The Beckoning Void
by Patrick LeClerc
Genre: Gaslamp Adventure Horror
Why Did I choose an Alternative Victorian Era for “The Beckoning Void?”
Mostly because it’s a mashup of all my favorite things. History and sword fighting and adventure stories and old Hollywood banter all rolled into one. With airships.
The Victorian Era is great story fodder. You have enormous technological and societal changes going on, and that’s really where science fiction as we know it today was invented. Look at Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (which is probably technically Georgian, not Victorian, but on the cusp) and Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne and H G Wells. This is where authors started looking at technology and asking, “What if?” which is the basis of all science fiction.
Plus, you can still combine all that tech with swashbuckling swordfights.
In addition to the science fiction possibilities, I wanted a diverse, eclectic cast, and that fits the era better than people think.
Emelia was raised in poverty, but had a talent for immitation that allowed her to find success on the stage, reinventing herslef as an actress and then a spy. The colonialism of the age creates the perfect circumstances for a character like Alyah. Mixed race, Afghan-English, raised by a father who taught her swordplay and riding who doesn’t really fit into either world, so she finds her own way. The realities of the Famine and the new mobility . Connolly and Count Roderick are both products of the Wild Geese, Irish exiles turned soldiers in foreign armies, albeit with varied success. Captain Little is a great character. Escaped slave turned airship captain.
I drew inspiration for all of these characters from historical examples. None are exact analogues, but they certainly all have precedents.
One thing they all have in common, regardless of which side they wind up on, is that they are all outsiders. Whether due to race or class or gender, each of them has to find their way in a world that doesn’t accept them. The social, political, and technological upheaval of the Nineteeth Century gave me a terrific canvas to work with.
Not to say this is a book primarily about social issues. At its heart, it’s an action adventure swashbuckler with a touch of horror. Think the plot of the 1999 version of “The Mummy” with the banter of “The Princess Bride” and a dash of social commentary. Plus, a bit of mad science and airships.
Patrick LeClerc makes good use of his history degree by working as a paramedic for an ever- changing parade of ambulance companies in the Northern suburbs of Boston. When not writing he enjoys cooking, fencing and making witty, insightful remarks with career-limiting candor.
In the lulls between runs on the ambulance –and sometimes the lulls between employment at various ambulance companies– he writes fiction.
His work can be found at inkandbourbon.com, and quantummuse.com
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