Tag Archives: mark michalowski

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.

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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.

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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.

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!

Become a Villain Competition Results

And it’s all over. Our first Space: 1889 & Beyond competition closed yesterday. A big thank you to all who took part and sent your answers in. The question we asked was simple enough; “which world bookends series one?” and the answer was, of course, Luna (featured in both the opening and closing stories of series one)! We had many responses, some wrong and some right. But, as is the way of things, there could only be one winner. And with the help of Mark Michalowski, author of this month’s The Ghosts of Mercury, we picked out three names at random.

The 1st Prize was a chance to be immortalised in literature by becoming a villain in the second series of Space: 1889 & Beyond, and receive a free copy of the new book, The Ghost of Mercury. And the winner of that first prize is… LISBETH LARIVIERE!

The two runner-up prizes were free copies of The Ghosts of Mercury, and the winners of those are… GASPAR QUELHAS LIMA TAMEERIS and JASON HILTON.

Well done and congratulations to all three winners, and a final big thank you (again!) to all who took part. 🙂

Read the wonderful reviews of the latest book, at Sci-Fi Bulletin.

 

Mark Michalowski is BACK… with ghosts!

Thank you all for bearing with us, but now, at long last, we can announce that The Ghosts of Mercury is live!

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Born in 1963 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Mark Michalowski studied sciences at school with the bizarre idea of becoming a parapsychologist. He studied psychology at Sheffield University for two years and then hung about for a couple of years, having decided that his future lay in graphic design, and moved to Leeds.

He worked as a graphic designer for three and a half years before deciding that his future lay in teaching, so he got a BEd at Leeds Metropolitan University before doing a year’s teaching – which convinced him that his future certainly didn’t lay in teaching.

So, together with his then-partner, Mike, he started up Shout!, a gay paper for Yorkshire, which has been going steadily since 1995.

His first paid-for piece of writing was a short story, Digging Up The Past in the anthology, The Dead Men Diaries in 2000. Since then he’s written several more novels, short stories, magazine article – and even a comic strip! These works includes the likes of four Doctor Who novels, and a novel based on the hit-BBC TV series, Being Human.

You can discover more about Mark’s varied career at his official website, www.markmichalowski.co.uk

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I recently asked him a few questions about his work on Space: 1889 & Beyond

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

MM: There was something fascinating about the mash-up between the Victorian era, with all its rampaging colonialism, repression and desire for exploration (and assimilation) – and space travel and futuristic technology that appealed to me. And once I started thinking about it, it seemed to fit perfectly with the philosophy of ‘The Big Bad’ in The Ghosts of Mercury. And what philosophy was that, you ask? Spoilers!!!

AF-A: What difficulties did you face in converting a Role-playing Game scenario into a fully-fledged prose novel?

MM: To be honest, I’d never played the game, but I’d heard – and loved – the Space: 1889 audio adventures – they had a real sense of wonder and derring-do about them. And, for me, there’s always something more interesting about confronting a cast of characters with things utterly beyond their previous experiences, and having their worldviews challenged in a way that there isn’t with experienced space-travellers.

AF-A: Who are your favourite characters?

MM: All of them have their fascinating sides, but – and I’ll just take my modesty hat off for a moment and sit it on the desk beside me – I adore Arnaud Fontaine, a character that you asked me to create specifically for the series. In fact, I may be a tiny bit in love with him: he’s irreverent, cheeky and seems to be the perfect foil for Nathanial.

AF-A: Your three favourite moments in The Ghosts of Mercury are…?

MM: Three favourite moments, hmmm…? There are so many to choose from (he says, eyeing up his modesty hat) – not necessarily great big whopping moments, but lots of little conversations and moments. I love writing dialogue more than action scenes, and my favourites are quiet scenes where the characters show us a little bit more about themselves.

It’s really hard to choose, but I’ll go with…

The first scene between Annabelle and Nathanial, as they’re unpacking, seems to sum up the relationship between the two of them: a little bit sparky but with humour and real compassion for each other. They bicker like a married couple – almost like newlyweds on their honeymoon.

Annabelle’s first proper encounter with a ghost – because it seems to sum up Annabelle’s pluckiness with her genuine surprise and fear.

Our heroes’ encounter with Hermes – where I get to have lots and lots of philosophising and talking! Science fiction, for me, is a genre of ideas, rather than action, so to have a whole chapter which is little more than dialogue is lovely.

And, of course, any scene between Nathanial and Arnaud! Ask me again in a few weeks and I’ll probably find different scenes to pick.

AF-A: So, what can your fans expect next from you?

MM: Next? Well I’m already working on a story for the next season of Space: 1889 & Beyond in which I get to pick up one or two threads from The Ghosts of Mercury and take them a little bit further. I’ve been sprucing up my website, too, and have been asked to pitch for a short story collection edited by Paul Magrs, which, as always, should be great fun.

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And so, now, allow me to share with you an excerpt from The Ghosts of Mercury

There was a sudden, sharp knock at the door. Nathanial looked from one colonel to the other. There was a moment of awkwardness before the ghost colonel suddenly caught on.

“Oh, you think I should go?”

“Probably wise,” said the Shawbridge with a curt nod. “Whoever it is, seeing two of us in here might be a bit much—for now at least.”

The ghost nodded. “Fair enough. I’ll, um, see you chaps later then?”

“I do hope so, Colonel,” said Nathanial.

And then, without a sound, the ghost simply winked out of existence. There was another, firmer, knock.

“Come in,” said Nathanial, and the door was opened by Iris McConnon, looking very pale and shaken.

“Colonel,” she said. “Professor Stone. Sorry for the interruption, but something very strange is happening and I thought you ought to know.”

“What is it, Iris?”

“These ghosts, sir…”

“What about them?”

“You need to come and see. They’re everywhere.” Her eyes were wide and her face pale. “It’s like we’re being invaded.”

*

Shawbridge and Nathanial followed Iris out into the gloom; in the distance, they could hear much muttering and a few astonished cries.

“They’re everywhere,” Iris said as they reached the main square of Princess Christiana Station. Little huddles of people were standing around, pointing and crying. Some of them were shouting, their fists raised.

And around each little group, there were ghosts.

Some of them were as solid and concrete as Shawbridge’s own ghost had been earlier, but most of them were hazy phantoms, displaying the same flickering and shifting that had been reported in earlier sightings.

“Right!” bellowed Shawbridge at the top of his voice. “There’s no need to panic.”

A woman in a nurse’s uniform with a coat wrapped around her shoulders came running over. “Sir,” she said, her voice heavily accented. Nathanial caught sight of her name badge: Nurse Juanita Lopez. “I have seen one—and it was me!”

Shawbridge threw a glance at Nathanial. “Is that so, Nurse? Well trust me, there’s no need to worry—”

“But it was me!” she repeated, patting her chest. “I am going to die, aren’t ? I’m going to die!”

Mercury: a planet of two faces – one side cloaked in eternal darkness, the other blistered by eternal sunshine. And balanced between the two is the World River, encircling the globe.

Professor Nathanial Stone and his ward, Annabelle Somerset visit Mercury for what they imagine will be a pleasant trip to visit Annabelle’s uncle.

But tragic death precedes them – a death that provokes a chain of mysterious and terrifying events that challenge Nathanial and Annabelle’s long-held beliefs. Before long, they – with the assistance of French geologist, Arnaud Fontaine – discover something ancient and powerful that has designs on humanity.

“Michalowski inserts some soul into this latest steampunk adventure.” – Sci-Fi Bulletin

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The Ghosts of Mercury 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.

The Ghosts of Mercury © 2011 Mark Michalowski and Untreed Reads Publishing.

Space: 1889 & Beyond © & ™ 1988/2011 Frank Chadwick.

All Rights Reserved.

In the meantime…

First of all, apologies. We were hoping to have ‘The Ghosts of Mercury’ released over Halloween, but a technical hitch to do with acquiring the ISBN has prevented us from doing so. The issue will be resolved soon, so I hope you’ll bear with us all in the meantime.

So, a brief update of things relating to Space: 1889 & Beyond. First of all, as you can see, the cover has been unveiled. Once again it’s by the excellent David Burson, this time featuring Doctor Arnaud Fontaine, Corporal Paul Heath and, finally, in the middle, our hero, Professor Nathanial Stone! In related news, the author, Mark Michalowski, has released his brand new website, so why not pop over and have butcher’s at his other works.

There’s also a new review of ‘Journey to the Heart of Luna’, from best-selling author of The Shadows Trilogy, Julieanne Lynch, which can be read here.

Author of story #6: ‘Dark Side of Luna’, JT Wilson, has two short stories out today, in the anthology Re-Vamp, about which more can be read here.

And, finally, a new addition to this blog can be found on your right. A list of all my professional works, which also happen to be links to places from which they can be bought (except for Sedna, which seems to be particularly hard to find).

So, while we’re all waiting on the release of ‘The Ghosts of Mercury’, why not entertain yourself by visiting the websites above, and also enjoy the trailer…

Exclusive Excerpt from “The Ghosts of Mercury”

 

 

I’m very excited about this release. We don’t have a definite release date yet, but we’re looking to getting the next Space: 1889 & Beyond book out for Halloween. In the meantime, please do enjoy this very exclusive excerpt…

He was there. Again. Standing silently in the corner of the room. There but not quite there.

When Corporal Heath looked directly at him, he seemed to jump, as if instantly whisked to some other part of the room that was now at the edge of his vision. Heath couldn’t help but still try to catch it out, hoping that, just once, the ghost might forget to jump.

Heath ached—not only with the pain in his leg and ankle and chest, but with frustration. He had lost count of the number of times the ghost had vanished completely, and he’d found himself staring down at his white hands, balled up into fists, clutching the hospital sheets. He sensed something not altogether right, not happy about the ghost. There was a darkness there that he didn’t like at all. Realising how tense he was, Heath consciously relaxed and let his chin drop to his chest, triggering a jolt of pain from the torn muscles around his collarbone—before looking up suddenly, another bolt of pain shooting down his left arm from his shoulder. There was something going on in the corridor; he recognised Doctor Schell’s voice. The door to the ward was flung open and in swept the doctor, in his wake a slim, striking woman with black hair and the most hypnotic eyes Heath had seen for a long time. She had a healthy tan which immediately marked her out as a newcomer to Mercury. In her arms, she carried a large, buff folder, holding it close like it was the most important thing in the world. Behind them, hands flapping and a look of intense annoyance on her face was Nurse Lopez. She shot a glance at Heath as if to apologise for letting Schell and this new woman in.

“Heath!” beamed Schell coming to a sudden stop at the side of the bed and folding his arms. “How the devil are you, man?”

“Can’t complain sir,” Heath replied, knowing that an angel must surely have been looking out for him all those weeks ago.

“Good man,” Schell said. “Good man. Been through the wars, haven’t you? Good to see you on the mend, though. Bearing up, hmm?”

Schell turned to Nurse Lopez who stood there, glowering at him. By all accounts, Nurse Lopez’ parents—and in particular her mother—were possessed of fiery Latin temperaments that their daughter had clearly inherited.

“This man is sick, Doctor Schell. I do not think you really need me to tell you that, do you? You are a doctor after all. He needs rest and time to recover, not being interrupted during dinner.” Her English was impeccable with barely a hint of a Spanish accent. Doctor Schell looked up and down the bed and at the side-table. There was no sign of any meal, either fresh or half-eaten.

“Not hungry, Heath?”

“Not really, sir, no. Sorry.”

“You don’t have to apologise for not being hungry, you know,” interjected the dark-haired young woman who sounded, from her accent, like an American. She smiled at him and gave him a wink.

“Well that just won’t do,” said Schell with a firm shake of his head. “You need to get something inside your belly. No man ever got better from not eating, now did he? And many have gotten much, much worse.”

“Maybe later, sir.”

Schell raised an eyebrow and glanced back at Nurse Lopez. “Well make sure you do—and if he doesn’t, Lopez, I’ll be wanting to know why.”

“Corporal Heath is doing very well, doctor. He’ll eat when he wants to.”

The doctor nodded as if he’d just won that round and turned to the woman he’d arrived with. “Corporal Heath, this is Miss Annabelle Somerset. She arrived on Mercury today. She’s a close family friend of the colonel, so make sure you show her some respect. She’s here…” He paused and looked at Nurse Lopez. “That’ll be all, thank you, Lopez. I’ll shout for you if I need you.”

Nurse Lopez pulled a sour face, looked Miss Somerset up and down as if appraising her as a potential rival—as women, in Heath’s opinion, were wont to do—and then turned on her heel and left, letting the door bang behind her as a final gesture.

“Sorry about that,” Schell apologised to Miss Somerset. “She gets very protective about poor Heath here. Good thing, I suppose, considering she’s a nurse. But still… Anyway, the colonel says that Miss Somerset here would like to talk to you, if you feel up to it.”

“What about, sir?”

“About your accident,” said Miss Somerset. “And…and what’s been happening to you since then.”

Copyright 2011 by Mark Michalowski

Space: 1889 © & ™ Frank Chadwick 1988, 2011

All Rights Reserved.

The Ghosts of Mercury by Mark Michalowski, soon to be available from Untreed Reads Publishing.

 

Exclusive Space: 1889 & Beyond News!

Hey, just a brief update, with some exclusive news on Space: 1889 & Beyond series two. As mentioned in the previous post, series two will feature stories by Frank Chadwick, Mark Michalowski and myself. The details are thus; Frank Chadwick and I will be joining forces to pen the opening novel, entitled “The Conspiracy of Silence“, which will shake the universe of Space: 1889 to its core. Mark Michalowski will be writing the fifth story in the series, a novella set entirely on board an aether flyer. Other authors will be announced in due course, but lest we forget, the pitch-period has yet to close and so who can tell what kind of talent will be contracted for series two? Either way, I’m seeing some exciting pitches finding their way into my inbox at the moment. The series, itself, will consist of seven stories, released bi-monthly from February 2012, featuring three novels (start, middle and end of the series) and four novellas.

In the meantime, series one is spreading out there nicely, garnering some very favourable reviews.

  • Sci-Fi Bulletin; “With some nice Easter Eggs for fans of genre fiction of the period, this is a neat start to the revamped Space 1889 adventures.”
  • Pulp Lair; “(Journey to the Heart of Luna) works well as a series opener, and the second story, Vandals On Venus, in the new ebook series picks up steam with a bang.”
  • The Traveller’s Steampunk Blog; “…quite a refreshing reading experience.”
  • Dr Mark Clark (Professor of History, Oregon Institute of Technology); “Overall, this a satisfying read for a Space 1889 fan. We get to see again some of the characters we got to know in the introductory adventure in the Space 1889 rule book, learn some new things about the Space 1889 universe, and read a jolly good story. I’m looking forward to the next instalment.”

Space: 1889 & Beyond – on Youtube

It’s always fun trying to find new ways to promote the series, and one of those suggested was a trailer on Youtube. A fantastic idea, alas not one I had the wherewithal to implement. Luckily, though, I have some clever friends and writers on my side. Mark Michalowski, Doctor Who author extraordinaire and author of the forthcoming novella, ‘The Ghosts of Mercury‘, came up with a solution. And a strictly non-profit trailer, with a little help from Koch Entertainment!

You’ll agree, it pretty fun, yes? The dramatic music completely sells it, in my opinion.

Please do like it, and spread the word. The series is already performing well, with the first book rating as the second best-selling release from Untreed Reads in September; on the back of that success the second series has been green-lit by Untreed supremo, Jay Hartman. I am already deeply involved in plotting and planning series two, with pitches coming in from a whole host of talented authors (if you’re one such author, then please contact me at frankhamallen@untreedreads.com for the series two guidelines). Although no contracts are signed, I can confidently say that we will be seeing another story from Mark Michalowski  and a series opener co-authored by Frank Chadwick and I.

Stay tuned for more news. 🙂

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.

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