Holiday Inn Select Perimeter - Atlanta, GA - February 25-27, 2011
By Dan L. Hollifield
Once again I need to dash
this off as quickly as I can before the memories begin to fade. I have
expanded upon my earliest report of the convention. A report which some
readers may have encountered upon their exploration of the interwebs
during the first few days of March. This refinement of that original
convention report is far more photo-heavy. That is to enable the
readers to get a better idea of not only what the Southeastern US
convention circuit has to after, but what Southern-style Steampunk in
general has to offer, also. The Atlanta-area steampunk groups have come
together to create a truly memorable convention experience.
Southern hospitality, steampunk-style, so to speak. While
other conventions may be bigger, AnachroCon is by far the most
fun to be had. If you readers have any interest in steampunk
as a culture, literary genre, art form, or lifestyle then you owe it to
yourself to check out AnachroCon in the future.
Well, to make a long story even longer, something of which I
am particularly inclined to do, the third edition of Atlanta's
AnachroCon steampunk convention has come and gone this last weekend of
February 2011 -; February 25th through the 27th to be precise.
I can honestly say that this was the best one yet! If you read my rave
review of last year's AnachroCon, you might find it hard to believe
that anything could top the previous convention. But indeed, the Con
has grown better and better as each year passes. Next year's event is
already in the planning stages. From what I've heard, there will be
bigger and better surprises in store for Anachronauts next year.
I have to take a moment to praise the hotel and its staff. The
Holiday Inn Select - Perimeter/Dunwoody of Atlanta, GA is one
of the nicest places I have ever been to for a convention. The staff
took the near-simultaneous arrival of hundreds of guests in stride.
They worked tirelessly to insure that everyone's stay was the most
pleasant imaginable. Each interaction I had with the hotel staff was
more and more impressive as the weekend progressed. The desk clerks,
the housekeeping staff, the bartender, the restaurant staff, the cooks
- everyone there that weekend deserves the highest of praises! They all
worked around the clock to see to the needs of each and every guest. If
you have to visit Atlanta, in the Dunwoody area, keep this hotel in
mind as your home away from home! You will, without doubt, thank me
The image to the left is of
the lobby of the hotel in which the first two AnachroCon conventions
were held. 300 to 400 guests attended those two conventions. The hotel
was wonderful, as were its staff, but AnachroCon outgrew their
available rooms and space. It was grand fun attending those previous
AnachroCon conventions, but the time had finally come to relocate to a
larger venue. The wonderful folks who run AnachroCon haven't forgotten
the Wellesley Atlanta Airport Hotel in Atlanta, GA. No, by all
accounts, there are several other small conventions that take place at
that fine establishment. Among those are one or two that are eagerly
attended by AnachroCon staff and guests. I, myself, look forward to
adding those conventions to my list of prime vacations as the economy
continues to improve, little by little as time goes by.
AnachroCon may have started out as a humble little specialized
convention of steampunks and alternate history fans, but it has gained
in popularity and memberships as each convention takes place. Having
been there from the near-beginning - first as a member of the
TerminuSteam steampunk community, then later as a minor-league writer
with connections in the con-circuit of writers, artists, fans, vendors,
craftspeople, actors, musicians, and other performers - I can say
without a doubt that AnachroCon is growing by leaps and bounds. It
isn't Dragon*Con, but then, it has no desire to be. If you are
interested in Steampunk, Alternate History, costuming, the Victorian
and Edwardian eras of history, the Industrial Revolution in both fact
and fiction, and Science-Fiction and Fantasy in general then AnachroCon
is the Con to go to if you can travel to the Southeastern United
States. Take it from me, this is one amazing convention experience. One
not to be missed!
Here is another photo, but this one is from the 2011
AnachroCon. I'll align this one on the right so as to make the layout
of this little missive more pleasing to the eye. Ready? Well then,
engage your safety devices because we're stepping into the past by way
of the alternate history version of the present! This is the view from
the middle of the lobby of AnachroCon's new home :
Big, isn't it? But wait, there's much more!
Once again, AnachroCon more than doubled in the number of
attendees. But it also doubled in the number of events, panels, guests,
performers, vendors, as well as the amount of fun!
Well over 700 people attended, but it looked more like 1000 to
me - from the sea of happy faces I observed each time I walked through
the hotel lobby. The two vendor rooms were packed each and every time I
looked into them. The many panel discussions were likewise well
attended. Even the ones which suffered from being scheduled against one
another had respectable numbers of attendees. There were three tracks
of programming going on at all times, plus numerous one-off special
events, so there were plenty of happenings to catch the attention of
the myriads attending. Just to give you an example, I'll quote from the
convention program a bit:
owner of Brute Force Studios. Thomas and his products have
been widely featured on television (MTV, BBC, ABC's Castle), online (Wired, BoingBoing, Popular
Mechanics), and in print (Marquis Magazine, Bizarre Magazine, Pirate
Helwig, an award-winning artist and illustrator. Mark Helwig
has a style all his own - quirky, creative, occasionally odd,
and often humorous. His focus on craftsmanship, storytelling, and
images that cause the viewer to "double take" are
traits that set him apart in today’s industry. He is a
frequent artist guest and panelist at shows and conventions across the
southeast, and his work is highly sought by discerning private
is the founder and creative director of Penny Dreadful Productions.
Though he is versed in many aspects of the film art department, he
focuses his career as a special makeup effects artist for New York
based I.A.T.S.E. Local 798 union makeup and hair. His career
has led him to work professionally with Lone Wolf FX/Bill Johnson on
major motion pictures, and is acting Art Director for Whitesone Motion
Pictures. As creative director, Matt acts as lead
conceptualist and builder for the PDP workshop.
Erin Bushko co-founded PDP with
Matt Silva in January of 2009 and is responsible for many of the
business aspects of the company. As head of the costume
department, she handles the design and creation of all the costumes
produced in house. She has been a designer and seamstress for
film, professional theaters, and private commissions for over 10
years. On top of all that Erin is also a professionally
trained actor. She has a BFA in Music Theater, a Certificate
in Shakespearean Acting from RADA in London, and studied stage combat
with world renowned expert Richard Ryan.
Steampunk Boba Fett (John Strangeway), one of the most recognized
figures in the Steampunk and Star Wars fan communities. He has won top
honors at numerous conventions. With Matt Silva and Erin Bushko of
Penny Dreadful Productions, the builder of the suit, he is featured
prominently in "Four Days at Dragon*Con." (He's the guy in the photo at the top right of this page.)
Sabrina Pandora: a
constant of the Atlanta nightlife, often seen at parties, clubs and
events all over town. She is a comedienne, author, instructor
and a Mistress of Ceremonies for conventions, events and burlesque
J. D. Sutton as Thomas Jefferson, American’s premier
interpreter of the life of Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Sutton has appeared in
a variety of television projects, including Tom Hanks’ HBO
series From the Earth to the Moon, and was
featured in the title rile of the independent film Farmer
McAllister’s Thinkin’ Machine, which was
honored as the “Best Comic Short Film” at the 2001
Atlantic City Film Festival. Twilight at Monticello : An
Evening with Thomas Jefferson has been presented
off-Broadway, as well as at numerous venues throughout the country,
including Philadelphia’s historic Carpenters’ Hall.
Pacer as Ben Franklin.
an expert in all things Pirate as well as history.
Corbin, who dons historic clothing and participated in various
reenactments and living history programs around the United States.
Tripp has been reenacting for over 14 years now. He started in the
Civil War era and has since branched into the Revolutionary War period
with occasional forays into the French and Indian War, War of 1812, the
Texas War for independence and World War II
Peterson, who as Jay "The Barbarian" is a
fight choreographer, actor, writer, and armorer. A former Marine and
veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Jay has published several articles in The
Fight Master, the biannual magazine of the Society of
American Fight Directors. He has served as fight choreographer for
local theaters and can beseen in
season 3 of the sci-fi web series The Sentinel Chronicles.
as General James Edward Oglethorpe, a native of Hodges, South Carolina,
Scott Hodges can trace his family roots in the area to the 1750s. He
attended William and Mary College, where his interest in colonial
history merged with his theatrical leanings, leading him to an
apprenticeship at Colonial Williamsburg. Scott is a living history
performer at Fort King George State Historic Site in coastal Darien,
Georgia, where he portrays several historical characters for visitors.
Atlanta Radio Theater Company : For the first time, the Atlanta Radio
Theater Company (ARTC) is performing at Atlanta’s Alternate
History Convention. This home grown theater group will be bringing
Steampunk stories to life on our very own stages! The Atlanta Radio
Theater Company has been bringing quality audio drama to listeners
around the world since 1984. Join them in their celebration of the
imagination as they preserve this vital, vibrant art.
Bruises, and Bent Blades, founded in 2003 by Daniel Moore, Richard
Burke and Gayle Thompson, is a group of performers who combine
classical sword fighting with interactive theater. They have been
performing in the Atlanta area and can be seen tutoring others in
fencing at the Georgia Renaissance Festival.
Epsilon Sharp blades, burning fire, and a silver
fork. Simple items, and yet when you see what happens with
them, you will understand why Carnival Epsilon’s motto is
“Doing the extraordinary with the
ordinary.” Find out what limits the human body can
be pushed to. As an added treat, Professor Epsilon will have
his famous elixirs on hand. Watch the live demonstrations of
what his amazing product can do for you.
Surfers Based out of Mississippi, The Cemetery
Surfers was spontaneously formed by Jeff Uglyshoes in 2005. The current
lineup consists of Jeff on guitar and vocals, Dr. Mark Burtman on bass,
Connie Burtman on Backup vocals, and Toby Herndon taking over drum
duties. Their sound is influenced by surf and rockabilly music. Their
lyrics are usually based around the paranormal, as the members of the
band are all Parapsychologists.
D.J. Light: DJ Light is an
Atlanta-based producer, composer, and DJ. He spins classic and
groundbreaking trance, progressive, and electro with an international
Arcade Denim Arcade plays the best of the 1980s,
from the B-52s to U2 and everything in between. The band is made up of
Becky Cormier Finch (vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar, flute), Wade
Finch (vocals, lead and rhythm guitar), John Christopher (bass, vocals)
and Andy Womack (drums, vocals).
Dr. Q, an
eccentric audio arranger and morally ambiguous scientist.
After exposing the general public to experiments in aural engineering
at various events, he further took on the roles of the Steampunk
Chronicle’s Media Editor as well as the Founder of the
Artifice Club, headquartered in Terminus, Georgia.
and the Punk : Euro-American duo Frenchy and the
Punk (formerly The Gypsy Nomads) fuse raucous live guitar looping,
cheeky ballads sung in English and French, danceable, modernized
old-world inspired melodies and thunderous tribal-march-style drum
instrumentals. French-born Brit lead vocalist and percussionist,
Samantha Stephenson and American-born punk veteran guitarist Scott
Helland of Czech and Portuguese descent, make up this spirited duo.
Project : Formed in 2006, The Ghosts Project is comprised of Paul Mercer
on violin and Davis Petterson on percussion. The band, which is located
in Atlanta, features an ever changing lineup of special guest musicians
from all over the country.
Express : As Melange Express, Zachary Anderson and Cherise Fung draw on
alternative and neo-tango music and fantasy/sci-fi themes to create a
music and dance experience that is uniquely their own.
Men of Melody: Michael
"EasyEyes" Richardson (guitar, vocals) and Edward
"the Redbeard" Rigel are the Men of Melody, two men
in kilts who provide the traditional Celtic favorites guaranteed to get
the audience singing, clapping, and stomping along.
It With Moxie : Play it with Moxie performs ballroom banquet
music in the glorious tradition of the early 20th century. Here
you’ll find swing, Latin, ballads, vocal harmonies and a horn
section, all delivered with class... with style...
Love's World Fair Exposition Come one, come all to
the dark side of American history, a place Bacchus himself would revel
in and raise an eye brow at. This show has it all, the sumptuous
sultriness of the hoochie coo, the vicious vaudevillian vixens of
variety, and a little sampling of the sights of the circus. Here we
have a corner of the World’s Fair by some of the most darling
divas of the deep south! If you find yourself too seduced by the green
colored bottle this weekend or are inclined to parlor gossip for all
hours on end, then do that, BUT DON'T MISS THIS SHOW Folks!
Extraordinary Contraptions, making their third consecutive
appearance at AnachroCon, The Extraordinary Contraptions are one of the
best - and best-known - Steampunk bands in the
Southeast. They are currently in the studio working on their third
self-produced album and planning a spring tour of the Eastern U.S. They
were recently taped in the competition on America's Got Talent and have
had a runaway viral video online with their Dragon*Con TV music video
"I'm On A Blimp." If there were to be a Woodstock of steampunk bands,
the Contraptions would be headlining along with their peers Abney Park,
Dr. Steel, Vernian Process, and Professor Elemental.
Vauxhall Garden Variety PlayersThe
Vauxhall (VAHKS-uhl) Garden Variety Players are artists and actors
performing traditional music un-traditionally. They solicit the
imagination, captivate with manners of bygone eras, and instill their
love and commitment for old forms of music. The Players have performed
at such diverse venues as Oakland Cemetery’s Sunday in the
Park and Halloween Tour, Grant Park Conservancy, Frolicon, STEAMFest,
the Decatur Preservation Alliance, and the Savannah College of Art and
Design. AnachroCon is pleased to welcome them back for their third year.
G. D. Falksen,who writes in a wide range of genres including historical fiction, pulp
adventure, vintage weird, steampunk, modern fantasy, science fiction
(often with historical allusions), conspiracy, mystery, suspense and
horror. At the moment, he has received the most attention for his
steampunk works, although they are only one portion of his writing
portfolio. He has appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco
Chronicle, the Hartford Courant, Marie Claire Italia, Time Out New
York, New York Magazine, Bizarre Magazine, and on MTV. I have appeared
as a guest at major events and conventions such as Dragon*Con and NYCC.
One of the Secret Masters of Steampunk, Mister Falksen is a grand
fellow who has done much to promote everything steampunk for
G. Oliver - After spending a couple years honing her
skills, Jana sold her Time Rovers®
Series to Dragon Moon Press in 2005. That series (SOJOURN, VIRTUAL EVIL
and MADMAN’S DANCE) was nominated for fifteen awards and has
won twelve to date. She recently achieved her ultimate goal : a contract
with one of the major publishing houses and that came to fruition with
St. Martin’s Press. The Demon Trappers Series, a Young Adult
Urban Fantasy series set in Atlanta, will debut in January 2011 in the
United Kingdom and February 2011 in the United States. Jana's books are
nothing short of incredible. Seek them, buy them, read them over and
Valentino - an up and coming writer who is currently
hard at work on his second novel in his steampunk series of "Thomas Riley"
stories. Nick also attended AnachroCon 2 in 2010 and quickly made
himself a fan favorite among the guests. If you haven't yet had a
chance to read his first book, you owe it to yourself to grab a copy as
soon as you possibly can.
P. Bush : "Chenda and the Airship Brofman"
is Emilie’s first novel, but she has been a
professional writer for years. Until this book, she had been in the
business of reporting the news, most recently as the host of Georgia
Public Broadcasting's Georgia Gazette. Emeilie is another
returning AnachroCon writer. Her work is as amazing as is she, herself.
In short, a wonderful lady with a steamship full of talent.
Kimberly Richardson : the
author of Tales from a Goth Librarian, which was
a finalist in the Fiction & Literature : Short Story Fiction
category of the National Best Books 2009 Awards and a finalist in the
Fiction : Short Story Fiction category of the 2010 International Book
Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. She is also the editor of the
popular Steampunk anthology Dreams of Steam. She
lives in Memphis.
Hollifield: An online presence since 1995- In 1997 he created
Aphelion Webzine, the Internet’s oldest surviving free
creative writing website. Dan has one steampunk short story featured in
the anthology “Flash of Aphelion” available through
Lulu.com, and a second steampunk short story that will appear in
“The Immersion Book of Steampunk” anthology,
published by Immersion Press in the UK in mid-April of 2011. (Wait a
minute, I know
All of the musicians,
performers, and craftspeople deserve a round of applause of their
own. I couldn't turn around during the entire weekend without seeing
wondrous displays of incredible talent. Once again, everyone was
friendly, open, and approachable. I counted dozens of different
conversations between convention guests and attendees concerning areas
of mutual interest. Once again, AnachroCon has earned its reputation as
a "teach-in" for all concerned. I overheard
exchanged, makers of all experience levels trading hints and tips and
tricks, professionals praising the works of their talented fans, as
well as all sorts of conversations that were endlessly fascinating.
Whether it be historians and fans, craftspeople and shoppers, musicians
and listeners, performers and audience members – everyone
ready and willing to teach as well as learn. And that is just part and
parcel to what AnachroCon is all about. Not only fun and entertainment,
but education as well. The panel subjects ranged from
steampunk and Victorian literature to Victorian home-making,
from costuming tips and tricks to the Eastern mysticism that was so
popular in the Victorian Era, from making steampunk accessories out of
leather, brass, and copper to a proper British Tea Party...
But that's the thing. The sheer variety of subjects covered was enough
to make the average con attendee wish they were serial triplets. There
was so much to do and to see and to listen to that no one person could
take it all in at once. Like every convention I've ever attended, I had
to carefully plan out my days so as to be able to get to the panels,
performances, and events that I most wanted to see. There is so much
offered by AnachroCon! Every minute of every day is packed full of
wonders and delights. It was a difficult choice to make between all the
programming tracks as to which I wanted to attend most of all.
One thing I
want to say : even though I am currently a very low-tier pro
writer, there was not one whit of snobbery evidenced towards myself or
any other newly-fledged writers. In the hallways, in the panels, in the
lobby, even in the elevators – Everyone was kind, supportive,
and interested in what each of the other writers were working on.
Offers of helpful advice and locations of possible research materials
flowed freely. I never detected any hint of disdain or elite-ism from
the more senior and successful writers. Everyone was just so friendly
and open that I was constantly amazed. That attitude also extended far
beyond the writers. The craftsmen and ladies, the costumers, the
musicians, the performers were each and every one open to being
approached as well as eager to share conversations.
In fact, that sort of open goodwill seemed to be the theme of
the entire convention. No matter where one turned, everyone there acted
as if they were attending a vast family reunion. It was impossible to
meet anyone, throughout the whole weekend, who acted as if they were a
stranger. This is one of the things I love most about AnachroCon. I'm
so very glad that this tradition of “family” has
continued unabated from the first con through to this latest one. That
is a testament to just how good William and Cindy MacLeod are at
tossing this kind of shindig. The entire staff worked tirelessly to
insure that everything went swimmingly. I know that there had to have
been problems and slight hiccups, but those were invisible to me and to
the rest of the attendees. Charles Strobel is an amazing fellow, as in
Austin Sirkin, Megan Maude, Melissa Jordan, Dan and Robin Carroll,
Enrique Velazquez, Thomas De Sadlier, Bill Harrison, Paige Smith, Randi
Bruner, Richard Jakiel, Hendry and Karen Betts, Shannon Drake, as well
as all the other staff members I didn't get a chance to meet in person.
I think each and every staff member, their assistants, and all
concerned deserve a thundering round of applause.
My time to finish this overview of one of the most compelling
steampunk events of the convention circuit is rapidly drawing to a
close. I realize that I have yet to cover a tenth of all the wonderful
guests and events AnachroCon has had to offer. But time does not permit
me to be as painstaking as I would like in this report. Allow me to
close therefore with the both the URL of the convention website ( AnachroCon, The
Official Website ) where the reader can find all the lists of
guests, historians, musicians, performers, and staff. I offer my
deepest thanks that next year's con already looks to be shaping up into
an even more amazing event than has the previous three occasions. In
short, if you missed it, you missed a lot. Start making plans to attend
the 2012 AnachroCon! You only have eleven months left to prepare!
Your humble servant,
Dan L. Hollifield – Senior Editor/Publisher :
Captain Vila Resthal, CNAR Combined Airship Service, Retired
© 2011 Dan L. Hollifield
Dan Hollifield is the senior editor and publisher of Aphelion Webzine.
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum
Return to Aphelion's Index page.