A few days ago, I found this article on the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle's site.
Cathlo Morton looked like she just finished skateboarding and was headed to a paint-ball game. Her protective gear, cobbled together from various sports, actually had her looking like her favorite character from a children's video-game.
But she barely turned a head Sunday morning as Astronomicon 12, the sci-fi, fantasy and anime convention was in its third day at the Radisson Rochester Riverside.
"This is a science fiction convention for fans by fans," said the 24-year-old Rochester resident, who has grown up at what aficionados call "cons."
Her parents brought to the event when she was a toddler, and she said she hasn't missed one since. For the past two years, she served as volunteer coordinator for the event.
More than 200 people attended the convention, which to some extent was indistinguishable from anything that would draw a suit-and-tie crowd: speakers well-known in their field and breakout sessions in such topics as writing, comics, computer gaming and parenting (including reading science fiction to your kids).
"We don't discriminate against anyone," said Morton, dressed as Sgt. Calhoun from Wreck-It Ralph. "People come in normal clothes."
Normal for Victorian England, that is.
Midori Hirtzel Church, 43, of Buffalo, wore a long skirt, corset and mad-scientist goggles perched over the brim of her hat. "Instead of laser guns and flying saucers and spaceships, you have steam-powered clockwork and horse-drawn carriages."
Steam punk grew out of a 1980s cyberpunk movement, she said. "There's a joke going around that steam punk is what happened when Goths discovered the color brown. Whether or not that's true, I don't know."
Lorvie M.M. Josaphat, who turns 19 soon, attended her first Astronomicon as a birthday gift from 20-year-old Nate Thompson.
"I wanted to show her how so many eclectic people come together for the artistic endeavors of all," said Thompson.
Josaphat was ecstatic after both won in the costume contest on Saturday.
"Winning a contest like that was awesome," she said. "I'm definitely going to be coming to more of these."
"Honestly," Thompson said, "It's hard to see why more people don't enjoy these."