Free to read: Filigree & Ice, Ash & Atoms

I put a free-to-read old-but-new story up on Curious Fictions. This one's a steampunk whim, following the implications of steampunk technology under real physics...

"Filigree & Ice" originally came out last year as a members-only short piece for the Fantasticon 2018 members' booklet. I've been announced as a Featured Guest for the next Fantasticon this autumn, so they must have liked it!

I don't usually go down the route of steampunk, though I do have a couple of outlines of ideas for the genre. Initially I didn't really get the idea, I thought the genre was just about taking whiz-bang technology and putting it in a 19th century/Victorian context (this can create things that look cool, and looking cool is allowed and encouraged but I don't find it narratively satisfying).

But it's better to look at the other way around: taking the rigid social structure of the mid-19th century world, this whole global society being actively reshaped to justify and perpetuate a system of conquest and empire that was rapidly running up against its limits, and give those people access to the great power of more modern technology. Stephen Baxter's Anti-Ice for example posits a nuclear Cold War between England and Prussia. We can ask ourselves "would Reagan really have blown up the world in 1986?" but we know with much more certainty: Bismarck and Disraeli absolutely would have, if they thought it could make their respective monarchs come out on top.


Edmund Schluessel

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