Anchorage gears up for steampunk convention

The Alaska Steamposium Association is hosting the first Alaskan Steamposium on April 18 and 19. It will be submerged in all things steampunk, a subculture and genre of media that aims to blend the old with the new.

According to Darleane Heisserer, one of the organizers in the association, steampunk is influenced by the Victorian era and technology powered by steam or clockwork mechanisms. The genre is also closely related to cyberpunk and weird west styles. It can be anything from a way of life to side entertainment.

“It’s time to get out and be social and have a good time,” said Tess Purvis, the convention chair of the group.

The goal of the Steamposium is to “get liked minded people together” and provide an Alaska steampunk resource for years to come. “We’re trying to do steampunk Alaska style,” said Heisserer. That is why this Steamposium is titled “Arctic Expedition.” It’s also why the association is focusing on local vendors and support for the event. In the future they hope to become a non-profit that supports local charities.

Heisserer is actively filling in more and more slots on the event schedule, which can be found online. She and her son, Draven Maynard, discussed some of their favorite workshops.

Bartitsu, one of the workshops, is a unique art of fighting, that was immortalized through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories. The intriguing combat style will be displayed on both days of the expedition. Many local dance groups, including Clockwork Fire, will be performing over the weekend.

If you’re looking for a little competition you can join the Dirigible Races or any of the other contests. Dirigibles are basically airships, similar to a mini blimp.

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“My favorite part of it is the creativity,” said Purvis. “It’s neat to see what everyone comes up with, with their imagination.”

Some of the other contests are the Facial Hair Contest and multiple costume competitions. In honor of Senshi Con’s assistance in the convention, Purvis said the costume contest will have “a non-steampunk category — everybody is welcome!”

“I never intended to start a convention. I just wanted somewhere to wear my dress,” said Purvis.

Purvis added that one doesn’t have to compete to show off and get credit for his or her attire.

Still a little lost on what steampunk culture is? Here are some familiar examples in literature and entertainment.

Maynard said the Disney movie “Treasure Planet” is “very steampunk.. It has a little bit of a pirate twist, but that isn’t uncommon.

“Sherlock Holmes” and most things written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are steampunk as well.

Those familiar with the “Percy Jackson” book series may be familiar with the follow-up series that starts with “The Lost Hero” book. Festus the dragon, from the series, fits the style.

For all those Doctor Who fans, the 2008 Christmas special and the episode “The Girl in the Fireplace,” both featuring the 10th Doctor, are also great examples.

Last but not least, Purvis suggested “Around the World in 80 Days” written by Jules Verne, but it may be a long maathon read between now and the convention.

Heiserer admitted that things can be steampunk without originally intending to be. Once one gets acquainted with it, you start to see it in places you never did before.

Maynard and Heisserer offered some of their favorite steampunky shows and movies. “Howl’s Moving Castle” is an anime movie. “The League of Steam” is a popular YouTube series with an impressive website. Last, there is “Wild Wild West,” which was a black-and-white TV show but was more recently made into a movie.

Hopefully you now have adequate resources to steampunk out and prep for the Steamposium 2015 Arctic Expedition. Find more information online at the event website, http://www.alaskasteamposium.com.