Space Trains and Novella Ideas

(I was going to post this tomorrow, but I have work to do, it’s 11.30pm and I haven’t even written half of today’s planned post. So, you’re getting something I’ve already written today…)

Hello, everyone, readers and world.

I’ve been working on a draft blurb of a novella I’d love to write. Some of you Whovians might recognise the setting a little, but after Mummy let me down, I did say I wanted to expand on a similar setting with a proper steampunk edge. Plus the Mallard is less well known, but still an iconic London and North Eastern train.

Other than that, there have been lots of requests for steampunk not from the upper-class perspective, so I thought I’d try a view from someone whose position in the story is helped by her being of lower class, a la Alexandra in A Game of Murder.

Plus, Nell’s position was inspired by a new blouse I found. I love it.

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When Nell was accepted to serve onboard the English Mallard train, she didn’t anticipate Queen Victoria’s secret assignment – to travel into space.

It’s not the Mallard’s first journey, but it’s certainly leaning on being the train’s last. Forget projecting thirty passengers into the stratosphere with metric tonnes of steam – that’s the easy part – but something’s amiss amongst Nell’s customers. A princess of the Indes bought her way through the barriers, but she won’t share the dining car with the young orphan who won his way onboard, not to mention his benefactor who won’t leave their sleeping car and a New Order alchemist who only hears in colours. Nell’s role jumps from serving tea to impromptu nurse when one passenger wakes with scratches across their arms and legs.

Neither does that explain the locked cabin #34 or the miniature model of the train, pieces slowly disappearing.

Plus there’s a cute barman in an oxygen bar and I’m excited to write about the colour-blind synethesiac character. What do you think? Yeah, it’s all a bit here and there, but the concept is one I’m really interested in. I could do a lot with the concept of steam past the stratosphere and how steampunk characters would get around that. I suspect automatons may feature in some aspect, too. *grins*

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2 thoughts on “Space Trains and Novella Ideas

  1. Well, you’re not going to get a train off the ground with a reaction drive which uses steam as the propellant, much less into the stratosphere. Your best bet would probably be winged heavier than air flight with a supercharged turbojet engine burning an aerosolized oil–jet planes use JP4, which is basically diesel oil. Something similar to lamp oil or possibly even paraffin might work.

    This of course is going to fail at the upper limit of the atmosphere because both the jets and the wings need air to operate. I’d go with a parabolic trajectory–you accelerate like crazy until the jets stop working, then coast through vacuum until you drop back down into the atmosphere, then start up the jets again and hope that you can slow your descent before you burn up. You could use a reaction drive for maneuvering in space, some kind of propellant–maybe even steam.

    This is basically how the X-1 project worked, prior to the Gemini missions. Is it “space flight”? Depends on where you draw the line into space.

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