Teaser from A Still-untitled Steampunk Piece

Photo of mechanical wheel, taken at the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit.

I'm enjoying writing in a steampunk world. It allows for a lovely texture, and description drawn in a different way than my usual. I'm also enjoying the protagonists who have emerged, particularly Pinkerton agents Elspeth and her companion, Artemus West.

This snippet from the story I’m currently working on is set in the same world as recent pieces “Her Windowed Eyes, Her Chambered Heart” and “So Little Comfort in This World.”

Elspeth folded her hands in her lap, trying to keep her brows from knitting. She hated trains.

They were dirty, with bits of smut and coal blown back from the massive brass and aluminum steam engine pulling them along, and engrimed by successions of previous passengers.

They were noisy, from the engine’s howl to the screech of the never-sufficiently-greased axles as they rocketed along the steel rails with their steady pocketa-pocketa-pocketa chug seeping up through the swaying floor.

And they were oppressively full of people, all thinking things, all pressing down on her Sensitive’s mind, making her shrink down into the hard wooden seat as though the haze of thoughts hung like coal-smoke in the air and if she sank low enough, she’d avoid it.

She glanced over at her fellow Pinkerton agent, who returned her look with his own slightly quizzical if impersonal gaze. All of the curiosity of their fellow passengers was directed at him, perhaps the first mechanical being they’d ever seen, with silver and brass skin and curly hair, eyebrows, and moustache of gilded wire.

“They shouldn’t be keeping us back here,” she said for the third time in as many minutes. “If we’re his assigned bodyguards, they should let us up to inspect his compartment.”

“The porter said he’d tell them we were here,” Artemus said in precisely the same tone he’d used the first two times he’d said these words.

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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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