Thursday, May 17, 2012

Get Ready for a Night of Steampunk

FIRST: The Announcement 
Tonight 
May 17, 2012 6:30 – 9pm 
Entry & 1 drink ticket: $8 
Members: FREE 
Dress in full costume and get in for $5 
Afterparty at the Rathskeller in Tycoons

The Duluth Art Institute is proud to present A Night of Steampunk. This will be an event featuring a Steampunk fashion show and other Steampunk related visual arts. Steampunk visual art designs have no set guidelines, but tend to synthesize modern styles influenced by science fiction, fantasy, and the Victorian era. This is an interactive visual arts event where spectators are encouraged to not only explore the Steampunk creations by local artists, but also participate in “setting the scene” of this event through dress. Come to the event in full costume and get a discounted entry for $5.00.

We thought there would be no better backdrop for this event than the Depot Train Museum. Sponsored by Dubrue, The Historic Union Depot, with an after party at Tycoons, this will be a night to remember!

My first conscious contact with Steampunk was at last summer’s Friends of Industry event featuring the world premiere of Eric Horn’s Steampunk Chronicle. Only later did I understand that I’d already seen Steampunk in various Hollywood films, but failed to be aware of what it really was as a semi-defined genre.

In her book Writing Steampunk, Beth Daniels is quick to point out that not everyone who enjoys reading Steampunk is interested in living Steampunk. Perhaps it’s a bit like the Trekkies who become characters and go to conventions, as opposed to the Star Trek fans who simply didn't want to miss their show each week. Tonight’s DAI-sponsored event at the Depot offers the role-players and hard-core enthusiasts to dress up without having to wait till Halloween. I mean, who amongst us didn’t look forward to becoming some other character on that last night of October?

At its most basic, Steampunk is a subset of Fantasy. Efforts to put my arms around the genre led to some basic shared premises. The historical period is Victorian/Edwardian, the era of Jules Verne and early H.G. Wells. But there’s a “weird, wild west” version and East Coast Steampunk and  the more people you talk with the less you’ll have a coherent picture, except that one thing is certain, sort of. This is a pre-computer world, a pre-twentieth century science world, pre-organic synthesis…

Another feature of the genre is its fascination with original characters. Marvel Comics meets old-school science, the Industrial Revolution meets a future that by-passes the real directions science and technology advanced.

I’m no authority, but I have been boning up on Steampunk literature and guess what? I already have the beginnings of a story forming in one of the subterranean caverns of my unconscious. It involves a golem, a hero and maybe even a little romantic adventure. Good versus evil, redemption from a futile pursuit... and a wake-up call to save the world. But tonight I will become an Edwardian-era chemist. Join us! I fully expect it to be a night to remember.

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If you like fantasy with a supernatural twist, you might enjoy my first volume of short stories titled Unremembered Histories. They aren’t really Steampunk since they pre-existed my encounter with the genre, but a few of the stories will tickle your imagination in that general vicinity.

Featured eBook of the Day: Unremembered Histories

PHOTOS COURTESY ANDREW PERFETTI 
Click images to enlarge. 

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