I recently published a collection of seven steampunk stories as the Steampunk Omnibus. In a lot of ways it was the completion of the last year’s worth of writing and self-publishing, and through these stories I built a unique setting and overarching plotline, which I gradually came to call “Galvanic Century”. Initially the Bartleby and James stories were meant to be a separate series from the Chronicles of a Gentlewoman stories, but as I realized that I was going to transition into writing novels, I decided that I needed an umbrella imprint to categorize them all under.
I sum up my thoughts in the book’s forward, which I’ve reproduced here.
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Galvanic Century isn’t a typical Steampunk series. While Queen Victoria is still alive and Prince Edward still, well, a Prince, in 1910 the era is better termed ‘Edwardian’, at least from our perspective. The technology is focused less on steamtech and more on other forms of early 20th century science pseudoscience — Galvanic energy, N-Rays, difference engines. Aside from the pseudoscience, there isn’t any “magic” or “supernatural” element to the series. That was an early design decision, and I’m pleased with where the limitation has lead my creative process.
The genesis for And They Called Her Spider was the cover image, a piece of digital art created by artist Pol Subanajouy. I asked him if I could use it as the cover to a story, and he graciously agreed. From that image I created the character of the Spider, and from that aesthetic I created a steampunk London. I hadn’t initially intended it to be a series, but reader response was strong, asking for more from the characters. I focused on the characters of Alton Barlteby and James Wainwright at first, building the world around them, but it wasn’t until I started on the Chronicles of a Gentlewoman series that the rest of the world was fleshed out.
Aldora Fiske was initially slated for an important appearance in Maiden Voyage of the Rio Grande, but cutting her out and saving her for On the Trail of the Scissorman tightened things up quite a bit. I’d originally slated her series for four volumes, but each novelette grew longer than the last, and before I realized it A Gentlewoman’s Chronicles had far exceeded The Collected Bartleby and James Adventures in length. Add that to the fact that the fans were clamoring for novels, and what could I do?
I have a lot of stories planned during the next few years of the timeline, as history continues to march inexorably towards the war to end wars. We’ll see more from Bartleby, James, and Aldora, but many of the secondary characters will get a larger treatment. Expect to see the return of the Spider, of Buckley, and, of course, Penny. The last story in this collection ends on a bit of an open note, but that’s the purpose of shorter works, isn’t it? While a novel answers questions, short stories pose them. Novels close doors, shorts open them. Novelettes are half-breeds, answering some questions, while leaving other matters up to the reader.
Let’s build a world together.