Monday, February 23, 2015

Mechanized Masterpieces 2: An American Anthology
The Van Tassel Legacy

Ride into the Wild West with ten steampunked expansions of classic American tales.

A Princess of Jasoom: An intrepid young researcher reaches for the stars from the Arizona desert, and finds love where she least expects it.

Winged Hope: The widow of a brilliant inventor fights insurmountable odds to see her husband’s dreams realized and save the life of her daughter.

The Van Tassel Legacy: A stranger arrives in Sleepy Hollow to unearth old conspiracies and bring the Van Brunts to justice.

Invested Charm: A mysterious woman doles out justice in Boston society, but who will catch her first: organized crime or the law?

Payoff for Air Pirate Pete: A pair of train-robbing outlaws bite off more than they can chew when they kidnap the son of a railroad bigwig.

Rise of the House of Usher: A mad scientist gains power over life and death at the cost of his family’s sanity, if not their very lives.

The Silver Scams: A fast-talking confidence man ensnares all of Holland in his scheme to eliminate dikes forever . . . for a price.

Nautilus Redux: Captain Nemo’s crew stumble upon an island castaway who claims to be Captain Ahab of the Pequod. Only Moby Dick knows the truth.

Mr. Thornton: Hounded by tragedy and betrayal, a gifted young blacksmith wanders from The Ohio to The Yukon searching for honor, loyalty, and justice.

West End: A heartbroken Theodore Laurence follows the siren song of steam to Jamaica, where love and law collide with explosive results.

So, was there really a headless horseman? An answer is given in this short story. And we see if he can ride again. In this retelling Ichabod lives to a ripe old age and many descendants...among them the talented scientist Samuel Chase. Samuel is busy helping the family of Brom Bones so that Brom can die with dignity and valor. Love, regret and rejuvenation.
My rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

Software engineer, video game developer, and father, Jay Barnson is a transplant to the state of Utah from the East Coast. He grew up on a diet of science fiction and fantasy ranging from Howard, Heinlein, and Tolkien to Lucas and Spielberg. His wife and daughters had to drag him to his first steampunk convention. And now they can’t drag him away from the genre. Jay’s first short story with The X, “Dots, Dashes and Deceit,” appeared in Terra Mechanica: A Steampunk Anthology (2014).

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Q & A

1. Please share how you came up with the concept for your story?
Almost every modern story based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - movies, TV shows, whatever - makes the assumption that the headless horseman was a supernatural entity. I thought, "how about a follow-up story based on the idea that there was nothing supernatural going on?" The horseman was Brom the whole time. Ichabod Crane did go to New York City and became a successful lawyer, and eventually a judge, as was suggested in the original story. Maybe he raised a family - that was definitely a dream of his. Assume a steampunk twist to the story - with some fun pseudo-science - and move forward a few decades into the middle 1800s, and what kind of story could be told?

Originally, Brom wasn't even going to be a character in the story. But when I imagined the strapping, athletic, sometimes bullying prankster Brom in his waning years - literally, the waning days of his life in this story - I fell in love with the concept. Here's a guy whose body has betrayed him, his regrets weighing down his soul. What would he do for one more day of youthful vigor? And what would he do with it if he got it?

2. Please name some of your other published works?
As far as fiction is concerned, I had a steampunk short story published by Xchyler last year in Terra Mechanica called "Dots, Dashes, and Deceit." I'm also an indie game developer, and my most recent release is a tongue-in-cheek fantasy role-playing game for Windows called "Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon." Yeah, it is pronounced "Smack Down." We're talking subtle, high-brow humor here.

3. What is your preferred writing genre?
At this point, with two steampunk stories published, I'd have to say steampunk. I love it and want to keep writing more of it, if only because it's something fun and relatively different. But I'm a fan of all kinds of speculative fiction, so I'm really happy working with several subgenres.

4. And preferred reading genre?
That's kind of like asking me to name my favorite child, isn't it? I could say, "Speculative Fiction" and leave it at that, I guess, because I love everything from horror to space opera to steampunk to sword-and-sandals fantasy. While I definitely have a preference for the fantastic, it still comes down more to author and story for me than genre.

5. What are your top 3 favorite books?
If I were to limit myself to fiction, I'd say... Neuromancer by William Gibson, The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Small Favor by Jim Butcher. Although all three of those are part of a series of books and short stories, and I couldn't possibly just recommend anyone read one book without reading the rest...

6. Do you have any particular writing habits?
Bad ones, mainly. My wife is amused by my habit of pacing while I'm thinking. If I get stuck trying to figure out how to say something or how to get to point B from point A, I apparently need to move my feet to resolve it.

7. Do you have a playlist that you created while writing your story?
The theme song for The Van Tassel Legacy was "Last Ride of the Day" by Nightwish, from their Imaginaerium album.

8. Panster or plotter?
I'm a poser panster and a poor plotter. How's that? I like to think that I can write by the seat of my pants and my muse just cuts loose, but that never happens. I need a solid foundation to work from. It's like I don't know what to write until I've already written it... in the form of an outline. But then the story never follows the outline. It starts there, but inevitably runs off in its own direction about halfway through.

9. Advice for writers?

10. What's up next for you?
More short stories, for the time being.

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Xychler Publishing
and their books. :-)

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