Tag Archives: K. G. McAbee

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.

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Abattoir in the Aether – Out Now!

Today is the day! The brand new Space: 1889 & Beyond adventure is out; Abattoir in the Aether by L. Joseph Shosty.

L. Joseph Shosty

From Beaumont, Texas, where he lives with his wife and son, Shosty is the author of nearly fifty short stories, as well as numerous essays, articles, book reviews, and poems.  A novel, Sign of the Hanged Man, was serialised on the web in 2000 and 2001, and his story collection, Hoodwinks on a Crumbling Fence, was published in 2000.  His second novel, a mainstream work titled The Return of Baldheaded Johnson, has recently been completed.

Interview

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

LJS: It’s hard to explain without a little history first.  I came to storytelling mostly through roleplaying games.  I played my first game of Red Box D&D in second grade.  By third grade I was running a campaign.  That same year I became a voracious reader, and in doing so I discovered comic books.  By early fourth grade I received TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes RPG, which had very basic rules, including a clear and detailed reasoning behind each power level.  With this system I got a crash course in creating characters from the ground up, as it gave me hard numbers upon which to hang strengths and weaknesses, a mathematically quantifiable way of comparing them.  Using a rough numerical concept of my own devising, I began creating my own superheroes and writing stories in my head as a way of falling asleep at night.

By junior high, I knew I wanted to write for a living.  My earliest dream was to do a tie-in for TSR, especially their Forgotten Realms line.  Jeff Grubb, Douglas Niles, and R.A. Salvatore were likes gods to me as a teen.  I wanted to be like them and write a fantasy trilogy of my own.  That dream ended when Wizards of the Coast bought the company, but I’ve always harbored a desire to do a tie-in for some franchise.

When I was approached to do the Space: 1889 book, I jumped at it.  I’d seen a copy of the RPG when I was a teenager.  I hadn’t quite understood it at the time, but I’d thought the idea was intriguing.  Years passed, and I independently cultivated a love of Victorian fiction, specifically the scientific romances.  Seeing the gaming system again, I better understood what Frank Chadwick had done, and was thrilled.  It’s a nod to the aforementioned romances, and, believe it or not, it finally gave me an answer to a question I’d been asking for about two years:  what the hell is steampunk?  I seriously didn’t know, nor did I know that I’d been reading its predecessor in Victorian fiction.  Now, I’m in love with both the social and literary movements, and it certainly suits my sensibilities better than writing about Dragonborn the Oathsworn mowing down orcs by the busload.

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

LJS: None.  Stocking a dungeon with monsters and NPCs is all about character, plot, and pacing.  I wrote Abattoir in the Aether like I write adventure modules for one of my campaigns.  The setting comes first, then come the maps, and then I stock each room with NPCs, combat scenarios, hidden rooms, treasure, etc.  The only difference here was that I had to use pre-generated characters, if you will, in Nathanial and Annabelle.  They were my PCs, and I had to run them through the adventure rather than have players do it for me.  There was nothing at all difficult in adapting the scenario in prose form.  The problem was in “playing” the two characters correctly.  That was tough, but I’ll save that story for another day.

AFA: Who are you favourite characters?

LJS: Dr. Matthew Holmes is merely a sketch of my actual physician, Dr. Mike Holmes.  I enjoy his company so much, it’s almost exciting to get sick so I have an opportunity to talk with him.  A visit to his office is usually something like, “Well, chief, you have tuberculosis.  We’ll want to keep an eye on that.  So, did I ever tell you about the time I treated a geologist friend of mine, and he said…?”  And the next thing I know, I’m hearing about The Burgess Shale Formation, and I’m actually interested in hearing about it.  Wonderful guy, and I’m afraid I didn’t really have the space to do him justice.

I also love Jasperse, the earnest ex-soldier who came to Peregrine Station to do the sweeping up, only to end up in a role as a security man.  I modeled him partially in the rough-and-tumble mold of Danny and Peachy from The Man Who Would Be King and added something of my father-in-law in for good measure.  Like Kipling’s characters, he’s an adventurer himself, only on a smaller scale.  He’s been everywhere and done everything.  Going out into the aether is the next logical step in his long life.  No job is too small or too dirty for him, yet he has dignity and pride in what he does.  He’s honest enough, and he speaks plainly, but he’s got a dangerous curiosity to him that leads him into some trouble.

AFA: Your three favourite moments in Abattoir in the Aether are…?

LJS: There’s an old saying among writers:  murder your darlings.  And it’s true that the best things you write often end up getting cut because they simply don’t fit.  In this case, I had enough material to possibly fill a trilogy of books but only had time and space (and a contract) to write one.  In the end it came down to deciding what parts of the story wanted to be told and what parts needed to be told.

Of my favorite things cut from the novel, the first is Nathanial discovering a chess board and moving a piece.  When he comes back later, he sees that someone has moved a piece on the opposing side. The game progresses through several chapters.  Being that his personal guard, Jasperse, is an avid chess fan, he believes it’s him, but later, Nathaniel makes a rather chilling discovery:  the phantom that is haunting Peregrine Station has been moving the pieces, which was such a clever parallel that I almost left it in.

Basically anything about Nathaniel and his mates Dr. Holmes, Fullbright, Provost, and Jasperse that was cut makes the list, especially the tale Holmes spins of an imaginary grouse hunt where he makes each of them characters.  It was such a sweet ode to friendship that I’d hoped to share with my close friends, but it never saw any eyes but mine.

Many parts with Annabelle faced the axe, much to my despair, her visit to the greenhouses chief among them, which I removed when I ceased having Uriah Provost as a potential suitor.

I hope this answer doesn’t confuse readers or make anyone believe that I don’t enjoy what I’ve written.  Quite the contrary, but I felt an honest answer was in order.

AFA: What’s coming next from you?

LJS: Ha!  Get comfy, and I’ll tell you.  First up, I pitch a television pilot to a production company in January.  Big excitement there, but I’m afraid I can’t provide too much on information on that just yet.

I’m also trying to get my comic book company up and running.  I’m partnering with several friends of mine to write scripts and brainstorm characters, design a website, and learn the ropes of digital comics.  A superhero RPG is in the works to support it.

As we speak I’m in edits on Ataraxia and Aponia, a mainstream (non-genre) novel I wrote earlier this year (2011) about a science fiction writer and Epicurean writing his first major work.  If it finds an agent by the end of 2012, I’ll be happy.  Speaking of novels, I’m also kicking around the possibility of working directly with fellow Space: 1889 author, K. G. McAbee, on a mystery novel.  I love her and consider her my mentor, but we’ve never written anything together.  That should be a heckuva journey, as our personalities and approaches to the craft are about as different as night and day.

As for what’s on its way, I’m slated to appear in a number of magazines and anthologies, which you can track on my website, http://themadaccount.blogspot.com.  Untreed Reads will also be publishing one of my short stories, “One of Us, Old Boy”.  I’m especially excited about that, as I consider it to be one of the best stories I’ve ever written.  Busy, busy, busy!

Exciting stuff indeed! So, to a brand new excerpt from Abattoir in the Aether

The cutters were small ships, smaller even than Esmeralda, equipped for crews of five, though as many as ten or even twenty could be housed comfortably for short journeys. Such flyers were not long-range vessels, which left Nathanial wondering where they were headed. Unless he missed his guess, they were deep in the aether, with no planets for days or even weeks. A larger ship, perhaps, like Sovereign, could be patrolling the aether, yet, as he’d noted earlier, these men were not Royal Navy. And what was this foolish business about restricted space?

A storeroom was cleared and turned into a makeshift prison cell, with two armed guards posted outside. Nathanial sat on the floor, scratching an itch on the back of his head. Annabelle paced the tiny bit of floor available to her. She was dressed much the same as she had been when Nathanial had last seen her, but he knew from experience that she had her derringer and knife secreted in places beneath her skirts that would be improper for a man to search. The gunshot he had heard earlier had come from one of the men sent to fetch her. She had leapt on his back suddenly, and the man had squeezed off a shot before the others, the big Irishman included, had wrestled her to the ground.

Now she looked more like a caged animal. Gone was the generosity and industry he had witnessed in their journey from Mercury. Truly, the old Annabelle had returned, and, he had to confess, much of his old vigour was returning as well. The veil of doom was lifting from his shoulders just as the twin stones of anxiety and boredom were crashing down on her, as they often did when she had no external incidences to engage her.

“Where do you think they’re taking us?” she asked for the eighth time.

“We won’t know until we get there,” he said.

Annabelle clearly did not like this response. “What if they decide to kill us?”

“They could have done that already. They have a specific destination in mind, and I, for one, am curious to see what it may be.”

“Even under arrest?”

Nathanial shrugged. Unless they had fallen into the hands of the Germans or the Russians, he was certain he could talk his way out of their predicament. His importance to the interplanetary efforts would be currency enough to buy his and Annabelle’s freedom, regardless of what phantom law they might have inadvertently broken. If they had broken any at all. Briefly, he wondered if perhaps groups independent of sovereign nations had gotten their hands on liftwood supplies or found a way to build an aether propeller, but he quickly discarded the line of thought. The notion of it made him want to laugh. Aether pirates! Sounded like some fanciful bit of dribble for the penny dreadfuls.

His musings were interrupted by a sudden shaking of the hull. At first it was merely a vibration, but before he could think two thoughts in a row the vibration had become a rumble. Annabelle lost her footing, catching herself on the storeroom wall. Shouts from the crew rang out. Nathanial could hear them scrambling to keep the cutter on course.

“What’s going on?” Annabelle shouted above the din.

“Aether vortex!” he replied. “A very big one, from the feel of it!”

In his time on HMAS Sovereign he had experienced just such an anomaly, where the aether streams of Earth and Venus had met and reacted violently. The resultant “storm” could have destroyed Sovereign had it not been for his improvements to the design of the aether propeller governor. He recalled being afraid then, even though the chaps under Folkard had been particularly adept at navigating its outer edge. Still, the buffering the ship had received was nothing compared to what he was feeling now. Part of that had to do with the overall size of the ship. Sovereign had carried two cutters roughly the same size as this one in her belly, but that was only a portion of his concern. This vortex was definitely larger, and by turns more violent.

The roaring became a screeching. Annabelle clapped hands over her ears and screamed, though the noise she made was drowned. Visions filled Nathanial’s head of the cutter ripping apart and their bodies floating free with the debris. He closed his eyes and drew his knees to his chest, where he sat with his head covered by his arms. His insides felt gelatinous, sloshing about inside his abdomen.

Abattoir in the Aether (Artwork by David Burson)

Fresh from their adventures on Mercury, Nathanial Stone and his ward, Annabelle Somerset, are limping through the aether in a dilapidated flyer when they unwittingly stumble upon a heliograph station in solar orbit between Earth and Mars.

Now in the sinister clutches of Dr Henry van den Bosch, a hulking nightmare of a man with a penchant for destroying those who cross him, Nathanial must race against time to prevent the station from falling into a massive aether vortex or risk van den Bosch’s wrath.

But unseen forces hold sway on Peregrine Station, and before the two can even settle in, an attempt is made on Nathanial’s life. Annabelle investigates, and in doing so sets off a chain of events that could destroy the station before it ever reaches the vortex.

Abattoir in the Aether 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.

Abattoir in the Aether © 2012 L. Joseph Shosty and Untreed Reads Publishing.

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

All Rights Reserved.

Space: 1889 & Beyond – Best Selling Series

Doctor Arnaud Fontaine uncovers secrets on Mercury...

It is with GREAT pleasure I write this entry.

Space: 1889 & Beyond continues to be a hit for Untreed Reads Publishing.

The best-sellers list for November is in, and I can reveal that at #1 is Mark Michalowski’s ‘The Ghosts of Mercury’. An impressive e-début for Mark! For the third month in a row my own ‘Journey to the Heart of Luna‘ remains in the top ten, rising to #4, while KG McAbee’s ‘Vandals on Venus‘ enjoys its second month in the top ten, currently at #6.

A big thank you to all who’ve been following the adventures of Nathanial and Annabelle, but please, don’t let this mean you can rest on your laurels. Go and tell all your friends about this best-selling series, and help us dominate the steampunk genre! 🙂 And, as an incentive, all three titles can be purchased directly from the Untreed Reads Store with 15% off the RRP until December 15th!

Check out the list HERE!

Vandals on Venus by K.G. McAbee

Out now, from Untreed Reads Publishing, book two in the all-new Space: 1889 & Beyond series, Vandals on Venus by K.G. McAbee.

When Nathanial Stone gets an emergency message from an old friend on Venus begging for his help, his duty is clear: he must go at once. 

His ward, Miss Annabelle Somerset, instead of agreeing to stay safely on Earth as he begs, insists on accompanying him to the dangerous tropical planet, home of huge reptiles. 

Soon, Nathanial and Annabelle find themselves in the middle of a plot concerning a nefarious German officer, a brilliant English inventor, an Irish guide no better than he should be, a heavily-armed lizard-man and a clever American newspaperman. 

Can even they prevail against such odds?

I recently interviewed K.G. for the forthcoming official Space: 1889 & Beyond website, but since that site is slightly delayed, allow me to share with you her answers here.

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

I’m a serious history geek, first of all. I’m in love with the Victorian era, the excitement of fresh new technology, the thrill of discovery and wiping out the blank spots on the map; in the case of S:1889, the black spots in the Solar System. I am especially fascinated by Sir Richard Francis Burton, co-discoverer of the source of the Nile, brilliant linguist and writer; I want to use him as a character in some of my work soon. I’m sure he would have signed up for a trip to Venus, and he’d tell his poor wife Isobel, as he so often did in their lives together, “Pay, pack and follow.”

I’m also a serious fan of the classic pulp writers: ERB, Lovecraft, REH, and the science fiction writers who got their start in the pulps: Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell, Jack Vance and so many, many more. The pulp feel of S:1889 is so attractive to me as a writer and as a reader. Did I mention I was a geek?

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

Well, let’s face it: RPGs depend on the players to flesh out their characters, but in a novella, it’s up to the writer to make the characters live on the page. There is also, in the game, the automatic collaboration between the players, which can change and morph the events in unexpected ways. I provided a general outline of my story, but it too changed and morphed as I wrote and as I became more familiar with people, places and events. I hope I’ve managed to make my characters alive and recognizable, with all their human strengths and weaknesses intact.

3)      Who are your favourite characters?

Oddly enough, even though he doesn’t appear very much, in my story at least, I’m especially interested in William Henry White, warship designer and head of naval construction. I am fascinated in the sheer depth and complexity of just the idea of designing a warship.

4) Your three favourite moments in Vandals on Venus are…?

In ascending order:

1.      When Nathaniel is convinced, and I mean CONVINCED, that Annabelle will not possibly go to Venus with him.

2.      Annabelle’s anger and disgust at Nathaniel during a rather explosive moment, about which I shall not say more.

3.      Dinosaur attack! Of course!

 

5) What’s coming next from you?

How nice of you to ask! I have a steampunk short story series contracted with Untreed Reads called Bold as Brass. Each short tells one of the adventures of Lady Abigail Moran, an aristocratic thief—think A. J. Raffles in skirts—and her trusty sidekick and less-than-aristocratic associate, Simon Thorne. The first in the series is called “Lady Abigail and the Audacious Aeronaut” and then comes “Lady Abigail and the Lachrymose Leviathan” and “Lady Abigail and the Morose Magician”. These are lots of fun to write.

I also have a steampunk collaboration, written with Cynthia D. Witherspoon—we write as Cynthia Gael—coming very soon from Carina Press, which is an e-division of a little publisher called Harlequin. Our book is called Brass and Bone, and we’re working on the sequel now; we’re hoping it’s going to be a series.

Also, I’ve just signed contracts for two short stories for upcoming anthologies, one from Wicked East Press and one from May December Press. I’m in talks to collaborate on a mystery with another S:1889 writer, the brilliant Louis Shosty. And I’m working on a project with zombies—but then, who isn’t?

δ

And now for an exclusive extract from Vandals on Venus:

Nathanial’s heart sank further and further within him as they approached the airship Forbes-Hamilton so vaingloriously called the Aeronaut III. From a distance, the airship had looked very much like any other on Earth, but as he grew closer, he could begin to pick out a multitude of differences. Instead of a single oblong cigar-shaped airbag, this ship had a series of—he counted silently—five round balloons, all contained within an elaborate crisscrossed netting affair, which seemed to be woven of some local vegetable matter; a thick, fibrous yet porous looking vine. Below the five entrapped bags hung the gondola. Here again, Forbes-Hamilton had departed from the accepted Earth style. Instead of sleek and aerodynamic design, the inventor had gone for a fantastical look. Stone did not approve. There was no place in engineering, in science, for such a ridiculous object. Why, the thing looked like some sort of Viking ship, with its raised prow and stern, and a silly lizard head which, no doubt, was meant to represent some sort of mythological beast, a dragon or wyvern.

As for the state of the thing! The airbags had patches, which were themselves patched, and the ramshackle gondola looked as if it had been knocked about like a cricket ball.

“Ah,” Nathanial said as he gazed up at the thing. “Yes.”

“Isn’t it lovely, Nathanial?” Annabelle’s tone held a warning. “Aren’t you so glad we came? And do think how lucky we shall be to have a ride in it!”

Forbes-Hamilton had his head down but, even so, Stone could tell he was blushing furiously. No wonder! To have called him halfway across the system to this…this…

“Oh, it’s hardly lovely,” Forbes-Hamilton said, twisting one foot like a child in obvious pleasure at Annabelle’s words. “Though, I must admit, it is rather unusual, is it not?” He raised his head and beamed up at the thing as if it were the most beautiful craft imaginable.

“Unusual. Yes, indeed,” Nathanial managed at last. He turned and glared at Jericho, but even that release was denied him, for Jericho was at that moment grinning like an idiot at Annabelle.

Forbes-Hamilton seemed to suddenly come to his senses. “Well, now, let’s go aboard, shall we? Come around to the port side where the gangplank is set up. I’ve got quite a few things to show you, Professor Stone, and I think you will be amazed, I do indeed.”

Somehow, Nathanial doubted it. But he was here, and Annabelle was safe and not too terribly troublesome, so he might as well make the best of things. He followed Forbes-Hamilton around the prow of the risible ship.

For an instant, he was sure he had run into the same dragon whose head adorned the prow of the Aeronaut III.

A massive figure stood at the bottom of the gangplank. It had long muscular arms ending in seven-fingered hands, each finger tipped with an inch-long claw. The legs were bowed, with flat splayed feet, each of the seven toes also tipped with a claw. The barrel-shaped torso was hung and strewn with weapons: a two-foot-long knife hung from a mottled leather belt on the right; on the left hung a bulbous war club with a leather cover; and the handles of two throwing spears projected above the shoulders. A round convex shield leaned against the edge of the gangplank, painted with a grinning face in lurid colours, next to a vulcanised bag with a drawstring top.

But the thing’s head! There was the image, the very mirror image, of the dragon on the prow of the Aeronaut. A long snout ringed with double rows of triangular teeth jutted out from the lumpy cranium. Two small eyes, as green as glass, gleamed beneath spikes. And the most amazing thing of all: a deerstalker hat sat atop this mythological reptile, as though the thing thought it was a character in a Conan Doyle story in the Strand Magazine.

“Ah, Thymon, my dear fellow,” said Forbes-Hamilton as he trotted towards this apparition. “All shipshape and Bristol fashion, I am sure?”

Nathanial watched in amazement as that long, tooth-filled mouth opened and the beast spoke, in a sibilant voice, almost as high-pitched as a young girl’s.

“I hass watched, ssir, and all iss ssafe in the fat rekota.”

“Excellent, excellent,” said the inventor as he bustled past the massive lizard-man as if he were a mere statue instead of, Nathanial thought, a fearsome beast, and looked back over his shoulder after he’d taken two steps. “The rekota, you should understand, is one of the largest flying reptiles on Venus, so naturally that’s how some of the lizard-men refer to my ship. Come along, do; mustn’t dawdle. And don’t mind Thymon. He’s a dear friend of mine. I saved his life when he was wounded by one of the greater sauroids, I believe it was a ferengin, wasn’t it, Thymon?” Without waiting for reply, he went on. “Something huge, anyway, with quite an astonishing number of teeth. You can still see some of the marks here—” he pointed to a long, deep groove in the lizard-man’s right arm, “—and there, on his leg.” Then he waved his arm towards his ship. “If you’ll look there, just by the figurehead on the prow, you can see more marks from a ferengin’s teeth. So, according to the rules of his tribe—the Cherada, don’t you know; they’re the largest and most advanced of any we’ve run across so far, with quite an elaborate set of funerary rituals and a form of rudimentary writing that resembles cuneiform, if you’re interested in such things. But be that as it may: dear old Thymon is firm on the matter, and he has decided he owes me a blood debt. It’s a powerful tradition, don’t you see; can’t be denied. Naturally, I trust him completely; he’s devoted to me, the dear chap.”

Nathanial felt a bit dizzy at this surge of new information. He opened his mouth, but before he could speak…

“How fascinating,” Annabelle breathed as she gazed up the long length of the lizard-man, who towered over her like a giant. Then, to Nathanial’s amazement, and fear, she held out her hand.

Thymon looked down at her, lowering his massive snout like a drawbridge, a quizzical expression in his deep-set eyes. He held out his huge paw and, with the utmost care, gave the top of Annabelle’s small, decidedly grimy hand a delicate tap with one razor-sharp claw.

“Ah, excellent!” said Forbes-Hamilton. “He accepts you. Quite an honour, dear lady. Thymon has been known to, er, be a bit snappish with new acquaintances.”

Nathanial released a breath he hadn’t even known he was holding. Annabelle, he feared, was going to be the death of him.

Vandals on Venus is available direct from the Untreed Reads Store (currently on sale as part of the World Space Week, for only $2.09), and from all good eBook stockists.

Space: 1889 remains the copyright © of Frank Chadwick, and is used under licence.

Artwork by David Burson, cover design by Steve Upham, copyright © Untreed Reads LLC, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Space: 1889 & Beyond – exclusives!

Okay, so been rather busy of late. Let me tell you, anyone who thinks getting a series of eBooks together is easy – you’re very much mistaken. Still, on the plus side, the brand new steampunk eBook series based on Frank Chadwick’s RPG Space: 1889 is almost good to go.

Series one will be a six-book series, running from August through to December 2011, written by yours truly, K. G. McAbee, Mark Michalowski, L. Joseph Shosty, Frank Chadwick and J. T. Wilson! The series features artwork by David Burson, all set in a wonderful cover template designed by Steve Upham (who made the cover for my award nominated novel, ‘Seeker’ – more on that later!).

There’s much to be excited about with this series, both from a creative point of view and a personal point of view. On the personal level, I am very proud and excited by the fact that for the first time since 1989 the official logo for the entire property has been redesigned, under my direction. The new logo was designed by Steve, and fully approved by Frank. Creatively it’s been awesome to work with some of the best cult authors in the business (and already, prior to the launch, I am receiving many requests from even more well-known authors who wish to be involved in the following series). It seems people are baying for new steampunk adventures, and I’m convinced that Space: 1889 & Beyond is going to be huge.

So, to help pave the way, I have, first of all, some background information on the series’ leads;

  • Nathanial Stone; 26-year-old Nathaniel is from Putney, London, originally. He has two elder brothers, an elder sister and a younger brother. Only his younger brother, Edwin, maintains any level of contact with Nathaniel, since his elder siblings are highly jealous of the special treatment he received due to his status as ‘child prodigy’ of the family. He was borne of the Honourable Reverend Ronald Stone and his wife, Elspeth, and was raised a firm believer in God. Nathanial excelled at all the academic classes in school, and was soon moving on to bigger things, quickly earning himself a place at More House College, Oxford. While there he found in himself some strange desires. He resisted his urges, and over the following years came to believe that somehow God had made him wrong, a fact he confided to his dean (one Reverend Earnest Matthews). His path of science brought him into conflict with his father, who could not understand how science merely explained the how of God’s Creation, and thus lead to better understanding of God. By the time we catch up with Nathaniel he is well-respected in the fields of science, something of a genius, known for his work in physics and chemistry. He has a very deductive brain, and often makes great intuitive leaps in his experimentations. Nathanial has joined the Naval Construction team, and has perfected a more delicate Aether Propeller Governor with the help of the Director of Naval Construction, Sir William Henry White, which has been installed in the new prototype Sovereign Class Aether Flyer, the HMAS Sovereign
  • Annabelle Somerset; The young niece of Cyrus Grant, and the only daughter of his sister, Joan, and her husband, Ezekiel Somerset. At the age of twelve, Annabelle’s parents were killed near Silver City, Arizona, and she was captured by Geronimo and his band of Chiricahua Apaches. She lived with Geronimo’s band for the next two years until she was released. Since that time she has lived with her uncle, to whom she has become extremely devoted. She carries with her a well of grief and guilt over her parents’ death, still blaming herself to some degree. This guilt often drives her into being over protective towards those she loves; it can be both a strength and a weakness. Annabelle is a very strong woman, an adventurer at heart, very much a woman ahead of her time. She can hold her own against most men and refuses to be beaten into submission, falling into the role of servant like so many other women of her time. But she is not adverse to using her feminine wiles to get her own way, and often leads Nathanial into some trouble of other. Her two years of life with the Apaches have left her courageous and self-reliant, with little patience for men who consider her weak or incapable of looking after herself. Although she is loathe to admit it, initially, Annabelle is developing a soft spot for Nathanial, and the enforced companionship soon develops into a mutual friendship based on respect and trust…
  • Doctor Cyrus Grant; Private inventor from Arizona. A cranky man of sixty-one years, with wild hair sprouting from the sides of a mostly bald head. Given to wearing spectacles on account of his short sightedness. Grant’s contraptions gained him quite the reputation among the rancher’s he helped out in his native Arizona, and those who have followed his career. No one was quite prepared to believe that he’d actually created a device which would allow acrobatic manoeuvres close to the lunar surface. His initial design was faulty and failed to work at all, and he barely managed to escape Luna’s low gravity. Upon returning to Earth, in January 1888, he was contacted by a British scientist, Nathaniel Stone, who worked with Grant to develop the aether propeller governor. They both thought they were working in secret, but the British Empire became aware of their activities, and watched them from afar. Grant did not like the closeness developing between Annabelle and Nathanial, and so sent Nathanial packing and Annabelle off east to college, finishing off the governor on his own. He assembled a team to help pilot the newly refurbished aether flyer, which he christened the Annabelle, and set off for Luna, unaware that his niece had secretly returned to Arizona and smuggled herself aboard. He soon got over his anger at her, and she became a fully pledged member of his team…
  • Captain Jacob Folkard; Forty-seven years old, Folkard is captain of the prototype aether battleship, the HMAS Sovereign. He is well-liked by all who serve under him, previously having been commander of the aether frigate, the HMAS Raleigh, and he is highly regarded by his superiors. His staunch patriotism and exemplary career in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy have led him to his appointment to several key positions. His latest is a result of a very high recommendation from Rear Admiral Herbert Cavor. Captain Folkard is undaunted by the perils of aether travel, and has a thirst for adventure, and is known for his wicked sense of humour. A rare thing for captains, who are known for their straight-laced behaviour. He makes a point of learning all the names of his crew, and will often put them in difficult positions to test their character. He takes his role as captain of the most advanced aether flyer very seriously, and will not allow anyone onboard who does not show some strength of character. Only the best are granted the privilege of stepping on his ship.
And, as an exclusive to this blog, an excerpt from the forthcoming first novella, ‘Journey to the Heart of Luna’… (NB* Scene one will be released to various blogs over the next week, however scene two will only be exclusively available on this blog – no point being the editor of the series without there being some perks, right?)

Prologue

1.

IT WAS impossible! Aether flyers were not, by definition, designed for a crew of one, a fact that Annabelle Somerset felt with ever increasing dismay as she raced from the control to the navigation station. Just getting the Annabelle (yes, God bless her uncle, he had named the flyer after her) out of the gorge had been hard work. Starting up the boiler single-handed, then rushing the length of the flyer to the control room to check the instruments to make sure the water was creating enough steam, then back to the engine room at the rear of the flyer to set out the rocket engines her uncle had designed especially to combat the awkward gravity of Luna.

She cursed Tereshkov once more, and squeezed her eyes shut for a brief moment.

 I have to do this, she continued to tell herself. She had survived much worse. Annabelle almost laughed at that. Living for two years amongst Geronimo’s band of Chiricahua Apaches had tested her when she had been a mere slip of a girl. She had survived that, and she was certain she would survive this. That she had no choice was beyond question; there was no other left who could get the message to Earth. Uncle Cyrus’ life was in the balance and she could not allow herself even a moment of weakness in her endeavour. She had let her parents down, and she refused to let history repeat itself with her uncle.

She was not a little girl anymore, and the Russians be damned!

Instruments were laid out before her on the navigation station; some of standard design like the orrery, a mechanical analogue of the Solar System, and an astrolabe which allowed precise measurements of the planets positions; others were of her uncle’s making, and these she did not even know the names of. They were recent creations of his, and her decision to join the expedition had transpired late in the day, ill affording her the time to study these new inventions. Annabelle was no expert at reading the standard instruments, but she understood enough from having watched Blakely at the station to ascertain the current position of the Annabelle. The flyer was barely a kilometre from attaining a low lunar orbit.

She scrambled across to the control station once more, almost colliding with the bulkhead as the flyer shook around her. The damage sustained to the aether propeller by the Russians was too much. When she had first set her eyes on the propeller she had been certain she would never be able to navigate the flyer, despite the relatively unscathed nature of the aether propeller governor. She was fortunate the Russians did not recognise the governor for what it was, or they most certainly would have found a way to remove it from the Annabelle, and if not the whole apparatus then certainly they would have taken the diamond that served as the aether lens. Without it the governor would have been less than useless.

She gripped the aether wheel, a small ratchet-operated wheel that controlled the aether propeller at the rear of the ship, and turned it slightly. Annabelle looked out of the window and was elated to see the distant shape of the Earth, and before it, barely a speck in the depth of space, Her Majesty’s Orbital Heliograph Station Harbinger.

When she had first happened upon this plan with K’chuk she had hoped to be able to pilot the flyer to Earth; it was a difficult task, one fraught with many dangers, but the odds were not insurmountable. Upon seeing the damage rendered by the Russian okhrana, Annabelle knew she would have to adapt her plan. Obtaining a lunar orbit was the best she could hope for, but it would be enough to put the Annabelle in a position relative to the Harbinger. It was operated by the British Empire, and that served her purposes perfectly, as the help she required was located in England and not her native America.

She turned to the heliograph apparatus and was just about to start tapping in her coded message when her eyes espied a most terrible image through the port window. Annabelle’s finger paused over the key, and her eyes stared wide. Its iron clad surface reflected the light from the Sun, rising from Luna like the Great Beast of Hell.

“No,” Annabelle hissed. “This cannot be the end.”

So, she determined, it would not be. The Russian flyer was closing in, its gun ports no doubt opening as she looked, her mind trying to catch up with the increasing beat of her heart. Uncle Cyrus’ flyer was not a warship; he was an inventor, and his flyer echoed that. It was designed for exploration, not for battle. Any armaments it did have were minimal, and even if Annabelle were able to get to them in time, she doubted greatly their effectiveness against a fully armed Russian ironclad.

Annabelle turned away from the approaching flyer and focussed her attention on the heliograph before her. She began typing out her message, praying that the orbiting station would pick it up and relay the message with haste.

2.

THE ADMIRALTY; it was always good to be back at the Ripley Building, Captain Folkard mused to himself. This was the first time he had been called there as a captain, and so the occasion was even more prestigious than usual. He had not been in Whitehall for several years.

Folkard had since been given his new command, the first in a new class of aether battleship, and with his command came a promotion to captain. Serving as commander of a frigate was one thing, and it certainly gave him much experience of the aether, but they were living in dangerous times and as such his request for battleship command had finally been granted.

Folkard knew he was thought of highly in the upper levels of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, but he did try not to entertain the scuttlebutt of the ratings, which almost always happened to filter its way up through to the officers’ mess. Thus, when rumour had reached him that he was being considered for command of Her Majesty’s Aerial Ship the Sovereign he chose to ignore it; a singularly difficult task considering the topic.

He had yet to see his new ship, although he had spent the last week going over the blueprints, familiarising himself with design and layout. It would not do for a captain to ask directions on his first day. He had been hoping to visit his ship today, see George Bedford once again, and begin the shakedown cruise. He was en route by train to Kent for that very purpose when he had got intercepted, and speedily transported back to London on the Intrepid. Clearly the mission the Admiralty had for him was of paramount importance.

Folkard looked down at the respirator mask and goggles that sat in his lap. The downside of being in London, of course, was the amount of gas and debris in the air. Breathing fresh air in the City of London was a thing of the past, and it seemed that the darkness of night only served to exasperate the problem. Still, he would be in the aether soon, and would be breathing air freshly oxygenated by the plants in the greenhouse of the Sovereign.

He looked up from his lap as the door next to the chair on which he sat opened. Folkard immediately stood to attention and saluted. He had expected to be greeted by an aide, not by Lord Chillingham himself. Chillingham looked Folkard up and down and let out an hmm. Folkard was not sure if it was an hmm of approval or an hmm of distaste. Lord Chillingham’s eyes gave nothing away, as they were wont to do. Things must be pretty rum if the Lord Minister Overseas feel the need to attend the briefing, Folkard mused, holding his salute.

“As you were, Captain Folkard. Please enter.”

“Yes, sir,” Folkard said, and walked passed Lord Chillingham and entered the board room of the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty.

Space: 1889 © & ™ Frank Chadwick 1988,2011

Logo Design © Steve Upham, 2011

‘Journey to the Heart of Luna’ is © Andy Frankham-Allen & Untreed Reads LLC, 2011

 

Space: 1889 & Beyond is published by Untreed Reads Publishing,

and the first series begins late August 2011.

You can now buy the season pass, and save 25% directly from;

The Unreed Reads’ Store

The best of Anne Rice and Stephen Donaldson

Well, well… the sales of ‘Seeker’ are still driving forward, with it doing quite well during its first two and a half weeks of publication. No word on the sales of the print version as yet, but I do know that the eBook is at number #7 on the fantasy chart at OmniLit.com. The book is now listed at almost every e-retailer, and is available to order in almost all high street booksellers.

Now let me share with you this marvelous review from author Anne Brooke, in which she says; “In my younger days, I lapped up with great joy both the vampire novels of Anne Rice and the vast and fascinating fantasy novels of Stephen Donaldson and, to my mind, there’s been nothing to beat either of them since. I’m pleased to say now that I’ve been at last proved wrong in that assumption. Andy Frankham-Allen’s ‘Garden Saga’ fantasy series, of which Seeker is the first, takes the best of both those authors and combines it into a slow-burn, deep and surprisingly rich novel of one man, Willem (or Will) who, like Donaldson’s magnificent leper hero, Thomas Covenant, isn’t at all what he thinks he is. Frankly, I was gripped from the first page and couldn’t put the darn thing down.” To read the full review, why not pop over to Vulpes Libris?

In other news, Space 1889 & Beyond is gearing up, with the first four of six stories now commissioned. Story one, “Hearts of Stone” is being written by yours truly, and story two, “Vandals on Venus” is being written by award winning fantasy author, K. G. McAbee. The authors of stories three and four will be announced as soon as the contracts are signed and sealed. In the meantime, why not whet your appetite by popping over to Frank Chadwick’s new 1889 blog, in which he rounds up all news pertaining to the rapidly expanding Space 1889 universe…