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Florence_Stoker

Florence Balcombe Stoker

If you don’t have access to ShowTime and you’ve been wondering what Penny Dreadful is all about, let me clue you in. I enjoy the show and recommend it. Ethan Chandler a Wild Bill Cody type is hired by Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives to find and rescue his daughter, Mina Hunter, kidnapped by Dracula. Dr. Frankenstein teams up with them as well. And Dorian Gray is added to the mix.

This is my third post for Halloween month, October, so it’s Bram Stoker and Dracula’s turn. It is not a proven fact but it has been reported by many Stoker biographers that he died of syphilis. It was a disease that plagued many in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. When dracula attacks someone he infects them with vampirism and it’s easy to see the possible connection with a disease like syphilis. It’s not hard to discern his guilt and concern over possibly infecting his wife and also in being unfaithful to a woman he loved. Bram Stoker married actress Florence Balcombe in 1878. She’d previously been engaged to Oscar Wilde. From all accounts they had a strong marriage and shared a deep love for each other. We can see those intense emotions in Jonathan’s feelings for Mina.

Bram Stoker

Some interesting tidbits on Bram Stoker s he was  Irish, while Dracula is Eastern European For that reason, you may not have noticed the author’s Celtic roots showing in the story but I assure you they are there. It is said he actually wrote his first draft of Dracula while he was a guest at Slains. The Slain castle in Aberdeenshire Scotland is often considered an inspiration for Dracula’s castle in the book.

On his mother’s side Bram Stoker happened to be a direct descendent of ’Manus O’Donnell (Manus ‘the Magnificent. He was an Irish clan leader who led a rebellion against Henry VIII in the 16th century. Bram Stoker drew on his lineage to write of a man with a great past as a warrior and ruler now displaced by the passage of history, living in the shadows, in other words it is also the story of Bram Stoker’s ancestry.

It has been said that as a little boy in Ireland Bram Stoker’s mother often told him stories including horror stories. They must have included Irish folk lore.There are many tales of dark vampiric fey in Celtic mythology. These dark fey are often extremely beautiful and seductive. The vampiric fey, the baobhan sith,  always roamed together as sisters. In Dracula, Bram Stoker’s description of the three sisters in the vampire’s castle seems similar to dark Celtic fey.

Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina’s eyes and cause her pain; but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on. One said:—

“Go on! You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin.” The other added:—

“He is young and strong; there are kisses for us all.”

Because authors Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and Oscar Wilde pulled deep from within and wrote emotion and human pain into their stories we can connect with the horrors they created. We feel what the monsters feel. We can see bits of ourselves in these monsters …and that is what makes them scariest of all.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 22 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus.

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If you don’t have access to ShowTime and you’ve wondered what Penny Dreadful is all about, let me clue you in. I enjoy the show and recommend it. Ethan Chandler a Wild Bill Cody type is hired by Sir Malcolm Murray and Vanessa Ives to find and rescue his daughter, Mina Hunter, kidnapped by Dracula. Dr. Frankenstein teams up with them as well. And Dorian Gray is added to the mix.

In honor of Penney Dreadful and Halloween month, October, I’m writing my three posts this month on Bram Stoker who gave us Dracula, Mary Shelley, who gave us Frankenstein, and Oscar Wilde who gave us Dorian Gray.

This post is for Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. “There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise and cruel for that.”- from The Picture of Dorian Gray. It first came out as a serial story in July 1890 in Lippincott’s Monthly, a literary and science magazine published in Philadelphia.

In Penny Dreadful, Dorian is the sexy character. No one, male or female, can resist him. Oscar Wilde wrote him as the corruptible sort that ruins many young men and young women’s lives. Many things can be said about Mr. Wilde, the main one is he could write. He was well skilled in the craft. As soon as I began to read Dorian Gray I noticed Oscar Wilde’s brilliant dialogue tags.

Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazement through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy opium-tainted cigarette. “Not send it anywhere? My dear fellow, why? Have you any reason? What odd chaps you painters are! You do anything in the world to gain a reputation. As soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away. It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of any emotion.”

Great writing is timeless. Without question, Oscar Wilde was a great writer. As shown above, he begins the story with a secret. The artist, Basil Hallward will not exhibit his exquisite painting of Dorian Gray. Later in the book it’s revealed it’s because he’s so obsessed with Dorian he fears people looking at the portrait will be able to detect his love for the man.

Dorian is incredibly attractive, easy going, and innocent. He falls in love with an actress in a second rate theatre who performs in several Shakespearean plays. When Dorian takes his friends to see one of her performances, her acting is off. She didn’t put her usual level of passion into her performance due to that fact that she’d fallen in love with Dorian and acting wasn’t important to her any more. Only Dorian was important to her. So he dumps her. He loved her because of her talent. When he comes home he finds the portrait has changed – there is a line of cruelty at the mouth. He recalls the day the picture was finished he thought it unfair the painting would always be so beautiful but he would age. He’d wished it could be the other way, he’d stay young and the portrait would age. Then Dorian discovered the actress committed suicide because of him and things slide downhill from there. The picture changes not only with each mark of age but with each sinful act he commits while Dorian appears as young and innocent as when he sat for the painting.

There is a quote from the book, “Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.” The intense raw pain of the author is something all three books: Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Picture of Dorian Gray have in common. In The Picture of Dorian Gray readers share the emotional split Oscar Wilde endured just like the two Dorian Grays: one a picture and one a man. The hidden picture is more real than the man. In the Victorian era homosexuality was not only considered repulsive by society it was a crime. While reading Dorian Gray we feel Oscar Wilde’s pain in having to hide his real self, the guilt he felt and the confusion of having desires considered at the time to be horrid and unnatural. The Picture of Dorian Gray was banned and also used against Oscar Wilde in his trail in 1895. Convicted of gross indecency, he was sentenced to two years of hard labor.  The intense pain embedded in the story is one of the main things which make the book so timeless and so great.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 22 published books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, and happy endings. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Her latest Steampunk Romance is The Brass Octopus.

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dictionaryI’ve been reading an annotated version of a Jane Austen book and while I find the book fascinating, the notes on the right-handed pages are even better. I’ve read my share (and then some) of books written IN or about Regency and Victorian eras, but we never truly know ‘everything.’ It’s only through continued reading and researching that we grasp a good and thorough understanding of these fascinating eras of time.

When I read the title ‘Sense & Sensibility’ – I read it as being ‘having good sense and being sensitive’ – referring to ability or inability of the characters to have the good sense to make decisions and be sensitive toward others… qualities that I felt Marianne lacked and Elinor had in droves… but wait a minute…

Sensibility – the ability to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity [in the annotation it says that the meaning is ‘strong feelings’]

Strong Feelings? Not Sensitivity? Boy howdy have I been ‘off’ about this! I’m going to have to find an annotated version of Sense & Sensibility… *sigh*

Let’s take a look at a few other words –

Disgusting – arousing revulsion or strong indignation [in the annotation it says that the meaning is distasteful]

Character – the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual [annotation – reputation]

Interesting – arousing curiosity or interest, catching attention [annotation – important]

Years from now… when readers delve into the universes that we create… will their vocabulary be different than what we use today? Will they understand what we intended when we set the words down in print/ereader file?

Will they understand the difference based on the context of our words? Will they rely on annotations of our works? Or… will their altered understanding of the vocabulary be… just fine? Will they enjoy the story even more… or look to understand our creativity by broadening their knowledge of our ‘times’ and ‘vocabulary’?

Thoughts?

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ALNTcoverThe dark twists and turns of Edgar Allan Poe’s mind have inspired many a nightmare and some hazy imaginings…

Aadenian Press has published “All the Night-Tide” – an anthology of Steampunk stories inspired by poems written by the Victorian writer.

This is the first of TWO posts about the release of “All the Night-Tide”


I asked Hazel Butler, the editor of the collection, about the anthology.

“When we were first batting around ideas for this anthology, there were a lot of them. So many possibilities. It was, however, eventually decided that since Aädenian Ink was founded for the express purpose of publishing Gothic and Steampunk art and fiction, it seemed natural that this, our first anthology, reflect that goal. The possibility of drawing on the works of Edgar Allan Poe presented itself very early on in the creative process as he is a much-loved Gothic author, and has such a wide range of works. It was decided that each piece in the anthology should be based on one of Poe’s uniquely dark and delicious poems. It was further decided that we wanted these stories to have a Steampunk twist to them.”

The selection process for stories can seem mysterious to some. Hazel explained how the stories were picked  for the anthology.

“The process of selecting the stories was quite a simple one in the end, at least in terms of the process. Editor Hazel Butler read all submissions and basically chose her favourites. That left a pile of about fifteen or sixteen. We couldn’t include all of those so it had to be whittled down. In the end she chose those stories that she felt had entered into the spirit of the anthology the most. In some cases this was simply a matter of them being well based on a poem and having a Steampunk theme or Steampunk elements. In other cases it was a deeper sense that they were truly quite Gothic in tone and reflected the nature of Edgar Allan Poe’s work quite well.”

The cover artwork is truly an amazing image and there are individual story graphics inside the anthology. I asked Hazel about the images in this volume: 

“The artwork is a combination of several images by artist Alice Rope, who recently did a large exhibit of bird studies. Three of these were of a raven or crow, and this tied in very nicely with the central ‘Poe’ image of the raven that was chosen for the cover design. The cover itself is a digital painting that was done by the Editor, Hazel Butler, who is also an artist and author. She used the raven to represent one of the most well-known poems of Poe, and the image of the woman, in all her Steampunk finery, holding the raven in a cage, was a good ALNTcoverrepresentation of what we were trying to achieve in the anthology – the melding of the two genres. On the back cover, the raven appears again in silhouette, this time free of the cage. Hazel and Alice also illustrated several stories each, with illustrations done specifically for the stories.”

The anthology is currently available at Amazon.com in hardcover. There will be a kindle edition available later.

 

Next week Friday, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from the authors…


As a contributing author in a number of anthologies, Ray Dean enjoys writing about many different cultures. Steampunk speaks to her in a retroactive futurism that opens so many possibilities. Her blog, My Ethereality (http://raydean.net), explores history, culture, war and love in eras and countries that influence the Steampunk world.

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61kc2VV+MoL__SL500_SX300_I’m intrigued when any writer blasts their characters out of the Victorian, or other historical era, and into outer space. Edgar Allan Poe did it with The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaallin in 1835, Jules Verne followed with The Earth To the Moon in 1865, and in 1901 H. G. Wells wrote The First Men In The Moon.  These Regency/Victorian/Edwardian tales offer great inspiration for modern steampunk writers. Jules Verne’s The Earth To The Moon was one of my greatest inspirations for Conquistadors In Outer Space.

1889I asked the authors of the new book 1889 Journey To the Moon, George Wier and Billy Kring, what inspired them to take their Steampunk story into outer space?

George: First of all, we really should have been in space (and I’m not talking about NASA or the ESA, I’m talking about ALL of us) a damn long time ago. All we’re doing here is correcting history’s big mistakes. What were those mistakes? Well, we let corporations, governments and bankers decide for us what mankind does–what his future is. You don’t believe me? Well guess what? What if Nikola Tesla had been allowed to finalize his experimentation in ambient free energy and give to the whole world wireless free energy? He was factually shut down by his “friends”. What if every single advance we’ve made in the past 150 years was not snatched up by corporate or government interests, patented, crated and put away in that hangar that comes at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? I’ll tell you what, we would be REALLY free. We would be free of economic duress (“Come on honey, let’s forget about working and paying the mortgage and the light bill. We’re going to Arcturus”), we would be free of government suppression (“What border? You mean that imaginary line down there on the planet?”), and we would be free of corporate suppression (“I see IBM and GE stocks finally tanked.” “Oh? What are ‘stocks’?”). You see what I mean? This is the world we SHOULD live in. This is the world we were promised by our Founding Fathers. What happened to it? Well, from my point of view, it was: Industry, the Rise of the Banks and the Federal Reserve, Mechanization, Factories, World War I, World War II, the suppression of “Academics” who now “own” knowledge, etc., etc. What got lost? The family, true entreprenuership, innovation, art, style…all our dreams. No. Here’s the dream, as rough as it may seem. Much of it is contained in 1889. You have to read between the lines, but it’s there. Okay, that’s my short answer.

Billy: My inspiration came about because I wanted to create a sense of wonder and adventure in our readers like I felt the first time I read H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs and their space adventures; then we wanted to add some spice, with the characters and the twists and turns of a mystery to it, and all of it occurring in a steampunk universe (George’s idea!).  I thought that was a unique twist on the story. In a nutshell, I wanted readers to experience a fantastic adventure unlike anything they’d experienced before.

Maeve: Of course the next thing any writer thinks about when putting characters in outer space is world building. I kept the world building in Conquistadors In Outer Space simple  because the plot was so quirky, the concentration on the book is the relationship between the characters, and it’s short – a novella. So I pulled from the history of the DeSota North America expedition, the physical makeup of the eyes of some insects, and how to ride an ostrich, then I transferred that over to this alien planet with strange creatures and humanoid natives.

I asked Billy and George what they thought was the hardest thing about creating a Steampunk universe and what are the challenges and advantages of writing steampunk fiction?

GeorgeGeorge: I dunno. I don’t think it’s hard. Take a concept and run with it and let it live and breathe and think and it’ll start doing stuff all on its own. That’s kind of what happened with 1889.

For me the challenge is not to copy the Masters. You have to strike out in your own direction, and you have to be sure of yourself completely. After that, the world opens up and you can do anything, by which I mean…ANYTHING. There are no limits. You can alter time, speed up the harvest and teleport yourself off this rock. We did that with this book. Yeah. That’s the haps.

BillyBilly: I agree with George, writing 1889 was not hard in the sense of storyline, etc.  It practically pulled me along.  I guess if anything could come to mind, as far as being difficult, it would be that the way we wrote it made me wonder at times how I was going to proceed. And the way we wrote it was, one of us would take the story and write without talking to the other, then send it forward, and the other would start, using the same method.  That meant when either one of us received the manuscript again, there were always plot twists and unexpected happenings that made us (at least me), keep my game at a high level, so to speak.  No way to get lazy with these! So it was a little hard, but in a good way.

The challenge: Telling a unique story in a familiar universe.  The advantages: It frees the writer completely.

Maeve: I have never collaborated with other authors so my curiosity was aroused by George Wier and Billy Kring’s  collaboration of 1889 Journey To the Moon. I asked them what method did they you use for their collaboration?And if there was anything they took away from the experience that helped make them a better writer or the story a better story?

 George:  We emailed the book back and forth. I think I gave Billy the basic concept, told him in a general way where I wanted to go with it, wrote the first few pages, then handed it off to him. Whoa! Ten thousand or so words later it comes back. I read it with gusto and I was off like a shot–another 10-15k words, then back to Billy–20k words. I mean, whoa! Back and forth, back and forth. It was done within a few months. One of the fastest things I’ve ever done in my life.

The secret is to find the right collaborator. (Wink!) Okay, all kidding aside, you have to be able to have fun with the project. You also–and for some folks, this is going to be an extremely difficult concept–must be willing to put the thing in your partner’s hands for a given length of time, give them your blessing and let them run with it. I mean, really. Who would have thought? Trust? Another author? Trust them not to mess up your book? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s because it’s a c-o-l-l-a-b-o-r-a-t-i-o-n. It’s not just yours. You really, absolutely and unequivocably have to make sure they make it there’s! I can do that now, for sure. But really, you have to be able to do it even before you “know” for sure. Also, I took away from this experience a much broader horizon. I could have never, not once in a million years, come up with some of the characters, the situations, the description, the dialogue, and the concepts that Billy Kring came up with. The man’s a frickin’ genius. So I suppose the real (REAL) thing here is to find someone who is either better than you are, or is potentially better than you are. Yeah,  what I got out this collaboration with Billy is a new way of looking at things. Anything can happen–and will–in a steampunk adventure. There are no rules. That’s the truth.

Billy: What George said!

It helped that George and I were friends before we collaborated.  And he is the one who thought we would be a good writing match for the story.  He’s outstanding at looking at an idea from about five thousand different angles and seeing which way is best to proceed.  He was the leader in this from start to finish.  And I agree with him, we wanted to make it fun for each of us to write, and to trust each other.  That was a big thing for both of us.  The other thing that happened almost from the first, was the story became magic, and each of us couldn’t wait to get the story back from the other and read how our adventure was going. The energy from that was amazing.  George is one heck of a writer, too, and that made me give it my best.  Some of the passages he wrote were scenes I could never have written, would never have thought about going the way the took it, BUT, that is why it is so entertaining, too.  There are surprises throughout the story, and that will make readers happy.

EternalMaeve: Though I have several published books under the pen name of Cornelia Amiri, I only have two Stemapunk books, To Love A London Ghost and Conquistadors In Outer Space available now but I plan to release Brass Octopus and re-release As Timeless As Stone and As Timeless As Magic later this year.

I asked George and Billy what other published works they had and what was next for them?

George: Plenty. First there’s the Bill Travis Mysteries, a series of 8 books (so far) based in Austin, Texas. They are wild rides, all mystery commingled with action-adventure, and a little sci-fi occasionally thrown in. Additionally, there’s Long Fall From Heaven (Cinco Puntos Press, 2013), and various short stories.

The continuation of this series, with the sequel, 1899: Journey to Mars1904: Journey into Time, and 1909: Journey to Atlantis. That’s first. I’m currently working on 7 major projects contemporaneously, including the next two Bill Travis books, a sci-fi collaboration with Robert A. Taylor entitled The Vindicators 2: Parsec, a multi-layered, almost Neal Stephenson-esque blockbuster about the Austin legal community entitled Personal Injury, and a number of others. I would, however, like to specifically say something about 1899: Journey to Mars. If 1889 was fun (let me tell you, it was a total blast!) then 1899 is warp drive. The Tesla robot fighting the evil Westinghouse robots, the characters (many of whom you will recognize both from actual history and from fiction) interacting, walking and talking and shooting down vampire singleship spaceships. Wow. You’re all in for a treat. Hey, you asked.

Billy: Yes.  Two suspense novels in my Hunter Kincaid series, QUICK, and OUTLAW ROAD, and one romantic suspense novel, WHERE EVIL CANNOT ENTER (under B.G. Kring).  My other mystery/suspense series (The Ronny Baca series) will begin very soon with the release of  BACA.

To continue on our other books in the series, and write my other novels, as well as writing screenplays and acting.

Maeve: Before I left Billy Kring, and George Wier I asked them to describe their writing in three words.

George: “Hot and Heavy.”

Billy: Lean and mean.

Here’s the blurb : I’m back in a time that never was–it’s 1889, and eleven people are on a strange steam-powered spaceship to the Moon. Included in the crew are such unlikely passengers and crew as: Billy The Kid, Nikola Tesla, Jack The Ripper, a Sioux warrior out for the blood of George Armstrong Custer (who did not die at the Little Bighorn), a Cossack warrior-princess, a battery of robots, a half-man and half-cyborg engineer, a Punjabi mathematician and linguist, a big-game hunter from Africa, and the grandson of Blackbeard the Pirate, not to mention the genius who designed the ship. There are aliens on the Moon with evil intentions, the robots are wound a little too tightly, and no one knows that the Ripper is along for the ride except for the Londoner himself. What could possibly go wrong? 

Here are their calling cardsGeorge’s Facebook Author Page   FB page for 1889: Journey to the Moon  Twitter: @billtraviswrite  Wordpress: www.georgewier.wordpress.com Billy’s Links: www.billykring.com

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be at Comicpalooza in Houston this weekend please stop by her panels there.

 

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I just recently saw this great French comedy adventure film set in the Edwardian era, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. It’s on Netflix and certainly has Steampunk elements. Here’s the trailer:

Just as we in the 21st century are mad about zombies, those in the 19th century were mad about mummies. Some people, like me, are still mad about mummies.

Here’s a trailer for another modern day mummy movie set in the Edwardian era that I’m sure you’re familiar with. The Mummy. Here’s the favorite scene in that movie for most writers, readers, and librarians.

Reviving mummies began with Jane Webb Loudon who wrote “The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century” in 1827.This was the first mummy story, one of the first sci-fi books and the first sci-fi work with a modern world building style.

“The ancient Egyptians you know, believed that the souls of their mummies were chained to them in a torpid state till the final day of judgment, and supposing this hypotheses to be correct, there is every reason to imagine that by employing so powerful an agent as galvanism, re-animation may be produced.” – From The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century.

And so it is, two of Loudon’s characters, Edwin and Dr. Entwerfen, embark by balloon on an expedition to the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops (Khufu), to shock him back to life with a galvanized battery.

Mummies proved a popular theme in many Regency, Victorian and Edwardian books. With so many mummy books, I’m going to only name the stories or poems about mummies or pharaohs written by author’s you’ll recognize. You may be surprised.

The first is Lord Byron. His poem growing old references the famous Pharaoh, Khufu (Cheops) who built the pyramid at Giza.

“What are the hopes of man? Old Egypt’s King
Cheops erected the first Pyramid
And largest, thinking it was just the thing
To keep his memory whole, and mummy hid;
But somebody or other rummaging,
Burglariously broke his coffin’s lid:
Let not a monument give you or me hopes,
Since not a pinch of dust remains of Cheops.”

Next is another famous poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley’s husband. He was inspired by the ancient Greek writer, Diodorus Siculus, who on his travels to Thebes described a giant fallen statue of Ozymandias (Ramesses II). It was inscribed, “I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. Should any man seek to know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works.” So Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the sonnet Ozymandias.

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Then we have Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “Some Words with a Mummy”, written in 1845. It’s humorous satire, a delightful read, and the author’s voice is so fresh it seems as if it could have been written today. Simply put – it’s so Poe.

Next, Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame, wrote a short story, “Lost in a Pyramid: The Mummy’s Curse” in 1869 . It’s on the horror side, quite Victorian, and you’ll recognize Alcott’s writing style.

The last one and one of the best is Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. The Jewel of Seven Stars is a full length novel written in 1903 about a female mummy an Egyptologist brings back to his home to revive. His daughter is then possesed by the mummy’s soul.  Stoker is a master of suspense and elegant writing. He has wonderful page turning hooks at the end of each chapter. It’s not as great as Dracula – but it’s good and it’s pure Stoker. I loved it.

The Jewel of Seven Stars has two endings. On the third print run, in 1912, the publisher demanded Stoker change the ending. At the time, critics called the original ending too gruesome. I read this at Project Gutenberg, which had the newer ending, but I was able to read the original ending at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/543300.The_Jewel_of_Seven_Stars The first ending isn’t gruesome by today’s standards though it is horribly sad. Still, the original ending is clearly the best.

What are your favorite Mummy books or movies? Have you read any Steampunk Mummy books? Which do you prefer zombies or mummies? Feel free to comment below.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be making several appearances next month in May at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans and at Comicpalooza in Houston.

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Jane Loudon

Jane Loudon

Jane Loudon’s novel, The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century was published anonymously as a trilogy in 1827, and again in 1828. It was the first book about a mummy brought back to life, a popular plot to this day. However, there’s a lot more to Loudon’s contribution to sci-fi. In the regency era, a time when the word sci-fi wasn’t even used, she understood what futuristic sci-fi was meant to be. She wrote of the future in a way no one had before. Instead of just taking her own time period and moving it into the future making few changes except for utopian or dystopian ones, she built an actual futuristic world with advanced technology, futuristic clothing, and a different type of government. Jane Loudon was the first sci-fi author to actually world build.

The gadgets in her future world all spring from the regency era when the high-end technology of the day was steam and balloons. Two of Loudon’s characters, Edwin and Dr. Entwerfen embark on an expedition to the tomb of Pharaoh Cheops (Khufu), to shock him back to life with a galvanized battery. Their dialogue when leaving for Egypt and realizing they have too much baggage for the balloon touches on some of Loudon’s interesting futuristic inventions. She even envisioned a certain type of space flight as a fashionable mode of travel. Here’s a short excerpt:

“The cloaks are of asbestos and will be necessary to protect us from ignition, if we should encounter any electric matter in the clouds; and the hampers are filled with elastic plugs for our ears and noses, and tubes and barrels of common air, for us to breathe when we get beyond the common atmosphere of the earth. “

“But what occasion shall we have to go beyond it?”

“How can we do otherwise? Surely you don’t meant to travel the whole distance in the balloon? I thought of course, you would adopt the present fashionable mode of traveling, and after mounting the seventeen miles or thereabouts, which is necessary to get clear of the mundane attraction, to wait there till the turning of the globe should bring Egypt directly under our feet.”

“But it is not in the same latitude.”

Then the doctor explains the box he wants to bring on the balloon contains his portable galvanic battery and his apparatus for making and collecting the inflammable air. It also holds a machine for producing and concentrating quicksilver vapor – the power to propel them onward in place of steam. It even has laughing gas for the sole purpose of keeping up their spirits.

Another change in everyday life in the future is fast mail delivery. Letters are placed inside balls and fired from steam cannons. Every town and district have a woven wire suspended in the air as a net to catch the ball and a cannon to send it off again when the letters for that neighborhood are extracted. A smaller wooden ball with a hole in its side to making whizzing noise as it sails through the air is sent before each mail ball to alert people to keep out of the way.

Also Stage balloons are used to make fast deliveries. One of the characters receives a collection of ballads, at least three hundred years old, sent from London by stage balloon that morning. They are on rag paper since asbestos paper used in the 22nd century had only been invented for two hundred years.

Movable houses are another change in the future. One of the characters, Edric, sees a house slide out of place and glide along the road. A lady at the window blows a kiss to someone in another house as she passes by. When someone wants to go into the country for a few weeks they take their house with them, which saves the trouble of packing and allows everyone to have all their little conveniences about. There are grooves in the bottom of the houses that fit on the iron railways. Propelled by steam, they slide on without much trouble but it only works for small houses as large ones aren’t compact enough.

More futuristic marvels are feather-fans hung from the ceiling, circulating aeriform fluid. Also they use tubes in the houses to suck out stale air and bring the fresh air in. And the most stylish coats are made in a machine. At one end it strips the wool off a sheep, then weaves it so a ready to wear coat comes out at the other end of the machine. Also Bridges are movable and steam-powered to rotate in all directions and to adjust to whatever height is needed for the different waterways. Even streets are modernized, they are warmed by pipes of hot air so no one perishes of cold.

She envisions a lot of technological advancements in agriculture including a steam-powered lawnmower and a mechanical milking machine. Also when the sun doesn’t shine enough to make hay they use a burning glass to make it. When it doesn’t rain enough for the crops they use an electrical machine to draw down clouds to cause rain on the fields that need it.

She also shares a glimpse of futuristic fashion: “The ladies were all arrayed in loose trousers, over which hung drapery in graceful folds; and most of them carried on their heads streams of lighted gas forced by capillary tubes into plumes, fleurs-de-lis, or in short any form the wearer pleased; which jets de feu had an uncommonly chase and elegant effect.”

There are also political changes from the Regency era to the 22nd century. After undergoing a revolution, and even a period of democracy, England returns to an absolute monarchy but as a matriarchy. All rulers are queens and the candidates are single women of the royal family between the ages of 20 and 25. There is  a law that the queen cannot get married. In the towns, the men in the country 21 years on up, in groups of 10,000, choose a deputy to represent them in London. The queen is elected through the majority vote of these deputies.

The Mummy! 1828 2nd edition - title page

The Mummy! 1828 2nd edition – title page

The main characters in The Mummy, A Tale of the 22nd Century come from two families with their eyes on the crown: the Montagues and the house of the Duke of Cornwall. The Montagues have two sons, Edmund, a national hero and Edric, an intellectual. The Duke of Cornwall’s family has two daughters Elvira and Rosabella, who are the next in line to the throne if anything happens to Queen Claudia. Edric’s father has arranged for him to marry Rosabella but he reuses. Edric is fascinated by the idea of reanimating the dead. His friend, Dr. Entwerfen tells him that since the ancient Egyptians believed the souls of their mummies were chained to them in a torpid state till the final day of judgment, there is every reason to believe that by employing so powerful an agent as a galvanic battery of fifty surgeon power re-animation may be produced. Edric is too squeamish to touch a dead corpse’s flesh but he’s willing to touch a mummy as it swathed in wrappings. He and Dr. Entwerfen go to Egypt and resurrect the mummy, Cheops. But the mummy runs out of the pyramid, hijacks their balloon, and flies back to England. When he flies over Queen Claudia’s coronation pageant, his balloon gets tangled up with all the other balloons crowding he sky. His balloon gets torn and falls to the earth landing on and killing Queen Claudia. The story continues with political intrigue, a secret birth father, and love triangles, all with a little help from the wise Pharaoh, Cheops, who has the most common sense and perception of anyone in the book.

The similarity between awakening the mummy and awakening Frankenstein back to life and the similarity of the two main male characters, hero and intellectual as in in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, is no coincidence. Jane Loudon uses them as a parody to show her own view point. Her political, social and religious beliefs differ greatly form Mary Shelley’s.

I have to say it, Sci-fi readers and writers owe Jane Loudon and Mary Shelley so much. Frankenstein was written and first published in 1818, when Mary Wollstoncroft was only nineteen. Jane Webb wrote The mummy, a Tale of the 22nd century when she was 17 and it was published in 1827. H. G. Wells and Jules Verne didn’t write their first books for many years after this: Jules Verne’s – Five Weeks In A Balloon in 1863 and H. G. Wells – The Time Machine in 1895. Not only have women been reading and writing sci-fi for over two hundred years, the sci-fi genre wouldn’t be the same without them. The genre was pioneered by two teenage girls with very different views on politics and religion, both writing in the Regency era. I think that’s awesome.

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Maeve Alpin, who also writes as Cornelia Amiri, is the author of 19 books. She creates stories with kilts, corsets, fantasy and happy endings. Her latest Steampunk/Romance is Conquistadors In Outer Space, which is as crazy and as entertaining as it sounds. She lives in Houston Texas with her son, granddaughter, and her cat, Severus. Maeve Alpin will be making several appearances next month in May at the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in New Orleans and at Comicpalooza in Houston.

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