Instability

What’s that trumpet fanfare I’m hearing? Oh, that’s right. My story “Instability” will appear in the anthology Dark Luminous Wings. It’s another Pole to Pole Publishing anthology, edited by the incomparable Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Crist.

Kelly and Vonnie wanted stories involving wings, so I did some research and brainstorming. As usual, I generated plenty of ideas and had to down-select to one that would result in a compelling story of the right length.

From Wikipedia.org

In my research I’d come across the account of Brother Eilmer of Malmesbury Abbey. A Benedictine monk who lived around 1000 AD, Eilmer is supposed to have flown from the abbey’s tower using a set of wings he made. These were Daedalus-and-Icarus style wings that he flapped with his arms. He didn’t really “fly,” but more likely glided in an uncontrolled manner. The account says he crash-landed, broke both legs, and was lame the rest of his life.

Medieval monks weren’t generally known for their technological creativity and spirit of adventure. Imagine Brother Eilmer engaged in a life of worship, hard work, singing, praying, and copying. He reads the Greek account of Daedalus and Icarus, and decides he could construct wings and fly as they did. Imagine him standing atop the tower, trying to overcome his fear so he can leap off. Think how he must have felt at first, actually flying, before losing control.

In my fictionalized account, throw in a fellow monk of the lying, scheming and snitching variety as well as an Abbott who can’t decide if Eilmer is insane or possessed, and you’ve got my story, “Instability.”

When Dark Luminous Wings comes out in print, I’ll tell you how to get your copy so you can read my story, along with all the others. I found Eilmer such a fascinating character, I may write more tales about him. Maybe he’ll get his own series. A book of stories about a medieval scribe, scribbled by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Near Misses in Technology

For six years I’ve used this blog to aid beginning writers, but starting today I’ll occasionally take on other topics. Technology is fascinating to me, and today’s topic is those near misses in history when someone developed a technology before the world was ready.

What do I mean by ‘near misses?’ I’m talking about when an inventor came up with a new idea but it didn’t catch on, either because no one saw the possible applications or because there was no current need.

When you compare the date of the invention to the much later date when the idea finally took off, it’s intriguing to imagine how history might have been different, and how much further ahead we’d be today.

You’ll get a better idea of what I mean as we go through several examples.

Computers

The Antikythera Mechanism was likely the first computer, used for calculating the positions of celestial bodies. Invented in Greece in the 2nd Century BC, it contained over 30 intricate gears, and may have been a one-off. It is interesting to speculate how history might have been different if they’d envisioned other uses for this technology, such as mathematical calculations. Imagine Charles Babbage’s geared computer being invented two millennia earlier!

I was fascinated by the Antikythera Mechanism and the mystery surrounding its discovery in a shipwreck, so I wrote my story, “Wheels of Heaven,” with my version of those events.

Lasers

It’s puzzling to me that inventors came up with radios (1896) before lasers (1960). After all, radio involves invisible electromagnetic waves, but lasers are visible light. Sure, the mathematics behind lasers (stimulated emissions) wasn’t around until Einstein, but with people monkeying around with mirrors and prisms, it’s strange that no one happened upon the laser phenomenon ahead of its mathematical underpinning.

Charles Fabry and Alfred Perot came close in1899 when they developed their Fabry-Perot etalon, or interferometer. Again, imagine how history might have been different if lasers had appeared sixty years earlier, before radio.

My story “Within Victorian Mists” is a steampunk romance featuring the development of lasers and holograms in the 19th Century.

Manned Rocketry

The first manned rocket flight may have been that of German test pilot Lothar Sieber on March 1, 1945. It was unsuccessful and resulted in Sieber’s death. The first successful manned flight was that of Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union on April 12, 1961.

But did Sieber and Gagarin have a predecessor, beating them by three centuries?

There is an account of a manned rocked flight in 1633, the trip made successfully in Istanbul by Lagâri Hasan Çelebi. It’s fun to imagine if the sultan of that time had recognized the possibilities. My story “To Be First” is an alternate history tale showing where the Ottoman Empire might have gotten to by the year 1933 if they’d capitalized on Çelebi’s achievement.

Submarines

The earliest attempts at underwater travel come to us in legends and myths. Highly dubious accounts tell of Alexander the Great making a descent in a diving bell apparatus in 332 BC. There are vague references to the invention of a submarine in China around 200 BC. True submarine development really got its start in the 1500s, 1600s, and 1700s.

Still, think about how much more we’d know today about the oceans if the ancient accounts were true and people of the time had make the most of them. My story “Alexander’s Odyssey” is a re-telling of the Alexander the Great episode, and “The Sea-Wagon of Yantai” is my version of the ancient Chinese submarine.

Steam Engines

In 1712, Thomas Newcomen developed the first commercially successful steam engine. Later, James Watt and Richard Trevithick improved on Newcomen’s design.

However, these inventions were preceded by Hero (or Heron) of Alexandria in the 1st Century AD. He developed a small steam engine called an aeolipile, though he considered it an amusing toy.

What if Heron had visualized the practical possibilities of this engine? Since the steam engine ushered in the Industrial Revolution, could humanity have skipped ahead 1700 years technologically? My story, “The Wind-Sphere Ship,” imagines a practical use for Heron’s engine along with a reason it didn’t catch on.

Other Near Misses?

You get the idea. I am intrigued by the number of times inventors hit on an idea, but society failed to recognize it and take advantage of it, so it had to wait until much later. Are there other examples you can think of? Leave a comment for me. Your thoughts might well be featured in a post by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

My Story Inspires More Antikythera Mechanism Research

These scientists and anthropologists must have read my story. Is there any other explanation?

NAMA_Machine_d'Anticythère_1
Antikythera Mechanism (from Wikipedia)

ToBeFirstWheels3fLet’s review the timeline. My story “Wheels of Heaven” was published two years ago, in June 2014. “Wheels” tells the story of the Antikythera Mechanism, that ancient Greek geared machine found in the seabed wreck of a Roman ship. Then in September of that year scientists mounted a diving expedition to see if they could find more pieces of the device. I blogged about that expedition.

Although the expedition did not uncover any additional gears, there’s been a new development, reported last week here, here, and here. With Computational Tomography (CT) imaging and Polynomial Texture Mapping, or PTM, they’ve discovered the Antikythera machine came with written instructions, a guide to its operation, an owner’s manual etched on its surfaces.

The newly translated 3500 characters of text refer to parts of the mechanism that weren’t recovered, such as a display of spheres representing the Sun and known planets. The text suggests the device wasn’t an astronomical research tool, nor an astrological prediction tool. Rather it was a teaching aid, an astronomy textbook of sorts.

Well, that would have been useful to know when I was writing “Wheels of Heaven.” In my tale, the machine has no display spheres, and no engraved text to read. The character in my story, Drusus Praesentius Viator, is an astrologer, and does use the machine to make horoscopic predictions. I based my story on the best understanding of the Antikythera Mechanism at the time.

Ah, well, science marches on, I suppose. Science Fiction writers are used to new discoveries rendering their stories obsolete. That phenomenon doesn’t happen as often to writers of alternate history, but it’s not unknown.

Of course, “Wheels of Heaven” is not obsolete. Scientists don’t know for sure that the ancients didn’t use the machine for astrological predictions. It would be a simple matter for me to update my story to include the text and display spheres.

AntikytheraMechanismSchematic-Freeth12
Gear Arrangement in the Antikythera Mechanism (from Wikipedia)

Further, I’m not accusing scientists of deliberately trying to undermine my story. They may well be motivated to find the truth about this mysterious artifact. After all, no one credited the Ancient Greeks with having any understanding of gears before finding this machine containing at least thirty meshing gears. Not just simple gears, either, but some are complex epicyclic gears.

Still, I’d like to think some of the anthropologists might have read, and been inspired by, “Wheels of Heaven.” Could my story have sparked some of the research? Who knows?

Maybe you’re a scientist who’s curious about ancient technology. Or maybe you just enjoy reading good stories. Either way, perhaps you, too, could be inspired by reading the works of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

World War One—After the Martians

One century ago, war raged across Europe. They called it the Great War then. The year 2018 will mark a hundred years since the ending of that massive conflict. Today I thought we’d examine an alternate history scenario. How might WW I have been different if H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds had really occurred in 1901? My recently launched book, “AftertheMartians72dAfter the Martians,” explores this scenario.

First, some background. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna created a sustainable peace across Europe. Half a century later, that peace had frayed. Five nations then dominated the mainland continent and vied with each other for supremacy—Austria, Denmark, France, Russia, and Germany (under Prussian leadership).

Otto_Fürst_von_Bismarck
Chancellor Otto von Bismarck

Enter Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany, who combined the ‘balance of power’ concept with a pragmatic or ‘realpolitik’ approach to foreign policy. He ensured Germany maintained a changing web of alliances with two of the other powers, while engineering a series of short wars designed to unite and strengthen the German states while weakening enemies. After each war, he’d shift the alliances, always maintaining three on his side against two on the other.

This strategy sustained a workable balance until Bismarck’s resignation in 1890, after which he predicted, “One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”

After that time, the European powers armed themselves against each other and tensions increased—the so-called “powder keg.” Without any minor wars to relieve this tension, the strain increased such that even a small event could trigger a major war. That’s what Bismarck had foreseen.

So far, that’s an interpretation of how things actually happened. Let’s insert a fictional twist. Assume the attack of The War of the Worlds really occurred, in 1901. In H.G. Wells’ novel, the Martians only invaded Great Britain, but it makes no sense for a superior alien race to restrict their assault to just one country, so we’ll suppose the Martians spread their forces more widely across the globe.

In time, the Earth’s bacteria sickened and killed the alien aggressors, but only after they’d wiped out a significant portion of the world’s population. Human weaponry of 1901 had been almost useless against the Martians, so our war machines lay in ruin. However, the aliens had left behind their tripod fighting machines, heat rays, “black smoke” poison gas, and some flying machines.

The nations of Europe, then, would have faced two choices. Stunned by the devastation of the Martian War and fearful of another attack from that planet, they could have joined forces and combined their energies to prepare for another assault by a common enemy. Or they could have examined the advanced Martian military technology and used it to refill the powder keg.

After the Martians assumes, as backstory, that the latter occurred. I postulate that the same triggering event—the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand—lit the fuse and set off the Great War.

Using the weaponry of Mars, WW I would have gone quite differently. Trenches would be useless against one hundred foot tall walking tripods with heat rays. Each side would have gone underground, using the Martian “assembly machines” to construct huge subterranean bunkers with hidden surface entrances.

Moreover, the heat rays and black smoke would have killed off the plant and animal life on every battlefield. There would have been vast areas of bare dirt. The combatants would have spared only the mountainous zones, since it would have been difficult to maneuver the tall three-legged fighting machines on sloped ground.

This is the (alternate) reality faced by my character Johnny Branch in my new book. As you mark the centennial of the real WW I, consider reading “After the Martians,” by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Book Launch of Hides the Dark Tower

The book Hides the Dark Tower just launched! It’s an anthology with stories about towers, by Pole to Pole Publishing, edited by Kelly A. Harmon and Vonnie Winslow Crist. My tale “Ancient Spin” is in it, along with twenty-eight other stories.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00001]Feel free to read a little about “Ancient Spin” here; I guest-posted on Vonnie Winslow Crist’s website.

If you’re not already surfing off to buy the book here or here, you will after you read this blurb:

“Mysterious and looming, towers and tower-like structures pierce the skies and shadow the lands. Hides the Dark Tower includes over two dozen tales of adventure, danger, magic, and trickery from an international roster of authors. Readers of science fiction, fantasy, horror, grimdark, campfire tales, and more will find a story to haunt their dreams. So step out of the light, and into the world of Hides the Dark Tower—if you dare.”

Don’t be left on the bottom floor. Be lofty and buy Hides the Dark Tower, along with—

Poseidon’s Scribe

October 23, 2015Permalink

The Basset Hound in Ripper’s Ring

There’s a basset hound in my upcoming story “Ripper’s Ring.” Let me tell you about him.

His name is Diogenes, and I’ve described him as having a copper-and-black mottled coat, a white blaze down his snout, and a white-tipped tail. He’s a pet, owned by my one of the story’s main characters, Detective Wellington Thales Bentbow.

Bvdb-bassethound1Diogenes is not quite like the hound pictured here, but you get the general idea of their characteristic wrinkled, sagging skin and drooping ears, giving them a perpetually depressed countenance.

I chose a basset for my story for a couple of reasons. From the time my wife was growing up until a few years after I met her, her family kept pet Basset Hounds, owning as many as three at a time. They remain one of her favorite animals.

Second, I discovered Basset Hounds possess a sense of smell for tracking that’s the second keenest of all dog breeds, behind only the bloodhound. That makes this breed a good dog for a detective to own.

Especially a detective like Wellington Bentbow, who is philosophical by nature, a loner, and probably a bit wrinkly and gloomy himself. He’s come to regret purchasing Diogenes, though, because the hound much prefers sleeping to any sort of detective work.

Bentbow chose the name Diogenes for his pet because of the ancient Greek philosopher. Diogenes of Sinope has become associated with dogs. In addition, Diogenes would wander around in the daytime holding a lamp before him. When asked why, he said he was looking for an honest man. (How he planned to detect honesty using a lamp was, I believe, part of his little joke.) But this idea of tracking down a particular man also played into the choice of name for my basset hound character.

In a future post I’ll blog about the uses of pets in fiction, but for now I’ll say there’s a danger involved when you introduce familiar pets in your stories. In particular, dogs and cats are endearing to readers and it’s so tempting to provide details about the animal’s cute behavior and personality, they can steal the show if you’re not careful. I had to fight to keep Diogenes a minor character, because he could have taken over the story.

RippersRing72dpi“Ripper’s Ring” takes place in London in 1888, and basset-type hounds were then new to England, having only recently been imported from France. The modern Basset Hound (capitalized) didn’t become a standardized breed until after the time of my story, so strictly speaking, Diogenes would be categorized as a basset-type hound.

You can read all about Diogenes in my story, “Ripper’s Ring,” due to launch on Monday, May 4th. If you own a Basset Hound that matches my description of Diogenes, I’ll be happy to post a picture of it, if you’ve taken the picture and give permission for posting it by leaving a comment for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

The Ring of Gyges Made Real

I blogged recently about the Ring of Gyges, the invisibility ring mentioned by Plato in The Republic, a ring I wrote about in my upcoming story, RippersRing72dpi“Ripper’s Ring.” Today I revisit the topic since I now own the ring.

Ring of Gyges 8Ring of Gyges 3Well, the one I own is actually a replica, or at least a conception of how the ring might look. A close acquaintance of mine made it by the technique of additive manufacturing or 3D printing.

As shown on Thingiverse, my ring was based on two versions of the Green Lantern’s ring shown here and green_lantern_ring_display_large_preview_card GLR1_preview_cardhere. Then my friend used Tinkercad and 123D to add the Gyges touches. She used a Printrbot brand printer, the Simple (Maker Edition) and PLA filament. The .stl files you need to print the ring yourself are on the Thingiverse site. She glued a machine screw and nut to fasten the pieces together and allow rotation. If you make the ring yourself, you’ll need to scale the design so it prints a ring that will fit you.

As Plato described the ring, the collet (the part of the ring that grips the stone) could rotate. The stone must have had some sort of obvious orientation, because when Gyges turned it toward himself, he disappeared; when he turned the stone 180° toward his fingertips, he reappeared.

In my story and in my 3D printed ring, the stone is in the shape of an isosceles triangle, so think of the stone as an arrow—pointed toward you makes you invisible.Ring of Gyges 7

Not quite like that. It actually looks like this:

Ring of Gyges 6

And when you rotate the stone to point the other way, you become visible again.

Ring of Gyges 5

In “Ripper’s Ring,” (which launches in less than a week on May 4th!), I describe how the ring was made and how it works. A farmer finds a meteorite, and parts of it are solid to the touch, yet invisible. Anyone who touches the invisible metal becomes invisible, too. A jeweler discovers that the invisible metal becomes visible (and returns its wearer’s visibility) when in contact with iron.

The jeweler constructs a ring of gold lined inside with the invisible metal touching the finger. The stone is a triangle of iron attached with a screw mechanism such that the wearer can rotate the triangle and move it up or down. Moving it down brings it in contact with the invisible metal, rendering the wearer visible again.

So far I haven’t gotten my Ring of Gyges to turn me invisible, though I will keep trying. Perhaps when you make yours, it will work. For your sake, I hope not. Don’t forget to get your copy of “Ripper’s Ring” and wear your own Ring of Gyges while reading it. If you make one, or have any questions, or if you think I should 3D print more objects from my other stories, leave a comment for—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Jack the Ripper

Late in the year 1888, someone terrorized the slums of East London’s Whitechapel district, murdering at least five women. Before the slayings stopped, a newspaper received a letter signed by ‘Jack the Ripper,’ and that chilling moniker haunts us still, more than a century later. The cases have never been solved.

RippersRing72dpiJack the Ripper appears as a character in an upcoming story of mine, “Ripper’s Ring,” which will launch in early May and will be available here. After reading the story, you’ll understand how the Ripper got away with the crimes, and how a single detective at Scotland Yard really solved the case. Well, one fictional theory, anyway.

Hasn’t JtR been used in fiction before, you ask? Yes, in tales by the following authors, at least: Peter Ackroyd, Carla E. Anderton, John Brooks Barry, Robert Bloch, Anthony Boucher, Fredric Brown, Harlan Ellison, Philip José Farmer, Lyndsay Faye, Gardner Fox, Michael Generali, David L. Golemon, Richard Gordon, T. E. Huff, Richard Laymon, Kim Newman, Anne Perry, Robert Perry and Mike Tucker, Stefan Petrucha, Ray Russell, Iain Sinclair, and Roger Zelazny.

Obviously, JtR is a character too compelling for writers to resist. When you combine the horrific acts, the fear they induce in a community, the anonymity, and the timeless nickname, you get a powerful character suitable for unlimited fictional variations.

As you’ll read about in upcoming blog posts, my take on the Ripper is—I believe—unique. Since the story is part of the What Man Hath Wrought series, you know it has to involve technology, and the difficulty of coping with it. This story might even make you think.

“Ripper’s Ring” is darker than the other stories in the series, but is also a mystery/detective story, and a thoughtful tale about power and restraint. Soon it will be released on an unsuspecting public, not just in Whitechapel, but worldwide. It’s well worth the wait, according to—

Poseidon’s Scribe

Author Interview — Lauren Marrero

We’ve been meeting fascinating authors recently through my interviews, and that streak continues today with my interview of Lauren Marrero.

Lauren-Marrero1On her website, Lauren describes herself as a sapiosexual romance novelist, cat lady, and adventuress. She’s the author of the novel Seducing the Laird.

Here’s the interview:

Poseidon’s Scribe: When and why did you begin writing fiction?

Lauren Marrero: I was a writer long before I was consciously aware of it. Back in school, I became so excited about writing essays—my friends definitely thought I was weird. It wasn’t until college, while choosing a major, that I realized writing was my passion.

P.S.: You have a short story, “Her Majesty’s Service,” appearing in the anthology AvastYeAirshipsAvast, Ye Airships! What is your story about?

L.M.: After a passionate one night stand, a young woman discovers the man she slept with is caught up in a dangerous world of intrigue.

P.S.: You’ve written a historical novel, Seducing-the-Laird-CoverSeducing the Laird. Please introduce us to the main character, Verena.

L.M.: Set during the late middle ages, Verena is the perfect spy, working for the ruthlessly-ambitious Lord Gundy. Her mission is to recover a fabled cache of Roman silver, lost for hundreds of years beneath the stronghold of the Scottish laird Cairn McPherson. She must use all of her powers of seduction and intelligence to infiltrate Cairn’s household, but this mission may be her undoing.

Verena is an anti-hero, a woman forced to do whatever she must to survive. She is deeply disturbed by her assignment, knowing that her actions may cause the destruction of a clan she has grown to love. This is a story about redemption and realizing that it is never too late to be a better person.

P.S.: Reviewers keep saying they couldn’t put your novel down, that you had them from page one. Would you care to share your secret for how you achieve that?

L.M.: Honestly, I was a little surprised to see such positive reviews for a first novel. Sure, I loved it, but I wasn’t sure my audience would love the same characters and laugh at the same jokes.

I tried to bring my enthusiasm for the characters onto each page. I constantly asked the opinions of my friends and family while writing. Did they think a scene was realistic? How would they feel if a character behaved a certain way? That feedback helped to make the story much better.

P.S.: I see you enjoy traveling. Are all your stories set in places you’ve been?

L.M.: Unfortunately, no. Unlike Nandi from “Her Majesty’s Service,” I have never been to Cairo, but that is definitely on my list!

P.S.: The topic of food keeps coming up on your website. How do you use food in your fiction writing–just to show the characters being real, or to give credibility to the historical time and place setting, or to advance the plot?

L.M.: People say to write what you love. I am a foodie. I believe knowing people’s tastes gives insight into their character. Laird Cairn McPherson is a tough and capable leader, but has an incurable sweet tooth. Verena cleverly uses that knowledge during her seduction. When he is at his lowest moment, not knowing if he will live or die, Verena appears before him like an angel of mercy, offering all the comforts of home. It is no wonder he falls for her!

P.S.: If you could bring back a dead author to talk to over dinner, whom would it be, and what would you be anxious to ask?

L.M.: I consider Oscar Wilde to be one of the greatest writers. Few authors are so skillful at combining emotions. While reading his work, I want to laugh, cry, beat up some characters, and hug others. I wouldn’t presume to ask Oscar Wilde anything. I would just let him talk.

P.S.: In what way is your fiction different from that of other authors of historical romance?

L.M.: I wanted my novel to be a more evolved story. There is intrigue, espionage, ghosts, malicious fairies, and the threat of war. Yes, the characters fall in love, but there is much more to the book.

P.S.: What is your current work in progress? Would you mind telling us a little about it?

L.M.: I am currently working on the sequel to Seducing the Laird. In the first book, I introduced an entire family of spies, each with complex stories and diverse backgrounds. I believe each of them deserve to fall in love.

The next novel takes place in France during the Italian Wars. Italy, France, and Spain are pitted against each other. It is up to the spies to resolve it –and break a few hearts in the process.

Poseidon’s Scribe: What advice can you offer aspiring writers? In particular, what do you wish someone had told you about writing or getting published that you had to learn the hard way?

Lauren Marrero: Make friends. I found that the best way to stay motivated is to be around like-minded people. Join writing groups and attend readings by local authors. It may take years before you see your work on a bookshelf, but if you can keep your attention on writing, it will keep you focused on your goal.

 

Thanks, Lauren! Luckily for readers of my blog, I know where you can find out more about Lauren Marrero.  She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon. Her website is here.

Poseidon’s Scribe

February 9, 2015Permalink

Secrets of the Past

Is it possible that some amazing things happened in historical times, but never made it in the history books? Today I’ll discuss the subgenre of fiction known as secret histories.

Wikipedia’s entry provides a good definition: “A secret history (or shadow history) is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real (or known) history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars. Secret history is also used to describe a type or genre of fiction which portrays a substantially different motivation or backstory from established historical events.”

With secret histories the author can deviate from actual history as far as she’d like, but she must return things to status quo or else explain why historical accounts don’t align with her story.

For this reason, secret histories are not to be classified as alternate histories (as I mistakenly did here.  There is no permanent altering of history. Rather the world returns to the one we know. The thrill for the reader is seeing how close the world came to actually changing in some dramatic way.

Secret histories work well as thriller stories with assassins or spies, since they work in secret anyway. Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal and Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle are two examples.

I’ve written secret histories myself, but my stories involve technology, not spies or assassins. In each one I leave it to the reader to speculate how much further ahead we’d be if some inventions had occurred earlier.

9781926704012In “The Sea-Wagon of Yantai,” an inventor creates a submarine in China in 200 B.C. There are obscure references asserting that something of that sort actually happened, and those references inspired my story. The tale ends in a way that explains why more submarines weren’t made as a result of this invention.

steamcover5My story “The Steam Elephant” (which appeared in Steampunk Tales magazine) is a secret history in which a traveling group of Britons and one Frenchman are enjoying a safari from the vantage of a steam-powered elephant invited by one of the Brits. They get caught up in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. This is intended as a sequel to the two books of Jules Verne’s Steam House series.

WindSphereShip4In “The Wind-Sphere Ship,” Heron of Alexandria takes his simple steam-powered toy and uses it to power a ship. If there had been a steamship in the 1st Century A.D., it boggles the mind to think we could have had the Industrial Revolution seventeen hundred years early and skipped the Dark Ages.

LeonardosLion3fAnother secret history is “Leonardo’s Lion” which answers what happened to the mechanical clockwork lion built by Leonardo da Vinci in 1515. In the story, humanity comes very close to seeing all of da Vinci’s designs made real, which would have advanced science and engineering by centuries.

TheSixHundredDollarMan3fI’d categorize “The Six Hundred Dollar Man” as secret history too, when a man fits steam-powered limbs on another man who’d been injured in a stampede. The story takes place in 1870 in Wyoming and it’s pretty clear by the story’s end why that technology didn’t catch on.

RallyingCry3fRallying Cry” is a tale about a young man who learns there have been secret high-technology regiments and brigades in wars going back at least to World War I. Members of these teams cannot reveal their group’s existence, so it fits the secret history genre.

ToBeFirstWheels5In “Wheels of Heaven” I take what is factually known about the Antikythera Mechanism, and weave a fictional tale to explain it.

As you can see, I like writing in this sub-genre. Imagine something interesting and imaginative happened in history, write about it, then tie up all the loose ends so that our modern historical accounts remain unchanged. Leave the reader wondering if the story could have really happened. History that might have been, courtesy of—

Poseidon’s Scribe

December 7, 2014Permalink