This past weekend saw the release of the steampunk anthology Gears and Levers 2 edited by Phyllis Irene Radford. The release of the anthology marks something of a milestone for me in that it contains the first collaborative story I’ve published. The story is “Endeavor in Halcyon” and I wrote it with Kurt MacPhearson.

Gears and Levers 2

“Endeavor in Halcyon” tells the story of Captain Penelope Todd of the East India Company’s Airship Endeavor. She is on a mission to find new trading routes when her ship gets caught in a mysterious storm and they are hurled into a strange new world.

This was an interesting collaboration because although Kurt and I have corresponded off and on over the years, we have never met face-to-face. He lives in Michigan and I live in New Mexico. The way this collaboration happened is that he suggested writing a story together. I had written the beginning of the story, but wasn’t really sure what direction I wanted to go with it, so I sent it to him. He wrote a couple of pages and sent it back. It went on that way for about three or four times until we came to a place we both thought was a satisfying conclusion. We then took turns polishing the story before sending it in to Ms. Radford. I was pleased she liked the story enough to buy it.

What else will you find in the anthology? Adventure and romance await in worlds that never were but should have been. Magic and science blend together as Gears and Levers explores the quest for all that makes up humanity. Battle pirates, walk with ghosts, fly in dirigibles, explore the wonderous world, and walk with automatons in twenty amazing tales set in Steampunk lands by masterful storytellers such as Alma Alexander, Chaz and Karen Brenchley, Shawna Reppert, Larry Lefkowitz, Tina Connolly, Jeanette Bennett, Voss Foster, Frog and Esther Jones, and many more. The anthology is available at Smashwords and Amazon.

At the same time as this book was being released, I was engaged in a collaboration of a different sort. Last weekend marked the third time Dino Staats and I have presented a Victorian Magic and Science panel. So far, no two of these have been alike.

Dino and David

The first time we presented this panel was on the Queen Mary a year ago and we were joined by Professor D.R. Schreiber who had a Windhurt generator and a great perspective on how the history of magic and science intertwine. In that panel, we focused a lot on the magic and science of electricity.

The second time we presented the panel was at San Diego’s Gaslight Gathering. There, much of the discussion focused on chemistry and biology and how they were utilized in magic.

Last weekend, Dino and I were again on the Queen Mary. This time we focused a lot of our discussion on the clockwork automata of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin.

What’s exciting about these is that Dino and I never rehearse our presentation and really aren’t certain what the other will present. In fact, the first time, neither of the magicians even knew I had been assigned to the Magic and Science panel! For the latter panels, Dino and I have maybe exchanged an email or two about what would be fun to discuss and what would make the panel a little different for people who have seen it before.

Both of these collaborations have left me enriched. I’ve learned new things, improved as a writer and public speaker—and what’s more, I’ve forged friendships that I hope will last for years to come.


6 comments on “Collaborations

  1. darkcargo says:

    Kewl anthology! I’ll check it out.
    I hear a lot about artist collaborations, much along the line that either the participants get A LOT out of the collaboration and the product becomes more than the sum of the parts, or that it fails because everyone involved is on a glory quest.

    Are you going to do another write up for QM2? We get a lot of people finding the write up you did for DC last time, people looking for the steampunk symposium. (here’s the link to your write-up:

    I have a friend who is looking for chemistry experiments to do in junior highs and high schools. Evidently having the local chemistry plant employees come in and do demos takes the place of lab experience nowadays in our public school system. Sigh. Would any of these work for her? She’s a huge steampunk fan, so that would be extra cool for her.

    BTW!! you should get these videoed by an audience member sometime and hit it to YouTube!

    • Thanks for all the great comments! Sure, I’d be happy to another report for Dark Cargo. It may take a few days since I’m trying to get caught up with a few things, but I’ll drop you a note once I have a report ready to go.

      As for your friend and the chemistry experiments – a lot of what we’ve talked about are the crazy things Victorian magicians used to do, like ignite all the gas lamps in a theater with a spark and play with nitrocellulose (aka gun cotton). That probably goes a bit beyond what most schools would allow! Still, the Victorian age was a great time for people doing scientific experiments. I’m sure someone could recreate some of the original experiments and give them a cool steampunk presentation.

      Actually, a good example would be Kirchoff and Bunsen’s experiments with the spectra of heated and burning chemicals. I suspect Edmond Scientific and similar places have a setup that experiment — you’d just need to steampunk the apparatus and you’d be good to go.

      Yeah, we should definitely video the performance. There’s some chance we’ll get a chance to do the panel at Wild Wild West Con in March. Stay tuned!

  2. paigeaddams says:

    Hey there – I just wanted to let you know I tagged you for the Fantasy Circle Of Five challenge. 🙂

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