I have a new piece published today in the January edition of eSteampunk. ‘Justice Like Clockwork’ is the story of a dedicated suffragette and an obsessive engineer held in a mechanical prison. With the gears grinding as hard as the oppression, and both warders and inmates looking to break their resolve, where can hope be found?
Like many of my stories, this was inspired by something I once studied. The panopticon was developed by a Victorian utilitarian as the ultimate form of prison, where the inmates must behave because they never know when they are being watched. The French philosopher Foucault later turned this into a metaphor for society, and the way that we internalise behaviours and power structures. Both these things made it a natural fit for a story. A chance to create a more intense, steampunk version of a real Victorian invention, and to sit this alongside characters acting against the roles that society has given them. I started writing it at a time when Mrs K. had challenged me to write more decent female characters, so that became part of my aim, and hopefully I’ve achieved that too.
This is also a case of me coming back to a story I’d given up on. Somewhere in my first round of editing, I lost my enthusiasm for ‘Justice’. I didn’t believe anybody would want to read it, and I gave up. But when I dug it out a year later and polished it off, I was proved wrong. The acceptance email from eSteampunk was glowingly enthusiastic, and now it’s out there in the world. So please, go pick up a copy of eSteampunk, give it a read, and see if you agree with them.