by Lillian Csernica on May 24, 2014
Nelson’s Navy vs. the Nautilus — Thanks to Pat, my 10 a.m. panel had the added benefit of a Power Point presentation. She’d created slides to back up my lecture notes. This is Silicon Valley, after all. People expect good tech! The schematics of the Plongeur, the French submarine on which Jules Verne based the Nautilus, brought the right steampunk touch. I had been hoping there might be some Naval personnel in the audience. We had good attendance for that hour, including a retired Communications and Intelligence officer who had some very useful and interesting comments.
Harry Turtledove GoH panel –Harry Turtledove is so much fun. A thoroughly gracious man, he asked us what we wanted him to do for the hour. When nobody else said anything, I got the ball rolling with a question about writing alternate history. Mr. Turtledove read an essay on the Dos and Don’ts of writing alternate history. Some of the turns of phrase were so clever and so witty they had me laughing out loud. Given that I write historical fiction, I’m thinking it would be an adventure to try alternate history. I’m having a blast with the steampunk world. This might be a whole new genre for me.
Authors’ Row — Authors with tables for their books and promotional items. Sharon Cathcart writes some wonderful books based on The Phantom of the Opera. Her husband Jeffrey was on hand dressed as the Phantom. He has in fact played the Phantom onstage. I was fortunate enough to have a chat later with Jeffrey about his various hobbies. Turns out Jeffrey sings, writes poetry, builds models, has studied all the weapons of fencing, and more. Jeffrey has so many talents he does very much resemble Leroux’s Phantom, with the added bonus that he’s not a sociopath! Jeffrey is also exceedingly kind to any child he meets while dressed as the Phantom who is confined to a wheelchair. Jeffrey said who better to champion special needs children than the Phantom, who was himself a child in need of special care? The man had me in tears, because of course my son Michael must use a wheelchair.
Artists’ Gallery — Beaded art! Automatons! A Tardis! An anatomical sketch of a mermaid, complete with scientific notes! There was a pegboard wall with a running story on it made up of sticky notes in various colors big enough to hold a sentence or two. Gotta love opportunities for audience participation. I added my own contribution: “I activated the proto-Roomba and soon the floor was completely clear. I had no idea what to do with all the scattered flowers.”
Pat and I weighed our dining options and settled on the bar here at the Doubletree. Sprigs, the overhauled version of the Coffee Garden, keeps rather limited hours which are not all that compatible with the Programming schedule. This turned out to be good luck. While we were sitting at our table on the edge of the concourse, somebody passed by and called my name. It took me a second to recognize him because I haven’t seen him in twenty years. We worked together at the Northern Renaissance Faire. He and his lady took a seat and we had a delightful meal together. He’s been in law enforcement, so he and Pat traded some stories. He’s a grandfather now and my sons are well into their teens, so I’m feeling the years a bit right now. That’s OK.
Speaking of audience participation, there is a treasure map/scavenger hunt put on by Sacramento Steampunk Society. The search takes you to various locations in the Artists’ Gallery, the Caravan Tent (dealers’ room), and Authors’ Row. Each location gives you a stamp, mainly ink but I did get one written by pen and one like an address label. Tomorrow I’ll collect the last two stamps I need in the Caravan Bazaar, then I will return to the Sacramento Steampunk Society’s table and receive the secret prize!