The Stories

At present, there are seven stories available in the Clockwork Century.

(Boneshaker, October 2009 from Tor Books)

In the early days of the Civil War, rumors of gold in the frozen Klondike brought hordes of newcomers to the Pacific Northwest. Anxious to compete, Russian prospectors commissioned inventor Leviticus Blue to create a great machine that could mine through Alaska’s ice. Thus was Dr. Blue’s Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill Engine born.

But on its first test run the Boneshaker went terribly awry, destroying several blocks of downtown Seattle and unearthing a subterranean vein of blight gas that turned anyone who breathed it into the living dead.

Now it is sixteen years later, and a wall has been built to enclose the devastated and toxic city. Just beyond it lives Blue’s widow, Briar Wilkes. Life is hard with a ruined reputation and a teenaged boy to support, but she and Ezekiel are managing. Until Ezekiel undertakes a secret crusade to rewrite history.

His quest will take him under the wall and into a city teeming with ravenous undead, air pirates, criminal overlords, and heavily armed refugees. And only Briar can bring him out alive.


“Tanglefoot” – Available now, for free, at Subterranean Press Online.

A mechanically inclined orphan who lives in the basement of a sanitarium is urged to “make new friends.” A doddering scientist shares his living space, and he encourages the effort — providing all the assistance his weakening mind will permit.

So the orphan makes a friend … with the materials that lie immediately at hand. Unfortunately, the resulting automaton would rather cause chaos than keep him company.



Clementine – Coming in 2010 from Subterranean Press.

Maria Isabella Boyd has had just about enough of this goddamned Civil War.

Her early successes as a Confederate spy have led to notoriety that prohibits further espionage work; and her loyalties have been called into question over a disastrous marriage to a Union officer.

Exiled, widowed, and on the brink of poverty, she goes to work for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency in Chicago.

But that’s not going so well either.

Her first big assignment is commissioned by the U.S. Army and only reluctantly pursued by Pinkerton’s. Historical circumstances have led to strife between the military and the influential agency. But the war is stretching forces thin, and outside help is called for. Maria (who refuses to go by “Belle”) Boyd is given the case.

In short, a federally sponsored transport dirigible is being violently pursued across the Rockies and Uncle Sam isn’t pleased. Though details are slim, Maria learns that the Clementine is carrying a top secret load of military essentials—essentials which must be safely delivered to Louisville, Kentucky without delay.

Intelligence suggests that the craft chasing the Clementine is piloted by a fearsome runaway slave who’s been wanted by authorities on both sides of the Mason-Dixon for fifteen years. In that time, Croggon Hainey has felonied his way back and forth across the continent, leaving a trail of broken banks, stolen war machines, and illegally distributed weaponry from sea to shining sea.

He’s dangerous quarry and she’s a dangerous woman, but when forces conspire against them both, they take a chance and form an alliance. She joins his crew, and he uses her connections. She follows (some of) his orders and he takes (some of) her advice.

And somebody, somewhere, is going to rue the day he crossed either one of them.



Dreadnought

Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at the Robertson Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news. In her hand she holds a terrible document called the Atwater List, and on this list is the name of a union soldier who’s been missing for months.

And just like that, the young nurse is no longer a nervous newlywed, waiting for news of her absent husband. Now she is a widow, and the bad news doesn’t stop there. A second message—a telegram from the west coast—declares that her father is badly injured, possibly dying, and that he wishes to see her.

So Mercy sets out west, through war-torn border states on a trek to reach the Mississippi River. On the other side, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—she’ll be greeted in Tacoma, Washington, by a law officer who will take her up to Seattle to see her father.

Of course, it’s not that easy. Getting to the Mississippi is trial enough, and once Mercy reaches St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying engine known as the Dreadnought. Heavily armed and thickly armored from cow-catcher to hitch, the Dreadnought is more commonly deployed in the eastern war frontier, running supplies and artillery reinforcements along the Mason-Dixon to refresh Union forces.

Now, the magnificent war machine seems to towing deceased soldiers back to their homes in the west, for burial. But out past the river, on the plains, and up in the mountains, things are rarely precisely what they look like on the surface; and the Dreadnought‘s mission is no exception.





“Reluctance” – from The Living Dead II

This is the story of Walter McMullin, a child soldier who barely survived the Civil War. After losing part of his leg (and having it replaced with a cumbersome metal prosthetic) he takes a job working for the dirigible equivalent of the pony express; but a scheduled stop at the settlement of “Reluctance” goes awry when the town turns out to be overrun with zombies.





Ganymede

The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig — a supply run for the Seattle Underground — will be paid for by sap money.

New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race woman named Josephine Early — but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for — or what she wants him to fly.

But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it…. If only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River… If only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.

But it’s those “if onlys” that will decide whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.




The Inexplicables

Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but now he’s all grown up – and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the children’s home.

But Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a new place to live: for years, he’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply. Now he’s pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know – a kid who disappeared six months ago, and is almost certainly dead. If so, this old friend would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck’s the one who got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place.

Maybe the ghost is just a drug-fueled misfire of a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore. So he sneaks over the wall.

Inside, he finds the wasteland of Seattle every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas.

And then there’s the monster. Rector’s pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. This was something different. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply “The Inexplicable.”