The Characters of The Department of Curiosities
I introduced Tillie Meriwether in an earlier book blog tour post (Meet Viola Stewart
and Tillie Meriwether – https://phoebedarqueling.com/2019/04/27/karen-carlisle-viola-
stewart-and-tillie-meriwether-guest-post/ ), now it’s time to introduce some of the other
characters in The Department of Curiosities.
Every hero (or heroine) needs a backup team. Some are sought out. Some thrust upon
them. Some insinuate themselves slowly – for better or for worse.
Most of the characters you’ll meet are associated with The Department of Curiosities, a
government unit in charge of acquiring; cataloguing and securing said ‘Curiosities’. The
‘Department’ is essentially a gigantic curiosity cabinet, only the ‘Curiosities’ are hidden from the avaricious eyes of The Society (Men in Grey) and other nefarious groups – for ‘the good of the people’.
Lord Professor Avery Allington:
When Tillie Meriwether meets Avery Allington, he introduces himself to Tillie as
‘Professor Allington’. Avery Allington (Sir Avery) longs to be defined by his works and not
his title. He prefers to think he earned his position in The Department of Curiosities based on
his education and loyalty, rather than legacy.
He understands what it is to be judged by what you are and not for whom you are and,
as a result, he tries not to judge others on position or appearance. He ignores Tillie’s gender
and youth (she’s only twenty and hasn’t been presented to Society as yet) to discover her
value to The Department, via her intelligence, resourcefulness and enthusiasm.
Once his loyalty is given, Sir Avery will give the benefit of the doubt and requires
factual proof before he withdraws his loyalty. He trusts General Sabine implicitly, even to
ignoring Tillie’s concerns about the loyalty and motives of others, and his own doubts of
Tillie’s allegiances. As a result, he ignores ‘blind spots’, and the possible consequences, this
Through Sir Avery, Tillie discovers a clandestine world of secrets and the hidden
repository where illegal and unregistered mechanicals and contraptions are housed.
Allington sees the potential good in the ‘curiosities’ they are charged to remove from
circulation. Eventually he must decide which is more important: loyalty or scientific discovery.
Next we meet General Sabine, Director of The Department of Curiosities. He is an ex-military man, loyal (beyond doubt) to the Empire, and an ardent admirer and confidant of the Queen. He is also a scientist, specialising in magnetic fields. Thus his allegiances are to the Empire and scientific research…
(The General was inspired by the historical ‘Major-General Edward Sabine’ who wrote a treatise on magnetic fields, was Scientific Advisor to the Admiralty, a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, and President of the Royal Society.)
Operatives and Domestics:
We also meet various ‘underlings’ and operatives of The Department of Curiosities, including Harrow, Smythe, Saunders and Grace – operatives, coachman, valet and maid. All have a vital role to play in Tillie’s development into a fully-trained operative, and as she learns who is she can trust and where her loyalties truly lie.
As you probably suspect, all four characters have their own secrets and motives, and are not all what they seem. (Spoilers!)
My favourite secondary character is Grace.
Grace’s original appearance was a Ladies’ maid to Tillie. After all, a nineteenth century lady needs assistance. And when working in a male-dominated department, Society would insist Tillie have a chaperone. By the final draft, Grace’s characters had grown, complete with her own secrets, loyalties and motives to be explored more in book two of the series.
“The Inventor?” Harrow scoffed. “I always thought that name was pretentious.”
Finally a bit about the villain of the story:
The Inventor, aka known as ‘The Professor’. The Inventor hides behind many names. He also hides behind a mask, not for anonymity but for protection against the world. He is a germophobe, requiring all who come in contact with him to wear a protective mask and demanding his henchmen to be injected with silver as a safeguard (this was a cure used in the nineteenth century). He is hungry for fame and will do anything for recognition by The Royal Society. The Inventor would be comical, if it were not for his callousness and disregard for others.
The Department of Curiosities will be released 22nd May, 2019.
If you want to follow the rest of The Department of Curiosities book launch blog tour, check out the links on my blog post: www.karenjcarlisle.com/DOC1bookblogtour
You can pre-order your eBook copy of The Department of Curiosities (for special price of US$2.99) at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/934976
or sign up for my newsletter at: https://karenjcarlisle.com/sign-up-email-list/
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Or support me on Patreon (for less than a cup of coffee a month and you get cool rewards!): https://www.patreon.com/KarenJCarlisle
Karen J Carlisle is a writer and illustrator of speculative fiction – steampunk, Victorian mystery and fantasy.
She graduated in 1986, from Queensland Institute of Technology, with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Optometry, and lives in Adelaide with her family and the ghost of her ancient Devon Rex cat.
Karen first fell in love with science fiction when she saw Doctor Who, as a four-year old. This was reinforced when, at the age of twelve, she saw her first Star Destroyer. She started various other long-term affairs with fantasy fiction, (tabletop) role-playing, gardening, historical re-creation and steampunk – in that order.
She has had articles published in Australian Realms Roleplaying Magazine and her short story, An Eye for Detail, was short-listed by the Australian Literature Review in their 2013 Murder/Mystery Short Story Competition. Her short stories have featured in the 2016 Adelaide Fringe exhibition, ‘A Trail of Tales’, and the ‘Where’s Holmes?’ and ‘Deadsteam’ anthologies.
She writes full-time and can often be found plotting fantastical, piratical or airship adventures, and co-writing the occasional musical ditty.
Karen has always loved dark chocolate and rarely refuses a cup of tea.
She is not keen on the South Australian summers.
Good Morning! Happy Chocolate Fest or whatever fabulous festival you happen to be celebrating at this time of the year!
My name is Phoebe Darqueling and I write fiction that fans of Steampunk and Gaslamp fantasy love.
Here in Steampunk’d Lancaster we are enjoying the annual Aether Egg Hunt – a chance for authors to connect with their readers and give a little gift of thanks for all their support in the form of an Aether Egg or Small Gift linked to the fictional world they have created.
And here is my contribution to the fun!
You can do a digital jigsaw puzzle of the cover of my newest novel, No Rest for the Wicked. My record is 5 minutes. Think you got me beat? Leave a comment with your time.
Plus, you can preview the full first chapter of No Rest for the Wicked on
You can find my fiction books like No Rest for the Wicked on my Amazon page (www.bit.ly/PhoebeD)
and pickup a FREE copy of The Steampunk Handbook by signing up for my e-news. Find out more
And connect with on Twitter (@gearturns), Instagram (@phoebedarqueling), my Facebook fan group
Have a “hoppy” day and come back next time to get your next author giftie.
Good Morning! Happy Easter, or whatever fabulous festival you happen to be
celebrating at this time of the year!
My name is Karen J Carlisle and I write steampunk, Victorian mysteries, and fantasy.
Here in Steampunk'd Lancaster we are enjoying the annual Aether Egg Hunt – a chance
to give you a gift (or two) to thank you for your support: a short story and a game.
And what’s an Aether egg, you ask?
I’ll let Tillie (heroine of my new steampunk adventure series, The Department of
The Aether Egg
Sunlight flickered across Tillie’s eyelids. She opened her eyes, wriggled out from under the Egyptian cotton sheets and bounced to the edge of the bed. She grabbed the edge and plunged her head downward. A blonde ringlet slipped from the knotted rag, tumbled over her face and tickled her nose. She giggled and puffed it out of the way. There were more serious things afoot. She scanned the wooden floor boards under the bed.
She swung back upright; her head spun. She giggled again, placed her bare foot on the
polished wood, and waited for the butterflies in her stomach to land.
The silk robe was cool on her shoulders. Its cord danced behind her as she darted across the room, checking every secret nook and potential hiding place – inside her slippers, in her jewellery box, behind the toy box, on top of the wardrobe.
Tillie plopped onto the carpet rug and sighed. It was Monday. And Aunt Prudence had
Soft wool caressed her toes as she crept down the unlit stairs. The Parlour door was open.
Warm light trickled into the hallway.
“Is that you, dear?” Aunt Prudence’s voice was soft and welcoming.
Tillie tied the cord belt, straightened her robe and entered the room.
Blue velvet wallpaper lined the Parlour walls. Aunt Prudence sat in her favourite armchair, surrounded by matching blue-upholstered furniture. A fire crackled in the hearth.
“Good morning, Aunt Prudence.” Tillie’s gaze darted around the room.
“Are you looking for something, Little One?” Aunt Prudence smiled and rested her palm
on a small wooden box in her lap.
Tillie’s eyes widened. She skipped across the room and sat at her aunt’s feet.
“Is that…?” She licked her lips.
Aunt Prudence nodded and opened the box. Inside was a silk-wrapped egg as large as her fist. Fine golden cords criss-crossed the wrappings. Tillie lifted it gently. The cords fell away from the lower half of the egg. A small wicker basket dangled at the end of the cords.
“It’s like a little dirigible,” she gasped.
“It’s called an Aether egg.” said Aunt Prudence.
“It’s pretty,” cooed Tillie. “I shall hang it above my bed.”
Aunt Prudence leaned forward. “The balloon is made of French eating chocolate,” she
Tillie held her breath, peeled off the silk wrappings and bit into the rich, dark chocolate.
“When I grow up, I’ll own a real dirigible,” she said.
And now for a fun challenge: Follow this link and see how fast you can solve this jigsaw:
You can find my books here: https://karenjcarlisle.com/shop
And connect to me on the internet here:
You can sign up for my newsletter at: https://karenjcarlisle.com/sign-up-email-list/
Or support me on Patreon (for less than a cup of coffee a month and you get cool rewards!) https://www.patreon.com/KarenJCarlisle
Wishing you a Springtime filled with splendid shenanigans!
Do remember to keep an eye out this month and hunt down all the Aether Egg surprises that will be appearing each week until May!
Aether Egg image courtesy of Irum Shahid http://www.freeimages.com
Happy Spring Equinox!
My name is Madeleine Holly-Rosing and I write the steampunk supernatural series, Boston Metaphysical Society. If you’re not familiar with the series, it’s about an ex-Pinkerton detective, a spirit photographer, and a genius scientist who battle supernatural forces in late 1800s Boston.
Here in Steampunk’d Lancaster we are enjoying the annual Aether Egg Hunt – a chance for authours to connect with their readers and give a little gift of thanks for all their support in the form of an Aether Egg or Small Gift linked to the fictional world they have created.
And here is my contribution to the fun! The entire first six issues of the graphic novel series can be read online for FREE! Just pop on over to Boston Metaphysical Society website and start reading whenever you like.
It’s such a big world that I wrote two more graphic novels, a novel, and anthology.
You can find my books here:
Boston Metaphysical Society: A Storm of Secrets
Boston Metaphysical Society: Prelude
Boston Metaphysical Society: The Complete Series – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0996429220/
Boston Metaphysical Society: The Scourge of the Mechanical Men-
Boston Metaphysical Society: The Spirit of Rebellion (Available in May 2019)
You can find out more about me on the interwebs here:
Greetings! Today has happily brought yet another request for sources of information / research for writing authentic Rromani characters particularly in the sci fi / fantasy genre – this is great! I’m so happy that people are starting to get on board with this issue!
So I thought it would be a good idea to create a stripped down post that’s easy to point people at and quick to get info from on this topic. Here, then, are some quick tips for writing authentic Rromani characters in your fiction…
- Read Rromani Autobiography and Fiction.
We have a mantra “Nothing about us without us” and it’s a healthy one to keep in mind. The best way to learn about Rromani people is to read what our people have written about ourselves – not someone else’s interpretation of us, which (however well meant) is never going to be as authentic and accurate.
So, here’s a list of fabulous Rromani writers across many genres to get you started:
Nan Joyce and Anna Farmer
Hedina Tahirović Sijerčić
Luminiţa Mihai Cioabă
Katarina Taikon Langhammer
Writers who’ve done an especially cringey / bad / offensive job of writing Rromani characters include…
It’s worth reading them to learn what not to do! lol.
2. Ask why you want your character to be Rromani – if it’s just for exotic flavour or as a plot device then forget it, sorry but no one wants to be a tool! If the character is an authentic character in their own right with a personality, back story, potential for growth, development and future who just happens to Rromani, that’s the sort of representation we’re looking for 🙂
3. Avoid ‘research’ or ‘biography’ written by non-Rroma. Even if they have traveled or lived with Rromani people. Ask ‘why would someone want to study another group of people and why would they particularly choose Rromani people?’ Often the reason is that they find Rromani people exotic and so have paid a clan to let them ‘see the magic from the inside.’ You are an intelligent person, you can see the problems inherent in a mutually-exploitative situation like that! Other times a person who has adopted a new-age traveling lifestyle and spent time with Rromani travelling folk … the problem with authenticity here is that the writer may see the picture without the background – they tend to write about the current situation of the small, poverty stricken, desperate group of displaced Roma they encountered, without any understanding of how this situation came to be, how it affects the people they are writing about, how it compares to other groups of Roma around the world and, importantly, how compares to other groups of different cultures in the same conditions – because only then can we begin to separate socio-economic issues from cultural ones!
Some writers to avoid in this area include…
So, there you go – hopefully those are all quick, useful points to take away 🙂 Got any questions or other topics you’d like me write about on this issue? Leave me a note in the comments or drop me an email 🙂
Big blessings, Penny
Happy Saturday! Here’s my #RainbowSnippets post for this week – if you’re new to this, Rainbow Snippets is a chance to read and share 6 sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction every Saturday. There’s a huge variety from Steampunk, like mine, to Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Comedy and everything in between. You can join the fun and read all the other fabulous snippets at the wonderfully friendly and supportive official facebook group here 🙂
So, here is the next snippet from Jack and Marjory – my novella-in-progress which gives two of my Bi-Gendered characters a chance to tell something of their own little side-adventure, which actually had a massive impact on the history of Ire in a ‘behind-the-scenes’ kind of way.
If you missed last week’s snippet you can catch up here: #Rainbow Snippets: Jack and Marjory
If you want to start from the beginning you can do so here: https://blakeandwight.com/2018/09/29/rainbowsnippets-jack-and-marjory/
Jack and Marjory have landed themselves with an unwanted travelling companion and, in a sudden fit of paranoia possibly brought on by too much tea, they are trying to figure whether he is more than he seems… Apologies that this one is a cheeky bit over 6 sentences to keep things neat for next week…
“Demerara devised a chamber in which sugar-loving microbes were fed a solution of sweetened tea (also a left-over from the tiffin tables of the elite) and kept at a constant temperature of 131 degrees Fahrenheit. He then added the resulting sludge to the rancid cream in a second chamber, where the new mixture was deprived of oxygen and kept at a constant neutral ph. In just one week, the cream had yielded over eight times its mass in utilisable hydrogen gas! Can you imagine it?!”
“Not just now.” We was too busy imagining ways of escape… garotting the infuriating cretin with his own boot laces being one of them… no one, we felt strongly, had the right to hold us in such a quandry. But what to about it ? If he really was just a pitifully boring cove, murder seemed, perhaps, a little excessive (we should make it clear, Pal, that at this point we was naive in the ways of the world, had never actually dealt death to anyone and was subsiquently quite glib about contemplating it) On the other hand, if he really was one of Her Majesty’s Good Folk, or worse a wizard in disguise , we’d little chance of besting him no matter what we tried.
He shook his head “Here we are in the age of cream – locomotives, skyway trains, what next eh?”
We shrugged, “What next?”
He laughed, “Never a bad question that is it?” There was that disconcerting smile again.
being an entertaining and informative piece of travel writing by a couple of rogues on the run as they attempt to avoid the machinations of wizards, monarchs and a ruthless band of beatnik poets, deflect a civil war and deliver a priceless, historical tea set before the owner finds himself at the gallows.
Wishing you all a most splendiferous week and don’t forget to check in at the #rainbowsnippets facebook group for more fabulous snippets of LGBTQIA+ fiction 🙂
rainbow flower image courtesy of mariah22 at http://www.freeimages.com
book cover image by Renphoto
Greetings! Spring has sprung here in Steampunk’d Lancaster, the mechanical blossoms are opening, the drone pollinators are buzzing, the street corners are once again populated by pestilent urchins selling lemonade… what better way to celebrate spring in steampunk style than with an Aether Egg hunt?
An Aether Egg (similar to an Easter Egg in the world of Gaming) is a small gift to the reader in the form of a freebie / extract / lesser-known information or inside-joke as a way of saying thankyou for their support.
Throughout April, a host of fabulous steampunk authors will be sharing their Aether Eggs each week as part of our Awesome Steampunk Aether Egg Hunt – there are free book extracts, original artwork, online games and giveaways to look forward to and I really hope you’ll enjoy hunting them all down!
So, pop on a large pair of bunny ears, grab your basket and let’s begin! (Be warned though, many things can pop out of eggs besides cute fluffy spring chickies… perhaps pack that blunderbuss as well eh?)
Happy Hunting! – Penny 🙂
Aether Egg image courtesy of Irum Shahid http://www.freeimages.com
Good evening and welcome to my awe-inspiring aethenaeum of praiseworthy pamphlets…or as some ridiculous personages have dubbed it – my lovely library.
I am the ghost known as Perilous Wight and here in the bowels of the city of Lancaster, in the disused tunnels of an underground train system that never was, I have made it my mission to collect every book that our self-proclaimed ‘supreme ruler f the universe’ and his mincing minions have banned from the bookshelves of the new world.
But this is not a public thoroughfare! If you have wandered in here on the ill-advice of that incorrigible octopus and its unnerving Gentleman Friend, let me advise you not to be so easily lured into a parlour by strange creatures promising cake. Well, you will find nothing sweet and alluring down here; here there is only the dark and the damp, the flickering of candlelight and the ceaseless toil of a man who did not re-animate from the dead to be pestered by people wanting bedtime stories!
But wait…what’s that you have tucked away under your arm there? A bottle of vintage port eh? Oh…. well, yes perhaps it is about time I put my feet up for a while, pipe and slippers and a little drop of something, the day has, after all been a long one. And I suppose I could read a very little something,
like this perhaps… I have been tirelessly working over the summer, interviewing, stalking … I mean studying… the Hex Slingers of Lancaster, compiling an anthropological study of the lives of those who use magic illegally in the curated back-alley fight clubs – why and how have they come to their present situation? What are their stories? Well, here at least, is one of them…
TALES OF STEAMPUNK’D LANCASTER
SERIES 1: TALES OF THE HEX SLINGERS
TALE THE FOURTH: by ALLISON SHEPHERD
“My brooch!” I yelled as Mariah’s twinklepuff slam hit me full force in the chest
and sent me hurtling backwards into the wooden crates at the makeshift
gayelle’s edge. I hadn’t anticipated Mariah’s last pattern and was now
scrambling to catch my breath and get back on my feet. My brooch had ripped
off my bolero as the twinklepuff spell had infused the fibres of the old velvet.
My grandmother had made that brooch for me from the cogs of a broken toy
train and an old yuletide ornament. She’d fashioned the cogs into an owl tying
them together with copper wire, and using tiny emerald crystals pulled off the
bauble for the eyes. Every afternoon after school I’d go to her rag-and-bone
shop tucked away down a narrow cobblestone alley to wait for my parents.
She’d make a pot of Earl Grey with leaves from her “secret supplier” and tell
me stories of when her mother baked double-layered sponge cakes with
strawberry jam filling, and lighter-than-air profiteroles filled with sweet gooey
cream. “Earl Grey.” “Strawberry jam.” “Profiteroles.” I hadn’t heard those
words in almost a decade. My owl brooch had become my talisman, my
connection to my past.
I tried to stand but sat down quickly as my vision blurred. Mariah? This
powerful? I couldn’t understand; she was a third-rate slinger at best, over
estimating both her charms and her spells. Something was different. The
sophistication of the twinklepuff weavings and glitter were not her. Someone
was helping raise the level of her usually amorphous, sloppily put together
concoctions. Who? And why?
It was odd when Mariah had drawn the wildcard for our slingoff but I had
missed a few of the preliminary fights when I had gone out of town. Maybe
she’d improved and been bumped up a couple garnets, I thought. This was my
livelihood, and sometimes it’s better to shut up and sling. Now, as I sat
befuddled trying to clear my head and weave my threads, I saw a glint of silver-
black emanating from Mariah’s perfectly poised hands. Mariah who could
barely make a pattern for a pink-and-gold unicorn spell slinging an
onyxmirrorpearl? With advanced finger positions? I sat spellbound and the
omp smacked me flat. Blood gushed out of my nose, ruby red against my white
pin-tucked shirtwaist. Before I lost consciousness, I saw Emily, the bookie,
collecting from the disgruntled gamblers.
Gill found my brooch, the emerald crystals winking in the twilight-find spell he
cast. The healers had tried to revive me right away but the omp had proved
beautifully formed and knocked me out for hours. I lost my deposit and got
nothing for the night. According to Gill, Emily had been apologetic but could do
nothing as an unexpected large bet against me had her scrambling for gilt. Gill
had taken me home and tucked me up in bed with a hot water bottle, three
pillows and my favourite fluffy wrap. I was still in bed when he came back with
my brooch. I tried to sit up but the wave of nausea had me lying back gingerly
on the pillows. I closed my eyes clutching my owl, my fingers tracing the
notches along the cogs, and started to cry.
My parents were wizards, of course, fighting for Queen and country. They truly
believed that magic should be controlled and out of the hands of ‘ordinary’
people. My parents were strong weavers but by the time they disappeared (of
course) my abilities were rudimentary at best. I’d become a trope: orphan,
living with my grandmother, no magic. But as with my favourite fairy tales, this
was simply the beginning of the story.
My parents had taken an assignment to escort our Queen to Boss Town for a
diplomatic sojourn, or that was what the official correspondence claimed. We
knew better: an excuse for the elite to sample new-fangled sweet marvels and
magiscience tea twists. Mum and dad couldn’t say too much but they were
more tight-lipped than usual as they hugged me goodbye and dropped me off
at Gran’s. We never saw them again. I was fourteen.
Gran moved in with me. I finished school at sixteen and tried out for the
apprentice wizard programme. I didn’t qualify even though my parents had
been senior civil servants. Apparently, according to the report, I didn’t have the
“right attitude, and my spells were nonexistent.” Gran and I eked out a living
from the shop. I met Quelin her “tea supplier,” a jovial smuggler who was able
to find the choicest leaves for us, and sometimes, just sometimes, the tiniest
silver-sprinkled cupcakes. He’d never tell where he got them but always
tapped the side of his nose with his forefinger, “It’s best you don’t know, my
darling,” he’d say, “because if anything happened to me, you might be running
for your life from some nasty bits.” He’d glance across at Gran, who would
pretend to be engrossed with a length of glitterwool handicraft, or checking
her numbers in the accounts book. They thought I never noticed but I always
I had turned seventeen the year of the Youshallnevereatcake Spring, a short-
lived, half-hearted coup d’etat by a handful of boisterous youngsters. It was
quashed by the wizards within hours, the rebels marched through the streets
to the palace courts. I rushed home to tell Gran only to find her in the garden,
sitting in her favourite chair under the willow tree, a cold cup of Earl Grey in
her lap. She looked as though she were taking an afternoon nap, the breeze
ruffling her mop of curls. I clasped her inert hands, and wept.
I started hex slinging in the underground circuit soon after.
Of course my latent abilities eventually showed up, stronger than either of my
parents but without proper training and guidance, it was a mess. My early
slingoffs were either a triumph of a knockout, or me vomiting an endless
stream of bile in a dank corner, a side-effect of using pure, raw magic. Through
practice, and more practice, and much much more vomiting, I learnt to control
and weave almost beautiful hexes. I found a circle of friends who helped me in
the nine years since Gran died: Gill, Emily, Jendra. And I still ran the shop. It
didn’t make much but had become a safe place for us to meet to try out new
patterns and concoctions, catch up on gossip and, yes, of course, find a way to
bring back tea, cakes and magic: we’d been denied our right to a free life for
As I clutched my brooch in my hand, tears streaming down my face confusing
Gill to no end, I realised that Mariah’s win tonight had shifted our timetable. It
hadn’t been subtle, literally a punch to my gut. Someone had wanted our
attention. No longer was our light-hearted, drinking-after-a-slingoff chant of
“Tea, Cake, Magic For All!” a someday cake-in-the-sky dream; someone, or
someones, wanted us ready now. And I was terrified.
Allison Shepherd enjoys reading and writing speculative fiction, especially paranormal romance. She teaches at the medical school at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, and has had her work published in bmj Medical Humanities, Tales From the Fluffy Bunny, and is upcoming in Lycan Valley Press Publications “Darkling’s Beasts and Brews”. https://mh.bmj.com/content/43/3/e33 https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Fluffy-Bunny-Various-Authors/dp/1942450699
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Max and Collin’s exuberantly experimental and improbably porcine parlour located beneath the grimy streets of the splendidly scencic city of Steampunk’d Lancaster.
True some will call our flamboyant descriptions of our subterranean safe-house ‘Hogwash’ but we consider that such people are merely swine.
You find us this morning with a dead pig on the rug. This is entirely the fault of Nimue Brown and we take no responsibility for the matter whatsoever. (As Max says, “A True Gentleman never takes responsibility for anything, if he can help it, least of all his own actions.”) We have done some research and ordered a new pig and some beer and a couple of Conservative MPs and hope the thing will go better next time… What?
… Max says I am painting a very suspect and inaccurate picture of events and he would like me to make it clear that a) Max was not in any way involved with the pig , b) the purpose of the pig in the parlour was completely innocent and c) all we did was feed the pig substandard black-market tea which likely consisted of a large amount of brick dust and asbestos and this caused it to keel over and die. d) Max was in no way involved with the pig…
What? … no I don’t think that by making point d) a repetition of point a) it makes it sound as though you were involved with the pig Max… and I’m sure none of our dear friends here would think that of you in any case, I mean, I know you’re shackled to a regrettable romantic history but… owch! … right. Fine. I see cruelty to animals is not beneath you afterall. I shall say no more about it.
Anyway, you didn’t come here to listen to us bickering over a dead pig, you came to enjoy some marvelous tea and some splendid steampunk fiction. So, let us kick our tentacles up on the table, and do just that… Our tea this morning is Dandelion and Burdock brew by Muddy Boots (we are not usually fans of Dandelion, as you know, but coupled with Burdock here it is quite sweet and delicious) and to accopany it, what better than this…
The Dandelion Farmer is a magnificently crafted steampunk’d science-fiction novel that could easily stand alongside any of the sci-fi classics, and indeed should be considered essential reading for anyone keen to expand their collection to include modern gems alongside the familiar old.
Humans have colonised Mars and the Dandelion Farmer is trying to grow plants for bio-fuel while fending off the underhanded tactics of his land-grabbing adversary. But when a stranger appears on the farm needing assistance events rapidly spiral into a dark and thrilling journey through a twisted labyrinth of past and present with some very real demons.
McCall’s Mars has an 1800s American Western feel and holds a critical mirror both to that colonial era here on Earth, and to our current socio-political climate. It is an exceptional work of science fiction with a steampunk flavour and we look forward to reading and reviewing the next book in the series , The Hour Glass Sea, when it is released.
And now that appears to be the door … hopefully it is either the butcher or our new pet… hm? You’ll call who? The R.S what? Well there’s really no need to be like that you know… why don’t you calm down, put that dueling parasol away and stay for lunch? We’re having bacon sandwiches… OWCH! … Max stop cowering behind the sofa and protect me, our guests have been inexplicably incited to violence!…
Note from Penny: No pigs, octopuses or Very Quiet Gentlemen were actually harmed during this tea party. Well, not much… certainly no more than they deserved…