miércoles, 11 de febrero de 2015

SHATW '15. A European perspective (-ish) –Guest blog by Marcus R. Gilman

In the past 12 to 18 months there has been repeated talk and mention about steampunk having reached its peak in North America, that mainstream media is becoming less interested and the scene is not experiencing the same type of growth it has experienced in earlier years.
As far as I can tell, things are still very different in Europe.
For one, the scene is internally very diverse, I have had the pleasure of attending dedicated steampunk events in five different European countries (Germany, Austria, Spain, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands) and have talked to Steampunks from almost every country in Europe and the picture is clear:
There is no “European” way to approach steampunk, rather, each country finds its own way, which is only natural since the history of the European countries are more diverse than the comparable history of federal states in the US.
Just to give you an example involving the two scenes in Europe I have the most connections with (except Austria):
Germany and Spain.

The German scene has a large amount of tinkerers, inventors and makers in them (at least one of them has won an international award for his inventions) and is in fact rather inventor-dominated, which becomes apparent when you spent any length of time on Germany's biggest and last remaining steampunk forum, http://salon.clockworker.de
The inventor threads are the most active and fully have of the admin staff is composed of Germany's most prominent steampunk inventors. On the other hand, given the maturity and age of the scene, the number of events in Germany is strangely small. Last year, there were only three larger than local pub/café gatherings and one of those three has been cancelled for 2015 already. 
For 2015, two more events are in the making so far, bringing the total up to four, but it has been a relatively long way. The German scene is not big into partying, it seems.

Which brings me to the Spanish scene
They do like their parties! The number of EuroSteamCon events alone in 2014 outnumbers the total number of German events of the same year.   
Also, I am receiving more invites to events during the year from Spain then from any other European country.
As far as I can tell, there is also a lot of connections to other scenes, most prominently cosplay and, for lack of a better word, historical costuming. Some of the most recognizable faces of the Spanish steampunk scene are also mayor players in at least one other scene.
A few names come to my mind now, but since I am heavily biased towards Barcelona here, it is not representative.

If you would now take another one or two countries into consideration, Austria for example, who are far more willing to bring their own history into their version of steampunk, unlike the German scene, you notice there is a lot of diversity and also still growth and change.
And talking of changing and growing:

The EuroSteamCon is dynamic and to a certain degree ever shifting, just like the European steampunk scene. 
After a very good start in 2012, a lot of things changed.
On the down side, we did not have any events in the Czech Republic, Poland, Italy or Germany since 2012, on the other hand, there are far more individual events in other countries, most noticeably Spain, and the event has now been noticed by mainstream media, especially in Austria and Spain.
We are also branching out into Scandinavia, and although there was no event there last year, the EuroSteamCon team has been in touch with Icelandic (!) steampunks since last year.
For now, Portugal, Spain and Austria have already signed up for EuroSteamCon 2015, with Finland also having plans and let's see, what the future brings.

Looking away from EuroSteamCon and regarding the European scene as a whole again, you notice a great number of new things cropping up almost everywhere. Italy has burst into an almost frenzy of activity lately, especially concerning events in northern Italy. Hungary is going strong due to the work of The Crew of the Flying Airkraken and the steampunk band Lies of the Machine.
And Germany is also slowly doing more than "only" great mechanical inventions. Author Anja Bagus has managed to turn her series of novels into a multi-media event with an upcomming web-series, a dedicated LARP group called "Amt für Aetherangelegenheiten" and a off-shoot tongue-in-cheek   steampunk/wild west penny dreadful style short story series.

So, the European steampunk scene is still very dynamic and going strong and I hope it stays like that for some time to come!