First of all, I want to thank Coffee Time Romance for hosting me today. I’m excited to be here. When I was asked to participate in this Steampunk event I had no idea what to talk about! Then, I saw an ad for an upcoming ‘Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman’ that is all about intelligent machines, and I knew I had my topic. After all, the idea/fear of sentient ‘metal’ (as they’re called in The Steampunk Chronicles) has been around even before the Victorians. In the 1700s there were quite a few ‘writing dolls’ that sat at a little desk and wrote out passages of text. People were astounded and fearful of these inventions, and that changed very little by the Victorian period. Today we’d look at 19th century automatons and not find them very life-like at all, but many people found the machines, such as Louis Phillip Perew’s ‘Electric Man’ to be eerily human-appearing, despite its extreme height. These inventions were just as awesome to people of the day as some of the freaky A.I. we see today. Just as we joke about the inevitability of SkyNet, people of the 18th and 19th centuries had similar thoughts and fears. Let’s face it, thinking robots are cool until they try to rip off your face.
One of the things I love most about the Victorian era is that sense of fear and wonder, horror and anticipation. It was an incredible age for technological advancement, for science and knowledge. Religious belief was challenged, and while I have no desire to discuss morals or theology, people had a hard time reconciling their church with the advancements of the age. It was a scary time for many, and these life-like machines much have seemed like a blasphemy against their God.
That sense of horror and wonder is what I consider to be the defining trait of Steampunk, taking its cue from the Science Fiction of the 19th century. Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein, to name but two texts of the century, are as relevant in our minds today as they were when they were first published. When first planning out The Steampunk Chronicles (written as Kady Cross) I knew I had to have a Jekyll and Hyde character. In fact, Finley was the first character to emerge. I knew I also wanted someone like Frankenstein’s monster – and that’s Sam. Emily is something like the good doctor herself.
And I knew that I had to have evolution in the books because Charles Darwin left a huge mark on the century. I also knew that I needed sentient automatons, because there’s nothing scarier than something that could crush you like a bug, unless it’s something way smarter than you that can also crush you like a bug. These machines make their first appearance in The Girl in the Steel Corset, and while they don’t play a part in The Girl in the Clockwork Collar, the metal is back in The Girl with the Iron Touch. Back with a vengeance, as it were. And now they’re smarter than they were before. They’ve evolved, developing something of a hive mentality as well. If that’s not scary enough for you, I’ve made them pretty creepy as well. Except for one, but that would be a spoiler, so I’ll say no more!
So, are my characters afraid of SkyNet? You know it. But, like us, they’ll keep building and tinkering. They’ve attempted nothing to halt the progress of technology. In fact, they keep adding to it with the use of Organites – tiny organisms from which life first sprang. The Organites put them far ahead of us in the race to build thinking machines. Do they succeed, you ask? Indeed. You see a bit of it in The Girl with the Iron Touch, but to find out what can happen when you cross the line from metal to human you’re going to have to wait for the final book in the series. The Girl With the Windup Heart will be out in June 2014 from Harlequin Teen.
Steampunk Chronicles: 2.5
A teaser ebook novella will give you a glimpse into events before The Girl with the Iron Touch from the perspective of everyone’s favorite underworld criminal, Jack Dandy. The story will conclude in The Girl with the Iron Touch.
May 21, 2013
Finley Jayne, Griffin and their crew are stunned when one of their own is kidnapped. Emily has a way with machines—she can literally talk to them. But the automatons who abducted her aren’t ordinary machines. They’re almost human—and they want Emily to do something as horrifying as it seems possible.
To save Emily, Finley must contact the highly unsettling Jack Dandy and face her feelings for two vastly different men, even as Griffin’s nightmares threaten to turn into a reality that might just end them all.
PRIZE ALERT: I’d love to hear about your favorite automatons, fears for the future and anything Steampunk! Also, one lucky poster will get a sweet little Victorian hat and father fascinator just for being chatty.