“An Officer and a Gentleman,” the Romulus Buckle Prequel Short Story

My “An Officer and a Gentleman” short story is available for download from Amazon. The tale is set in the world of my Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin steampunk adventure series, and in it the young Lieutenant Romulus Buckle faces his first great test under fire when his armed trader airship Bromhead is attacked and boarded by pirates.

An Officer & a GentlemanIn writing “An Officer and a Gentleman” my primary focus was to give a series reader the rousing action and adventure they expect but also to reveal a crisis point in Romulus Buckle’s earlier life which can be considered important to the development of the older character they know in the novels. I had long been ‘aware’ of this event and its ramifications but it was illuminating to sit down and flesh it out so specifically. Things popped up that I didn’t expect, elements that inhabited the threads of the story tapestry all along–it was just that I, the storyteller, hadn’t consciously discovered them yet. The events are bloody, tragic and heartwrenching, and Romulus’ experience aboard the Bromhead very much colors the way he handles romantic love and danger later on. The reader also gets an opportunity to see a little more of his beloved sister Elizabeth who has been a mysterious figure so far.

If you are new to the Pneumatic Zeppelin series please read the series book introductions below, and I have provided links to the first two full-length novels.

City of the Founders CoverRomulus Buckle and the City of the Founders: in a post-apocalyptic world of endless snow, eighteen-year-old Captain Romulus Buckle and the stalwart crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must embark on a perilous mission to rescue their kidnapped leader, Balthazar Crankshaft, from the impenetrable City of the Founders. Steaming over a territory once known as Southern California–before it was devastated in the alien war–Buckle navigates his massive airship through skies infested with enemy war zeppelins and ravenous alien beasties in this swashbuckling and high-octane steampunk adventure. Life is desperate in the Snow World–and death is quick–Buckle and his ship’s company must brave poisoned wastelands of noxious mustard and do battle with forgewalkers, steampipers and armored locomotives as they plunge from the skies into the underground prison warrens of the fortress-city.

Captain Romulus Buckle must lead the Pneumatic Zeppelin and its crew of never-do-wells on a desperate mission where he must risk everything to save Balthazar and attempt to prevent a catastrophic war which could wipe out all that is left of civilization and the entire human race.

Cover for Engines of WarRomulus Buckle and the Engines of War. The frozen wasteland of Snow World—known as Southern California before an alien invasion decimated civilization—is home to warring steampunk clans. Crankshafts, Imperials, Tinskins, Brineboilers, and many more all battle one another for precious supplies, against ravenous mutant beasts for basic survival, and with the mysterious Founders for their very freedom.

Through this ruined world soars the Pneumatic Zeppelin, captained by the daring Romulus Buckle. In the wake of a nearly suicidal assault on the Founders’ prison city to rescue key military leaders, both the steam-powered airship and its crew are bruised and battered. Yet there’s little time for rest or repairs: Founders raids threaten to shatter the fragile alliance Buckle has risked everything to forge among the clans.

Even as he musters what seems a futile defense in the face of inevitable war, Buckle learns that the most mysterious clan of all is holding his long-lost sister in a secret base—and that she holds the ultimate key to victory over the Founders. But rescuing her means abandoning his allies and praying they survive long enough for there to be an alliance to return to.

Romulus Buckle III Final Luminiferous AetherRomulus Buckle and the Luminiferous Aether (COMING Spring, 2015) Romulus Buckle’s search for Elizabeth, his missing sister, takes him into the treacherous depths and political intrigues of the great underwater steampunk city of Atlantis.

SteampunkUsersManual-850Also, if you are a steampunk fan I’d highly recommend The Steampunk User’s Manual by Jeff VanderMeer and Desirina Boskovitch. It is a sumptuously designed book which explores various aspects of the steampunk movement/universe and also features a wonderful diagram of the airship vs. kraken battle (by artist Jeremy Zerfoss) from Romulus Buckle and the Engines of War.

Author Stant Litore Cometh, Bearing Gifts of the Terrible Fantastic with ANSIBLE

Hello people of the digital aether! I’d like to welcome sci-fi author Stant Litore back to the Bag of Good Writing Blog once again, and this time he comes bearing some high-cool-factor gifts. Stant has just begun a free offer promotional tour of his haunting, fantastic ANSIBLE STORIES (Ansible 15715, 15716 and the soon-to-be-released 15717) sci-fi horror series and that’s what we are here to discuss today. I’ve read these tales of brave new worlds and they are amazing in their imagination, emotion and scope. Stant is always a great interview, so let’s take a peek inside the Ansible crucible and other things Stant Litore.

Oh, and Stant’s first Gift of the Terrible Fantastic is here: get the first Ansible (15715) on Kindle FREE at this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JTJVRPK

Litore Ansible“Please hear me. We are all in danger, the most terrible danger; we are all going to die terrible deaths. If you can hear me, if anyone can hear me, remember these words. Please. Pass them on to your children, and to theirs. You are our one hope…” (Ansible 15715)

The Interview

Q) Welcome back to A Bag of Good Writing, Stant. Since you are offering free downloads of your Ansible books in succession, plus close to bringing out a new installment in your Ansible short story series (Ansible 15716, perhaps the best of the amazing installments so far), I thought we’d focus on that for a bit. I’d like to ask you about the inception of the series: what was the idea, thought, image, etc. which first lit up your brain as to the possibilities of creating the world and characters of Ansible?

A) My brain is a place of strange, random connections. I was reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ At the Earth’s Core (which is nothing like Ansible); it was my first time reading it. The species of predatory pterosaurs fascinated me, and my brain took off on a random chain of brainstorming about predation and predatory species, and that started me imagining the world that we visit in Ansible 15715. Below the surface, I was probably haunted by images and ideas from William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, a work of weird fiction from the very early twentieth century. Around the same time, I was bothered by the way that my countrymen and countrywomen are deeply fearful of Islam and yet seem to know nothing about it other than a few media stereotypes. Religious studies is my passion, and that always feeds my fiction.ansible15716_small
Those three things – the concept of a predatory species living off humanity and what that might actually look like; creepy images from The Night Land; and a subconscious thought that scifi should be doing more to grapple with our neighbors in the world and their legacy in the future – that all boiled together into one infernal brew and produced Ansible 15715, the first of a series of stories about twenty-fifth century Islamic explorers who become marooned in alien bodies on alien worlds, and have to wrestle with that experience.

In this future, the wheel of history has spun round again, and as in Europe’s early Middle Ages, the center of knowledge and learning and science in the world is once again the Near East, not the West. The world is slowly recovering from environmental devastation, and a research facility known as the Starmind Project is sending humanity’s first explorers out by transferring their minds across time and space. What they encounter out there is always stranger than they expect, and in these encounters, our intrepid explorers have to face how strange they are becoming to themselves.

Q) Do you have a finite structure for the Ansible series? Do you know how many stories it will contain and exactly what pieces of the puzzle they are? Or is Ansible open-ended and now, once the scenario is set, you write about whatever stories and characters come to you from the creation-mists?

A) The series is open-ended with several future plot points and ideas that I will keep carefully secret. I know where it is going in broad outlines, but I am discovering along the way what strange worlds we will visit as a part of that. Like the Ansible teams, I am groping in the dark. But it is marvelous. I don’t know how many stories there will be; certainly more than ten, probably more than twenty. We will find out together!

Q) Without spoilers, what new element(s) does the latest story 15717 bring to the Ansible universe?

A) A fierce rain forest planet that truly will astound you; an array of characters – unlike our previous explorers, the heroine of Ansible 15717 is among other survivors of her team; a haunting look at loss and change, both cultural change and environmental; some really beautiful vistas; and a deeper portrayal of a strong Muslim woman.

Ansible 15717Q) Have you considered writing a novel set in the Ansible universe? Was that something you considered early before deciding to attack it as a short story series? Or was the short story series immediately suited to what you wanted to do from the beginning, because of Ansible’s episodic/mission-based structure—it certainly works well in that format.

A) I love short fiction, and that form is well suited to Ansible, but I certainly have some interest in a possible longer story. I don’t know what that story will be yet, but this is a distinct possibility. I actually started, though, with just one brief story in mind; a story that I wanted to make so unnerving and so beautifully horrific that it would crawl inside the minds of its readers and live there for a while. I’m afraid it was so much fun, though, that once I started I couldn’t stop, and I was thinking up more stories.

Q) You have become a member of the online Patreon program. Can you tell the readers a bit about that, and how they can support you if they so choose?

A) Patreon is a huge part of my writing career. Patreon members see all of my work first, they get copies of everything I write, they get to participate in early conversation with me about new stories and new ideas; they also tip me on a monthly basis (at an amount they each choose) for my fiction. Royalties are, for most writers, a very tiny flow of income; Patreon allows me to reimagine what it means to live and work as a writer, it provides the funding to try riskier (and more worthwhile) stories, and it allows me to connect more closely with my fans. That’s hugely important to me. Storytelling is a communal act. If you are interested on joining me in this adventure, come take a look at: http://www.patreon.com/stantlitore

Q) If you can pick one writer—and I know this it tough—but pick one name of a writer whose work has amazed and inspired you.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeerA) I’ll just pick the most recent, then. Jeff Vandermeer. His Southern Reach trilogy is honest, bold, breathtakingly beautiful. He is one of several living writers that I go to when I want to really learn what you can do with a story. And his Southern Reach really affected me emotionally as a reader, with its sad beauty and its inescapable reminders of how much of our ecosystem we are losing or will lose or will risk losing.

Q) As you know I am a huge fan of Jeff VanderMeer as well. Tell us a bit about Mr. Stant Litore. What is your favorite drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)? What is your favorite local restaurant? What/where is your sanctuary from the world?

A) Sangria. I drank a glass of sangria up in the Pyrenees Mountains talking with good people and watching the mists, a long time ago. Ever since, that drink has been special to me.

My favorite local restaurant is the Little India, because it has such good food – they bring you plates that steam and kill you with anticipation – and because I met my wife there and I fell in love there.

Q) The new Ansible 15717 is about to be unleashed upon the cosmos. What’s next?

litore_sitlA) More Ansible stories! There are some dangerous things happening in that universe, and my readers are anxious for more. I also have in mind a couple of projects in the world of The Zombie Bible, my series of novels and novellas retelling biblical tales and church legends, placing periodic zombie epidemics in our distant past. (Think The Walking Dead, 3000 years ago, and you will have some idea.)

The Ansible Stories will be my playground for a while. Discovering unexpected worlds, watching an array of characters wrestle with the vastness and the strangeness of our universe, and putting on the page some of the creepiest, most unnerving experiences I can imagine … with each story, I get to find new things and try telling stories in new ways. I’ll do it until I run out of ideas. I never want to tell the same story twice.

End of Interview

*(All of the Ansible series book cover art was created by Roberto Calas)

Stant Litore Biography

Stant Litore 2Stant Litore is the author of The Zombie Bible series, Dante’s Heart, the Ansible Stories, and the novella The Dark Need (part of the Dead Man series). He has an intense love of ancient languages, a fierce admiration for his ancestors, and a fascination with religion and history. He doesn’t consider his writing a vocation; he considers it an act of survival. Litore lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters and is at work on his next book.




“An Officer and a Gentleman” FREE Short Story TOR.COM Exclusive

An Officer & a GentlemanHello and welcome to my blog. Thanks to TOR.COM, here below, and for a limited time (three weeks), you can download an exclusive free digital copy of my new short story An Officer and a Gentleman, which takes place within the world of my Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin steampunk adventure series (the short story is available at the end of this post and this OFFER ENDS 9 NOV 2014 NOW CLOSED).

NEWS: Also, Amazon has placed the Kindle versions of my first two full-length Romulus Buckle novels on sale for $3 each! (You can find them on the home page carousel or straight on Amazon if you’d like to pick them up).

TOR.COM is also providing an EXCLUSIVE FULL-ON FIRST LOOK at the Steampunk User’s Manual‘s gorgeous airship/kraken battle diagram (by Jeremy Zerfoss) on their website here (in case you wandered in from somewhere other than the TOR link, of course): http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/10/download-a-free-romulus-buckle-story-from-the-steampunk-users-manual

An Officer and a Gentleman is a prequel to the Pneumatic Zeppelin timeline. It recounts the day when the young Lieutenant Romulus Buckle faces his first great test under fire when his armed trader airship Bromhead is attacked and boarded by pirates.

SteampunkUsersManual-850This free An Officer and a Gentleman short story is being offered in conjunction with the release of the fabulous Steampunk User’s Manual:An Illustrated Practical and Whimsical Guide to creating retro-futurist Dreams by Jeff VanderMeer and Desirina Boskovitch. Along with a sumptuous journey through the creative wellhead of steampunk, The Steampunk User’s Manual also features an illustrated diagram of the heated airship versus kraken battle in my Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War novel. If you are a steampunk fan, reader and/or creative, this book is as close to a must-have as can possibly exist, in my opinion.

City of the Founders CoverPlease allow me a moment to introduce you to my Chronicles of the Pneumatic Zeppelin steampunk series, which includes Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders, Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War and the soon to be released (Jan, 2015) third installment, Romulus Buckle and the Luminiferous Aether.

This swashbuckling series follows the adventures of a war zeppelin crew across the skies of a post-apocalyptic California. Humanity has barely survived total extinction during a brutal alien invasion and has built a new Victorian-based, steam-powered civilization out of the frozen ashes of the old world. With war imminent, Captain Cover for Engines of WarRomulus Buckle and the crew of the Pneumatic Zeppelin must navigate a perilous, unknown landscape filled with treacherous enemies and alien beasts on a quest to defeat an evil power so profound it defies the imagination.

The heart of the Pneumatic Zeppelin story lies in its characters, and the crew of the mighty zeppelin includes Romulus, the dashing but damaged captain, Max, the beautiful, zebra-skinned, alien engineering officer, Sabrina, the red-headed navigator with a dark vendetta, and Ivan, the gawky Russian-blooded engineer who has a wugglebat for a pet.

Romulus Buckle III Final Luminiferous AetherIn the upcoming book, Romulus Buckle and the Luminiferous Aether, Captain Buckle and his officers run a submarine blockade in order to enter the mysterious underwater city of Atlantis. With an all out war looming, they follow clues which they hope will lead them to Elizabeth, Romulus’ kidnapped sister who is prophesied to be the key to victory and their own survival. But the journey to Atlantis is perilous and what awaits them in city is entirely unexpected. (Luminiferous Aether is schedule for release in January, 2015.)

Please DOWNLOAD my short story An Officer and a Gentleman below. I hope you enjoy the tale. Thanks for dropping by! (Offer ends 9 Nov 2014)


(A big thanks to TOR.com, Jeff VanderMeer and the An Officer and Gentleman cover artist, Jeremy Zerfoss.)

(And please remember, both Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders and Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War are $3 each on Amazon Kindle right now until 16 Nov 2014!)

An Officer & a Gentleman

“The Steampunk User’s Manual” has arrived!

Here we go – it is book release week for The Steampunk User’s Manual by Jeff VanderMeer (Southern Reach, Wonderbook) and Desirina Boskovich (and the brilliant assistance of Ann VanderMeer, Adam Mills and Selena Chambers).

SteampunkUsersManual-850Desirina’s description of the book is perfect: “It’s an unbelievably gorgeous book…which thanks to the generosity and expertise of hundreds of contributors, is filled with creative wisdom, Steampunk history, forward-looking insights, mind-bending exercises, step-by-step projects, surreal alternate histories, artistic challenges that are fantastic in scope, and amazing art on every page.”SUM page 1


SUM title pageSUM--Irene GalloGreat stuff! And they were kind enough to include the kraken/airship battle sequence from my steampunk adventure novel Romulus Buckle & the Engines of War in a gorgeous two-page feature illustrated by the bearded and swashbuckling Jeremy Zerfoss.This is the first time I have had the honor of being included in this kind of collection and it has been a great experience.

Steampunk Users Manual--PrestonPlease check it out if interested!

Below are some great links to descriptions and introductions to the book:

Jeff VanderMeer’s Ecstatic Days blog: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/2014/10/06/the-steampunk-users-manual-its-release-week/
SF Signal Sneak Peek: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/10/steampunk-users-manual-sneak-peek/