An Unfolding Universe

As mentioned last week by a blog commenter, I have very many ideas. A couple of nights ago, I was thinking of editing When the Clock Broke, but then I became distracted by the thought of the ruffled society beyond the events of the trilogy, and the novella of a relation who ultimately saves the universe. In a non-superpowery way. He saves the universe in the sense that nuclear war is crushed before it germinates, and a greater understanding, if not harmony, bonds two landmasses of primarily war, and the three distinct classes.

‘Steampunk Family Portrait’ – photograph by Puspa Lohmeyer

It’s not very many years, but it is the third generation down from Phillip and the other cast of When the Clock Broke (it focuses on the grown-up life of Phillip’s nephew’s son, see), and the marvellously inspirational Dolls of New Albion opera shows exactly how a world can change across even a single generation. I am envious of Paul Shapera’s story-telling and the way he perfectly shows how the actions of a particular character can shape the world.

In my world, the characters don’t so much provide as large a push to society, but they do their little elements. Phillip and Aidelle’s courtship redefines arranged marriage; their daughter’s keeping of her maiden-name/morganatic marriage (of which, ironically, her grandfather mockingly says Phillip will encourage in chapter eight of WTCB) comes from her involvement in growing feminism – and the track in Dolls of which this reminds me, is ‘The Movement 1’, of rallies and romance.

Further, like a chain of events, Zoey’s parents meet at the same feminist rally at which Zara’s parents meet; had the characters’ personalities been different – had Tim not done the honest thing by Delsie and proposed before their relationship got too serious, had Billy not been a simply butcher’s assistant and had the guts to stay by Jae when she fell pregnant – the two women may never have developed a deadly rivalry when they meet and destroy each other in WTCB2.

I could say the same of Lucy’s childless compassion to bully her in-laws into adopting one of her late servants’ twins as their new maid, that Tia would never have fallen for Peter, had her heart broken, been raped, and married Rion out of vengeance for the family that threw her across the timestreams.

I should say: spoilers.


And then there comes the matter of the classist sterilisation. Who started that? Beyond the Costellos, one might say Max, Ezekial Maverique (it’s been so long that I’ve written about The Continent’s 80s era, that I had to search my MS for that name) and his scientific experiments. There is still controversy over whether the same band of experimenters, testing their formula once they rebuilt and restructured Max’s machine, started the virus/influenza of 2001 that led to said complex above paragraph about Tia.

If Freidrich had never had an interest in genetics (and nor had Gabiee, with her surprising morality); if Cassandra had never agreed to marry the Colonel, or if her brother or cousin had not been able to make the wedding… I wonder what would have happened if Zara had managed to steal Freidrich’s papers and burnt them in the time-manipulator, rather than disappearing. Would she have had to access Gabiee’s latent/recessive psychic ability, leaving the woman to take better care of her unborn first son from his father’s wrath and eventually steal her husband’s papers?

These are ifs, but they do centre around the Costello family and their friends/companions. I’m not sure whether enough for a consequential upheaval of the climate and universe, but that’s a start.

But if Iuan Costello had never been conceived…maybe the class and geographical tensions would have remained. My long walk for a short drink of water: I want to write the adventure romance of this character who finds more than he bargains for when he travels across The forbidden Big Sea. Maybe he’s an explorer. Maybe he’s a warrior. There may no longer be an active war, but the Warfare Education remains for interest.

In any case, The Continent is going to change because of the actions of one man descended from lesser heroes, and, socially, greater people.

And, maybe, just maybe, I’ll sneak in some Dieselpunk.


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