In Counterparts Coinneach Throckmorton and Helen Culling implement Miss Culling’s ethereal suspension, which she developed for use as sedation of surgical patients, to explore memory. In the process, they inadvertently transmigrate across bodies, leaving each of them in a most awkward situation. But when Count Fairchild discovers their newfound ability, he intends greater debauchery.
When compared eve to Century XIX that we know, Counterparts begins in a world of vastly accelerated technological advancement. France’s hold on preternatural Ludibrium, with which it overtakes all other world powers, presses Great Britain to every possible geared and steam powered devising. One great advancement is Joseph Paxton’s pneumatic propulsion, eliminating the majority of messy and odorous horse-drawn carriages from the streets of the great London metropolis. (Actually, Joseph Paxton did propose a pneumatically driven train which was tested with limited success.)
Joseph Paxton was a tireless horticulturist hired as a young man by Lord William Spenser Cavendish to oversee care of the grounds at Devonshire’s Chiswick House. Through the development of greenhouses, referred to then as stoves, he devised the means for constructing one of the greatest architectural wonders of our time: a great class and iron structure which would house Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851.
In Counterparts, Paxton’s insight is put to use to create the spectacle of a great spherical labyrinth, evidently intended to enthrall the world with a fabulously challenging sporting event, when its true purpose was a distraction while the Iron Duke’s heir launching a chronomigration vessel intent on deposing Emperor Napoleon before he obtained his mysterious weapon of Ludibrium.
Counterparts proposes a great paradoxical time travel event that corrects a dreadful deviance from our own history. While the correction might well prevent an existential threat against humanity, it cannot undo all that has happened. Three different occurrences of the great Century XIX project mankind in three different directions, and one of these in the very universe of Steampunk.
Queen Victoria ruled over the greatest technological advancements of recorded history. not only did means of agriculture, transportation, and production leap toward a bright and promising future, but it was during her reign that Lord Charles Babbage conceived of and designed the great computing machine that promised another great age of achievement.
Queen Victoria’s consort, His Supreme Highness Prince Albert, nurtured the progressive liberal advancements of industrialization fueled by great cola-burning furnaces. Even when conservatives tried to block progress by protecting a tree on the Hyde Park site of Paxton’s Crystal Palace, Prince Albert persevered, having the structure altered to provide space for the tree.
Simulacrum is the quintessential steampunk story, for in what other genre might romance blossom betwixt an automaton and a mermaid? When Lord Charles Babbage and Lady Ada Byron are tasked with the elevation of the Admiralty’s chief simulacrum which captains Britain’s greatest steam powered battleship, Lady Ada exceeds all expectations, providing the humanistic interface between man and machine such vast emotion as to allow love. Such depth of emotion proves most unbecoming to a British officer, leading to the retraction of the emotion engine and a dreadful retaliation by the Simulacrum.
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Oil Men of Shinar tells of how certain among an ancient society of vast technology performed and experienced such great and terrible events as to become the original Pantheon of Gods, the legends of the people of Canaan and the Ugarit.
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The people of Induction Town walk on giant treadwheels to generate electricity for the enclave of civilization that survived the petroleum apocalypse. Body weight is the nation’s most precious resource. When a skinny boy wins the interest of one of I Town’s up-and-coming debutants, heads turn and concerns flair. Shevi is a big girl with a bright future who knows better that to take interest in Jackson. Jackson knows the cost of reaching above his station. Both resist the attraction between them, but neither can deny it.
Hellbent on being together, Shevi and Jackson seek a place where they can live and love despite their differences.