Angels and Automatons: a shared-world steampunk anthology
Angels and Automatons: a shared-world steampunk anthology
Angels and Automatons is a steampunk anthology that chronicles the rise and fiery destruction of a town on New Zealand's West Coast.
Angels and Automatons is a steampunk anthology that chronicles the rise and fiery destruction of a town on New Zealand's West Coast. Read more
Angels and Automatons is a shared-world steampunk anthology set in the town of Angelston on New Zealand’s rugged and remote West Coast. The team of authors contributing to the project includes established names as well as those at the early stages of their careers, with folks from New Zealand and around the world. They will all be collaborating on the creation of a shared world in which their interconnected stories will be set – all of the authors will play an equal role, and the world will be unique to this anthology. The resulting book will be approximately 300 pages (longer, if our stretch goals are met) and together, the stories will tell a thrilling and distinctly New Zealand tale of exploration, invention, and destruction.
In the early winter of 1862, Swedish explorer Alvar Larsen was walking up a valley in New Zealand’s Southern Alps when he found an enormous gold nugget that was shaped uncannily like an angel with outstretched wings. He named the stream the Brill in honour of his mother, purchased the land, and reported his find in Hokitika, thirty miles away on the coast. Within eighteen months a town by the name of Angelston had been established and had grown to 12,000 souls, thanks to the area’s significant deposits of gold.
The town flourished, but the hottest rumours of the summer of 1864 were not of new strikes, huge nuggets being unearthed, or, indeed, of gold at all – the town was overrun with gossip about a new arrival. For the past year there had been a constant stream of men into the town but this arrival was different. A fleet of six carriages rattled up the muddy and rutted track from Hokitika, and an inventor was on board, they said. When the inventor disembarked it was revealed that this man of science was, in fact, a woman.
This inventor, one Elsie Muller, quickly set to work on the most significant project of her career – the creation of a clockwork and steam powered policeman that could protect the world’s less fortunate from those who would take advantage of them. She toiled night and day, and was making significant progress when disaster (and, some claim, villainous saboteurs) struck. The automatons went berserk, with devastating and deadly consequences.
The story that follows will be told by a collection of established and up-and-coming authors from New Zealand and the rest of the world. Each author will write from a different perspective, creating an anthology of interlocking and interdependent stories which together illuminate the terrible story of Angelston’s growth and eventual destruction.
Jared Oliver Adams is an American science fiction and fantasy writer. His stories have been featured in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show and Buzzy Mag, where they’ve won reader’s choice awards and been included in best-of-year lists. His most recent short story, “Ride-Along,” can be viewed for free at Buzzy Mag. More information about Jared can be found at jaredoliveradams.com.
New Zealand born fantasy writer and podcaster Philippa (Pip) Ballantine is the author of the Books of the Order and the Shifted World series. She is also the co-author with her husband Tee Morris of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels. Her awards include an Airship, a Parsec, the Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice, and a Sir Julius Vogel. She currently resides in Manassas, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a furry clowder of cats. Find out more about Pip at pjballantine.com.
AC Buchanan is a Wellington based writer of mostly speculative fiction. As Anna Caro, they have co-edited two Sir Julius Vogel award winning anthologies of New Zealand Speculative Fiction (A Foreign Country and Regeneration) as well as the fundraising anthology Tales for Canterbury. Their fiction has been published in Luna Station Quarterly, M-Brane SF, and anthologies from Crossed Genres and The Future Fire. Their website is at acbuchanan.org and they can also be found on Twitter at @andicbuchanan.
Matt and Debbie Cowens are the co-authors of Mansfield with Monsters, the award winning reverse-bowdlerisation of Katherine Mansfield’s modernist masterpieces. Their macabre, monstrous and literarily blasphemous adaptions of Mansfield’s short stories are in keeping with their own short fiction, which is largely macabre and monstrous (though fits neatly into the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres and is therefore no more blasphemous than most speculative fiction). A husband and wife team, Matt and Debbie enjoy writing individually as well as collaborating. If pressed, they will admit to being each other’s biggest fan.
AJ Fitzwater resides in Shakytown, New Zealand with a brood of dragons and a solar powered calico cat. When not skipping cracks, they’re writing science fiction and fantasy stories that have appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Wily Writers, Crossed Genres Magazine, and the local anthologies Regeneration and Tales for Canterbury. A blog can be found at pickledthink.blogspot.com, and brain farts happen daily on Twitter at @AJFitzwater.
Paul Gilbert is Ngai Tahu and Pakeha, Wellington born and raised. His first novel, The Sovereign Hand, will be published by Steam Press in 2014, two extracts from which were Highly Commended in the Pikihuia Awards for Maori Writers and published in Huia Short Stories 7 and 8. Along with his writing projects, Paul now plies his skills as a primary teacher in the Waikato where he lives with his wife and daughter, and their cat, Jazz. Paul can be found at paul-gilbert.net.
Matt Mikalatos has been published in Daily Science Fiction and the Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies. He’s also the author of the children’s fantasy novel, The Sword of Six Worlds. Matt is online at mikalatos.com.
KC Norton is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives with a small cow-colored terrier in Pennsylvania, where most of her time is spent sampling craft beer, reading children’s books, and talking to herself about cool fish. Her work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Crossed Genres Magazine, and Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and her sci-fi version of Dante’s Divine Comedy will appear in Writers of the Future Volume 30 this spring.
Trina Marie Phillips’ work has appeared in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show and AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. She has attended OSC’s Literary Boot Camp and been a finalist in the Writers of the Future contest. Trina is also a member of the Codex Writers Group and an Associate Member of SFWA. Trina can be found at tmphillips.net.
Dan Rabarts’s steampunk and weird west fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences story collection Tales from the Archives, the anthology Ministry Protocol – Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and at the Wily Writers audio fiction website. His SF/F/H short stories can be found in numerous anthologies, magazines and ezines. He also has fiction forthcoming in Midnight Echo magazine and SQ magazine. He has been a finalist for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards multiple times, and he co-edited the flash fiction horror anthology Baby Teeth – Bite-sized Tales of Terror. Come visit at dan.rabarts.com.
Alex Shvartsman is a writer, translator, and game designer from Brooklyn, New York. Over 50 of his short stories have appeared in such venues as Nature, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy’s Edge, and Daily Science Fiction, among many others. He’s the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects annual anthology series of humorous SF/F, as well as the Coffee and Dark Expanse anthologies. Alex’s fiction is linked at www.alexshvartsman.com.
Sylvia Spruck Wrigley obsessively writes letters to her mother, her teenage offspring, her accountant, as well as to unknown beings in outer space. Only her mother admits to reading them. Born in Heidelberg, she spent her childhood in California and now splits her time between South Wales and Andalucia, two coastal regions with almost nothing in common. Her short fiction has most recently appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Nature’s Futures, and Lightspeed. You can find out more about her at intrigue.co.uk.
Grant Stone’s fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, and he has twice won a Sir Julius Vogel Award. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
Alisha Tyson is a 21-year-old writer of pretty weird fiction. She has a BA in Creative Writing and works in Wellington City Libraries where she can generally be found reading books to kids about bears who wear hats. At 12, Alisha won a national short story competition. She likes to write about coffins, time-travel, and the monsters that live under your bed.
Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration. Her stories have appeared in Nature’s Futures, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, and The Year’s Best SF 18. Deborah’s blog is at deborahwalkersbibliography.blogspot.com.
M Darusha Wehm is the three-time Parsec Award shortlisted author of the novels Beautiful Red, Self Made, Act of Will, and The Beauty of Our Weapons. Her next novel, a political space station epic, is forthcoming from Bundoran Press in late 2014. Her short fiction has appeared in many venues, including Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Toasted Cake, and Escape Pod. Darusha can be found at darusha.ca.
The cover art for Angels and Automatons will be drawn by Julio Real, who has drawn covers and internal art for two other Steam Press titles (see below). The artwork for Angels and Automatons has not yet been commissioned as this will be done in collaboration with the winner of one of this project’s perks – for $300, you can have your face feature on the cover. Given Julio’s work to date, we have no doubt that this will be freaking awesome.
Who are we?
The Angels and Automatons project is being managed by Stephen Minchin, the publisher at the New Zealand based Steam Press. When Stephen isn’t running Steam Press he works for a number of Wellington publishers, and teaches on New Zealand’s only publishing programme. Steam Press has released six books to date, and has a further three lined up for 2014. The three books Steam Press released in 2012 were all shortlisted for Sir Julius Vogel Awards, with two of these going on to win, and Stephen was himself awarded an SJV for services to science fiction in New Zealand.
Where’s the money going?
All the authors involved in this project will receive pro rates (US6c / word) – this will consume a significant proportion of the funds (approximately US$3600, assuming the final word count is 60k). Printing and distribution are roughly US$3400, assuming that we reach our funding goal through a 50/50 split of print and ebooks. Cover art and Kickstarter fees are the next largest costs, then professional proofreading, and of course providing a paperback copy to each of the contributing authors. (Note that the figures above are in US$, while we’ve set the goal for this project at NZ$10,000 – this amounts to approximately US$8,000.)
Any funds that remain after these and other minor production costs are covered will be channelled into the production of internal art (additional to any which may be funded as a stretch goal). Steam Press is editing, typesetting, and project managing this book at no charge because this book will be freaking awesome and we just want to have a hand in making it. If this project successfully funds but for one reason or another the money raised through Kickstarter doesn’t cover all costs (e.g. if a much higher than expected number of people purchase paperbacks as opposed to ebooks) then Steam Press will cover the shortfall.
About the rewards
Tuckerisations are when the author incorporates a real person’s name into their story – so you could request that your name be used as that of a heroic miner in a story, or your husband play the role of a drunken gravedigger. Tuckerisations are all offered on the understanding that the name you ask the author to use won’t be offensive or have the potential to cause legal problems for the authors or publisher.
Short story critiques and doctoring will be coordinated with the author whose reward you select, and these are on a first come, first served basis. We have no idea what Grant Stone’s short story rewards will end up being but have no doubt that whatever he writes for you will be awesome.
An example of Jared Adams’ artwork is below so that you can see what you’re getting yourself in for. Stephen Minchin notes that the hat in this illustration is far cooler than any he has ever owned. Jared will retain copyright of each piece but grants full rights to the purchaser to do with it as they want. The picture may be used online or in print at their discretion. Jared will retain the original for his personal (private) portfolio, but will not post it publicly or otherwise publish the image without the express permission of the purchaser. He would appreciate it if people cited him as the artist when they post or publish it (but he understands if they don't want to / cannot easily do this, so attribution is not a requirement).
This project will be brilliant, and we think that the best way to make it even better is to include more stories, and ask our cover artist to illustrate each story as well. To do this we’ll need slightly more than the NZ$10,000 we’re currently shooting for, so we’ll keep you posted as the Kickstarter progresses and let you know our target.
Additional authors, and a call for submissions...
We're aiming for a 60,000 word count, and are hoping to stretch that to 80,000. To hit the former we may need a couple of additional authors, so if you are interested in being part of this project do keep your eyes peeled. If we manage the stretch goal to make a larger book then we will definitely need more stories and we will be putting out an open call for submissions (though of course these will still need to be stories that fit the shared world, so we'll point all authors towards the worldbuilding material).
We expect this project to be completed in late 2014, with all books delivered by Christmas. Ebooks will be delivered slightly ahead of the print books due to their shorter production time.
How you can help this project succeed
It hardly needs to be said, but if you like the look of this project then any support you can offer would be hugely appreciated. If you can spread the word that would be great. If you can buy your friends and family copies of the book that would be brilliant too. And how awesome would it be to snap up one of those Tuckerisations as a Christmas present for your mum? Seriously – mine would be stoked.
Risks and challenges
This project is complex – all contributing authors have been provided with a background of the Angelston story, and will be writing their own story which incorporates events and characters from this background but tells the author’s own tale. This means that the stories being written may need some fine tuning to ensure the anthology is internally consistent (i.e. Alvar Larsen can’t be killed in a steam engine explosion in one author’s story, then reappear a hundred pages later in someone else’s). We’ll be doing all we can to minimise problems such as this, and the authors all understand what they’re in for, so while we don’t anticipate any significant difficulties there is always the chance that this could take longer than we expect.
Also, because we didn’t want authors to put their time into writing their stories before the Kickstarter was successfully funded, there is a small risk that some of the authors above may be unable to deliver a suitable story in the required timeframe. Should this happen, we will keep all backers informed and do our best to find a suitable replacement.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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