Mars Globes

One of the places my family and I visited during our July travels was Lowell Observatory on Mars Hill in Flagstaff, Arizona. This was where Percival Lowell, a former US ambassador to Korea, set up shop in the late nineteenth century to observe the planet Mars and search for the elusive Planet X. One thing that captivated Lowell about Mars were the linear features crisscrossing the planet. The more he observed them, the more he became convinced they were canals built by intelligent beings. Over the years, Lowell would make many maps of Mars and publish essays detailing how the red planet must be an abode of life. Lowell also made globes.

Martian globe on display at Lowell Observatory

As it turns out, Lowell’s canals do not exist. They seem to be the result of some optical phenomena going on within the telescope itself enhanced by wishful thinking. It’s easy to imagine Lowell gazing up at Mars from his chair in Flagstaff, imagining a dying desert world with intelligent Martians hanging on through their ingenuity, digging canals to bring water from the polar caps to arable farm land in the equatorial regions. These ideas would go on to inspire writers like H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Ray Bradbury. Even if Lowell’s observations did not prove correct, he succeeded in making Mars a place in people’s imagination that we could visit.

As a young reader, I fell in love with the canal-lined Mars of Ray Bradbury and Edgar Rice Burroughs. When visiting Lowell Observatory, I always thought a Martian canal globe would be a cool souvenir. Unfortunately, they don’t sell them in the gift shop. What’s more, they don’t sell them much of anywhere. Most Mars globes available today show the Mars we’ve mapped via orbiting probes. These are great globes and I’d love one of those, too, but they don’t capture the imagination that stirred me in my earliest days of reading science fiction. I did see that a master globe maker recreated a canal globe a while back and made them available for sale, but I also saw that he charged far more than I could afford. What’s more, when I looked again after visiting Lowell, I couldn’t find them anymore.

Of course, I’m not only a science fiction fan and a professional scientist, I’m a steampunk. If there’s one thing a steampunk knows it’s that when something isn’t available, you just have to go out and make it. My wife and I discussed approaches and I did some searching on the web. I already knew that several images of Lowell’s maps were available online. I found software that would convert rectangular maps to “map gores,” the strips used to make globes. With the power of Adobe Photoshop, I could resize those gores to any ball I wanted. So, I set out to make my own globe. Since this was the first time I’d ever tried something like this, I decided to make a prototype before making a nice one.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

The prototype wasn’t perfect. Despite measuring the ball I used for a form, I sized the gores just a little too small. This could have been a little bit of rounding error from several sources. Also, it took some tries to figure out how to get the gores on smoothly. I mostly figured it out, and I think some better tools would help. Despite that, I think the prototype globe turned out much better than I had any right to expect. In fact, the flaws actually add to the antique look of the globe.

At this point, I’m working on acquiring some better tools and a nice stand for the final globe. Who knows exactly what I’ll do with my new globe-making skills. If a steampunk event shows interest, I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned. Given that the globes aren’t generally available, I might consider making a few for sale, as long as I confirm that I’m not violating any rights by using the old maps and I feel my skills are up to the task.

What I do know is that the globes I make for myself will serve as an inspiration. I look at the globe and dream of Mars as it could have been. When astronauts visit Mars in my novel The Solar Sea, they wax poetic about the old visions of Mars even as they see its real wonders. Of course, Lowell’s crypt next to the dome where he observed Mars was an inspiration for my novel The Astronomer’s Crypt. A part of me would like to think of Lowell’s spirit walking a canal-laced Mars, much as scientists who died did in Camille Flammarion’s novel Urania. As I look around the globe, I see that Lowell named one of the canals, Draco, a name shared with the leader of my Scarlet Order vampires. Maybe there’s a story out there about the Scarlet Order paying a visit to Mars.

Hadrosaur’s Weird Westerns on Sale

I have long been a fan of weird westerns. My love of the genre started in middle school when I discovered the television series The Wild Wild West. Later, when I started writing, I wished I could write stories with a similar flavor. My dream came true when I discovered David B. Riley’s magazine Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Old West. I started submitting stories to him and he started publishing them. Later, he would publish my story “The Persian Witch” in an anthology titled Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Wild West. That story would go on to become the first chapter of my novel Owl Dance.

What’s more, when I was publishing my magazines Hadrosaur Tales and Tales of the Talisman, I was open to stories of any speculative genre and weird westerns were always welcome. David Riley submitted several of his stories to me. In his stories, we saw California as a battleground between Nick Mephistopheles (aka Satan) and Ah Puch (aka the Mayan god of Death). Caught between them was Miles O’Malley, a drifter who becomes a (really bad) barber and ultimately a secret service agent. Once I was in the position to publish books, I was happy to publish more works of David’s in this universe. One of the books below also features stories by my longtime cover artist, Laura Givens. She’s a great fan of weird westerns and has done much over the years to bring Ramon, Fatemeh, and the rest of the Clockwork Legion to life on the covers of my books. Her Chin Song Ping stories are a delight and you don’t want to miss them.

The annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale is underway. It gets its name because where I live in the northern hemisphere, readers are loading up their e-readers for great beach reading and vacations. In the southern hemisphere, it’s the middle of winter and people are spending time in a warm and cozy place reading. This is a great opportunity to offer our selection of Weird Western books for half off the cover price! Read on for more details!


Legends of the Dragon Cowboys brings you two weird western adventures by authors David B. Riley and Laura Givens. Their heroes ride boldly out of the Far East to find their way in a mythic land of danger, romance, and adventure.

In “The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung” by David B. Riley, a wandering businessman encounters a Mayan god, crooked enterprises and Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, when all he really wants is to open a gun store. Ling Fung is not any ordinary Chinese entrepreneur–he’s highly skilled in Kung Fu and he can shoot good, too. While his heart is set on business, providence seems to have other plans for him.

Laura Givens brings wily acrobat Chin Song Ping to the Wild West in search of adventure and fortune. He finds little fortune, but plenty of adventure. Chin Song Ping is a scoundrel, a gambler and a trouble magnet. His heart of gold lands him in schemes to outwit would-be gods, cannibal ghosts, insane robots, Voodoo despots and the ultimate evil–bureaucrats. But he is a romantic, and the love of his life is the true treasure he seeks. The odds are always against him but if he survives he will become the Western legend he always was in his own mind.

The Wild West just got a lot wilder!

Midwest Book Review says, “These two Western novellas are seasoned a dash of exotic adventure, featuring cowboy protagonists who hail from the Far East and pursue their dreams in the tough-as-nails frontier. Riveting from first page to last, Legends of the Dragon Cowboys is enthusiastically recommended for public library collections and connoisseurs of the genre!”

Get the book for 50% off at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/751811


Fallen Angel is the story of Mabel, an angel from Hell, who accompanies General Grant’s army during the last days of the Civil War only to discover that Martians are watching the Earth with envious eyes and slowly drawing their plans against us. Not only that, but Mabel has to contend with her evil sister, who wants to have humans for dinner. Although Mabel and Grant get the upper hand before the war ends, the battle of good against evil isn’t won so quickly. Several years later, in San Francisco, Mabel just wants to have fun with her friend Miles O’Malley, when she discovers her sister and the Martians have joined forces with a college fraternity and humanity may be on the dinner menu.

Christine Wald-Hopkins of The Arizona Daily Star writes, “This quirky new novel by Tucsonan David B. Riley is a cross-genre romp, religious fantasy meets historical fiction, science fiction, zombie ‘Animal House.'”

Get the book for 50% off at: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/924099

Holmes, Pirates, and Cthulhu. Oh my!

Back in March, I had the honor of meeting Kazumitsu Akamatsu at Wild Wild West Con in Tucson, Arizona. Akamatsu is not only a steampunk fanatic, he’s also written for anime and Japanese cinema, he’s an artist, and he’s a SOFUBI master. SOFUBI are Japanese soft vinyl figures, often depicting monsters. Here I am with Akamatsu and one of the other vendors, posing with steampunk guns he made. I’m the one with the red hair in a costume inspired by my Captain Firebrandt character.

I have been watching Gravion, one of the anime series Akamatsu contributed to. The premise is familiar to fans of anime from the early 2000s. A team of young people fly fighter craft which can combine with a smaller robot into a giant robot called Gravion, which is Earth’s best defense against alien invasion. The show has good action and a fun sense of humor. One thing that makes it stand out for me is that we have more young women in this team than men.

While at Wild Wild West Con, my wife and I bought Akamatsu’s book, The Quest for R’LYEH. In this steampunk book, a young Japanese woman named Mari enlists the aid of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to keep evil forces from traveling to Atlantis so they can wake the greatest of the old ones himself, Cthulhu. They get help from the mysterious Lady Steam and even take a ride on the Nautilus with Captain Nemo. Along the way, they must face a menagerie of Lovecraftian abominations, pirates, and even Rasputin. The story could be the basis for a terrific anime series or even a movie.

Although the plot was great fun, the prose was a challenge to follow. It felt like a word-for-word translation from the Japanese, without taking into account English grammar and idiom. The cover does say “Draft” so I wonder if a more polished translation will eventually be available. That said, the real gems in this book are Akamatsu’s beautiful illustrations of steampunk gadgets and Lovecraftian horrors. As a fan of Jules Verne, and now a fan of Kazumitsu Akamatsu’s work, I would love a model of his Nautilus design.

One of the reasons I enjoy going to conventions like Wild Wild West Con is having the opportunity to meet artists that I might not encounter in other venues. Meeting Mr. Akamatsu led me to explore his work and learn more about his art. I’ve long been inspired by Japanese television, cinema, and writing. Mr. Akamatsu’s writing has already inspired me to add an airship cameo to my novel The Pirates of Sufiro. I’m sure his work will inspire me in other ways as well.

The Department of Curiosities

Today, I would like to welcome my friend Karen J. Carlisle to the blog. Our works have appeared together in three different steampunk anthologies: Denizens of Steam, Den of Antiquity, and DeadSteam: A Chilling Collection of Dreadpunk Tales. Karen has a new novel coming out tomorrow and she has agreed to share an excerpt from it. So, without further ado, I will turn the floor over to Karen.


Good morning everyone and thank you to David for allowing me to guest post on his blog.

So far on this blog tour, I’ve written about why The Department of Curiosities was written, introduced our heroine, Tillie Meriwether, and other characters and exposed some background on one of the many competing groups.I’ve chatted about mechanicals (gadgets), shared book trailers and a new short story and The Department’s Australian connection.

The Department of Curiosities is a tale of adventure, a heroine, a mad scientist, traitors and secrets. All for the good of the Empire.

Buckle up and get ready for the adventure…

Now there’s just one more day until my new book goes live on 22nd May. It’s also Tillie Meriwether’s birthday! (I chose Tillie’s birthday in the first draft – and had forgotten the date. Imagine my surprise when I realised it was the week of the intended release date. So why not make them the same day?)

To celebrate the official release, and Tillie’s birthday, here’s an excerpt… Everyone does the first chapter, so this time I’m sharing the second scene from chapter eighteen:


Of Airships, Trains and Flying Machines

The crew had assembled in Little Nessie’s lower hold. Only the pilot and boilermen remained at their posts. The General had yet to arrive, and Harrow was conspicuous by his absence. Tillie frowned, and wondered what mischief he was orchestrating.

She stood behind the troop of operatives gathered before her. She stretched up on tiptoe to observe the proceedings.

Six strapping men, some of England’s finest; each wore a harness wrapped around their torso. A life-line of thick silk rope attached them securely to the winch. They were armed with pistols, grappling hooks and devilish-looking knives. Strapped to their backs were over-sized blunderbusses: a silver ball jutted from one side surrounded by brass tubes, which coiled along the rifle’s barrel to the muzzle. A mini-grappling hook perched on top of the barrel end; its cord funnelled along a tube back to a cartridge on the other side of the rifle body.

The troops eagerly jostled each other as they circled a large hatch in the floor of the hull. They checked their equipment, donned their goggles and readied to jump into oblivion below. The hatch intrigued her, as did the large brass winch secured to the floor near its rim. Sir Avery checked the gauges on the body of the winch assembly and swallowed. The colour drained from his face, until he resembled a wide-eyed Ghostman. His moustache twitched.

<<It quivered,>> said the Orb.

<<Don’t be horrible,>> said Tillie. <<If you can’t say something nice, then don’t speak at all. Or I’ll ask the General to bring his cane.>>

The Orb shuddered. The corner of her mouth curled in satisfaction. She’d finally discovered something to curb the Orb’s increased bullying.

“Are we not joining them?” she asked Sir Avery.

He stared at the floor hatch and didn’t reply.

<<Reckless,>> said the Orb.

<<Not your choice,>> she said.

The Orb fell silent.

The door behind them clanked. The men snapped to attention.

There was a faint chuckle beside her ear.

“Yes, you are going, my dear,” said the General.

“We get to fly?” Tillie squealed with delight. “How?”

Sir Avery managed only a weak smile.

“You get these.” Harrow stepped into view, carrying a large cylindrical contraption on each arm. “Personal Flying Machines.”

“Confiscated from an Australian smuggler,” said the General.

Sir Avery relieved Harrow of one of the flying machines and held it at arm’s length.

“The cylinder contains a pressurised gas…”

His words faded as Tillie ogled the brass cylinders. So shiny. She could see her own reflection in their brilliance. She ran her hands along the pipes and grabbed the harness.

“How do I put it on?” She spun around, slipped her arms through the harness straps and pulled the contraption onto her back.

Sir Avery halted his lecture and blinked; his hands, still holding the harness straps, now encircled her waist. Her bustle nudged his arm as she snatched the ends of the straps from his hand and buckled up the harness.

He took a quick step backwards, transferring his hands to cradle the gas tanks until the straps were secure. The colour had returned to his cheeks.

Harrow handed Sir Avery the second Personal Flying Machine. Sir Avery donned the contraption and demonstrated how to adjust the pack to sit securely.

“You’re not accompanying us, Harrow?” she asked.

“I have my orders,” he replied. “I am to stay here with the General. The Personal Flying Machines are restricted to those with Lower Level clearance.”

Harrow’s face remained fixed, showing no emotion. He was up to something.

The Orb jittered. Tillie eyed Harrow out of the corner of her eye. She was not comfortable with leaving him alone with the General, in such close proximity of a gaping hole hundreds of feet above the countryside.

Harrow smiled at her. It was faint, but it was there.

<<He knows I suspect him. What should I do?>>

The Orb did not reply. She frowned; this time she wanted its opinion. She glanced at the General’s cane and frowned. Blessings could also be curses.

Sir Avery jiggled the gas canisters and tapped on the pressure gauge. Tillie relaxed her muscles, trying to look as calm as possible, and returned her attention to the Personal Flying Machine.

“How do I start it?” she asked Sir Avery.

“First we…”

He swivelled two metal pipe-handles over her head. They clicked in place. She grasped them.

“Steering?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “Just apply pressure in the direction you wish to travel.”

She pushed forward. The handles moved under her guidance.

“This,” he indicated a switch at the bottom of the main body of the pack, “is the ignition switch. And this…” He indicated a large button on the right side of the pack, about elbow height. “This will get you back to the ground if you lose power.”

Tillie grinned. It seemed simple enough.

The General stepped forward.

“Miss Meriwether and Gentlemen, I will remind you this is a retrieval mission. I have direct orders from Her Majesty. We need the Inventor alive.” He turned to the troops. “And intact. Is that understood?”

The men nodded.

“Once he is retrieved, and you are clear of the train, Little Nessie will descend to facilitate your extraction.” He turned to Harrow. “There is an extra flying machine prepared for you. Stop the train if there is any danger to the passengers.”

Harrow narrowed his eyelids.

“Sir?” he said. “I thought-”

“Change of plan. We need to ensure the safety of the other passengers on board. That is your priority.”

Harrow slipped on the flying machine and clicked the harness in place.

“Miss Meriwether, you are to accompany Sir Avery to First Class to apprehend the Inventor. The rest of the men will keep the Ghostmen from interfering.”

There was a murmur of assent.

She carefully lifted her goggles over her head, hoping it would not disrupt her coiffure, and wrangled a ringlet back in place. The dirigible and the General would be safer with Harrow on the ground, though she’d have preferred to have someone accompany him, to keep an eye on him. At least he wouldn’t have a chance to warn the Inventor.

The floor vibrated beneath her feet. A loud ratcheting echoed throughout the hold. A jet of air rushed through a crack at the rim of the hatch. The crack widened slowly, as the hatch slid open in front of them. Wind roared beneath them, whistling at the edge of the gaping maw.

Harrow stepped toward the hull hatch, flicked the ignition switch and stepped into the chasm. He hovered for a second, then plummeted out of sight.

She leaned forward and watched as he turned and sped northward toward the engine as it neared the bridge.

Little Nessie was now directly above the middle carriage, almost in position to drop the rest of her human cargo.

Sir Avery closed his eyes and ignited his flying machine. He winced as it rumbled into life, then took a deep breath and edged toward the hatch.

Tillie flicked the switch on her own contraption. A dull twinge gripped her rib cage as the initial vibration knocked on her spine. She took a, not too deep, breath and struggled to relax the muscles in her torso. The vibration settled into a gentle rhythm. The twinge eased until it was only a mild irritation.

Sir Avery leaned close to her. “Are your ribs still causing discomfort, Miss Meriwether?” he whispered. “You should inform the General.”

“They are healing as expected,” she replied. “There is no need to bother the General.”

He nodded. “Very well. Then follow me, Miss Meriwether, into the heavens.” He stepped into the air, screwed his eyelids shut and lowered himself out of sight.

Tillie stepped up to the edge. Her skirts fluttered in the churning air currents.

<<Oh dear, I didn’t think this through.>> She grabbed the back of her overskirt with each hand and folded the edges forward, tugging them tight to tie a knot and tucked the ends into the harness strap, then stepped forward and descended into the void.


The Department of Curiosities will be released 22nd May, 2019.

Watch the book trailers: https://karenjcarlisle.com/books/the-department-of-curiosities/book-trailers-the-department-of-curiosities/  or on Karen’s YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/kkZKisvU1Ks

If you want to follow the rest of The Department of Curiosities book launch blog tour, check out the links on Karen’s blog post: https://karenjcarlisle.com/2019/04/14/the-department-of-curiosities-book-blog-tour-schedule/

You can pre-order your eBook copy of The Department of Curiosities (for special price of US$2.99) at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/934976

or sign up for Karen’s newsletter at: https://karenjcarlisle.com/sign-up-email-list/

Follow Karen on:

Or support Karen on Patreon (for less than a cup of coffee a month and you get cool rewards!): https://www.patreon.com/KarenJCarlisle


Karen J Carlisle is a writer and illustrator of steampunk, Victorian mysteries and fantasy. She was short-listed in Australian Literature Review’s 2013 Murder/Mystery Short Story Competition. Her first novella, Doctor Jack & Other Tales, was published in 2015 and her short stories have featured in the 2016 Adelaide Fringe exhibition, ‘A Trail of Tales’, and the ‘Where’s Holmes’ and ‘Deadsteam’ anthologies.

Karen lives in Adelaide with her family and the ghost of her ancient Devon Rex cat.

She’s always loved dark chocolate and rarely refuses a cup of tea.

www.karenjcarlisle.com

The Spirit of Rebellion

This past week, I received my signed copy of the latest Boston Metaphysical Society graphic novel, entitled “The Spirit of Rebellion.” The Boston Metaphysical Society is the brainchild of Madeleine Holly-Rosing and it’s a comic and story series set in an alternate 1895 where there are already rudimentary airships and computers, but where society has not progressed as much as it did in our world. The “Great States of America” are dominated by Great Houses and people in the lower and middle classes exist to serve the upper classes. The stories focus on ex-Pinkerton detective Samuel Hunter, a spirit photographer Caitlin O’Sullivan, and scientist Granville Woods. Together the three confront supernatural mysteries in Boston. Along the way, they encounter such historical figures as Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison.

I first met Madeleine Holly-Rosing a few years ago at Gaslight Gathering in California soon after she started releasing the original six-issue miniseries of The Boston Metaphysical Society as a web comic. In the years since, she’s been quite adept at using Kickstarter to crowdfund new chapters in her steampunk world. “The Spirit of Rebellion” is the latest chapter in that series and is a follow-up to the original six-issue miniseries. This chapter focuses on Caitlin O’Sullivan and the consequences of her actions in the original series. It also moves the action from Boston to Philadelphia, giving more scope to the stories.

Even though “The Spirit of Rebellion” is a sequel, the story is self-contained and gives the reader the backstory needed to follow along. The change of setting also introduces all new characters for our protagonists to get to know and interact with. The story begins with a flashback to Caitlin being thrown out of her mother’s house. In the story’s present, Samuel Hunter takes Caitlin to Philadelphia to find a new place to live. While there, Pinkerton agents recruit Samuel to infiltrate a group of organizing laborers. In the meantime, Caitlin learns more about the extent of her paranormal powers.

This chapter has much of what I’ve come to appreciate about the Boston Metaphysical Society. It has a healthy respect and genuine love for the science of the time. Even though paranormal things happen in the story, they are treated as knowable with a suitable application of science. In earlier chapters, not everyone thinks before they apply their scientific know how, but that does sometimes happen in the real world. What I really like in these comics is the social sensibility, as Holly-Rosing looks at the role of class, race, immigrants, and women through the lens of steampunk to shine some light on where we are today.

You can learn more about the Boston Metaphysical Society and even read the original six-issue miniseries for free at the website http://www.bostonmetaphysicalsociety.com. Of course, you can also learn about my steampunk series with its own share of social sensibility and mad science by visiting http://www.davidleesummers.com/books.html#clockwork_legion.

Owl Riders in the Sky

While driving up to Kitt Peak National Observatory late on Saturday night, Johnny Cash’s rendition of the great Stan Jones song, “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” cycled on my mp3 player. To my mind, the song is a great example of a weird western expressed in music. It tells the story of an old cowhand who rides out on a dark and dusty day and encounters the devil’s own herd being chased by a phantom cowboys.

As I listened, I found myself substituting some images from my own Clockwork Legion novels. In fact, the title of the fourth novel in the series, Owl Riders, is kind of an homage to the spooky feelings evoked by the “Ghost Riders.” Different cultures in the southwest often see the appearance of owls as bad omens. As portrayed in Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me Ultima, owls are sometimes seen as the familiars of witches. In my novel, the owls themselves are ornithopters, which are craft that fly by flapping their wings. The owl riders of the title are the pilots of these craft. It struck me that with a few tweaks, the song goes from being more of a horror-flavored weird western to more of a science fictional weird western or even a steampunk song.

I don’t feel I can share the full song as I envisioned it since that would include some verbatim lyrics from the original. While it’s part of a discussion of the song and could arguably be “fair use,” quoting complete lines would be a substantial part of the song itself, like quoting an entire chapter from a novel. It’s not my intention to cut into sales of the song. In fact, if you don’t already own a copy of the song, I strongly recommend buying a legal download or a CD of one of the many fine versions. What’s more the lyrics are easily available on the web. Still, I thought it would be fun to describe the song in my revised version and share a few of the altered lyrics.

In the original song, a cowpoke rides out on a stormy day. In my version one of the owl riders is named Billy McCarty and I imagine that he’s a version of Billy the Kid who was diverted off the path to become the infamous outlaw and becomes a hero instead. I could imagine that the cowpoke in my version is one of Billy’s associates who takes shelter to get some rest. He looks up in the sky, “When all at once a parliament of steel-eyed owls he saw.”

As they travel through the clouds, he gets a good look: “Exhaust pipes breathing fire and their talons made of steel. Their beaks were black and shiny and their hot wake he could feel.” Our cowhand shudders as he hears his old friend Billy shout out, “owl riders in the sky!”

Billy’s old friend then sees the determined looks on the riders’ faces. Unlike the original song, these are not desperate men who never hope to reach the end of their quest. These are men and women on the quest for justice. It’s possible it will never end, but the next bad guy they catch makes the world just a little better. It’s at this point that Billy turns to his old companion and warns him to change his ways, otherwise the owl riders will come or him next.

Songs rarely tell a whole story. Like poems, they just present a moment in time or an image. This will go in my mental file as an image that might be part of a story. It may not be used directly, but might inspire something down the road. I hope you’ve enjoyed this peak into how I get my ideas. If you want to learn more about the owl riders and how they came to be, read the novel Owl Riders. You can read the first chapter and find places to buy the novel at: http://www.davidleesummers.com/owl_riders.html.

Galactic Steampunk Federation

It’s hard to believe, but Wild Wild West Con 8 is just around the corner. I will be returning to the convention as a panelist and a vendor. The convention is primarily held at Old Tucson Studios outside of Tucson, Arizona. These are the studios where such famous westerns as John Wayne’s Rio Bravo and the original 3:10 to Yuma with Glenn Ford were filmed. Special guests this year include numerous steampunk builders and costumers who will be showing off their craft. Madame Askew and the Grand Arbiter will be holding court over such events as tea dueling and teapot racing. The featured musical guest is Professor Elemental. I am also pleased to note that Hadrosaur Productions authors and artists such as David B. Riley, Laura Givens, and David Drake will also be on hand. You can get more information about the convention at http://wildwestcon.com

I’m also very excited about this year’s theme: The Galactic Steampunk Federation. It encompasses much of my work from my astronomy to my space opera with a space western flavor in addition to my steampunk and you’ll see that reflected in this year’s schedule.

My schedule at the event is as follows. Of course this is subject to change, and I’ll attempt to update this as a result of last-minute shuffling, but, as always, if you’re at the event be sure to check your program books for the official schedule.

Friday, March 8

  • 11am-Noon. Chapel. Drake and McTrowell’s Hot Potato School of Writing. The authors of “The Adventures of Drake & McTrowell” will lead two guest authors and the audience in a madcap improvisational writing game show. Rumor has it, I will be there as a “celebrity” guest contestant.
  • Noon-1pm. Arizona Theater. Victorian Astronomy – How the Universe Changed Through Time. The Victorian age was a time when people were getting to know the planets in our solar system as places and beginning to explore them with telescopes. Astronomers were getting a better idea of what stars were made of and got the first clues that galaxies were made of stars. A look at how our conception of the universe changed.
  • 4pm. Panel Tent. Weird Westerns: The Greatest Genre Nobody Ever Heard Of. David B. Riley will lead this panel discussion introducing weird western fiction and present some recommendations for good stuff to read. I’ll be joining him to contribute my two cents.

Saturday, March 9

  • Noon-1pm. Chapel. Victorian Science and Science Fiction. Paleontology, astronomy, engineering, and biology all made great strides in the Victorian age. How did these sciences influence the rise of writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells? What other lesser known authors are worth seeking out? On the panel with me are David B. Riley, CI Erasmus P. Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell.

Sunday, March 10

  • 1pm-2pm. Chapel. Space Cowboys! Many steampunks embrace the idea of the space cowboy. Where did the idea come from? How are space opera and steampunk different? How far can we stretch the idea of the space cowboy before it’s no longer “retro” future and just plain future? On the panel with me are CI Erasmus P. Drake and Robert E. Vardeman.
  • 3pm-4pm. Meet and Greet at the Aristocrat’s Lounge. An opportunity to come meet me and join in informal discussion. At this point, the plan is that Drake and McTrowell plan to join in the fun as well. Sock puppets may be involved.

When I’m not at these events, I’ll be at the Hadrosaur Productions Booth in the Stage 2 Vendor’s Barn where we’ll have copies of my books, including my newest, Firebrandt’s Legacy, David B. Riley’s Fallen Angel, and also Legends of the Dragon Cowboys by David B. Riley and Laura Givens. We’re sharing the booth with CI Erasmus P. Drake and Dr. Sparky McTrowell whose own “Adventures of Drake and McTrowell are outstanding and worth reading as well. So, saddle up and head out to Old Tucson next weekend as your first stop to explore the Galactic Steampunk Federation!