek sponge divers, who retrieved numerous artifacts, inclusive of bronze and marble statues, pottery, unique glassware, jewelry, coins, and THE MECHANISM! Thought to be a mere a lump of corroded bronze and wood at the time,
The Mechanism went unnoticed for two years, while museum staff worked on piecing together more obvious artifacts. Then, on 17 May 1902,
archaeologist Valerios Stais was examining the finds and noticed that one of the pieces of rock, had a GEAR WHEEL embedded in it! The largest gear it contains is approximately 5.5 inches in diameter and originally had 223 teeth. Stais initially believed it was an astronomical clock, but most scholars considered the device to be prochronistic, too complex to have been constructed during the same period as the other pieces discovered. It has since been argued that The Mechanism, dates back to 323 B.C. and it has been called, “The Portable Cosmos!”.
Prochronistic they say? Bolderdash we Chrononauts say! While we may never know the absolute birth date, of the superlative creation known to us as, “The Cog”. We do know it’s earliest known incarnation was discovered at the bottom of the sea and identified between April 1900 and May 1902! So I ask you my fellow Chronoauts, does it not make absolute sense to celebrate, “Cogsday, as the simultaneous birth and/ or discovery of the Cog”???
YES!!!, of course it does!!! That is precisely why Cogsday, THE WORLD’S FIRST EVER STEAMPUNK HOLIDAY, will be celebrated, in force, annually in May, at the world’s largest and most prestigeous Steampunk event, “The Steampunk World’s Fair!”!!!
Accept no substitutes! The very fisrt annual Cogsday begings at 11:00P.M. on Saturday May 6
th. 2017. Attendance will be granted to special ticket holders only, so buy your tickets NOW!!!
In short, Cogsday is THE birthday celebration of the Cog!
Ahhh… But the mystery deepens…
What type of entertainment might one encounter within a Cogsday celebration?
What manner of Cogs-liday traditions will be born from it’s embrace?
To this end we quip, “Welcome to, The Thirsty Squid!”…
Where brine minded Chrononauts can get their flippers wet!
In 1976 the legendary, Jacques Cousteau dove on the wreck of
The Antikythera, and found additional pieces of The Mechanism! The staff at The Steampunk World’s Fair, was also able to substantiate rumors, that Captain Nemo himself, posessed ancient Greek documents, was well aware and in search of, “The Mechanism”! Nemo sought to repair or reverse engineer it, harness it’s power and control the world from his own subaquatic armchair! But alas, he was unable to locate it! So you might ask, how did the the staff at S.P.W.F. gather this important information, about the elusive Captain Nemo’s desires? Would you believe they retrieved it directly from an intoxicated Captain Nemo himself? Well… It’s true!!! The staff were all on hand one night at the only known, aetherial and exclusive watering hole, Captain Nemo himself has ever frequented, “The Thirsty Squid!”.
Nemo was comfortable at The Thirsty Squid and believed himself to be in the company of, like minded evil geniuses (And he was probably accurate!). On that one particular night and after numerous toasts, he outlined to the SPWF staff, in great detail, his meniacal, mechanical desires! So, if The Thirsty Squid seems like a speakeasy that you would like to imbibe at, ticket holders for the Cogsday celebration are in luck! While The Thirsty Squid has been known to emerge erraticly, from the murky depths of the brine. There is but one night it emerges each year, that you can set your chronographs to! At precisely 11:59 P.M. during the Cogsday celebration, Saturday of The Steampunk World’s Fair!
The Thirsty Squid by way of Cogsday, will feature a performance/ serenade by the Steampunk musical duo, “ The Eternal Frontier”, as well as Burlesque and a host of suprise guests!!!

~as told to Jeff Mach

_____________

Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.




Does your loved one have The Steampunk?

Portrait of a steampunk man with a mechanical devices. Fantasy.Does your loved one have The Steampunk?

Are they suddenly significantly taller, due to the addition of a top-hat with a clock nailed to it?

Do they possess goggles which, for no particular reason, never seem to be found on their eyes?

Do they suddenly insist on drinking tea?  Oh, sure, I’ve heard that normal people drink tea, but I don’t believe it.  Have you ever tried the stuff?  Horrible muck.  Give me coffee any ol’ day.

Do they often forget to pay the rent or mail a letter, than walk into a large blue box, and emerge a few minutes later having dramatically altered the Universe by forbidden travel through the space-time continuum?

Have they begun gluing gears to things?

Do you find them disappearing on certain weekends weekends to odd and distant places, like Piscataway, New Jersey, and reappearing on Sunday night, exhausted, happy, and babbling vaguely about being overwhelmed by dancing, music, art, games, fun, and ballpits?

Good heavens!  Who knows what peculiar things will happen next if we don’t put a stop to all this?

Friends, we must be ever-vigilant.  Your neighbors, your friends, even your loved ones may have The Steampunk!  The dangers are incalculable, mostly because almost all of them are imaginary.  I mean, have you ever read something Steampunk?  The most frequent Steampunk deaths are falling out of dueling airships, being struck by lightning by Thomas Edison’s evil death-ray, and accidentally forgetting to eat anything that isn’t a crumpet.  It’s pretty hard to calculate how likely any of those things is to happen, but I suspect the odds are 22,079,460,347 to one against.

And I have left out a secret: It’s actually impossible to stop The Steampunk.  It keeps re-creating itself in new and wonderful ways, as more and more people bring their far-flying imaginations to it.  It’s incurable.

You might as well enjoy it.

~Jeff Mach

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Jeff Mach runs Jeff Mach Events, which in turn runs the world’s largest Steampunk event, The Steampunk World’s Fair; the peculiar Faerie festival Glimmerdark, and co-runs Dark Side Of The Con (with VampireFreaks).  He’s on Twitter @steamworldsfair.