On the last weekend of September, the Portuguese contribution to the European Steampunk convention was held in Porto. Though it was the country’s first major steampunk event, a concept unknown to the general public in Portugal, there were still about 150 visitors between both days.
The Clockwork Portugal team has been working towards this event since February with the purpose of uniting all the small communities and draw attention to a genre that internationally has been ground or motto for a lot of activities and prized works. Imbued with a punk spirit, active and idealistic, without any institutional backup or logistic support, we slowly built from scratch a dynamic community to be the main platform to divulge steampunk and launch the Euro Steam Con (ESC) in Portugal. Meanwhile and with all this in mind, we created a website where we publish reviews of steampunk books, share related news and crowdfunding projects, interview creators and organize giveaways. We also created the “Diários Steampunk”, a webseries where we talk about steampunk related themes (p.e. the steam technology) or specific works as for example the book The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. As the project grew, some publishers gave occasional support providing copies of steampunk inspired books for giveaways on our site (p.e. Presença, Saída de Emergência). Vogais publishing house provided the Leviathan trilogy books for our Steampunk Basket raffled during the convention.
After all this time, work and preparation, the moment of the most ambitious international steampunk convention ever, as Tor.com described it, finally arrived. In Portugal the event was held in the former Parnaso Academy, a symbol of the cultural and artistic history of Porto, as the owner Daniel Oliveira explained in the opening of the event. It was a moment for all to remember a time of great writers, painters and musicians that paved the way for the next generations to be able to, themselves, leave a mark in Portuguese cultural history.
Luis Filipe Silva, João Barreiros and João Ventura, all of them Portuguese authors, were invited as speakers for both days of the convention and were able to maintain a relaxed and fruitful conversation about all the themes proposed by them or by the organization.
The first day of the ESC began with a short presentation of Clockwork Portugal itself, followed by a discussion board about the steampunk concept and definition. Using this as a cue, the authors in the board were then invited to talk about steampunk in Portugal and in Portuguese. The Brazilian experience (deeply connected with some of the authors invited to participate in this first ESC edition) was represented by two videos: one from Romeu Martins (author and journalist) and the other by Gianpaolo Celli (Tarja Editorial, publishing house), gently arranged by Luís Filipe Silva. It was certainly a good excuse to bring the two portuguese-speaking steampunk communities together. At the end of this first day, Clockwork Portugal team presented and officially released the Almanaque Steampunk, a book inspired by the classic almanacs but based on speculative works and given a steampunk twist. The designer Joana Maltez spoke about the creative process and the whole experience of pulling together this first edition of a publication we intend to turn into a tradition in the Portuguese steampunk community. A lively autograph session, with the starring authors in the Almanaque Steampunk, ended the activities.
On the last day, the speakers were invited to comment on the so called punk genres: steampunk, dieselpunk, biopunk, nanopunk, solarpunk, stringpunk and multiple others, explaining their origin, their characteristics, what unites them and what sets them apart from the speculative fiction in general. Special emphasis was given to eletropunk because the anthology Lisboa Electropunk is about to be released. The anthology’s organizer João Barreiros invited the authors that participated in the work to comment on the concept in general and on their own contributions to the collection. Afterwards, the Clockwork Portugal team gave some recommendations on steampunk books, including novels, graphic novels and manga. We hope that this event encourages the authors and publishers in Portugal to invest in Steampunk, both in original works and translation of foreign recognized books. In this final day, we also had the participation of Luís Melo, who talked about and showed examples of his work in illustration, which often met the steampunk aesthetic with amazing results, some now available on his much recommended website.
Throughout the whole convention, there were a few other participants with their own stands, showing a bit of what is done in Portugal in terms of steampunk: Nanozine, with an issue fully dedicated to steampunk; the first volume of Downspiral by Anton Stark, officially released in the final moment of the convention, when all had the opportunity to get to know the story, the author and the publisher; Lusitânia, a portuguese magazine dedicated to speculative fiction to be launched soon and Águas Furtadas, whose stand sold some steampunk inspired fashion accessories developed by Koollook. During the tea breaks the Confeitaria Chá das Cinco sold cupcakes and cakepops and the Clockwork Portugal team gave everyone some tea and biscuits. The people that used their imagination and talents to come to the convention in steampunk attires were invited to participate in our cosplay contest and were photographed during these breaks.
During the ESC, the activities that took place in Parnaso were broadcast to the whole world, through the Clockwork Portugal hangout and youtube channel. This way Porto could join the other cities that answered to the Call to Steampunk Arms for an international convention to unite all Europe. At the Euro Steam Con official Facebook page you can now find links and photographic galleries of the different events throughout the continent. Whoever couldn’t be present or simply want to review our convention can visit our YouTube channel to access the live stream videos. The Portuguese event was also recorded by SciFi World Portugal, who already started sharing videos on their site.
A special thanks to all those that believed in this project and to all who came to this first steampunk convention in Portugal or watched us online. We hope that you all enjoyed as much as we did, and wish to be back next year!
Clockwork Portugal Team