Sunday, June 22, 2014

Climate Change by Daniel Durrant : Tens List with Excerpt

 




Steampunk Top Ten
by Daniel Durrnat
 

I’ve known disciples of the genre to have heated debates on the distinction between genuine steampunk and other works that are merely steampunk influenced. However, I have made an executive decision: this is simply a list of elements that have helped shape my own love of the genre. Make of it what you will.  

 

1.      Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for bringing horror to the table. It may be steampunk after-the-fact, but this perverse marriage of nature and science still speaks loudly.

2.      HG Wells’ work as a whole, for the manner in which technology gate-crashes Victorian England. It lends his work an underlying sense of unreality, a sense of things that simply should not be, and his work still feels unique today.

3.      Stephen Baxter’s Anti Ice. A pure steampunk novel in which an unexpected discovery means we have space flight in the Victorian era. Despite winning several awards, it seems to be out of print! Enjoy this well-kept secret as soon as you can.

4.      Robert Rankin’s The Witches of Chiswick. As you’d expect from this author, it is not a serious novel, but an extremely funny look at a kind of Steampunk alternate timeline. I giggled all the way through it.

5.      Renegade Software’s The Chaos Engine. A classic video game from the nineties - a mysterious device has opened a gateway, filling Victorian London with all manner of beasts. Loved it. Still worth a play now and again.

6.      Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London. It’s billed as an Urban Fantasy novel, but has a big Steampunk vibe. Incredibly original, and a marvellous idea; shows how you can dare to be different.

7.      Orion Pictures Time After Time.  In a kind of meta-fiction twist movie, HG Wells pursues Jack the Ripper from 1893 London to 1979 San Francisco. Believable? No. Fun? Absolutely. Look, let’s call it a guilty pleasure, OK?

8.      Paramount Pictures Young Sherlock Holmes. The great detective meets weird goings-on at his school. Not really Steampunk but close in spirit; gadgets and mystery are all around.

9.      Phillip Pullman’s The Ruby in the Smoke. Technically a YA novel, but anyone can enjoy characters this good. So vivid it feels like you’ve really travelled back to the Victorian era. 

10.  Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.  It’s only just started airing in the UK, but I love it already. It’s Victorian London with monsters, killers and arcane technology – what more can you ask for?



Climate Change

Daniel Durrant


 

In a world driven by steam and power-hungry Industrialists, can one man change the course of history?

Edward Rankine, inventor and engineer aboard the battle-cruiser Dominator, has devised an ingenious plan to open the frozen Northwest Passage.

Believing he is performing a service for the benefit of mankind, Edward is appalled to discover there is a saboteur in his midst.

Working with a crew of ‘Jacks and Jills’, mechanically enhanced humans sentenced to a life of servitude, Edward is forced to battle on the icebound waters of the northern seas.

Not only does Edward have a mutiny on his hands, but he must also find a way to save the passengers aboard the Dominator, possibly abandoning his own noble ambition in the process.

Will Edward’s plan succeed in the face of adversity, or in failing to clear the Northwest Passage will he stumble upon something greater?

 

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On the ride out, Edward tried to glimpse the modifications that were his design. All space forward was taken by three quadruple turrets. They began to pass the castle, but before the stern became visible, the ship was lost in a fog bank of her own making.
“She has decay engines?” Charlotte asked, watching steam engulf the superstructure.
“Yes, four.” He pointed at the cooling towers. “I can arrange a tour if you’d like,” he offered, hoping to impress.
“Yes.” She smiled. “I would.”
After hopping off at the loading pavilion, they pushed through the crowd and showed their papers to the Royal Marine manning the embarkation point. He directed them toward the nearest elevator, but as they approached, an enormous man began to close the gate.
“Hold, if you please!” Edward called, hurrying forward.
The giant hesitated, but dropped the latch at the signal of an expensively dressed woman standing beside him. The platform began to climb, but those aboard were unprepared. Near the guardrail, two men struggling with a huge portmanteau overbalanced.
Muscles battled gravity as the platform continued skyward. Gravity won. The luggage teetered on the edge before plummeting down, dragging one of the men behind it. They landed together. Clothes, trinkets, and blood dispersed across the unforgiving stone.
“Medic!” Charlotte yelled, running forward. “We need a doctor!”
Edward knelt down and grabbed the man’s wrist, but found no pulse.
“We shan’t need one, I’m afraid.” He shook his head.
“He’s dead?”
“Don’t trouble yourself, Miss,” a marine said. “He’s only a Jack.”
“A Jack?” Edward removed the man’s woolen hat. The scalp beneath was fashioned not from flesh, but metal. A bundle of wires trailed down under his collar. He stood, and looked around. Free from distraction, it was obvious; the stevedores moved with the stilted gait of the converted.
“You bloody fools!” The woman from the elevator barged past them, directing her staff to clean up. “Don’t touch that!” she shouted, as a maid picked up an ornate music box. She snatched the item away, and passed it to the tall man.
“Can I be of assistance?” Edward offered.
“I very much doubt it!” His offer seemed to feed her anger, but then she calmed. “It was a gift from my father,” she said, perhaps trying to justify her outburst. “Excuse us.”
“Lady Holden,” Charlotte murmured, as they climbed aboard another elevator. “I see she’s every bit as charming as her reputation suggests.”
The name seemed familiar, but Edward had no chance to enquire about it.
As they stepped aboard, a young man burst through a service door, charging toward them.
“Stop!” someone hollered, but the man paid no heed. He dashed for a loading ramp, but a gunshot ended his journey. He collapsed beside them, blood erupting from his chest.
Marines ran forward with guns drawn, but had no more targets.
“Sir? Madam? Are you alright?” An officer lowered his weapon, and stepped forward.
Edward looked at the would-be escapee. Blood spread unchecked until it hit the edge of the plank under him. Acting like a miniature dyke, the caulking carried it to the gunwale drain.
“Yes, we’re fine. Thank you, Lieutenant,” Charlotte replied.
A rhythmic hammering sound finally drew Edward’s attention from the body. Looking up, he saw Captain Fitzjames approaching. Standing nearly seven feet tall on his pneumatic legs, he strode forward to join them.
“I must apologize,” the Captain said. “Hardly an appropriate welcome, Miss Redpath.” He smiled. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”
“Captain.” She nodded. “I was most grieved to hear of your injury at the battle of Buenos Aires.”
Redpath? Charlotte Redpath? Edward tried hard to keep his face blank, but knew he’d failed. Charlie? Stunned, he shook his head.
“Chance hit from a shore battery, but the objective was achieved. The Argentine Navy was completely destroyed.” Shrugging, he tapped the brass thigh tank. “The admiralty insists my uniform should be tailored to hide them, but I believe it does the men good to see that officers share the danger with them.” He turned to Edward. “Doctor Rankine, I presume?”
“Yes, Captain.” As a civilian, Edward had no protocol to observe, but pulled himself upright nonetheless. “It’s an honor, sir.”
“Hmn. Frankly, I don’t care for what you’ve done to my ship, Doctor. The loss of the aft turret concerns me.” He frowned, but then a narrow smile crossed his lips. “However, I must admit I’m curious to see the system in action.”
“Sir, look at this.” Kneeling beside the body, a Marine pulled the man’s shirt open. A small tree was tattooed on his sternum.
“Creationist!” Fitzjames growled. Air hissed from a bleed valve as he stamped a foot. “Lieutenant, organize a search-”
“Sir, we have another one!” Two Marines exited from the nearest elevator, dragging a man between them. “Caught him in the engine room, sir. Chief Engineer said he was tampering with the vortex transducers.”
“You are aboard a vessel of the Royal Navy,” Fitzjames said, clipping off each word. “Sabotaging a ship-of-the-line carries a mandatory life sentence. Take him for marionisation.”
“No!” The man sagged down between his captors. Only their grip prevented his collapse. “Captain, I beg you!”
“I’m sorry, son. It’s too late for that.” He hesitated. “Be grateful we have a good surgeon. It won’t hurt.”
Listening to him scream as the Marines hauled him away, Edward wondered if the dead man hadn’t been the luckier one. At least he couldn’t suffer any more.
“Captain, chance seems an unlikely explanation for this,” he said, trying to focus. “We have to consider that someone has leaked details of our mission.”
“You’re suggesting there’s a traitor aboard the Dominator?” Fitzjames snarled.
Thinking himself the target of the Captain’s anger, Edward took a step back.
“Damn it, you’re right. Too much coincidence.” He called the officers close. Through clenched teeth, he ordered an immediate departure. “We don’t want a panic. Keep this quiet, but place double guards on all restricted areas.” Surrounded by his entourage, he walked away, still issuing orders.
“You’re Charlotte Redpath?” Edward asked.
“The last time I checked, yes.” She looked down at herself.
“You might have told me.” The daughter of one of the wealthiest industrialists in the world, and he’d taken her for some grubby scout. Edward shook his head, feeling dizzy. He couldn’t take much more of this. As if the expedition alone wasn’t terror enough, trouble had struck before the ship could even sail.
“I’m sorry, Edward.” She touched his arm. “Don’t sulk. It wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun.”
“Oh, Miss Redpath?” Fitzjames turned back. “As I said, this is a vessel of the Royal Navy.” He gestured at her filthy clothes. “Sponsor or not, Her Majesty’s rules dictate a dress code.”



 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Durrant is a new author writing mainly in the horror and science fiction genres. His short stories have been published in anthologies in the UK and USA, and he is currently working on his first full-length novel. He lives on the Norfolk Coast in England.

 


 

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