½ Price Sale on Many of My Books!

You’re looking for some great beach reads for your Kindle this summer. You keep hearing about that author—what’s his name?—who everyone is talking about. That’s right, it’s Steven R. Southard, the one who calls himself Poseidon’s Scribe.

You’ve been meaning to read my books, but you keep thinking they’re so darned expensive. Well, you’re in luck. Your wait is over.

For the month of July only, Smashwords is offering many of my books (the ones in the What Man Hath Wrought series) for ½ price! That’s right, get two for the price of one.

Here’s how to take advantage of these great prices. When you click on any book at my Smashwords site, a message will appear telling you to use a specific code at checkout to get the discount.

Here’s the list of stories and their prices during July:

AftertheMartians72dAfter the Martians
$2.00

 

RippersRing5Ripper’s Ring
$2.00

 

TimesDeformedHand3fTime’s Deformèd Hand
$2.00

 

TheCometeers3fThe Cometeers
$2.00

 

ToBeFirstWheels4To Be First and Wheels of Heaven
$2.00

 

RallyingCry3fRallying Cry and Last Vessel of Atlantis
$2.00

 

ATaleMoreTrue3fA Tale More True
$2.00

 

TheSixHundredDollarMan72dpi-1The Six Hundred Dollar Man
$1.50

 

ASteampunkCarol3fA Steampunk Carol
$1.50

 

AgainstAllGods4Against All Gods
$2.00

 

LeonardosLion4Leonardo’s Lion
$2.00

 

AlexandersOdyssey3fAlexander’s Odyssey
$2.00

 

WithinVictorianMists4Within Victorian Mists
$1.50

 

WindSphereShip4The Wind-Sphere Ship
$1.50

 

Better take advantage of this limited time offer before Smashwords wakes up and realizes what they’ve done. Heck, you could buy all 14 books for a cool $26. How’s that for value?

Remember, go to Smashwords and grab these deals while they last. Tell ‘em you were sent by—

Poseidon’s Scribe

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

FAQs About My Latest Book

RallyingCry72dpiEver since I’ve been dropping hint after hint about my upcoming book (Rallying Cry and Last Vessel of Atlantis), questions have been pouring in.  Flooding in.  Give me a break, I’m drowning here!  More questions came in than I could answer individually.

So I paid for some time on a supercomputer that compiled all the questions, sorted them, combined similar ones, performed complex statistical analyses, and spit out a list of the most frequently asked questions.

Below are those FAQs, complete with answers.

1.  What is the book about?  In “Rallying Cry,” an aimless youth meets two old geezers who spin bizarre war stories. They tell of a secret World War I regiment in France with ship-sized helicopters and mechanized walking tanks. Just as an inspiring shout can move soldiers to action, perhaps all Kane really needs to turn his life around is a rallying cry. In “Last Vessel of Atlantis,” a ship captain and his crew of explorers return to find Atlantis gone. While facing violent savages, braving fierce storms, and solving internal disputes, they must somehow ensure their advanced Atlantean civilization is not lost forever.

2.  Why two stories in one book?  I was in a generous mood.

3.  Why are these two particular stories combined?  They seem so different.  Actually, they’re both perfect fits for the What Man Hath Wrought series, which contains stories of alternate history involving people grappling with new technology.  The tales are quite different, though, but that means any reader would be bound to like one of them, at least.  That makes the book a pretty good purchase, I’d say. 

4.  What inspired you to write these stories?  I’ve written about that before…here and here.

5.  That’s a great cover.  Who designed it?  It is a wonderful cover.  Charlotte Holley of Gypsy Shadow Publishing designed it.  The bearded soldier gazes at something while a huge steampunk airship glides overhead and a big explosion goes off in the background. 

6.  Where can I buy the book?  Right now you can get it at Smashwords and Amazon.  Soon it will be available elsewhere, too. 

7.  You wrote an Atlantis story before, didn’t you?  What a memory you have!  My Atlantis-based story, “The Vessel” was published several years ago in an Atlantis anthology.  “Last Vessel of Atlantis” is that same story, with a title change and a few other alterations.  Definitely worth enjoying again.

8.  When will you have a print version rather than an e-book?   When the What Man Hath Wrought series is complete, I’m thinking about having a print version of the series.  It won’t be for a little while yet, since I have more stories I’d like to add to  WMHW. 

9.  What’s the next story in your What Hath Man Wrought series?  But that would spoil the surprise! 

Thanks for submitting your questions.  I’d invite more, but the deluge nearly crashed the supercomputer last time and almost tripped a wide sector of our national electrical power grid.  Let’s avoid tempting that fate, shall we?  I suggest you read the book, post a review, and before long there will be another book by—

                                                    Poseidon’s Scribe

Technical Difficulties

I know I said my latest book, the two-story compendium of “Rallying Cry” and “Last Vessel of Atlantis,” would be released today, March 1st.  I’ve just been informed that due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, the book launch will be delayed a few days, perhaps as much as a week.

Please Stand ByMy many fans around the world, and on other planets, and those in alternate universes (I know you’re out there and that you read my stuff) must be disappointed.  I assure you, no one is more distressed about this than I am.

Why the delay?  The fact is, publishing an e-book is a complicated business, so I’ve been told.  There’s the virtual ink to pour in, the imaginary rollers to align, the invisible type to set.  There are gears that turn, levers that snap, boots that kick buckets over, marbles that roll down inclines into chutes, balls that fall into bathtubs, cages that catch mice.  It’s very involved.

With all that bewildering complexity, it’s amazing that e-books get published at all, let alone on any kind of schedule.

Meanwhile, you were surfing to the various bookseller websites all day since midnight, searching for my book, ready to put it in your shopping cart and to hit ‘place order.’  And now you have to wait.  I know what a frustration this must be.

But think how much worse things are for me.  I’ve had to postpone the lavish book launch party, reschedule the reservations on the yacht, tell all the celebrity guests to come back in six days, delay the skywriter service and the fireworks team.

Still, I feel pretty bad about the whole thing.  As a service to you, I’ll make some suggestions for fun things to do while you wait, things to take your mind off the anticipation.

1.  You could buy and read any of my earlier books.

2.  Read them all already?  You could read one or more again.  They are all good for re-reading since you can pick up subtle and enjoyable nuances you missed on first reading them.

3.  You could peruse my earlier blog entries.  You’ll find some real gems there.

It’s sad this has happened, but we’ll get through this challenge together, you and me.  Think of it as just another of life’s little trials.  Are you going to mope around, wallowing in misery?  Or are you going to pick yourself up, shake off those blues, rise above your gloom and despair, and manage to make it through the day?  Be brave, be resolute, and be patient.

I’ll tell you just as soon as the book is available, believe me.  Soon enough your persistence and suffering will be rewarded and you’ll be the happy owner of the latest book by—

                                                                       Poseidon’s Scribe

What Everyone’s Waiting For

Everybody’s talking about it.  It’s all over the internet, crashing servers with the added traffic.  Social media sites are abuzz about it.  You can feel the pervasive air of excitement and anticipation.

RallyingCry72dpiCalm down, world.  It’s just my next book.  You’re going to have to wait until the release date of March 1 to buy it.

Actually, it’s two stories in one e-book release, a two-fer.  “Rallying Cry” and “Last Vessel of Atlantis” are paired together.  What are these stories about?  Thought you’d never ask.

In “Rallying Cry,” an aimless youth named Kane Jones meets two old geezers who spin bizarre war stories.  They tell about having served in a secret World War I outfit in France—the Jules Verne Regiment—with ship-sized helicopters and mechanized walking tanks.   Just as an inspiring shout can move soldiers to action, perhaps all Kane really needs to turn his life around is a rallying cry.

Ever since reading John Biggins’ novel A Sailor of Austria, I’d longed to write a story set in a nursing home with an older character (two, in my story) imparting the memories of a bygone time to a younger character.  I finally did.  “Rallying Cry” takes off in different directions than Biggins’ book, of course, and I recommend you read both.

In “Last Vessel of Atlantis, a ship captain and his crew of explorers return to find Atlantis gone.  While facing violent savages, braving fierce storms, and solving internal disputes, they must somehow ensure their advanced Atlantean civilization is not lost forever.  Fans with long memories will realize this is a slightly revised version of another story of mine published as “The Vessel.”  The new title is better, don’t you think?

I explained the origin of this story in a previous blog post.  It was fun for me to imagine the difficulties faced by a small crew of sailors who find themselves the sole survivors of their advanced civilization, with all other continents populated by primitive savages.

If you can just hang on a couple of weeks until March 1, the book will be available here.  Deep breaths might help you cope with the anxiety until then, along with taking time to think about other, less exciting, things.  Your patience will be rewarded, and that’s a promise from—

                                                      Poseidon’s Scribe

February 16, 2014Permalink

Meet the Punk Family

If you’re into science fiction, particularly alternate history or speculative fiction, there are some interesting sub-genres to be aware of.  They all have -punk in their name:  cyberpunk, clockpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, and atompunk.

Punk FamilyI’ve blogged about steampunk before, but here I’ll step back and introduce the Punk family.

  • Cyberpunk. This term describes fiction involving a world of the near future where computer technology has made life miserable and degraded society.  Author Bruce Bethke is credited with coining the term in 1980 in connection with his short story “Cyberpunk.”  Major writers of cyberpunk include Pat Cadigan, William Gibson, and Bruce Sterling.  Some cinematic examples of cyberpunk are 1984, Blade Runner, Mad Max, the Terminator movies, and Tron.  In my graphic I’ve depicted it as the parent of the Punk Family since it came first.
  • Clockpunk.  This refers to fiction set in a time when metal springs are the primary technological energy storage mechanism, an era prior to the invention of the steam engine.  A player of the Generic Universal RolePlaying System (GURPS) invented the term.  Clockpunk authors of note include Jay Lake, S. M. Peters, and Terry Pratchett.
  • Steampunk.  This subgenre depicts settings with steam-powered mechanisms, often in time periods similar to the nineteenth century.  Author K. W. Jeter invented the term in 1987.  Early giants of steampunk literature include James Blaylock, K. W. Jeter, and Tim Powers, though there are many, many writers continuing in their footsteps.  Movie examples of steampunk include Atlantis: The Lost Empire, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Prestige, Sherlock Holmes, Van Helsing, and Wild Wild West.  I think it’s fair to say this child of cyberpunk has surpassed its parent and all its siblings in popularity.  It has spawned a culture all its own with jewelry, clothing, art, music, and dedicated conventions in addition to books.
  • Dieselpunk.  In Dieselpunk we see the gasoline-based technology of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.  Game designer Lewis Pollak came up with the term in 2001.  Authors of dieselpunk include David Bishop, Robert Harris, Brian Moreland, and F. Paul Wilson.  Some examples of dieselpunk movies are Rocketeer and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.  As with steampunk, dieselpunk also comes with its own visual style — art deco.
  • Atompunk.  This refers to fiction set in the exuberant post World War II age, the Atomic Age.  I couldn’t find anything about who coined the term.  Some atompunk authors are Adam Christopher and Dante D’Anthony.  I don’t know of any atompunk movies made since the sub-genre emerged, but many science fiction movies of the 1950’s can be thought of as proto-atompunk.  There are associated visual styles with atompunk, too:  Googie Architecture, Populuxe, and Raygun Gothic.

There are other, lesser known, members of the Punk family:  Decopunk, Biopunk, Nanopunk, Stonepunk, Nowpunk, Splatterpunk, Elfpunk, and Mythpunk.  Perhaps if these attract sufficient readers, I’ll blog about them too.

The ‘-punk’ aspect of each of these is meant to convey that these are not celebrations of the technology in question.  The idea in these stories is to convey dark and disturbing faults in the societies driven by the technology, and by extension, to point out analogous problems with our own modern society.

My steampunk stories include “The Steam Elephant,” “The Wind-Sphere Ship,” (call that one Iron Age steampunk), “Within Victorian Mists,” “A Steampunk Carol,” “The Six Hundred Dollar Man,” and the upcoming “Rallying Cry.”

I’ve written a couple of clockpunk stories too:  “Leonardo’s Lion” and “A Tale More True.”

Perhaps you’ll enjoy getting to know the Punk Family.  They’re an odd bunch, but they’re getting more famous every day.  Leave a comment and explain what you think about them to the world and to—

                                                        Poseidon’s Scribe

November 24, 2013Permalink