Deep under the ocean, Simeon Escher, protégé to the leader of the order of Loth Lörion, finds himself an unexpected guest aboard the submersible, Narwhal. Home to a crew of humans, and strange mer-folk few people are aware exist, Simeon is swept up in their quest to find a world within a world, a possible safe haven from the insidious reach of the Kabbalah. Yet how can he think about his mission when the captain's niece fills his every thought, distracting him from all that’s important to him, including his own fiancée.
Today I am throwing the spotlight on Encante, a steampunk novella from the pen of Aiyana Jackson.
Encante is the first in a new Steampunk series, set in a multiverse known as The Fifteen Solars. For those of you who don’t know what a multiverse is, put simply it is a Universe in which there are several worlds existing in the same point in space and time, but they run parallel to each other. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is probably the most well recognised example. The Fifteen Solars is so named due to the fact there are fifteen planets existing in parallel, each very different from the next, but all connected. The inhabitants of these worlds have not yet mastered space travel, and so for the most part the adventure is contained to their own respective worlds. They do however have the means to travel from one parallel world to the next and, consequently, the events and politics of all fifteen planets have become intertwined. As the series unfolds however it will become clear that there is far more at work, and the reasons for these worlds existing as they do is much more complex than simple happenstance.
Encante serves as an introduction to one of these parallel worlds, as well as offering more than a few hints as to what is happening in the wider multiverse, and how the series will unfold. It is a self-contained story in the most traditional Steampunk style, heavily inspired by Jules Vernes’ 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, it is a blending of mermaid folk-lore, Victorian-esque costume values, and the technological quirks that make the Steampunk genre so beloved. It is a tale of romance, of adventure, and of prejudicial values in a seemingly idyllic society. Some of the characters will recur in later books in the series.
There are currently three additional novellas planned to follow Encante, two to be released in 2014, the final to follow in 2015. There will also be at least one full length novel following these. The second novella, Honour, is currently slated for release at the end of March next year, and while the additional two novellas are as yet untitled, I can reveal that the novel shall be titled Soul of Avarice.
‘“I have trouble sleeping,” he told me, as if by way of explanation. If he was in any way drunk, his words showed no sign of it. “I come here for the ambiance.”
I glanced around us. “I can well understand why. I’m afraid I was having a similar problem. Forgive me; I should not be wandering the ship alone.”
“And why not?” he asked. “You are our guest; if you see fit to wander the ship alone at night, I say let you. Wander wherever you choose.” He laughed as if something were painfully amusing, and I wondered if perhaps he was a little tipsy after all. “I’ll say nothing to stop you,” he assured me. “Hell, I’ll encourage you.” He leant closer to me. “I’d even suggest you try the places I couldn’t show you earlier.”
“So there were areas you kept hidden.”
Axel snorted. “Areas? People more like. My uncle is concerned you will not understand the . . . racial demographics of our society.”
“You mean the encante?” He nodded. “There is more to your relationship with them than
would have me believe, that much is plain. It has been obvious since I arrived,
if for no other reason than this is my fourth visit to Idele, and I have never
before seen one of them. I have never even heard mention of their race, on this
world or any other. They are of a lower class?” Everett
“Class?” Axel exclaimed. “Franklin Garrett is of a lower class; Bridger Quinn, is of a lower class. Even Reuben Williams, our third mate, the man in whose bed you should even now be sleeping, is of a lower class.” Axel shook his head. “The encante are not separated from us by class, Mister Escher, but freedom.”
“You mean to say they are slaves?”
“Of course they’re slaves. You think they wear those god forsaken machines of their own volition?”
It took me a moment to catch up. “The tails?” I considered the implications of a species who could breathe underwater and swim at great depths, living in a submersible with ready access to open water. “They keep them from escaping somehow?”
“Yes, one of Amos
finest inventions, don’t you think? A device which allows its occupant to swim
outside the ship enough to remain healthy, perform maintenance and other
duties, but which incapacitates them should they try to stray too far.” Newton
“Newt, as my uncle calls him. He finds it humorous, what with the majority of
’s research having
to do with our amphibious cousins.” Newton
“That is truly abominable.” I caught myself. “My apologies, it is not for me to criticise your—”
“No, sir, you’re quite correct, it is abominable.”’
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