Today I went down to Atlanta for day two of the AnachroCon, which bills itself as "the place in the Southern United States for Steampunk, History, Alternate History, Science, Music, Classic Sci-Fi Literature and the most amazing costuming you’ve ever seen!" I didn't read that tag line particularly carefully, so I stuck out like a sore thumb in my grey sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers against a crowd of steampunk enthusiasts. It seemed as if a section of 18th century London's well-to-do had time-travelled to a Marriott. Men sporting waist coats and top hats milled with women crammed into corsets and hoop skirts while a highlander in a kilt played a harp and sang.
I didn't see anything in the program about actual alternate history, though I expect the "alternate history" cross-pollinated with science fiction or fantasy which seems to sell better was in evidence somewhere. Actually, if you consider Steampunk merely a type of alternate history, and many do, that seemed to be a unifying theme of the convention. And more power to the people who like that genre or aesthetic or whatever you want to call Steampunk, but I have never been able to enjoy it the way I sink my teeth into more pure "historical what-ifs."
I suppose I did not stay long enough to get a really good feel for the convention. I did, however, get the chance to meet Matthew Quinn, a long time member of alternatehistory.com and author of the short-story Coil Gun. He's a great guy who gave me some pointers on both this blog and the Alternate History Podcast, the first episode of which will be out soon. So check out his stuff; he will be guest-blogging here and I may reciprocate on his blog which is also in the sidebar under the new "favorites" blog roll.