Daniel Durrant is touring the internet this week on a virtual book tour, supporting his debut novella. A Steampunk tale with elements of espionage and suspense, Climate Change is book those who love the genre are not going to want to miss. We asked Daniel to tell us what makes Climate Change different from the other Steampunk offerings currently on the market. This is what he told us…
So Climate Change has been out for a while now, and the feedback is coming in. I’ve had some lovely reviews (very happy about those). I think I’ve annoyed a few conservative/religious types (which, since honesty is the theme here, doesn’t make me massively unhappy).
However, one pattern has emerged from the chaos; most people tell me Climate Change is a bit different from other Steampunk they’ve read.
There are two reasons for this. First, that’s my aim with everything I write; even if a concept is well-used, I genuinely try hard to offer a fresh angle on it. Second – this where the confession comes in – I think it’s different because I never planned to write Steampunk.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the genre. I’ve read the books, watched the movies and played the video games (The Chaos Engine, for anyone old enough to remember). Yet somehow, it never occurred to me to write it, and so Climate Change began life as something else entirely.
A pet subject of mine is Britain’s nineteenth-century obsession with polar exploration. Since victory in the Napoleonic wars left the Royal Navy with no enemy to conquer, they tried to conquer nature instead. Numerous attempts to traverse the Northwest Passage were made, culminating in the infamous Franklin expedition of 1845.
I set out to write a story around the subject, but none of my ideas seemed right. Then I happened to read a call for Steampunk submissions whilst watching a documentary about the tragedy.
Out of nowhere – perhaps the luminiferous aether, some might say – the idea just arrived, fully formed. It felt like a perfect match – namely, what would a Steampunk attempt to navigate the Northwest Passage look like?
I’ve always been a big fan of those historical “what-if” exercises – I love pondering what the world might be like if dice had rolled differently – and so I approached Climate Change from that perspective.
I gave history (okay, and physics) a slight nudge, allowing the British Empire access to a twisted analogue of nuclear power in the late nineteenth century. Then I began to wonder what my new world might look like. With an even greater technological advantage, what would the Victorians have done?
The ideas came almost too fast to get down. Some were quite political, lending themselves to a thriller structure. Some were a consequence of the technology. Others clearly led to horror (there’s an element of that in everything I write). Others still were linked to real history, which felt important; I was determined the story should respect the people that lost their lives on those ill-fated polar expeditions.
In the end there was simply too much material, and although some was set aside to provide a clear direction (that’s what sequels are for) it’s fair to say Climate Change feels a bit different. I guess the novel is something of a chimera; like Frankenstein’s monster, many disparate parts had to be stitched together before the novel could live.
I think the skeleton came from a thriller. The hands were harvested from an action adventure. The eyes and ears, perhaps, might have been stolen from the corpse of period fiction. Some part – the entrails, most likely – were certainly torn out of a horror story.
But the monster’s brain was definitely cut from the body of alternative history, and as we all know, re-imagining the Victorian era always leads us to the same fate. Yes, my monster is alive, and his name is Steampunk.
Thank you Daniel! Now that we’ve read a little bit from his mind, let’s take a moment to get to know him a little better…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Daniel Durrant is a new author writing mainly in the horror and science fiction genres. His short stories have been published in anthologies in the UK and USA, and he is currently working on his first full-length novel. He lives on the Norfolk Coast in England.
And now let’s take a look at Climate Change and read an excerpt from it!
Edward Rankine, inventor and engineer aboard the battle-cruiser Dominator, has devised an ingenious plan to open the frozen Northwest Passage.
Believing he is performing a service for the benefit of mankind, Edward is appalled to discover there is a saboteur in his midst.
Working with a crew of ‘Jacks and Jills’, mechanically enhanced humans sentenced to a life of servitude, Edward is forced to battle on the icebound waters of the northern seas.
Not only does Edward have a mutiny on his hands, but he must also find a way to save the passengers aboard the Dominator, possibly abandoning his own noble ambition in the process.
Will Edward’s plan succeed in the face of adversity, or in failing to clear the Northwest Passage will he stumble upon something greater?
An Excerpt from Climate Change by Daniel Durrant… At the end of the excerpt is the giveaway information!
On the ride out, Edward tried to glimpse the modifications that were his design. All space forward was taken by three quadruple turrets. They began to pass the castle, but before the stern became visible, the ship was lost in a fog bank of her own making.
“She has decay engines?” Charlotte asked, watching steam engulf the superstructure.
“Yes, four.” He pointed at the cooling towers. “I can arrange a tour if you’d like,” he offered, hoping to impress.
“Yes.” She smiled. “I would.”
After hopping off at the loading pavilion, they pushed through the crowd and showed their papers to the Royal Marine manning the embarkation point. He directed them toward the nearest elevator, but as they approached, an enormous man began to close the gate.
“Hold, if you please!” Edward called, hurrying forward.
The giant hesitated, but dropped the latch at the signal of an expensively dressed woman standing beside him. The platform began to climb, but those aboard were unprepared. Near the guardrail, two men struggling with a huge portmanteau overbalanced.
Muscles battled gravity as the platform continued skyward. Gravity won. The luggage teetered on the edge before plummeting down, dragging one of the men behind it. They landed together. Clothes, trinkets, and blood dispersed across the unforgiving stone.
“Medic!” Charlotte yelled, running forward. “We need a doctor!”
Edward knelt down and grabbed the man’s wrist, but found no pulse.
“We shan’t need one, I’m afraid.” He shook his head.
“Don’t trouble yourself, Miss,” a marine said. “He’s only a Jack.”
“A Jack?” Edward removed the man’s woolen hat. The scalp beneath was fashioned not from flesh, but metal. A bundle of wires trailed down under his collar. He stood, and looked around. Free from distraction, it was obvious; the stevedores moved with the stilted gait of the converted.
“You bloody fools!” The woman from the elevator barged past them, directing her staff to clean up. “Don’t touch that!” she shouted, as a maid picked up an ornate music box. She snatched the item away, and passed it to the tall man.
“Can I be of assistance?” Edward offered.
“I very much doubt it!” His offer seemed to feed her anger, but then she calmed. “It was a gift from my father,” she said, perhaps trying to justify her outburst. “Excuse us.”
“Lady Holden,” Charlotte murmured, as they climbed aboard another elevator. “I see she’s every bit as charming as her reputation suggests.”
The name seemed familiar, but Edward had no chance to enquire about it.
As they stepped aboard, a young man burst through a service door, charging toward them.
“Stop!” someone hollered, but the man paid no heed. He dashed for a loading ramp, but a gunshot ended his journey. He collapsed beside them, blood erupting from his chest.
Marines ran forward with guns drawn, but had no more targets.
“Sir? Madam? Are you alright?” An officer lowered his weapon, and stepped forward.
Edward looked at the would-be escapee. Blood spread unchecked until it hit the edge of the plank under him. Acting like a miniature dyke, the caulking carried it to the gunwale drain.
“Yes, we’re fine. Thank you, Lieutenant,” Charlotte replied.
A rhythmic hammering sound finally drew Edward’s attention from the body. Looking up, he saw Captain Fitzjames approaching. Standing nearly seven feet tall on his pneumatic legs, he strode forward to join them.
“I must apologize,” the Captain said. “Hardly an appropriate welcome, Miss Redpath.” He smiled. “It’s a pleasure to see you again.”
“Captain.” She nodded. “I was most grieved to hear of your injury at the battle of Buenos Aires.”
Redpath? Charlotte Redpath? Edward tried hard to keep his face blank, but knew he’d failed. Charlie? Stunned, he shook his head.
“Chance hit from a shore battery, but the objective was achieved. The Argentine Navy was completely destroyed.” Shrugging, he tapped the brass thigh tank. “The admiralty insists my uniform should be tailored to hide them, but I believe it does the men good to see that officers share the danger with them.” He turned to Edward. “Doctor Rankine, I presume?”
“Yes, Captain.” As a civilian, Edward had no protocol to observe, but pulled himself upright nonetheless. “It’s an honor, sir.”
“Hmn. Frankly, I don’t care for what you’ve done to my ship, Doctor. The loss of the aft turret concerns me.” He frowned, but then a narrow smile crossed his lips. “However, I must admit I’m curious to see the system in action.”
“Sir, look at this.” Kneeling beside the body, a Marine pulled the man’s shirt open. A small tree was tattooed on his sternum.
“Creationist!” Fitzjames growled. Air hissed from a bleed valve as he stamped a foot. “Lieutenant, organize a search-”
“Sir, we have another one!” Two Marines exited from the nearest elevator, dragging a man between them. “Caught him in the engine room, sir. Chief Engineer said he was tampering with the vortex transducers.”
“You are aboard a vessel of the Royal Navy,” Fitzjames said, clipping off each word. “Sabotaging a ship-of-the-line carries a mandatory life sentence. Take him for marionisation.”
“No!” The man sagged down between his captors. Only their grip prevented his collapse. “Captain, I beg you!”
“I’m sorry, son. It’s too late for that.” He hesitated. “Be grateful we have a good surgeon. It won’t hurt.”
Listening to him scream as the Marines hauled him away, Edward wondered if the dead man hadn’t been the luckier one. At least he couldn’t suffer any more.
“Captain, chance seems an unlikely explanation for this,” he said, trying to focus. “We have to consider that someone has leaked details of our mission.”
“You’re suggesting there’s a traitor aboard the Dominator?” Fitzjames snarled.
Thinking himself the target of the Captain’s anger, Edward took a step back.
“Damn it, you’re right. Too much coincidence.” He called the officers close. Through clenched teeth, he ordered an immediate departure. “We don’t want a panic. Keep this quiet, but place double guards on all restricted areas.” Surrounded by his entourage, he walked away, still issuing orders.
“You’re Charlotte Redpath?” Edward asked.
“The last time I checked, yes.” She looked down at herself.
“You might have told me.” The daughter of one of the wealthiest industrialists in the world, and he’d taken her for some grubby scout. Edward shook his head, feeling dizzy. He couldn’t take much more of this. As if the expedition alone wasn’t terror enough, trouble had struck before the ship could even sail.
“I’m sorry, Edward.” She touched his arm. “Don’t sulk. It wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun.”
“Oh, Miss Redpath?” Fitzjames turned back. “As I said, this is a vessel of the Royal Navy.” He gestured at her filthy clothes. “Sponsor or not, Her Majesty’s rules dictate a dress code.”
It’s a Giveaway!!
Sirens Call Publications will be giving away digital copies of Climate Change by Daniel Durrant to 5 (five) lucky winners! Follow the link to enter for your chance to win!