‘In the year 2889′ by Jules & Michael Verne

Jules Verne 1910

Jules Verne 1910

In doing my research for my steampunk novel, I ran across a short piece by Jules Verne (1828-1905) and his son Michael, “In the Year 2889″ (available at gutenberg.org).  What better place to get a feel for the Victorian age of science fiction than from the author of Twenty Thousand  Leagues under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and From the Earth to the Moon?

Various scientists, inventors, and writers credit Verne for inspiring their work, including Robert Goddard (rockets), Jacques Cousteau (oceanography), Edwin Hubble (telescope), and authors J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Ray Bradbury. Steampunks, of course, consider him a great-grandfather.

Jules Verne magazine cover

Jules Verne magazine cover

A single day of a newspaper magnate described the wonders of a world a thousand years in Verne’s future.  Written in 1889, before most of the inventions we take for granted were commercially available—electric lighting, movies, air conditioning, automobiles, radio, television, computers—Verne gets many of his predictions correct except for the actual means of technology and the time frame: It could have been entitled “In the Year 1989.”

He describes mass media telecommunications, video telephones, and the elimination of disease by means of better hygiene, sanitized air, and scientifically-prepared food delivered by tube to one’s table. This has raised the life expectancy from 37 to 52, according to Verne, but for an average person born in 1989 life expectancy is 75. He even has a video cam in his wife’s hotel room in Paris—a bit creepy as he watches her whisper his name in her sleep.

Voyages Extraordinaire

Voyages Extraordinaire

The main technology he describes, the use of pneumatic tubes to transport people and materials, is hardly known today, except at drive-through banks. He has an automatic food delivery tube to his home, eliminating the need for a cook and servants. His valet is replaced with an automatic dresser that not only dresses him but also tubes him to his office downtown.  His home has furniture and facilities built into the walls, much like Bruce Willis’s apartment in The Fifth Element or the 1960s New York World’s Fair, although much more luxurious. Also like The Fifth Element (1997), and Metropolis (1927-pre-talkie), the skies are filled with air cars.

A difference in the Victorian era sensibilities was the exuberant optimism (at least among the uppermost classes) that science would solve every problem. In Verne’s world climate is managed, ensuring good crops and comfortable weather, but his newspaper advertising scheme, using clouds as projection screens, is stymied by cloudless skies.  He sets an engineer to study making clouds. One entrepreneur suggests warming the poles as recreational tourist attractions, which he decides to fund. They hadn’t thought through the effects of global warming.

Journal to the Center of the Earth

Journal to the Center of the Earth

The magnate awards a research grant to a scientist to prove that the three parts of the atom are actually made of yet smaller components, which once analyzed, would allow the creation of any substance. Despite the discovery of quarks in 1964, no one has been able to synthesize materials or flesh directly from them, at least not yet.

Much like the science fiction writers of the golden age, he did not foresee the individualization of technology through a distributed network, where everyone has a smartphone and a vehicle, but instead saw each technology as a centralized system. He thought that a newspaper, expanded into a main telecommunications network, could so influence world politics that even ambassadors came to see him. He didn’t consider what might happen on personal media like YouTube.

One happy thought was that he had a room full of novel writers on the payroll cranking daily serials…he didn’t really get how television would work, but thought in terms of audible speech and still pictures.  The magnate took aside one of his writers to correct him about his lack of insight into others;  he advised the use of hypnotism for personal insight. Freud’s first article on hypnotism was published in 1895.

I have to wonder what the next 900 years will bring, but one thing Verne definitely nailed: they still don’t have a cure for the common cold, and workaholics don’t get enough sleep.

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Tarot for Character Analysis

Man of 1875 by Caillebotte Hugot

Man of 1875 by Caillebotte Hugot – a well dressed man

Tarot can be used for a number of purposes, but I am finding that it is very helpful for defining a character, especially once the character has a place in the story. A person’s inner conflicts can be defined by the layout of the cards. It does help to have put a good bit of thought into the character first, but the cards make a wonderful spark for the subconscious Muse, especially if the reader has some experience reading the cards.

It’s not necessary to believe in the tarot, or to own a deck of cards, as even a rather cheesy free tarot site with very abbreviated descriptions can nudge the unconscious to see where there are some holes in the character;s personality.

This morning’s reading of my villain, Quaid Golden, showed me a deep conflict between his passionate need for action and creativity and his intellectual pursuits and fear of emotional vulnerability, his self-imposed retreat into his own imagined world. He is very intelligent, able to assume a persona easily, but struggles with his own emotions on certain subjects. He is a lot like a Sherlock Holmes without the high functioning side of being a sociopath. he is capable of intense focus, but that allows him to be tripped up by the obvious that he cannot see due to his preoccupation with his own sense of self-doubt. He denies himself the good that he could have and do because it does not match his imagined vision of his life.

Golden is torn between his passionate nature and his calculating mind, his need for revenge, his need to create the fortune he has been denied, and his need to be seen and acknowledged as the brilliant person he is, preferably with cash, luxury and perks. To get those things, he will need to submit to the feminine, which in his case is seen as a weak, victim position, much like the one his mother lived. He sees Madame as being no better than his father, when she should be on his side, allowing him to be her hero and protector, except that as one who services the rich, she is not worthy.

On the other hand, personal readings are not so great, or maybe I am not so open to interpret my own conflicts. That’s what characters are for.

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Argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Introducing Argentum

ARGENTUM-CONCEPT2-Front

Argentum by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Argentum is the thread that binds all magic. When Merlin fashioned the first shapeshifter charms, he selected silver for his work. The silver wand, the silver scrying bowl, the silver charms of the shapeshifters.

All contain the essence of Argentum.

The death of Alistair has brought a measure of peace and calm to those at P.A.W.S., but his silver charm remains in Miri’s possession and it seems to almost have a life of its own.

Nightmares and questions torment Miri until the charm mysteriously disappears and Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin,. He claims to have repented his past association with Alistair, but can he be trusted?

And what of Jenna, a young girl once held captive by Alistair who carries a terrible secret—a secret that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.

The P.A.W.S. saga continues with Argentum – The death of Alistair has brought a measure of peace and calm to those at P.A.W.S., but his silver charm remains in Miri’s possession and it seems to almost have a life of its own. Nightmares and questions torment Miri until the charm mysteriously disappears and Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair. But can he be trusted? And what of Jenna, a young girl once held captive by Alistair who carries a terrible secret—a secret that could determine the future of P.A.W.S. Pick up your copy today.

The death of Alistair has brought a measure of peace and calm to those at P.A.W.S., but his silver charm remains in Miri’s possession and it seems to almost have a life of its own. Nightmares and questions torment Miri until the charm mysteriously disappears and Jessamyn seeks help from Quentin, who claims to have repented his past association with Alistair. But can he be trusted? And what of Jenna, a young girl once held captive by Alistair who carries a terrible secret—a secret that could determine the future of P.A.W.S.

Kindle or signed paperback directly from Rocking Horse Publishing.

Remember to add Argentum to your TBR list on Goodreads.

And if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the first part of the the P.A.W.S. saga today.

P.A.W.S.

PAWSCover

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go VOTE.

If you don't vote, you don't get to complain.

If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.

If you are in the USA today, get out there and VOTE.

If you are not registered, hang your head in shame. Then go to one of these links.

http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/register_to_vote.aspx 

http://www.eac.gov/national_voter_registration_act/

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Voting/Register.shtml

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Rethinking a character

Tom Weston-Jones as Detective Kevin Corcoran in the BBC-AMerican Show Copper.

Tom Weston-Jones as Detective Kevin Corcoran in the BBC-AMerican Show Copper.I

RE: 20 Hours to Atlanta.

I admit to being influenced by the various Netflix I watch, and one of my characters was inspired by Kevin Corcoran of Copper, played by Tom Weston-Jones, a pretty man and a heck of a good actor.  My character knows the dark side of the street, the  deals and compromises that life sometimes imposes and yet is driven by a sense of justice and truth.

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

Ian McShane as Al Swearengen on Deadwood.

But I’ve been thinking that maybe I want a character with a bit more experience and hard times, one that would have the knowledge and often tarnished optimism of having survived going through hell on frequent flyer miles.  Ian McShane has this kind of look, possibly what Weston-Jones will look like in 20 or 30 years.

The years a person spends marks them, and my characters bears a number of scars both on his body and his soul. I’m thinking an older man might make the story have more depth and traction.

How do you go about choosing your leading male?

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Making a New Book

I’m learning how to outline a book, making all the decisions ahead of time instead of just seeing where the characters go. This is not my usual way of working, but I’m finding that I have a lot more depth of character this way.  Each character has to be designed with his or her motivations, quirks, personality and goals. This is fun.

Today I am working with my villain, a complex guy who has a need for revenge and for recognition. This causes a conflict because he works undercover as a freelance asset, so that he is never recognized outside of the few people who know his secret, his handler, and his handler’s people. He does not know who the big bosses are, but they give him access to the information he wants, so he does their dirty work.

Dennis Quait

Dennis Quaid in Dragonheart

I visualize him as looking like Dennis Quaid, and his code name is Quaid Golden. Since the genre is steampunk, he’d have his top hat, cravat and frock coat, probably in a lush shade of green with a brocade vest of gold. his hair is about this length but much better groomed, as he is something of a dandy.

He has daddy issues, and plans to spread his revenge not only on his biological father, but on all the father’s cronies and associates. He thinks that my heroine is part of that network, and she is, but not in the way that he thinks. It remains to be seen if they can be allies, since neither of them is likely to trust the other, but they share a common enemy.

I haven’t picked out a quirk as yet, but a person with such deep emotional conflicts has to a twitch of some kind,  a quick trigger or short fuse in certain circumstances. I’d appreciate any suggestions or thoughts.


A Smidgen of Magic

Five Encounters with Magic in the Mundane

On another note, one of my short story collections, Just a Smidgen of Magic, will be free on Kindle just in time for Halloween on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.  Five stories of magic in the everyday world range from comedy to horror to redemption. They’ve been described as reading “like a set of beautiful long poems” and “beautifully written little gems.”

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A Free Read for a Sunday Sfternoon

Walking off Heaven's Shore

Walking off Heaven’s Shore

My new short story collection, Walking Off Heaven’s Shore, is free at Amazon today only: http://bit.ly/WalkShore.   Grab a copy, even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can read on your phone as I do, or you can convert for  a Nook or iPad instead of a Kindle:
http://www.epubor.com/convert-kindle-ebooks-to-epub.html
Use the download to computer option.

This is a different take for me–southern fiction instead of fantasy. Feel free to share with anyone. Post a review if you like it! ;-)

I’d appreciate any comments on the stories themselves or on the cover, which comes from a couple of free stock photo sites.

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