Tag Archives: conspiracy of silence

Outing a Fictional Character

Space: 1889 & Beyond has been running for over two years now, with ten books published and a further two on the way to wrap up the second season. Since day one, one of my own personal goals was to explore Victorian views on sexuality, both through the characters of Annabelle Somerset (not your clichéd Victorian adventuress – although she does have her moments) and Nathanial Stone. Exploring such views via Annabelle would seem obvious and not worthy of pointing out, although holding her own against a predominantly male-led society is only one issue Annabelle has to deal with – losing a limb is another, not to mention certain revelations explored in the final three books of season two. With Nathanial it would seem to be less obvious, although this line from the opening chapter of Journey to the Heart of Luna (published September 2011) would offer up the first clue…

When we do, I hope I am there. For I would like to ask him this: Why, O Lord, did you make me wrong? My dean at Mortarhouse College could never answer such a question, and he was a very learned man. Only the Almighty can answer me now.

Throughout the two years and ten books we have revealed hints and clues about Nathanial’s personal journey, most especially in Conspiracy of Silence (published August 2012) and Mundus Cerialis (published December 2012). One would hope that at the end of the latter book all our readers would be able to work out that Nathanial is a gay man. This is how Mundus Cerialis ends…

Arnaud noticed Nathanial standing there. “Annabelle suggested we ‘bunk together’. I do not think Captain Folkard would like me to be in his room.”
 
Nathanial glanced up the gangway towards the control deck. “No, I don’t suppose he would.”
 
Arnaud placed a finger in his mouth and looked around the lab. “Not much space, non? What to do? I have no sleeping bag.” He coughed abruptly, and looked up with the most pathetic expression Nathanial had ever seen.
 
“You are unwell?”
 
Oui. A virus from the Ceres underground, I think. Ne vous inquiétez pas,” Arnaud said, waving away Nathanial’s concern. “No snuggling,” he added, with a slight smile.
 
Nathanial shook his head. There was a time when he would have responded to that, but instead he smiled. Always the same Arnaud.
 
“I think we shall have a lot to discuss, then,” Nathanial said and stepped into the lab, feeling better than he had in a long while.
 
Things were not perfect with Annabelle, but they were on the right path to healing the wounds, and he had made his peace with Folkard. Surely he still held some animosity because of Edwin’s death, but the captain had brought Arnaud back to him – from death in some respects. That went a long way.
 
He closed the door behind him. It was finally time to move forward again.

fistfulMEDIUMThe most explicit confirmation of Nathanial’s sexuality, and his difficulty with such, was due to be shown in The Forever Journey, but due to some ‘technical difficulties’ the book which followed this, in terms of narrative, was released first. Thus the consequences of certain revelations and themes from The Forever Journey were felt throughout A Fistful of Dust (published October 2013). In terms of narrative I, as editor, had no issue with the consequences being seen before the events that led to them. In fact, I felt (and still feel), it adds to the mystery, leaving the readers to wonder what actually happened to our gallant crew on the way to Mars (answers to which will be revealed next month when The Forever Journey is released!).

Our readers have been very supportive of the series thus far, with many applauding us on the ongoing stories for our regulars cast of characters, as well as those who appear occasionally (such as Doctor Cyrus Grant and Commander George Bedford). They seem to understand that, as author David Parish-Whittaker put it, ‘it’s not just “Airships and Adventures!” (Not that it doesn’t have those, too). I think this particular subplot helps remind the reader of the very real social differences and constraints of the time period. We’re not writing about modern people in top hats here.’ This personal journey for Nathanial has been there since day one, as I said, and I knew that once we brought it to the fore it would illicit some interesting responses. I especially expect some choice comments being made in reviews of The Forever Journey, not just about Nathanial, but about other revelations made in that book, but what I was not expecting, not in a million years, was this ‘review’ on Amazon.com for A Fistful of Dust

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So shocked was I that I posted it over Facebook, to get the opinions of fellow authors, readers and even Anne Rice – since she’d recently been talking about reviews on Amazon.com, and was curious as to how she, a best-selling author of world renown, would respond were it in response to one of her books. Her response was, ‘it’s typical of some of the trash reviewing going on, on Amazon. I clicked report and gave the reason. Imagine a review like this attacking “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” because Uncle Tom is black.’

I am still somewhat miffed as to why, ten books on, someone should take such a position. One person suggested it was akin to revealing that a character like James Bond was gay all this time, a comment which I find bizarre in itself. With the Bond example, I agree it would be a case of ‘what were you thinking?’, since he has a history with women and is quite clearly a straight character. Not so with Nathanial. As shown in the examples above, Nathanial has always been gay, and his personal journey encompasses this element of his character. From actively allowing people to believe he had some interest in Annabelle, to his flirtatious behaviour with, at first, Erasmus Stevenson in Journey to the Heart of Luna and Dark Side of Luna all the way to his first meeting with Arnaud Fontaine in The Ghosts of Mercury to his insistence on having Arnaud join them on the season two mission. Later the reviewer did go on to explain why he made the above comment, in an equally inexplicable manner…

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The implication that we included a gay character because it’s ‘cool’ to do so, is one that puzzles and irritates me. It seems to suggest that we made Nathanial gay all of sudden, that it was a stunt to fit some kind of political correctness. Never mind the previous nine books of character development and steady unveiling of this aspect of Nathanial’s character. Surely the whole point of fiction is to not only tell good stories, but to explore the nature of people along the way? This is done gradually and carefully, without being offensive or, in this case, explicit. To be offended and thus reject a series of novels you were, presumably, previously enjoying just because a character is revealed to be gay, strikes me as a very silly and bigoted way to react. Would it not make more sense to stick with it, and see how the character’s journey pans out? After all, Nathanial is a man living in the 19th Century, the implications of his sexuality will have consequences.

Despite this and the somewhat unexpected reactions from a few people yesterday, I still hold true to what we are trying to achieve here with Space: 1889 & Beyond as a whole, and with the character of Nathanial Stone in particular. All I can say now is this; readers, stick with us, there’s an end game here, one that most will not see coming, but hopefully one all will find interesting and will spark some thoughts in you all. In closing I’d like to quote Arnaud’s father, Sébastien Fontaine…

“Could it not be that they are merely laws man has attributed to God, led by their own fears and ignorance? It is my belief that not everything can be split between right and wrong. There is a whole area that falls in-between. Just because someone disagrees with another, it does not make one more correct than the other.”

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Series Two – Conspiracy of Silence Released

Roll up, roll up… the fall of Nathanial Stone starts here!

Space: 1889 & Beyond series two begins today with the worldwide launch of Conspiracy of Silence, which sees series creator, Frank Chadwick, and series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, joining forces to set up the biggest phase in Space: 1889‘s history!

Series two picks up at the tail end of 1889, and finally launches the series beyond… not only beyond the old decade it’s lived in for twenty years, but you will witness the first steps that takes the property beyond the inner planets!

For Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset, the most harrowing journey has only just begun!

At long last, Nathanial and Annabelle are back on Earth, but the reception is hardly what they hoped for–Nathanial locked up in Chatham Convict Prison, Annabelle and her uncle Cyrus Grant held in the Tower of London: the charge–treason!

Someone high up in the British government is putting pressure on them for mysterious reasons. But when the Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Britain is assassinated in a gunpowder plot, which would have made Guy Fawkes smile, events spin out of everyone’s control.

The clock is ticking down on the arrival of the new Austrian ambassador, and on an assassination plot which aims to cut the heart out of the British monarchy and government. The race to thwart the conspirators will take Nathanial, Annabelle, and George Bedford through the heart of Whitechapel at night, to gunpowder barges anchored in the Thames, to seedy boarding houses attacked by infernal clockwork devices, and finally to the dizzy heights of a zeppelin docking gantry packed with explosives and where a single spark will mean extinction for all.

She heard a knock on the sitting room door. “Come in,” she said and Stanhope appeared with a small silver platter holding a white card.

A gentleman to see you, Miss,” he said and offered her the card. For a moment her heart raced at the thought of George Bedford, or perhaps Nathanial, finally finding her, but the card dashed her hopes.

Major Walter Hallam Gordon, CGM

5th Regiment of Foot, Northumberland Fusiliers

Very well, show him in,” she said, knowing very well this was merely a polite formality. Jailers do not require permission from prisoners to enter their cells.

Major Gordon was tall and slender, dark-haired, and she might have found him good looking under different circumstances—or perhaps not. Whatever attraction his face might have had was ruined by his grey-blue eyes: cold and calculating.

Miss Annabelle Somerset? Please accept my apologies for having to introduce myself under these circumstances. Major Walter Gordon, at your service,” he said with a little bow.

I doubt that very much, Major Gordon. Were you at my service you would have two steamer tickets to America in your pocket and a carriage waiting out front.”

Nothing would give me more pleasure, Miss Somerset, I assure you, but my duty comes first. I am sure you understand.”

I understand nothing. No one has told me why we are being held against our wills, nor has anyone told me what has become of our friend, Professor Stone. Unless you can do so, I suspect this interview will be brief.”

Of course,” Gordon answered. “You undoubtedly have many questions.” He gestured to an arm chair. “May I?”

Your vocal powers seem to function satisfactorily while standing,” she answered.

He inclined his head slightly in acceptance. “Very well. I can hardly fault your hostility. I apologise for your having been kept in ignorance, although in truth I doubt any of your…keepers knew quite what to tell you. Let me remedy that at once. Your uncle, Doctor Cyrus Grant, is held here for his own safety. As you can see, he is incapable of caring for himself, and may come to some harm left untended.”

I tended him in the Tower, and I tend him here. I can as easily tend him in Arizona,” Annabelle answered.

Ah…yes, well, that is where it becomes complicated. You are not free to go, Miss Somerset, I am sad to say. While no formal charges have been filed, I am obliged to say that the Lord Chancellor is currently studying the evidence and is deliberating whether charges should be levied. Until such time as a decision is made, I am afraid you must remain here. I know that a week in the Tower as a prisoner must have been a harrowing experience, and now the thought of further captivity must be positively terrifying, but I ask you to…”

Annabelle laughed, and Gordon broke off speaking, his eyebrows lifting in surprise. “When I was twelve years old my parents were murdered and I was taken captive by a band of the Chiricahua Apache. The chief, Goyahkla, led that band and I was held prisoner by him for two years until rescued. Three months ago I laid in a filthy tent in the Martian desert while, to save my life, two dear friends, neither of them physicians, sawed off my rotting right leg—rotting, I might add, due to a pistol ball from the French saboteur who was the actual architect of the Peregrine Station explosion. Major Gordon, if you honestly believe I find this,” and her gesture encompassed the sitting room, “or the austere comforts of the Tower harrowing, or the prospect of being held captive by the British Army terrifying, then you are a fool.”

She sat on the sofa with her back to the arm on the left and her artificial leg, her peg, extended out on the sofa itself. It was not heavy and did not require support, but it did not bend at the knee and if she allowed it to stick straight out she feared Uncle Cyrus, in his aimless wandering, would trip over it and hurt either himself or her, or both. She looked at it, at the reddish-black wood carved to look like a piece of machinery, with rivets and the suggestion of gears and pistons. Her Martian friend Kak’hamish, who had carved it and saved her life time and again, was dead, but she knew that near the top of the peg he had carved a legend in an arcane Martian script. It read, he had told her, Annabelle’s Spirit. It’s meaning, he explained, was that her spirit was like the peg carved from Martian blackwood—alive, but like steel.

She did not feel like steel, not really. Despite her defiant words she felt powerless and frightened and very much alone, but she would never let this Major Gordon see that. Perhaps that was what Kak’hamish had meant.

I admire your courage, Miss Somerset,” Gordon said. “You will have need of it in the times to come. I must tell you that the charge the Lord Chancellor is considering is one of high treason, which is a capital offense.”

High treason?” she exclaimed, and she felt her voice rise even as blood rushed to her face. “You must think me very silly and gullible to take such a threat seriously. I am an American citizen, not a British subject, and so whatever you imagine I have done, it could not possibly constitute treason. Really, this is too much. I must ask you to go, Major, and I demand to speak with the United States Envoy at his earliest convenience. That is my right, I believe.”

As you wish, Miss Somerset,” Major Gordon answered. “I will arrange the meeting with the envoy.” With another small bow he left her.

Annabelle sat on the sofa for several minutes, struggling to get her emotions under control, or at least her breathing and heart rate. The nerve of the British! Who did they think they were to treat Americans this way? And treason? What a preposterous threat! It was so preposterous…in some ways she found it more unsettling than a more modest and believable threat would have been. Why would he even say such a thing?

Andy Frankham-Allen is a Welsh-born author of many short stories, both for Untreed Reads and the Big Finish’s official range of Doctor Who anthologies. In 2005 he co-authored the last in Noise Monster Productions range of Space 1889 audio dramas, and in early 2011 Untreed Reads published the first novel in his new real world dark fantasy series, The Garden, which was nominated for the Rainbow Award, Best Full-Length Supernatural Novel 2011. He continues to write short stories and novels, with upcoming projects including a novel in Crossroads Press’ Scattered Earth series, and non-fiction Doctor Who book for Candy Jar Publishing, as well the second book in The Garden series. On top of all that, he’s also the series editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond.

Frank Chadwick is no stranger to the Victorian science fiction field. He is the creator of the Space: 1889 universe, with the first in a series of role-playing adventures, board games, and miniatures rules appearing over twenty years ago. He is known throughout the gaming industry as one of its most prolific designers, with over a hundred published games. He is also well-known in the history and military affairs field, with over two hundred books, articles, and columns. His 1991 Desert Shield Fact Book reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, but he still lists steampunk as one of his first and greatest loves.  As well writing one and a half novels in the first series of Space: 1889 & Beyond, his forthcoming works include two novels with Baen Books, How Dark the World Becomes and The Forever Engine which is set in the Space: 1889 universe.

Conspiracy of Silence is now available through…

The Untreed Reads Store (http://bit.ly/Pqrzz3)

Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/PmlSRe)

Apple’s iBookstore

Barnes and Noble

DriveThruFiction.com

DriveThruRPG.com

Lightning Source

OmniLit.com

Scribd.com

Conspiracy of Silence © 2012 Andy Frankham-Allen & Frank Chadwick and Untreed Reads Publishing.

Space: 1889 & Beyond © & ™ 1988/2012 Frank Chadwick.

All Rights Reserved.

Back by Popular Demand

Hi, gang!

We’ve noticed a few people asking if we’d be doing a season-pass for the second series of Space: 1889 & Beyond. Originally the answer was ‘no’, due to the initial behind-the-scenes chaos with getting the series together. However, we’ve found a way to change that. And so, we’re very pleased to announce that ‘yes!’ we are now doing a season-pass. But there is a catch!

It’s a good one, mind.

The season-pass is only available until August 15th – so if you fancy saving £3.20 ($5) off the entire second series, then run along now and pick up the season-pass for only £10.87 ($17). Yes, that’s just over a tenner for six books! Who can pass up such a deal? But hurry, this only lasts for two weeks.

Visit the Untreed Reads Store HERE to purchase the pass.

And so it begins…

Totally Gratuitous Shot*

Welcome, dear reader, to 2012. It looks to be a pretty amazing year for me, with many projects on the go and quite a few being lined up for later in the year (including one potential project I simply cannot talk about now – but if it works out, trust me, you’ll all love it). I have set many goals for the following year, and one of those is to conquer America! Well, not through some massive invasion, but merely to get my works out there in the American market. I’ve already got all my eBooks out in the States, of course, but I’m an old fashioned guy and I want to be all over the US in print. And, by jove, 2012 WILL see it happen. Yes, I am determined.

For the first few months I will be very busy with writing. I’m currently working on a new novel, Cast from the Heavens, which will be a book in the ‘Scattered Earth’ series, published by Crossroad Press (yes, an American publisher! It begins here). This one will be quite a departure for me, no sense of the macabre, no supernatural, and very little science fiction. It will be a fantasy epic, in the same mould (hopefully!) as Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series of novels.  As soon as I finish this book, I shall be moving on to my half of Conspiracy of Silence, the series two opener for Space: 1889 & Beyond which I am co-writing with Frank Chadwick. I can’t say a lot about that one, really, since anything I say will only give away the end of series one, and that doesn’t happen until March. Needless to say, it will shake the universe of Space: 1889 & Beyond and the lead characters (Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset) to their very core. And, if that’s not enough, co-currently with these projects, I shall continue to work on Augury, the second book of my Garden series. Oh, and of course, editing the first few stories of Space: 1889 & Beyond series two.

Issue #1 of THE PRIDE

So, I think that’s enough to get 2012 off to a good start. Needless to say, that’s not all I’m working on, or have going on around me, but it’s all I can talk about. Therefore, let me share with you a few other related things instead.

Seeker gets it’s first review for 2012 (well, it was written right at the end of December, but that’s close enough), which you can read HERE.

Space: 1889 & Beyond continues to hold its own at Untreed Reads, remaining in the Top Ten Bestsellers for four months in a row. To see the full list, click THIS.

And now something a little less connected. It’s all over Facebook, but I want to share it here. A short while ago, a few friends of mine released the first fully-fledged LGBT superhero comic, The Pride. The comic book and its creators have been nominated for various Eagle Awards. Please do pop by and support this wonderful comic by voting HERE.

For those of you interested in my person life – tough! No, just kidding.

I spent the Christmas period with my maternal family (and when I say maternal I really mean maternal – there’s so few males on my mother’s side), and the New Year with my paternal family. I’m no fan of Christmas particularly, but I do feel that spending time with those you love is important. Even more so this past year, ever since I lost my father in December 2010. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with the long and complicated story of my clichéd relationship with my father, but it’s one of those moments that you know you’ll never be able to go back and fix. So, being with my family is important now. More than ever.

Real Life Comics = Awesome!

Okay, got a little serious there. Let’s liven this post up, by sharing a few other things. Right now I’m reading Max Ehrlich’s The Edict, as well as a book on British myths and legends (the former is purely for my own fun, the latter is research for the book I’m currently writing). I’m also immersed in the usual DVD marathons; right now it’s Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica and Blake’s 7 (interesting to note, I love science fiction on TV and film, but not a huge fan of sci-fi in print). I am also highly distracted by Real Life Comic. I came across it a few weeks back, only to discover it’s been running for over TEN YEARS! Eek! Still, not to be deterred, I started at the beginning and have read seven years worth of daily comics in three weeks! Check me out. Or is that sad? Dunno. I suggest you all go and check it out HERE and see how long until you become addicted. Greg Dean is a genius! (Although Tony might not agree. Yeah, that’ll make sense when you read the comic.)

So, there you have it. A rather random post to start the year.

See you out there! 🙂

*sex sells! If this is popular I may just include a gratuitous pic in every post.  😉