The Geomancer


Burton & Swinburne: An Introduction

Greetings all, and thanks to Lou for allowing me to contribute to the Pyr-o-mania blog.

Have a look at this guy:

His name is Sir Richard Francis Burton and he's the hero of my alternate history steampunk series, THE BURTON & SWINBURNE ADVENTURES. I want to take this opportunity to give you a little taster ... without giving too much away, of course!

First off, some of you may know me from my BLAKIANA website. Back in 2000 I discovered Sexton Blake, the second most written about character in the English language (the first is Nick Carter). Blake is a sort of cross between Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones, and his stories (approx. 5000 of them!) are simply terrific ... and until this year, none remained in print. So I decided to blow the dust off the old fellow and celebrate his adventures with a huge website. This attracted the attention of such luminaries as Mike Moorcock (whose first published novel was a Blake) and George Mann (who edited the recent Blake anthology) and through these good souls I was fortunate enough to attract the attention of publishers and thus get Burton & Swinburne off the ground.

The first book in the projected series is currently entitled THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK, and the style is very Blakeian -- the emphasis is on mystery and adventure and, well, BRITISHNESS, I guess!

This is alternate history, folks, so a great many of the characters that appear in the story were real Victorians (howcome famous Victorians had such cool names?). I freely admit, I have walked over their graves, then backed a car over them, then sprayed graffiti on their headstones, then dug 'em up and danced on their bones, then painted a clown's face on their mouldering corpses. In other words: MASSIVE DISRESPECT! I've made Darwin a criminal mastermind, Florence Nightingale a ghoul, Lord Palmerston a freak and Isambard Kingdom Brunel a ... well, you'll have to wait and see.

How do I justify this treatment of Britain's national heroes? With a simple phrase:

"When one man changes Time, Time changes everyone."

It's the ripple effect. One event turns out differently, and from it new opportunities and challenges are born, and in meeting them, people travel different paths to those we've recorded as history.

So what can you look forward to? I can promise you a complex hero who very definitely ain't as pure as the driven snow, a wildly eccentric sidekick who gets an erotic thrill out of pain, a pub crawl in London's worst stinkhole, missing chimney sweeps, The Beetle, werewolves that spontaniously combust, a panther-like swordstick-wielding albino who is NOT Elric, and, of course, Spring Heeled Jack.

The latter, who is surely one of the weirdest and most mysterious figures in British folklore (Google him!) is fully explained in my tale, and I've managed to stick pretty damned close to historical records as far as his exploits are concerned. But man, I wish I knew the truth!

Okay, so let's say my total disrespect for British history's great and good is PUNKY; where does the STEAMY come into it? I have to admit, at this point in the story (I'm about 80% done), Burton's relationship with Nurse Raghavendra of the Sisters of Noble Benevolence has become far more steamy than I'd planned ... but we want TECH, don't we? Sorry to disappoint, but there aren't any airships of the dirigible variety. I do, though, have rotorcars, communication pipes, velocipedes and steam-horses. There's a good deal of copper, brass, studded metal bands, dials, levers, flywheels, gyroscopes, cogs, funnels and crankshafts. I'd love to show it to you right now but a London Peculiar has settled over the city and I can barely see the end of my hand.

So, tally ho, what! THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK is scheduled for publication in the UK in April and in the US in the Fall (-ish).

End of ad. Anyone for jellied eels?

1 comment:

  1. Clay Griffith10:52 AM

    You know that guy in the beer commercials...The Most Interesting Man in the World. Well, Richard Burton actually was that man. When I teach African history, I always plan to mention him in passing with Victorian explorers, but I end up spending half the class on the guy. And he's not that important to African history. He's just freakin' interesting!

    of Clay and Susan Griffith