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Steampunk Days Out-Archon-St Louis’ Premier Science Fiction Convention


Every year since 1977 St Louis has hosted a regional Science Fiction convention. Archon is one of the largest fan run events in the Midwest. It is a general Science Fiction Fantasy convention and includes literary tracks, panels on a large and varied range of topics. The gaming department runs over 200 events including multiple LARPS. The Arts show is extensive. One of the crown jewels is the Masquerade, a costume contest with a national reputation. In addition to the formally produced Masquerade hall costumes are both numerous and stunning.

Steampunk has been an increasingly large part of Archon over the last few years. Since costuming is such an integral part of the convention this is one of the places that Steampunk has made its biggest impressions. In hall costuming in particular Steampunk is tremendously popular. Over the last several years a Steampunk Tea has been offered and is a place to showcase Steampunk garbing talents.

The conventional also features a dance each night. In the past this event has had a decided Steampunk feel with large gear decorations and a steampunk themed light show.

The Art show has also been a place with increasing Steampunk represntation.

Gaming had several Steampunk VSF events. These inlcuded Tom Barnes running a very well received Stars of Empire adventure. There were also a number of other VSF games including Space 1889. http://webpages.charter.net/arcgaming/arcgame.htm

The Dealers room saw a lot of Steampunk good, games, gear and books. Larry Smith Bookseller http://sf.stuff.at/larrysmith/ had a very nice selection of books from novels and graphic novels to period references. Larry is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Its always a joy to deal with his booth.

A very welcome newcomer to Archon’s dealers room was Agape. This is a charity organization’s thrift store. They have been extremely good at selecting items for sale at various events such as The Time Traveller’s Ball and various Civil War reenactments. Archon was no exception. In addition to a fine selection of science fiction toys they had many items for the Steam Punker. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Agapes-Hometown-Thrift-Shop/114272651939387

I was on one panel, a dedicated Steampunk one. For a Sunday noon panel it was well attended and had a lively discussion.

Archon is my personal home convention. I’ve been going since 1980. For the last 25 years I’ve been on staff as security and now am the committee member for that department. This means I really don’t get to participate in many of the events, but I do get to wander everywhere. I’ve been to many conventions over the last few decades and can honestly say we run a very good event. It is my pleasure to work with such a crew of talented people.

The Convention is held at both the Doubletree Hotel http://doubletree1.hilton.com/en_US/dt/hotel/STLCNDT-DoubleTree-by-Hilton-Hotel-Collinsville-St-Louis-Illinois/index.do?WT.srch=1&pSearch=true&_r1b=off&searchdef=2137956&k_clickid=0c7aaaa3-1184-6b88-53f0-0000499b6164&002=002%3D2137956%26021%3D640474&006=7624064654&007=Search&008=&009=e&011={QueryString}&012=doubletree%20collinsville and the Gateway Convention Center http://gatewaycenter.com/

Both facilities are quite good. The hotel was once a Holiday Inn but was sold and has been upgraded. The Gateway Center has always been top flight. The spaces are very well suited for the convention. In addition to the Doubletree there are about a half dozen other hotels in easy walking distance. Some are considerably less expensive than the Doubletree.

The area has numerous places to eat. These include Arby’s and White Castle to Bandana’s (a local BBQ chain of well known magnificence) and a Mexican place called Zapata’s http://maps.google.com/maps/place?rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-Address&oe=UTF-8&rlz=&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=collinsville+mexican&fb=1&gl=us&hq=mexican&hnear=0x8875ff8bce5a1375:0x770cec9a43ed7c6c,Collinsville,+IL&cid=3076870750180974830

At the high price range is Porter’s Steak House http://www.porterscollinsville.com/. Porter’s is still a very good place to eat. Sadly before it was bought by the Doubletree is was a truly AWESOME place. If you were never there in its glory days you will love it. If you have been there in the past its a bit disappointing.

Taken as a whole Archon is a fantastic convention with a really broad range of activities and guests. Being back in Collinsville with its facilities at the Gateway Center and the Doubletree is a perfect fit for the size of the event. There are numerous options for food and lodging. Early purchase tickets are discount priced for a few more months on the Archon 36 Website. Plan ahead and get your membership now, and book a hotel room before they are all sold out.


Terry Sofian