Tag Archives: frank chadwick

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.

Space: 1889 & Beyond – News Update

More Space: 1889 & Beyond news!

Series One, now with 50% off

Two fantastic offers that run through until August 15th 2012…

Untreed Reads is having a big sale at their store, with 50% off all titles. This includes the entire series one back catalogue – so if you’ve not joined the adventures of Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset now is the time. And, on top of that, you can pick up the series two Season Pass for £10.87, saving yourself £3.20 off buying the titles individually as they’re released.

Pop by the Untreed Reads Store now to take advantage of these amazing offers.

Coming mid-August 2012

The second exciting series of steampunk adventures!

 

Series 2.
2012-2013

Everything H.G. Wells could have written.

Everything Arthur Conan Doyle thought of,

but never published – because it was too fantastic!

 

Following on from the success of the first series, Untreed Reads Publishing is proud to present the second series of six books based on the world-renowned Role Playing Game, fully licensed from creator, Frank Chadwick, and headed by best-selling author Andy Frankham-Allen.

The series begins mid-August, and will be released bi-monthly, thus running for a whole year. Once again we’ve brought together some of the best names in fantasy fiction as well as some relatively new names to bring you a series that will continue to re-shape the popular steampunk universe first created almost twenty years ago.

This series our heroes, “Professor” Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset are joined by two others on their journey through the aether. Captain Jacob Folkard, the commander of HMAS Sovereign, and another familiar face. There is much turbulence and change ahead, as secrets are unveiled, mysteries revealed, with the fate of the British Empire hanging in the balance. Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Join Nathanial, Annabelle, Folkard and guest as they travel from one corner of the Space: 1889 universe to another, from the conspiracies that eat away at the heart of the British Empire to the underworld of Ceres, watch them as they encounter pterodactyls in the clouds above Venus, join them on their longest journey between worlds where it seems their darkest fears follow them all the way to Phobos and the mysteries contained inside that moon… Where will their journey end? Nothing is certain, except that by the end of series two the 1889-verse will be shaken to its very core!

Previously On…

At the end of the last series, Nathanial and Annabelle found themselves in something of a tight spot. Annabelle lost one of her legs due to the machinations of the manipulative French man, Le Boeuf, on an experimental heliograph station, and Nathanial found himself placed under arrest for the destruction of said station. It seemed things were looking up for them after they helped rescue Annabelle’s increasingly mad uncle, inventor Cyrus Grant, and foiled a Russian plan to secure the moon and the alien Heart at its centre. But as series one closed, Annabelle was disheartened by her uncle’s deterioration, despite the support of Lieutenant George Bedford, first officer of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMAS Sovereign, and Nathanial was left to ponder his own future. He hopes that his actions on Luna will give his innocence some credence, but is concerned about the reception awaiting him on Earth… No one but he and Annabelle survived the destruction of Peregrine station, so who is behind the charges levied against him?

A view from a gantry…

Series two begins mere hours from where series one left off, with the series creator, Frank Chadwick, joining forces with series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, to bring you a tour-de-force in Space: 1889 adventure!

The Stories

  1. Conspiracy of Silence by Andy Frankham-Allen & Frank Chadwick
  2. To Ceres by Steam by Paul Ebbs
  3. Leviathans of the Clouds by Steven Savile & David Parish-Whittaker
  4. The Forever Journey by Oli Smith
  5. A Fistful of Dust by Sharon Bidwell
  6. Horizons of Deceit by Jonathan Cooper

 

The Team

Series Editor, Andy Frankham-Allen (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

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.

Series Creator, Frank Chadwick (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

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.

Paul Ebbs (author, To Ceres by Steam)

Paul Ebbs has written various Doctor Who related things for the BBC, Big Finish Productions and BBV, and as a TV writer he’s written for such notable shows as EastEnders, Casualty, The Bill and Dead Ringers.

Steven Savile (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

Steven Savile has written for Doctor Who, Primeval, Stargate, Warhammer, Slaine, Fireborn, Pathfinder and other popular game and comic worlds. His novels have been published in eight languages to date, including the Italian bestseller L’eridita. He won the International Media Association of Tie-In Writers award for his Primeval novel, Shadow of the Jaguar, published by Titan, in 2010, and has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award on multiple occasions. Silver, his debut thriller reached #2 in the Amazon UK e-charts in the summer of 2011 selling over forty thousand copies in the process. He wrote the story for the huge international bestselling computer game Battlefield 3, which sold over five million copies in its week of release, and he served as head writer on the popular online children’s game SPINEWORLD which have over one million players. His latest books include Tau Ceti (co-authored with International Bestselling novelist Kevin J. Anderson), Each Ember’s Ghost and the novelisation of the computer game Risen 2: Dark Waters.

David Parish-Whittaker (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

David Parish-Whittaker was a winner of the Writers of the Future contest for emerging talent in speculative fiction for his short story A Warbird in the Belly of the Mouse.  He’s previously written tie-in fiction for the Rezolution miniatures ruleset by Aberrant Games, to be published in an upcoming anthology.  His short fiction has also appeared in Every Day Fiction.   He currently writes videogame analysis and reviews for Geekosophy and Bag of Games. When he’s not writing, David works as a captain for a national airline. In previous incarnations, he has been a naval flight officer, traffic watch pilot, glider tow pilot and aerobatic instructor.  He is a rated commercial glider pilot, and holds an H-2 hang glider rating.  In his off hours, he plays a replica medieval harp for the Goliards, an early music group specializing in 13th – 15th century music, mostly to cement his geek street cred.

Oli Smith spent two years as a freelance writer working on novels, audio books, comic strips and video games for the BBC series Doctor Who. Now he works as a creative producer for London-based video games company Mediatonic and spends his evenings playing board games. He still likes writing, retro sci-fi and RPGs so it looks like Space: 1889 has got him covered.

Oli Smith (author, The Forever Journey)

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. The first short story she submitted — Silver Apples of the Moon— was accepted by Roadworks Magazine. The editor announced her as ‘a writer who is going places’ and described the story as having ‘both a Sci-fi and horror element,’ and being ‘strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style.’  With a repertoire of twisted tales and a love of cross-genre writing, it surprised everyone (including herself) when she branched out into erotic romance. These works have been critically acclaimed and often described as ‘deeply passionate’. Sharon’s worlds are vivid, unexpected and sometimes intensely magical. She is the author of the best-selling gay romances ‘Snow Angel‘ and the sequel ‘Angel Heart’. Sharon writes whatever her warped mind can come up with. Although her longer works to date mostly involve a variety of wonderful men finding true love…or at least some loving, she’s quite capable of writing something darker, grittier, and even outright twisted.

Sharon Bidwell (author, A Fistful of Death)
Jonathan Cooper (author, Horizons of Deceit)

Jonathan Cooper was born in Wolverhampton in 1981. He started his career in theatre, writing plays from the Birmingham REP and the King’s Head in Islington. He has written extensively on the web on film, TV, video games and other assorted geekery, including a stint producing reviews and opinion for Mirror.co.uk. He has written and produced two short films with another two in production and has had short stories published internationally – he is also, according to the BBC – one of the top 200 comedy writers in the UK. Horizons of Deceit is his first full-length science fiction piece, and he remains bizarrely proud of the day Steven Moffat threatened to set his eagles on him.

Adam Burn has been drawing from an early age, and has been working with digital art for at least seven of them. He is a freelance artist who has worked for Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games. He was, most recently, the Senior 2D Artist for Taitale Studios on their forthcoming MMORTS game, Novus Aeterno. Steampunk is a new genre for him, but one he’s finding his way around quickly, and he is responsible for the covers of series two, as well as the revamp of the Space: 1889 & Beyondlogo.

Adam Burn, cover designer

Exclusive: Conspiracy of Silence (prologue)

1.

“AETHER PROPELLOR SECURED and ventral mast shipped, sir.”

“Very good, Mister Barry.” Lieutenant George Bedford, acting captain of HMAS Sovereign, the most modern aether battleship in the Royal Navy, took a quick scan of the bridge instruments and engine room repeaters before turning back to the young sub-lieutenant. “At what would you estimate our drop, Mister Barry?”

Barry had only worn the single thick stripe of a sub-lieutenant for eight months and Bedford hadn’t known him as a midshipman. The youngster had a good level head on his shoulders, Bedford had learned that much about him several weeks earlier when the two of them had dropped half a dozen Saltators—giant lunar red ants—with revolver fire when the monsters had boiled unexpectedly out of the hatch of a cutter on the docking bay. His technical skills were another matter, but they were coming along.

Barry squinted through the lens of the horizontal inclinometer, aimed out the bridge’s starboard observation blister, consulted his pocket watch, waited ten seconds and took a second reading through the lens. He paused, doing the calculation in his head.

“I make the drop fifty-five fathoms per second, sir.”

Bedford nodded; he made it nearly the same. Fifty-five fathoms a second, a descent rate of almost four miles a minute, was a bit steep and on this trajectory would put them down in the North Atlantic instead of the English Channel, as well as scorch the lower hull. “Trimsman, let’s have fifteen percent buoyancy on the lifters.”

After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

“Fifteen percent buoyancy, aye, sir,” the petty officer answered and went to work on his forest of levers, each controlling the angle of one of the liftwood  louvers which covered much of Sovereign’s lower hull.

“Mister Barry, my compliments to Lieutenant Boswell and he may light the coal boilers at his discretion.”

“Sir.”

They wouldn’t have enough atmospheric oxygen for the boilers for another ten minutes or so, but Boswell, the chief engineer, knew that well enough. The sun was still visible above the curvature of the Earth and would remain so all the way down through cloud-free skies. Although it was not yet day in Southern England, the eastern sky would already be pink and the sun would rise full up in the hour their descent from orbit would take, racing as they were toward the dawn. The solar boilers would do until Boswell put the black gang to work, would probably suffice until the last ten minutes of the flight, when they would penetrate the near-permanent cloud and smoke cover over Greater London. No solar boiler yet made would work down under that grey-brown shroud.

Bedford took another look at the bridge, its gleaming brass instruments and polished mahogany panelling, and he sighed. In an hour, a bit more, Sovereign would be down and secure at Chatham Dockyard and his temporary command would end. There was no chance for a simple lieutenant with eight years seniority to land a permanent command such as this—the choicest command in the fleet, coveted by officers with two more stripes on their cuffs and with the all-important political backing and social standing he lacked. No, he would be reassigned. In the past he had always looked forward to a new assignment, but not this time. After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

More than that, she held memories. Were it not for his assignment to HMAS Sovereign, he would never have met and befriended Nathanial Stone, and would not now be delivering him to the police for trial as a traitor and saboteur. He would never have met Cyrus Grant, one of the greatest scientific minds of the age, now reduced to confusion and madness by their experiences on Luna. Most importantly, he would never have met Grant’s niece, Annabelle Somerset.

Annabelle…

2.

NATHANIAL WATCHED AS the line of Russian former captives was led to the steam omnibus waiting at dockside. The irony of their situation and his washed over him like a cold wave. Former enemies of Britain, they, along with British personnel, had been captured by the alien Drobates on Luna, and all had been rescued by Bedford’s daring raid, leading fewer than a dozen Royal marines and naval ratings. Now the Russians would be released, amidst much public fanfare, to the custody of the Russian ambassador, who would in turn express the heartfelt gratitude of the Tsar.

In the subsequent fighting which had nearly cost all of them their lives, the Russians had done nothing to help while Nathanial, with a captured Drobate electric rifle, had held a long, dim tunnel against an alien horde, and had done so nearly alone and with little expectation he would escape with his life. Now British soldiers helped the Russians into the steam omnibus, showed them every courtesy, while a quartet of hard-eyed constables marched purposely toward Nathanial, obviously intent on taking custody of him from the two Royal Marines who guarded him.

Nathanial had at least expected to be met by some sort of government official, have the charges explained. Instead a black police four-wheeler loomed behind the constables. Were they really simply going to pack him up and cart him off to prison with no further ado?

Nathanial looked for any sign of his friends. Captain Folkard, who had relieved himself of command of Sovereign after the disastrous events on Luna had played themselves out, was nowhere to be seen on the dock, but Nathanial spied Annabelle making her way to him on the arm of Lieutenant Bedford, both of them limping. Bedford had suffered a nasty sprain of his ankle on Luna and Annabelle… Months earlier Annabelle had lost her right leg above the knee and now wore a mechanical limb designed by Nathanial and built using Drobate technology over the course of the last few weeks. It seemed to serve her well, the only bright spot in this uniformly bleak scene.

“Is this Stone?” the leading constable asked.

“Of course it is,” Private Jones answered, bristling slightly. “And what of it, then?”

“It’s all right, Private,” Nathanial said. “It is clear enough they are here for me. If you gentlemen would be so good as to give me a moment to take my leave of my friends, I would appreciate it.” He addressed this last to the leading constable.

Instead the man gestured to his assistants. “Seize him and put him in the van.”

“No! Just a moment, please!” Nathanial entreated but to no avail.

Two constables pinned his arms to his side and pulled him toward the black carriage. A few yards away Annabelle cried out and broke free of Bedford, reached out to him. The leading constable made as if to stop her but Jones’s rifle was suddenly in his hands at high port.

“Touch the lady, friend, and you’ll be chokin’ on your teeth,” Jones growled and the constable took a step back.

“Nathanial,” Annabelle said and thrust something round, flat, and metallic into his hand, “take this and remember—never lose hope.”

The constables pulled him away and he saw George Bedford comforting Annabelle as the doors on the back of the van closed and plunged him into darkness. He looked at his hand and saw a small gold watch, gleaming dully in the faint light which entered through the overhead ventilator. He recognised it as the pocket watch her father had given her—which contained on its inside a daguerreotype of her deceased parents; the only thing she retained from that former life.

Never lose hope.

 

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.

Space: 1889 & Beyond – Series Two Press Release

Coming mid-August 2012

The second exciting series of steampunk adventures!

 

Series 2.
2012-2013

Everything H.G. Wells could have written.

Everything Arthur Conan Doyle thought of,

but never published – because it was too fantastic!

 

Following on from the success of the first series, Untreed Reads Publishing is proud to present the second series of six books based on the world-renowned Role Playing Game, fully licensed from creator, Frank Chadwick, and headed by best-selling author Andy Frankham-Allen.

The series begins mid-August, and will be released bi-monthly, thus running for a whole year. Once again we’ve brought together some of the best names in fantasy fiction as well as some relatively new names to bring you a series that will continue to re-shape the popular steampunk universe first created almost twenty years ago.

This series our heroes, “Professor” Nathanial Stone and Annabelle Somerset are joined by two others on their journey through the aether. Captain Jacob Folkard, the commander of HMAS Sovereign, and another familiar face. There is much turbulence and change ahead, as secrets are unveiled, mysteries revealed, with the fate of the British Empire hanging in the balance. Think you’ve seen it all? Think again. Join Nathanial, Annabelle, Folkard and guest as they travel from one corner of the Space: 1889 universe to another, from the conspiracies that eat away at the heart of the British Empire to the underworld of Ceres, watch them as they encounter pterodactyls in the clouds above Venus, join them on their longest journey between worlds where it seems their darkest fears follow them all the way to Phobos and the mysteries contained inside that moon… Where will their journey end? Nothing is certain, except that by the end of series two the 1889-verse will be shaken to its very core!

Previously On…

At the end of the last series, Nathanial and Annabelle found themselves in something of a tight spot. Annabelle lost one of her legs due to the machinations of the manipulative French man, Le Boeuf, on an experimental heliograph station, and Nathanial found himself placed under arrest for the destruction of said station. It seemed things were looking up for them after they helped rescue Annabelle’s increasingly mad uncle, inventor Cyrus Grant, and foiled a Russian plan to secure the moon and the alien Heart at its centre. But as series one closed, Annabelle was disheartened by her uncle’s deterioration, despite the support of Lieutenant George Bedford, first officer of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMAS Sovereign, and Nathanial was left to ponder his own future. He hopes that his actions on Luna will give his innocence some credence, but is concerned about the reception awaiting him on Earth… No one but he and Annabelle survived the destruction of Peregrine station, so who is behind the charges levied against him?

A view from a gantry…

Series two begins mere hours from where series one left off, with the series creator, Frank Chadwick, joining forces with series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, to bring you a tour-de-force in Space: 1889 adventure!

The Stories

  1. Conspiracy of Silence by Andy Frankham-Allen & Frank Chadwick
  2. To Ceres by Steam by Paul Ebbs
  3. Leviathans of the Clouds by Steven Savile & David Parish-Whittaker
  4. The Forever Journey by Oli Smith
  5. A Fistful of Dust by Sharon Bidwell
  6. Horizons of Deceit by Jonathan Cooper

 

The Team

Series Editor, Andy Frankham-Allen (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

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.

Series Creator, Frank Chadwick (co-author, Conspiracy of Silence)

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.

Paul Ebbs (author, To Ceres by Steam)

Paul Ebbs has written various Doctor Who related things for the BBC, Big Finish Productions and BBV, and as a TV writer he’s written for such notable shows as EastEnders, Casualty, The Bill and Dead Ringers.

Steven Savile (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

Steven Savile has written for Doctor Who, Primeval, Stargate, Warhammer, Slaine, Fireborn, Pathfinder and other popular game and comic worlds. His novels have been published in eight languages to date, including the Italian bestseller L’eridita. He won the International Media Association of Tie-In Writers award for his Primeval novel, Shadow of the Jaguar, published by Titan, in 2010, and has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award on multiple occasions. Silver, his debut thriller reached #2 in the Amazon UK e-charts in the summer of 2011 selling over forty thousand copies in the process. He wrote the story for the huge international bestselling computer game Battlefield 3, which sold over five million copies in its week of release, and he served as head writer on the popular online children’s game SPINEWORLD which have over one million players. His latest books include Tau Ceti (co-authored with International Bestselling novelist Kevin J. Anderson), Each Ember’s Ghost and the novelisation of the computer game Risen 2: Dark Waters.

David Parish-Whittaker (co-author, Leviathans of the Clouds)

David Parish-Whittaker was a winner of the Writers of the Future contest for emerging talent in speculative fiction for his short story A Warbird in the Belly of the Mouse.  He’s previously written tie-in fiction for the Rezolution miniatures ruleset by Aberrant Games, to be published in an upcoming anthology.  His short fiction has also appeared in Every Day Fiction.   He currently writes videogame analysis and reviews for Geekosophy and Bag of Games. When he’s not writing, David works as a captain for a national airline. In previous incarnations, he has been a naval flight officer, traffic watch pilot, glider tow pilot and aerobatic instructor.  He is a rated commercial glider pilot, and holds an H-2 hang glider rating.  In his off hours, he plays a replica medieval harp for the Goliards, an early music group specializing in 13th – 15th century music, mostly to cement his geek street cred.

Oli Smith spent two years as a freelance writer working on novels, audio books, comic strips and video games for the BBC series Doctor Who. Now he works as a creative producer for London-based video games company Mediatonic and spends his evenings playing board games. He still likes writing, retro sci-fi and RPGs so it looks like Space: 1889 has got him covered.

Oli Smith (author, The Forever Journey)

Sharon Bidwell was born in London on New Year’s Eve. The first short story she submitted — Silver Apples of the Moon— was accepted by Roadworks Magazine. The editor announced her as ‘a writer who is going places’ and described the story as having ‘both a Sci-fi and horror element,’ and being ‘strong on characterisation, and quite literary, in terms of style.’  With a repertoire of twisted tales and a love of cross-genre writing, it surprised everyone (including herself) when she branched out into erotic romance. These works have been critically acclaimed and often described as ‘deeply passionate’. Sharon’s worlds are vivid, unexpected and sometimes intensely magical. She is the author of the best-selling gay romances ‘Snow Angel‘ and the sequel ‘Angel Heart’. Sharon writes whatever her warped mind can come up with. Although her longer works to date mostly involve a variety of wonderful men finding true love…or at least some loving, she’s quite capable of writing something darker, grittier, and even outright twisted.

Sharon Bidwell (author, A Fistful of Death)
Jonathan Cooper (author, Horizons of Deceit)

Jonathan Cooper was born in Wolverhampton in 1981. He started his career in theatre, writing plays from the Birmingham REP and the King’s Head in Islington. He has written extensively on the web on film, TV, video games and other assorted geekery, including a stint producing reviews and opinion for Mirror.co.uk. He has written and produced two short films with another two in production and has had short stories published internationally – he is also, according to the BBC – one of the top 200 comedy writers in the UK. Horizons of Deceit is his first full-length science fiction piece, and he remains bizarrely proud of the day Steven Moffat threatened to set his eagles on him.

Adam Burn has been drawing from an early age, and has been working with digital art for at least seven of them. He is a freelance artist who has worked for Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games. He was, most recently, the Senior 2D Artist for Taitale Studios on their forthcoming MMORTS game, Novus Aeterno. Steampunk is a new genre for him, but one he’s finding his way around quickly, and he is responsible for the covers of series two, as well as the revamp of the Space: 1889 & Beyondlogo.

Adam Burn, cover designer

Exclusive: Conspiracy of Silence (prologue)

1.

“AETHER PROPELLOR SECURED and ventral mast shipped, sir.”

“Very good, Mister Barry.” Lieutenant George Bedford, acting captain of HMAS Sovereign, the most modern aether battleship in the Royal Navy, took a quick scan of the bridge instruments and engine room repeaters before turning back to the young sub-lieutenant. “At what would you estimate our drop, Mister Barry?”

Barry had only worn the single thick stripe of a sub-lieutenant for eight months and Bedford hadn’t known him as a midshipman. The youngster had a good level head on his shoulders, Bedford had learned that much about him several weeks earlier when the two of them had dropped half a dozen Saltators—giant lunar red ants—with revolver fire when the monsters had boiled unexpectedly out of the hatch of a cutter on the docking bay. His technical skills were another matter, but they were coming along.

Barry squinted through the lens of the horizontal inclinometer, aimed out the bridge’s starboard observation blister, consulted his pocket watch, waited ten seconds and took a second reading through the lens. He paused, doing the calculation in his head.

“I make the drop fifty-five fathoms per second, sir.”

Bedford nodded; he made it nearly the same. Fifty-five fathoms a second, a descent rate of almost four miles a minute, was a bit steep and on this trajectory would put them down in the North Atlantic instead of the English Channel, as well as scorch the lower hull. “Trimsman, let’s have fifteen percent buoyancy on the lifters.”

After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

“Fifteen percent buoyancy, aye, sir,” the petty officer answered and went to work on his forest of levers, each controlling the angle of one of the liftwood  louvers which covered much of Sovereign’s lower hull.

“Mister Barry, my compliments to Lieutenant Boswell and he may light the coal boilers at his discretion.”

“Sir.”

They wouldn’t have enough atmospheric oxygen for the boilers for another ten minutes or so, but Boswell, the chief engineer, knew that well enough. The sun was still visible above the curvature of the Earth and would remain so all the way down through cloud-free skies. Although it was not yet day in Southern England, the eastern sky would already be pink and the sun would rise full up in the hour their descent from orbit would take, racing as they were toward the dawn. The solar boilers would do until Boswell put the black gang to work, would probably suffice until the last ten minutes of the flight, when they would penetrate the near-permanent cloud and smoke cover over Greater London. No solar boiler yet made would work down under that grey-brown shroud.

Bedford took another look at the bridge, its gleaming brass instruments and polished mahogany panelling, and he sighed. In an hour, a bit more, Sovereign would be down and secure at Chatham Dockyard and his temporary command would end. There was no chance for a simple lieutenant with eight years seniority to land a permanent command such as this—the choicest command in the fleet, coveted by officers with two more stripes on their cuffs and with the all-important political backing and social standing he lacked. No, he would be reassigned. In the past he had always looked forward to a new assignment, but not this time. After commanding Sovereign, however briefly, no other assignment had the capacity to stir his blood. Damn, she was a fine ship!

More than that, she held memories. Were it not for his assignment to HMAS Sovereign, he would never have met and befriended Nathanial Stone, and would not now be delivering him to the police for trial as a traitor and saboteur. He would never have met Cyrus Grant, one of the greatest scientific minds of the age, now reduced to confusion and madness by their experiences on Luna. Most importantly, he would never have met Grant’s niece, Annabelle Somerset.

Annabelle…

2.

NATHANIAL WATCHED AS the line of Russian former captives was led to the steam omnibus waiting at dockside. The irony of their situation and his washed over him like a cold wave. Former enemies of Britain, they, along with British personnel, had been captured by the alien Drobates on Luna, and all had been rescued by Bedford’s daring raid, leading fewer than a dozen Royal marines and naval ratings. Now the Russians would be released, amidst much public fanfare, to the custody of the Russian ambassador, who would in turn express the heartfelt gratitude of the Tsar.

In the subsequent fighting which had nearly cost all of them their lives, the Russians had done nothing to help while Nathanial, with a captured Drobate electric rifle, had held a long, dim tunnel against an alien horde, and had done so nearly alone and with little expectation he would escape with his life. Now British soldiers helped the Russians into the steam omnibus, showed them every courtesy, while a quartet of hard-eyed constables marched purposely toward Nathanial, obviously intent on taking custody of him from the two Royal Marines who guarded him.

Nathanial had at least expected to be met by some sort of government official, have the charges explained. Instead a black police four-wheeler loomed behind the constables. Were they really simply going to pack him up and cart him off to prison with no further ado?

Nathanial looked for any sign of his friends. Captain Folkard, who had relieved himself of command of Sovereign after the disastrous events on Luna had played themselves out, was nowhere to be seen on the dock, but Nathanial spied Annabelle making her way to him on the arm of Lieutenant Bedford, both of them limping. Bedford had suffered a nasty sprain of his ankle on Luna and Annabelle… Months earlier Annabelle had lost her right leg above the knee and now wore a mechanical limb designed by Nathanial and built using Drobate technology over the course of the last few weeks. It seemed to serve her well, the only bright spot in this uniformly bleak scene.

“Is this Stone?” the leading constable asked.

“Of course it is,” Private Jones answered, bristling slightly. “And what of it, then?”

“It’s all right, Private,” Nathanial said. “It is clear enough they are here for me. If you gentlemen would be so good as to give me a moment to take my leave of my friends, I would appreciate it.” He addressed this last to the leading constable.

Instead the man gestured to his assistants. “Seize him and put him in the van.”

“No! Just a moment, please!” Nathanial entreated but to no avail.

Two constables pinned his arms to his side and pulled him toward the black carriage. A few yards away Annabelle cried out and broke free of Bedford, reached out to him. The leading constable made as if to stop her but Jones’s rifle was suddenly in his hands at high port.

“Touch the lady, friend, and you’ll be chokin’ on your teeth,” Jones growled and the constable took a step back.

“Nathanial,” Annabelle said and thrust something round, flat, and metallic into his hand, “take this and remember—never lose hope.”

The constables pulled him away and he saw George Bedford comforting Annabelle as the doors on the back of the van closed and plunged him into darkness. He looked at his hand and saw a small gold watch, gleaming dully in the faint light which entered through the overhead ventilator. He recognised it as the pocket watch her father had given her—which contained on its inside a daguerreotype of her deceased parents; the only thing she retained from that former life.

Never lose hope.

 

Space: 1889 & Beyond – Series One Finale!

This is it, folks, after eight months in the aether, Nathanial and Annabelle are heading back to Earth. Only they have one more stop to make en route – the place from which their adventures began. Luna!

Series one of Untreed Reads’ best-selling steampunk series, Space: 1889 & Beyond, reaches its exciting conclusion this month with the release of Dark Side of Luna. The epic finale brings together Space: 1889 creator Frank Chadwick and relative newcomer JT Wilson (author of well-received novel Cemetery Drive).

Here we talk with JT about his interest in steampunk…

What interested you in Space: 1889 & Beyond in the first place?

Initially, the same thing that attracted Frank to developing the series in the first place: I saw the title and it made me smile. Immediately it creates an image in your head of what the series is going to read like, as all good titles should. I’m afraid I’m a sucker for a good title and for puns, hence the amount of Robert Rankin and Jasper Fforde I’ve picked up.

A title, though, will only get you so far: the intrigue of attempting a steampunk novel was one of the things that motivated me to pick up the project. Steampunk, for me, combines two things that I’m interested in: now-antiquated modes of etiquette and chivalry is one part; a quirkily retro take on futurism is the other. I have an odd relationship with futurism: for example, as a musician I like playing synthesizers but I think that the Moog or the VCS3 (which is basically a tuned oscilloscope) are more aesthetically attractive than the latest Roland or Yamaha. In attempting to envision the modern day from the point of view of the Victorians, steampunk has a similar, slightly ramshackle, take on technology, with the added benefit of hindsight. Faced with the choice of the beautiful flying ship of Space: 1889 & Beyond or the sterile rockets of NASA (in a hypothetical situation where they both work perfectly of course), who wouldn’t choose the former? Having said this, I’m not sure how an e-book would work in a steampunk universe. Perhaps one would wind a scroll around a pocket watch or a handmirror, akin to a pianola.

What difficulties did you face in converting a Role-playing Game scenario into a fully-fledged prose novella?

Converting an RPG into a prose novel is the equivalent, I think, of playing all the parts that would normally be covered in an RPG and rolling less dice. What was trickier, for me, was walking around someone else’s universe. In my previous writing, I’ve been largely sending my characters around slightly distorted versions of the world we live in (or at least, the world I live in, your mileage may vary) and/or universes I’ve made up. In S:1889 the ‘rules’- of physics, politics, whatever- already existed. Not being from a military, naval or scientific background, learning and operating within the rules of this universe served as more of (what my day job would call) ‘a development opportunity’ for me than the fact that the universe was created as an RPG. That’s why I was glad to have the co-writing skills of Frank Chadwick, who is hugely knowledgeable about the combat forces and, obviously, about the Space:1889 universe.

Who are your favourite characters?

I’m always a sucker for feisty, impulsive female characters so it goes without saying that Annabelle Somerset was a delight to write. Of the characters indigenous to ‘The Dark Side of Luna’, I’m fond of Howard Phillips, a scientist on Luna, and Ross McKittrick, who’s Nathanial’s warden at the start of the book. Although they’re not necessarily ‘a character’, I like both the Drobates and the Saltators, both new to the series here.

Your three favourite moments in Dark Side of Luna are…?

Difficult to simultaneously answer this question and avoid spoiling the book. In terms as vague as possible: Annabelle’s early discussion with Bedford; the entry by our heroes into the City of Light and Science; the late-night conversation between Nathanial and a long-lost ally.

What’s coming next from you?

I’m currently working on two novels, the former of which is the follow-up to my 2010 novel Cemetery Drive and which should, hopefully, be out this year. I’m working on a few things here and there in addition, although nothing concrete enough to confirm here. Plus I imagine that I’ll be booed out of community centres across the West Midlands in my capacity as pro-wrestling manager and diabolical evangelical preacher Reverend Lex.

And now an exclusive extract from Dark Side of Luna

A Drobate (The 'moon men' of myth.)Further down the River of Life, Folkard had identified a clue. Scattered on the bank of the river were a number of shavings from branches, together with uncoiled rope which lay discarded near a bush. A nearby small stand of tall, slender mushroom-like trees had been decreased in number by four, judging from the stumps and sign of their trunks dragged across the loose shale. The leathery branches and fronds had clearly been trimmed from them and by the shore the group found the charred remains of some papers apparently torn from a notebook. Those which could still be deciphered showed a few sketches against which were some hurried notes.

“This writing is scarcely legible,” said Folkard.

“Yet certainly it is Grant’s,” said Stone, contemplating the burnt documents. “During our work together he would often pause and scribble notes like this on the blackboard. These particular notes do not illuminate his destination, but his intentions are clear. He meant to build himself a raft, which I can only presume he succeeded in doing. He’s a resourceful fellow, it has to be said. This at least serves as confirmation that our navigation thus far is accurate. He must have attempted to cover his tracks by burning his papers.”

“Why burn them?” Folkard asked. “Why not just throw them in the river?”

“Possibly the party from which he desired to hide his intentions was down-river,” Stone said. “Perhaps there are more remains which might serve as a clue as to where he was heading.”

As he scouted around the group to search for further clues, Folkard halted abruptly. His early sensation of being watched now was backed by solid evidence: footprints differing from those of the group. They seemed fairly fresh and pointed unusually outwards from each other, which, it could be presumed, gave the walker a bent gait, clearly unlike that of anyone in the party. Someone else had been here, and recently.

“Bad things are coming,” muttered Seaman Henry in a pessimistic tone.

“I would have to agree, Captain,” said Stone, looking from Henry to Folkard. “Whoever these others are, Grant clearly considered them dangerous.”

Folkard nodded. “Still, there is little choice, men. Sooner or later we will have to confront these men―if they are men―and I would rather we meet them on our terms than theirs.”

“Can we really entertain even the possibility that they are men, Captain?” Stone asked. “I mean―God―those footprints!”

“Highly possible, Professor Stone. Who knows what sort of torturous exercises the Russkies subject their soldiers to? In any case, whether man or alien, they mean us no good or they would have shown themselves—if not to us, to the research station personnel. So everyone draw your weapons and when we move we will spread out, so if someone does fall upon us, some at least will be free of the melee and able to give supporting fire.”

“Permission to speak, sir?” asked Henry, somewhat surprisingly. When Folkard gave his consent, Henry continued. “Sir, permission to guard Miss Somerset if she stays behind? Likely to be conflict in other group. Can’t have a lady abducted.”

“Ah, and you’re suggesting that she may need someone to fight for her, Henry?”

Henry merely nodded in reply.

“Very chivalrous, Mister Henry,” said Miss Somerset.

“Yes, I do rather agree with you, Henry,” said Folkard. “Excellent thinking. I suspect the danger will be greatest for the forward party so I shall lead. McKittrick, Burroughs, you shall accompany me. Professor Stone, you as well, if you please.”

“Perhaps I might also be of assistance, Captain Folkard?” offered Phillips. “I am not yet too old for adventuring and I may have some insight that could be useful. That is, if you are amenable to the input of a civilian?”

“Very well and thank you. Miss Somerset, Seaman Henry, Doctor Staples, I would like you in the centre of the party. Chief Charles, you take Gibbs and O’Hara and form the rearguard.  You’re the senior petty officer here, so if something happens to me, you’re in command, and no backtalk from any of these civilians, no matter how many doctorates they hold. Understood?”

“Aye-aye, sir.”

“K’chuk,” Folkard continued, “I would be obliged if you and your men went in the centre, with Miss Somerset, to guard her and Doctor Staples in the event of an attack.”

The Selenites looked among themselves with an air of reluctance. They were communicating telepathically, as ever; it did seem, however, that K’chuk was displaying more of a desire for combat than his men. “Selenites fight if needed,” K’chuk eventually replied.

“Very well. Now let’s move out, but proceed with extreme caution.”

They walked for several hours along the river. It could not be said to be silent, as the sound of the water was always present, contained, amplified, and distorted by the narrow covered canyon through which it ran, now murmuring, now gurgling, now roaring as it dropped over a low falls or broke into foamy waves among the rocks of a rapids. But the river’s voice was so omnipresent that after a while it seemed almost to dwindle into half-heard background noise.

Something about the skeleton, the strange footprints, the burnt remnants of cryptic notes, and this seemingly-endless river combined to silence their tongues as well. None of them spoke until Stone raised his hand and cried out.

“Hallo! What’s that up ahead?”

Folkard held his hand up and the column halted. He studied the small, dark feature on the ground Stone had seen, perhaps a quarter of a mile on, studied it with eyes used to picking out the single flickering white light of a cutter from a background of a thousand stars.

“Bodies,” he said at last. “Two of them, I’d say, although we’ll have to get closer to be certain. Charles, you stay here with the rearguard and the main body. Find yourself some cover and stay put, no matter what happens, until I give you the all-clear and wave you forward. Clear?”

“Aye aye, Sir.”

“Good man. I’ll take the advanced party on ahead and see what’s what. Everyone on your toes.” Folkard cocked the hammer on his Enfield to emphasize the point.

As the captain and the four others of the advanced party drew near their objective, it became all too apparent whose bodies had been piled in such a way, and the sight—to say nothing of the stench—were enough that men with weaker constitutions would have run screaming for the surface.

“I knew those men. Captain, say it isn’t so!” McKittrick appealed to his captain, who was knelt by the bodies.

“I’m afraid it very much is so, gentlemen,” Folkard said grimly. “Ensign Challoner and Able Seaman Clements, late of Sovereign.”

“Surely this is impossible. Those men were taken months ago!” gasped Stone. “Yet these corpses are fresh. Why, they’re barely three hours dead!”

“But why keep a man alive for seven months, only to then kill him?” mused the young and nervous-looking Burroughs.

Folkard rose to his feet only to see the fresh horror that had materialised in a circle around them, seeming to rise from the sandy ground.

Ambushed!

“This is why,” Folkard murmured, raising his revolver, “you kill them to lay a trap.” He fired the weapon, and one of the creatures spun backwards, blood and grey fluid spurting from its head. Before he could get off a second shot they were on him and knocked the revolver from his hand.

Cover art by Andy Frankham-AllenIt’s been almost a month since Nathanial and Annabelle rejoined HMAS Sovereign. For Annabelle it’s been a journey of uncertainty; she had expected a happy reunion with George Bedford, first officer of the flagship of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, but instead he’s been distant. She fears it has something to do with her newfound disability. For Nathanial, however, the journey has been uneventful since he’s spent the entire time locked in the brig under the cloud of treason.

Things change abruptly when Sovereign is ordered to return to Luna, and retrieve Doctor Cyrus Grant, who has been sending increasingly confusing heliograph messages back to Earth. There is an air of uncertainty in Otterbein Base, and concern over Grant’s wellbeing. Once again he’s gone missing, turning his back on the Selenites and the British research team stationed there – leaving with creatures who are neither human nor Selenite.

A search and rescue mission is soon underway, taking our heroes deeper inside Luna than ever before. There they will discover the mysteries of the Drobates, and their amazing City of Light and Science. Annabelle is concerned that her uncle will no longer accept her, and Bedford is concerned that being on Luna once again will have adverse effects on his captain, but these things are the least of their worries. Grant is close to uncovering the answers to an age-old secret, but he is not the only one who seeks this knowledge. A creature stalks the dark underworld of Luna, a creature once human, and quite insane.

Dark Side of Luna is available from all good e-book stockist, including direct from Untreed Reads.

Space: 1889 & Beyond will return later in the year, when the series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, and property owner, Frank Chadwick, join forces for an explosive series two première… Conspiracy of Silence!

Dark Side of Luna © 2012 JT Wilson & Frank Chadwick and Untreed Reads Publishing.

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

All Rights Reserved.

Frank Chadwick returns to Mars!

We are very pleased to announce a Red Letter day in the history of Space: 1889. Almost twenty-five years ago Frank Chadwick, with the Game Designers Workshop, created the Role Playing Game, and now, for the first time since the early 1990s, Frank Chadwick returns to universe he created with the release of his first novel for the property; A Prince of Mars, book #5 in the best-selling series, Space: 1889 & Beyond.

Frank is a guest over at The Traveller’s Steampunk Blog, where he talks with the Traveller in-depth about Space: 1889. Here is an excerpt;

Traveller: How many series of Space: 1889 & Beyond are planned?

Frank: Several. Sorry I can’t be more specific but much depends on how well these first several series are received. I can tell you that the first series has been well enough received that the second series is already being written, and it will be expanded in word count to about half again the length of series one. There are certainly more series after that in planning, but we’ll see.

One of the best things about Space: 1889 & Beyond is the number of really good writers Andy has signed up to pen entries in the series.  If we can keep getting outstanding writers as our authors, I’d be happy for it to go through five or six seasons at least.

Traveller: Is there any place in the Space: 1889 Solar System you are particular proud of?

Frank: Mars, absolutely. Mars is my favourite setting, and I think it shows. The board game which is the prequel to Space: 1889 is Sky Galleons of Mars, and the interplay between Mars and Earth is central to the unique aspects of the Space: 1889 universe. I was particularly happy that the story I was tapped for in the first series of Space: 1889 & Beyond was set on Mars. It not only gave me a chance to revisit my favourite planet from this universe, but also elaborate on a few themes and have a bit of fun with the background. A Prince of Mars is, in many ways, a story of scales falling from European eyes.

Traveller: How does Space: 1889 & Beyond tie in? Is the material in there considered canon for the RPG?

Frank: Yes it is. Some eyebrows have been raised concerning shipboard gravity on HMAS Sovereign, but as the first series hints, there is more to it than meets the eye, and the second series will reveal the secret behind it, which will also answer one of the burning questions about the worlds of Space: 1889 which has been out there since the first publication of the book. So Space: 1889 & Beyond will actually explain part of the canon which was never explained before.

Read the full interview here.

  Ɣ

A Prince of Mars excerpt;

Kak’hamish felt his stomach turn cold at these words. For as long as people remembered, naughty children had been threatened with visitations by the Old Ones, the ghosts of the mighty and terrible architects of the canals who screamed from beyond the grave for vengeance against those who had allowed their work to crumble. But these were grown men speaking as if the Old Ones were real, had substance in this world, and could walk among men. And what did the priest mean by tasted the eyes?

They came to the lowest level of the cargo hold, unevenly lit by swaying lanterns which cast monstrous, creeping shadows across the uneven walls. The wind blew from the open hatchway which led to the loading platform, beyond which loomed the yawning blackness of the night sky. In the open space at the centre of the hold the servant of the priests laboured, pulling the sarcophagi from their wicker protective cases. Something in the way the servant touched the sarcophagi, reluctant with both revulsion and fear, made Kak’hamish shudder.

“Those two,” the head priest commanded, pointing at two of the sarcophagi, “stand them upright. Let the unbelievers confront the Worm face to face, eye to eye.”

“Shistomo will join us soon enough,” Jed-An protested. “Will you at least wait for your superior’s orders?”

“No! If he orders the sacrifice, the Old Ones will love him, not me. If he forbids it, the Old Ones, in their slumbers, will wonder why I did not act when I could, will ask me this when we meet, and what will I say to them? That I waited? That I took careful counsel of a worldly prince? Stay and watch this miracle or, if you have no stomach for it, go now.”

Jed-An turned wordlessly and left, followed by four of the judges who Kak’hamish recognised as the four bodyguards from the caravan. The sixth black-clad figure, the stooped and shuffling translator, lingered, and his eyes glowed with anticipation.

“I . . . I would like to see the miracle, Revered One,” he said.

“Watch the prisoners while we prepare the Old Ones,” the head priest snapped and then summoned the other priests with a gesture.

The servant backed hastily away from the sarcophagi as the four priests moved to them, two priests for each sarcophagus. They carefully broke the clay seals to either side and then ran their knives down the seams between the lid and body of the containers. About half-way down, Kak’hamish heard a sigh of air, realised they were cutting a wax seal on the containers, and within moments he caught a scent of rotting corruption and immediately vomited, as did the translator behind him. Nathanial, still lying senseless on the deck where the priests had dropped him, now stirred, rolled over on his side, and vomited as well.

Kak’hamish had crawled through sewers, through the rotting garbage and excrement of ten thousand people, had almost passed out and died from the stench and lack of oxygen.  He had seen and smelled a hundred bodies thrown over a city wall and left to rot in the sunlight, had hidden under them for days while they swelled taught like inflated bladders, then split and spilled their vile fluids over him. He had experienced all that and even worse, but none of it approached this smell.

Kak’hamish took a step back away from the sarcophagus, but stopped when he felt the point of a knife in the small of his back.

“You’d leave your British friend to his fate? Shame on you!” the translator hissed in his ear, and pricked him again with the point of his blade. The head priest turned, saw the situation, and nodded.

“You watch the English,” the priest said to his own servant, who crossed the hold to stand over Nathanial’s prone figure, staying as far away from the sarcophagi as he could.

The priests carefully lifted the lids of the sarcophagi and moved them to the side, and Kak’hamish found himself staring straight at the empty eye sockets of a blackened and rotting corpse, the flesh dripping and in places sliding off the bones. The odour became almost overpowering, but it was more than just rotting flesh, and as he stared he realised the eye sockets were not completely empty, that something moved inside.

“The vessel is consumed,” the head priest said.

“The vessel is consumed,” the others chanted in unison.

“The Old One hungers,” he said.

“The Old One hungers.”

“Come forth and live,” the priest said, and held his hands up, as if in supplication, in front of the corpse’s face.

“Come forth and live.”

“Come forth and feed!”

“Come forth and feed!”

Ɣ

Barely making it to Mars in their crippled aether cutter, Nathanial and Annabelle crash in the desolate Martian wastes. A disfigured Martian with a mysterious past helps them survive in the desert, but when they are rescued by a passing caravan their troubles may only have started.

Raids by steppe nomads and flying skrill riders are the most obvious dangers, but simmering resentment against Earth humans, and intricate plots to overthrow the British colony, lurk everywhere just beneath the surface.

Apparent friends become enemies, unexpected allies appear from unlikely sources, and the shadowy past of their Martian guardian collides with the sinister plans of the murderous head of the dreaded Martian Cult of the Worm…

A Prince of Mars is now available from the following e-stores;

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

Amazon.com (Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon UK)

Scribd

DriveThruFiction.com

OmniLit.com

Barnes and Noble

Apple iBookstore (32 countries)

Lightning Source (a distributor, primarily North America)

… and will soon be available in every other e-book stockists out there.

A Prince of Mars © 2012 Frank Chadwick and Untreed Reads Publishing.

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

All Rights Reserved.

Under the Covers with The Comic Guru

First of all, a little bit of Space: 1889 & Beyond news. Once again, the series dominates the Top Ten Best-Sellers List on Untreed Reads Store; that makes five months in a row now. And, as a result, all four titles can now be bought direct from Untreed Reads with a 25% discount throughout February. The perfect time to introduce your friends to this smash hit steampunk series!

Now for something really cool! I was recently interviewed by the Comic Guru himself, Kristian Barry, for his ongoing YouTube vlog. For those of you who do not know me beyond my writing, this will be a  nice little insight in to the person I am – the pure cheek of me! Check the interview out below, and please feel free to share it around.

All-New, All-Official Website Launched.

And finally it’s happened. Space: 1889 & Beyond has an official website!

Within the ‘portal to all things Space: 1889’ you will find blurbs and extracts (never released beyond the books) for every book in the Space: 1889 & Beyond series, plus character biographies, detailed information on the inner planets, interviews with the creative team behind the series, background information on the Space: 1889 property, exclusive artwork… and much much more coming soon!

Pop by The Space: 1889 Portal and don’t forget to sign the guestbook.

Steampunk Chronicles Awards

Not much to report in the worlds of Space: 1889 & Beyond, The Garden or The Scattered Earth. So, instead, allow me to direct you to the forthcoming Steampunk Chronicles’ Readers’ Choice Awards. The doors for nominations are opened on January 20th, and, naturally enough, I would love your votes for any of the Space: 1889 & Beyond stories. It doesn’t have to be mine, it can be either McAbee’s Vandals on Venus or Michalowski’s The Ghosts of Mercury. Alas the recent book doesn’t count, since it wasn’t released in 2011. I’ve no idea what other categories are going to appear, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of opportunity to show your support for Space: 1889 & Beyond.

And, as a thank you, here’s a very rough version of the prologue from my forthcoming Shattered Earth novel, Cast From the Heavens.

Ω

Days had passed since Hefina ferch Gwynfor had left Coeden, but she was determined to succeed. She gripped the harness that was tightened to her adar cluk’gwin, and surveyed the land far below.  Finally the trees had given way to a moor of grass and rock, empty of people, as was to be expected. The thraeeg gok was said to live in these lands, although to the best of her knowledge, no one had laid eyes on such a dragon. Hefina would not have been surprised if it was a rumour started by the Lords of Tir themselves, a deterrent for the criminals sent to Coeden and the other small villages of Claunoboble. The moors were close to the seas that separated Claunoboble and Deegonoboble, the two land masses that made up the world of Avunar, and it would serve the Lords well to keep the criminals as far from the seas as possible. Fearful of the wrath of the thraeeg gok, they would remain in the villages, no longer a concern of the Lords. And a continued strain on the land of Claunoboble.

Cover Mock-Up

Hefina sighed, all her sadness erupting in one spurt of air. Her own people had been driven to the trees a long time ago, the only way to remain safe from the madness that reigned on the land below. That was why her village was now called Coeden, the village of trees. The land below, filled to bursting with criminals expelled from Deegonoboble, no longer had a name, at least as far as Hefina was concerned. It did not deserve one.

Her reverie was disturbed by an unusual sight miles below. She spoke to her adar cluk’gwin.

“See that?”

The adar cluk titled its head and its red eyes blinked.

“Take me to it.”

Immediately the great bird darted to the moor below. Hefina let out a whoop of joy as the wind blasted her hair back. This was real freedom. Away from the land.

The adar cluk’gwin landed gently, its giant talons gripping the grass. Hefina patted its coarse feathers, and dismounted. “Keep watch,” she said. She did not believe in the rumour, but she was no fool. If the thraeeg gok really did live on the moor then she would have to take to the air quickly. As she approached the object that had caught her attention, Hefina idly wondered if her adar cluk would be a quicker flyer than the thraeeg gok.

The object looked like a tree, only this one seemed to be made partly of metal and glass.  It was thicker than any tree she had seen before, at least a hundred spans in diameter, and fifty in length.  She walked the length of it, careful not to step to close. The grass around the fallen tree was scorched, burned by a great fire. Perhaps the thraeeg gok had brought it here? Hefina knew the thraeeg gok was supposed to breath fire.

She stopped.

At the top the tree was hollow. A piece of metal, almost gold in colour, hung from the top of the tree. It was the same size as the hole, as if it was some kind of door.

Hefina stepped closer, her curiosity overriding her sense. She pulled back quickly, glanced around, then stepped ever closer.

Yes, she had seen true.

Covered in metal shaped to fit its body, was a man.

Hefina had never seen the like. But she did know her beibal.

She looked up to the skies, and what existed beyond.

This tree had come from the Heavens, and the person inside was not a man at all. He was a god.