Today we welcome steampunk author Robert Appleton. Don’t forget to comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of Prehistoric Clock!
Award-winning writer Robert Appleton is a British author of science fiction, steampunk and historical fiction. He currently writes for Carina Press and other top digital publishers. Soccer and kayaking are his two favorite outdoor activities. He has traveled far but loves the comfort of reading Victorian adventure novels or watching movies at home. His mind is somewhat mercurial. His inspiration is the night sky.
The Girl With the Gannet Ship
Concerning that most adventuresome novel, Prehistoric Clock
by Robert Appleton
Gannet—noun: large heavily built seabird with a long stout bill noted for its plunging dives for fish
Let me tell you, it ain’t easy being the captain of a Gannet airship, especially the Empress Matilda. Designed for air and sea rescue, it’s a clunky hybrid vesssel whose upper deck can detach, making it a steam-powered boat and an airship. You’re also in charge of an all-African crew recruited from the hunter-gatherer tribes of Namibia and Central Africa. Luckily you have a hell of a first officer in Tangeni, whose grasp of English is impeccable, including some tart colloquialisms.
But you’ve inherited command of the Matilda during a wicked storm over the Channel, during an incredibly dicey bomb disposal mission on the sea bed you have to complete personally. As in…go deep sea diving, by way of a state-of-the-art diving bell and a custom-fitted suit, to dismantle a sunken cache of explosives…before they rupture a vital pipeline.
Bah, let me at ‘em, you say? Well, what if you’re a twenty-five-year-old redheaded Englishwoman, and quite a bit shorter than anyone else on board? And you’ve never captained anything before? And you wake up to find yourself in the Cretaceous Period, alongside a large, demolished slice of Whitehall and Westminster? That roar you hear isn’t the storm either. It’s from something very big and very angry, stalking your way.
I loved writing the heroine of Prehistoric Clock, Verity Champlain, because she’s exactly what I envisioned a female steampunk adventurer to be when I first heard of the genre. Tough, resourceful, uniquely dressed, she always has something to prove but she’s fiercely loyal to anyone she admires. Looks-wise, I always pictured Deborah Kerr from King Solomon’s Mines, but Verity’s no damsel. The African crew gave her the nickname “Eembu”, short for eembulukwaye, which I won’t spoil here. But they have tremendous respect for Verity, whose exploits in the Dark Continent are known by tribes far and wide.
Yet, what will the stiff-necked British nobs make of her when survival in this prehistoric age requires her ship and her expertise? Who will take orders from whom?
One of my favourite aspects of steampunk is its revisionist historical approach. Writers have a chance to flip Victorian social and political mores on their heads, or at least have a lot of fun tweaking them. These progressive heroines might spring from a Jane Austen fever dream, roaming the skies at the prows of airships, fighting villainous masterminds with parasol swords, or flirting in the dark with debonair, monster-hunting Darcys. Though I wonder what she’d make of some of the costumes!
I usually attribute my love of steampunk to a long-time fascination with Victorian/Edwardian science fiction and adventure novels—Wells, Verne, Haggard, Conan Doyle—but the one thing missing from those books is perhaps the most prominent feature of this genre: a heroine every bit the equal of the hero. It’s as though we wind the clock back to yesteryear, quickly wind it forward again to the 21st Century, then giggle in delight as the two meet explosively (but ever so politely).
Anything could—and does—happen.
Published by Carina Press
Airship officer Verity Champlain is well-respected by her crew. But after a vital mission nearly goes wrong, she is having second thoughts about her career.
Lord Garrett Embrey is on the run. The Leviacrum Council, the secretive scientific body that holds sway over the Empire, executed his father and uncle and now they want him dead too.
Professor Cecil Reardon is consumed by grief. Since his wife and son died he’s been obsessed with his work, and now he is on the verge of an extraordinary scientific breakthrough: his machine is about to breach time itself, to undo fate’s cruel taking of his loved ones.
But the time jump doesn’t go according to plan, and part of London winds up millions of years in the past. Verity and her crew—Lord Embrey, Professor Reardon and others stranded with them—must pull together to survive in a world ruled by dinosaurs…and to somehow get home.
Read the first three chapters HERE!
I’m giving away TWO free e-book copies of Prehistoric Clock. If you’d like a chance to win one, simply leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick the winners in a week’s time. Thanks for reading, and good luck! Open internationally, contest closes July 11, 11:59 PM PST.