Diana Vick’s Victorian sci-fi dream for Seattle.

By Karen Quinn September 18, 2009 Published in the October 2009 issue of Seattle Met

"IT’S MASSIVELY CREATIVE, insanely inventive, and extraordinarily unique.” That’s Diana Vick (pictured) describing steampunk, which she’s certain will be the next subcultural wave to hit the Emerald City. She’s banking on that certainty as cocreator of Steamcon, a convention celebrating the hottest movement in sci-fi. Drawing its inspiration from novels of the nineteenth century—the age of steam power—steampunk cross-pollinates Victorian-era obsessions (gothic fashion, mad science) with twenty-first-century music, fashion, film, and design. The genre is also marked by inventions from the stories of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, such as airships and time machines, the spooky science labs of Mary Shelley, and the anachronistic inclusion of computers and other modern technologies.

And while steampunk and its hold on pop culture are hardly new——Will Smith’s 1999 flick Wild, Wild West and Nicole Kidman’s 2007 The Golden Compass are both exemplars of the genre—Vick believes that Seattle is a perfect incubator for the movement. Our streets and buildings originated in the 1850s, and in 1962 the World’s Fair confirmed Seattle as a hub for technology and design, elements that steampunks embrace.

Finally, Vick argues, the movement reflects the ingenuity and resourcefulness that pour out of Seattle’s flourishing arts and tech communities every day—and indeed out of Vick’s own home. She once illustrated comic books and now designs greeting cards; her co-organizer and husband R. “Martin” Armstrong works as a network engineer at a tech firm. Steamcon, to be held at the Seattle Airport Marriott October 23–25, will brim with concerts and art exhibits. And most nerdly of all, attendees from around the world will arrive in full Victorian costume.

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