Steampunk Western Teaser

I wrote this beginning of a steampunk Western story at ArmadilloCon this year. I’m transcribing a lot of stuff from my notebooks and thought people might enjoy this excerpt.

We came out of Texas with fire and iron in our blood. Our maker set us loose, said get ’em, gals! Then he stood back and spat.

She was in Kansas. Our leader, our model. We had to get to her.

So we walked, all thirty of us, dressed in tough black serge that tore nonetheless, got pulled away by thorns, and rough fingers of grass, and sand burrs. Bit by bit the clothes fell away and we weren’t a pack of black-bonneted little old ladies anymore. We were glittering steel and a spark of bright blue electricity in each eye.

Robot Carrie Nations, ready to spread the Temperance Word.

Let us backtrack and tell you the why and how that our Maker would have come up with. He talked about her all the time, had been in an Oklahoma saloon when she came through! Smashed it to flinders, used her famous axe on a whisky barrel till an alcoholic sheen covered the floor and old man Harcourt was there trying to lap it up off the planking. That was what made him see the Light, he said. A grown man, old enough to be his father, lapping up whiskey like a dog. That was when he took the Pledge, the same one engraved over each of our hearts.

We’re going to find Mother Nation. We’re his gift to her — thirty automatons, powered by phlogiston and hot blue liquid, ready to be set to work on the Crusade. His tribute. Another man might have sent flowers, or a diamond the size of a buffalo’s eye, or lengths of paisley silk. Not Thomas Y. D. Swift (or so the soles of our left feet read). Is he wooing her or enlisting in her army? We’re not sure. Humans are confusing sometimes.

(is that teaser enough? 🙂 )

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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