Welcome to the blog tour for Steel and Bone: Nine Steampunk adventures! I’m excited to kick off the tour this week leading up to the release of Xchyler Publishing‘s new anthology on June 27th. Today I’ll share my perspective of the anthology as one of the authors featured in this work, as well as an excerpt of my story, “Curio Cay.”
Before you go, be sure to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of the post!
I’m fairly new to the world of Steampunk. When I wrote “Curio Cay,” I considered what I knew about the genre: a kind of loosely interpretive alternate history that specifically incorporates fantasy technology or “retro-futuristic” trappings. From there, I did a little historical research to set up my characters, and looked up an old classic called The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, which I used as a template for the world premise. Then I made up everything else.
My world is a combination of the old, the new, and the never-before-seen. Steampunk is fun to write that way, and also fun to read, precisely because it is an emerging genre with a wide range of what it can be. It could be romance. It could be mystery. It could be horrific, adventurous, humorous; a technology-oriented sci-fi with lots of working details, or a magically assisted universe that is lighter on technobabble and full of wonder. Anything is possible.
That is exactly what you will find in this anthology. The creativity of my fellow authors in Steel and Bone is boundless and delightful. If you’re looking for an introduction to the world of Steampunk, this is a great place to wet your pallet and get a feel for the range of the genre. There is wonderful talent here to keep an eye out for in the future as well.
It has been a delight to contribute to this anthology, and I hope others will enjoy it as well.
Excerpt from “Curio Cay”
“Curio Cay” shifts between the perspectives of Ebenezer Moreau and his wife Mary Anning. The couple returned to the Jurassic to rehabilitate a pair of “bird-lizards” called “blueysaurs” that washed up on their prehistoric cay a week prior. They were taken by surprise when a terrible machine with a mind of its own attacked them. In the opening scene, Ebenezer confronts the mechanical monstrosity that turned their world upside down.
The blueysaur carcass had already begun to stink in the sweltering morning heat of the Jurassic cay. Its scaly, wine-colored hide was covered in fine red and gold down, with pale blue stripes running from eyes to tail tip on either side that made it look like a hairy, bipedal reptile about the size of a large turkey. The long, toothy snout lay open in the sand, and blood marred the beautiful, ethereal pattern of the feathers.
“I know you’re there, son of Robert,” crooned a pleasant male synthesis ribbed with an unpleasant electric buzz. The engine crouched over the blueysaur carcass in the clearing beyond the primeval thicket. Ferns and cycads made up the majority of the cay’s vegetation.
A chill permeated Ebenezer’s skin, augmented by the sweat and salt water drenching his torn clothing. His father had built that machine. Angry, desperate to save his wife from pain, he didn’t dare move closer, but he couldn’t run away without the blueysaur skin now. Mary’s arm depended on it.
“If you and your mate wish to escape this island alive, do not cower there in the plants.”
There was no point waiting for it to come to him. Slowly, heart pounding, Ebenezer crept toward the carcass until he stood a few meters away from the contraption that had tried to kill him and his wife.
The engine bore a massive metal skull the size of a traveling trunk. A pair of bright blue lights beamed out of deep sockets like eyes. Its body wasn’t a mere solid mass but a humming, intricate network of steel and brass parts rapidly rearranging themselves over and over again. Earlier, the engine had an armless torso, three-pronged feet, and a long, plated tail that whipped back and forth behind it. Now, instead of the birdlike feet and a tail, the parts arranged themselves to give the machine a strikingly humanoid form in shape and articulation. It had arms as well as legs, with hands and feet, ten fingers and ten toes. The engine fixed its fiery blue eye beams on Ebenezer with a mechanical swivel of its skull, and rose to a fully upright posture at a height of about five meters.
“What do you want, Devil Machine?”
“Call me Hanker.” Ebenezer shook with terror. His outrage, and his desperation to make sense of everything that had happened to turn his life upside down in the past hour, kept his feet planted.
“Hunger pains me, but I cannot satisfy it,” said Hanker. “I have no belly, yet my belly burns and burns.”
“You’re lying to me, Hanker. Machines do not feel hunger.”
The machine turned away from Ebenezer and picked through the singed remains of its companion engine further back in the vegetation. It pried the mouth open and stripped away parts. At last it tore out a copper box the size of a football. This it tossed to Ebenezer, who caught the thing against his chest with both arms. Thick goo oozed from a series of large holes perforating the box like Swiss cheese. The smell was horrid. It was like rotten eggs and roasted liver.
When Ebenezer got over the smell and took a closer look at what he held, he recognized the liquefied gray tissue inside it. “You’re bioelectric. A really massive bioelectric.”
“Do you believe me now when I say I am hungry, and it is torture that my mind inhabits a body that cannot eat? Yet, it is the least of the tortures my mind has endured at the hands of Robert Moreau.”
Ebenezer scrutinized the engine with a new sense of awe and pity. He couldn’t help it, try as he might to push the feelings away. “Why were you made, beast of metal? What is your purpose?”
The engine gave a dark chuckle. “He tried to make us human, like you. But some of us are too hungry, too self-aware to be programmed to be something we are not.”
Ebenezer frowned in perplexity. Make them human? What did the engine mean? He eyed the blueysaur carcass at the engine’s feet. He needed to get the skin and return to Mary before the clamp cutting off the circulation in her arm caused even more damage. “I thought you wanted to kill us. Or would you have me believe you only attacked us because you were driven by this unnatural hunger?”
“Oh, the hunger is the most natural sensation I know, I can assure you of that.” The engine picked up the blueysaur carcass by the neck and held it out in front of its skull. It opened its jaw and popped several jagged metal parts into place like teeth.
“No!” Ebenezer jerked a hand out and took a step forward.
The machine chuckled again. “Oh, is this something you’re interested in? Because I’d very much like to sink my metal into it.”
“Please don’t, I beg you! I . . . I need it.”
“I figured as much from the way you fawned over it a moment ago.”
“What do you want?”
“I wish to make a bargain.”
Ebenezer thought he could guess what bargain the engine had in mind.
Follow the other stops on the tour:
Slithers of Thought (that’s me!): http://www.SlithersOfThought.com
Will MacMillan Jones: willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com
Searching For Stories: bmkstories.squarespace.com
Author Jason King: authorjasonking.com
Janci Patterson: jancipatterson.com
Ever On Word: everonword.wordpress.com
Warped Factor: www.warpedfactor.com
Scotty Watty Doodle All The Day: scottywattydoodlealltheday.blogspot.com
The Ink Caster: www.inkcaster.wordpress.com
Kathy Cowley: www.katherinecowley.com
Dave Butler Writes: davidjohnbutler.com/dave-butler-writes
Nikki Trionfo: www.nikkitrionfo.com
Scott Tarbet: scotttarbet.timp.net
Loving the Book Events is continuing the blog Tour from June 28 through July 4th. If you are interested in participating in the blog tour yourself, or in following along to get to know more about the authors and their stories, check out this link to their Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1616565941956586/
There will be a book bomb on the day of the release, Saturday, June 27th. All purchases made on or before the day of the release will boost the anthology’s sales rank on Amazon. Follow this link to preorder the Kindle Edition: http://amzn.to/1RTxc6f.
There are lots of cool prizes you could win in the giveaway, including a $20 ThinkGeek gift certificate, a hand-crafted lacewood pen, a skeleton pocket watch, wicked-awesome keychains, a steampunk pennant, a ball-and-chain prop, a Steel and Bone poster, t-shirts, and ebooks!
One perk of purchasing your copy of Steel and Bone in advance is that it gives you extra entries into the Rafflecopter Giveaway. (This option will become available as the tour progresses).
Entering the giveaway is easy: just use the widget below, then like, share, or promote the anthology in any way you wish. The giveaway ends on July 2nd.