Steampunk novella parts one and two

Here is the second part of the novella, with the first part slightly revised, so re-presented. This time they’re formatted into what was intended to resemble a bit the “penny bloods” of the era. I’m not too sure I have the layout right, it’s difficult to find actual examples on which to base them, so if anyone has any suggestions as to layout, please add them to the comments.

As I mentioned last time, these are mainly meant as a contribution to the steampunk community, as I’m a bit crap at making stuff, so can’t hold my own in the costume-making arena. This is me attempting to do the equivalent in the writing department. Hope you enjoy them. There are four parts altogether. Three is plotted, more or less, four isn’t, so no guarantees as to how long the rest will take, but they’re largely self-contained.



Cover images by Triff. Used under licence from

Commentary on revised part one.

There’s an updated version of part one. If you read that then no need to re-read it to make sense of part two, but in case anyone is interested the changes are:

The stuff on which Empires are on the rise or fall has been switched. This is because it’s a useful plot point in Part Three if the German Empire is on the decline.

The exposition about the alternative history of The Machine Queen has been trimmed. It all sounded a bit forced.

A sentence added trying to clarify how Caldmore’s name is pronounced, it’s after the place, so sounds like “calmer” or “karma”. Not that it really matters what’s in your head when you read it. It will matter if you ever go there, though.

Commentary on part two.

The Jubilee plot, the collusion between the Irish Republican Brotherhood and MI5, really took place, insane as it sounds, though took place during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee year. You can look it up here.

The idea of consciousness being influenced by quantum processes isn’t mine, it’s from Roger Penrose, read The Emperor’s New Mind for more on that, (though more importantly for a great historical recap of science).

Ion drives actually use Tesla coils. I found this out after writing that bit. Also he did really speak Latin. Again I only found this out after deciding he needed to be able to for that bit of plotting to work. Also the Habsburg Empire was pretty much the successor to the Roman Empire, so there’s really that link as well.

The geography of the alternative North America that exists in The Machine Queen is a mash-up of various land divisions that either really existed at one point or were mooted. The map I used for this section of the story is at

Notes on the Horse Nation. Because of the geography of the route Caldmore and Tesla take, and because for the protagonists to have access to some alternative technology is going to be useful for book two, they travel through some areas of north America designated as “reserved for Indians by proclamation of 1763” on the Shepherd map. I toyed with the idea of drawing on the clan culture from the Cherokee, but felt this was wildly inappropriate as really all I know about that is completely superficial and gleaned from one visit to Cherokee and reading this . So instead the protagonists encounter a group of whites in that land who also superficially appropriate the Native American culture. Anything wrong in what they do is therefore  deliberately wrong, to parody people like me. Why the Horse Nation would also have a big chunk of their language pulled from a British 80s’ goth rock band is not explained, but you know, quantum entanglement.

All the stuff about roads in the Roman Empire and its contemporaries is from The History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor (Part Nine: The Rise of World Faiths [200 – 600 AD]).


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