Back in 2011, New Scientist magazine produced an excellent article on poetry written by Victorian scientists, including the great James Clark Maxwell. In 1865 he demonstrated that electric and magnetic fields travel through space as waves moving at the speed of light. https://www.newscientist.com/article/1966743-rhyme-and-reason-the-victorian-poet-scientists/ The poems the article mentions are collected here: https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/poetry/ They are quite […]
Michael Faraday, as I hope to convince you by the end of this blog post, was not only the most famous scientist of the Victorian Era, but quite possibly the scientist most responsible for the technological advances that have been achieved since. And considering his humble origins, possibly the least likely to have done so.
After reading the paragraph above, it should come as no surprise that Michael Faraday is my favorite scientist. As an electrochemist, my work owes much–no, everything!–to the discoveries that he made. And so, it was probably inevitable that Faraday would have a cameo appearance in my steampunk adventure novels. Little did I know when I started writing that he would end up being one of the main characters in the book that I just launched, The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday. While writing in the steampunk genre allows one to bend the truth a bit (as far as I know Faraday did not keep a secret lab notebook), I have endeavoured to depict Faraday for the most part truthfully. His life is sufficiently interesting that it needs little embellishment from me.
For the past three years, the authors participating in Clockwork Alchemy, San Jose, California’s steampunk con, have put together short story anthologies the proceeds from which are donated to various organizations promoting literacy. The concept is simple–each author writes two short stories separated by a duration of time. Two years ago, it was Twelve Hours Later. Last year it was Thirty Days Later. This year the theme is Some Time Later–giving the authors a bit more chronological leeway.
I am honored to have been able to participate in this event for the last two years, and proud to announce that this year’s anthology launched last weekend at Clockwork Alchemy 2017 and is now available.
My stories feature a band of rather hapless air pirates searching for the lost treasure of Atlantis. These same pirates also feature prominently in my recently launched steampunk novel The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday.
I am happy to announce that my second book, The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday, is now available!
This novel is the second I’ve written in the Airship Flamel Adventures series, but is actually a prequel of my first novel, To Rule the Skies. When I wrote that book, I came to the realization that I was starting in the middle of Professor Nicodemus Boffin’s story. This new book tells some of his history. Here’s the synopsis:
Nicodemus Boffin rose from a boyhood in the ash heaps of East London to reach the pinnacles of British science when he is mentored by the great scientist, Michael Faraday. When Boffin finds a secret laboratory notebook in which Faraday has described incomprehensible experiments, Nicodemus wonders if Professor Faraday has discovered a new science, or has lost his faculties. Nicodemus’s rival, Viscount Whitehall-Barnes, seeks to gain the notebook by any means necessary to study the descriptions of a strange orange mineral with unusual properties which he believes is the alchemists’ Philosopher’s Stone. Realizing that the Viscount must never learn the secrets of the orange stone, Nicodemus takes action to keep the knowledge hidden, protect his family, and preserve the legacy of his mentor.
Besides telling the story of how Nicodemus Boffin grows from a poor but uncommonly clever boy in the slums of London to the forefront of Victorian British science, the novel features pompous aristocracy, a surprisingly capable laboratory assistant, and snarky air pirates. Several Illustrious Personages may wander through the story as well.
A few years ago, I had the chance to tour the Newport Mansions in Rhode Island, the “summer cottages” of the Gilded Age wealthy. While the mansions are over-the-top gorgeous (and literally built to impress), I found the kitchens, sculleries, and butlers’ pantries more interesting. Maybe because I could actually picture the people who worked there. I’m not sure how much if anything I have in common with the social set of Newport. The photo below shows the amazing kitchen and two story butler’s pantry at The Breakers, one of the more splendid “cottages” in Newport.
Gavin Ashworth and The Preservation Society of Newport County
This link connects to a site that shows the evolution of the kitchen from the 1870s to the 1970s. It’s a little click-baity, but the illustrations and photographs of vintage kitchens more than make up for a.
And it’s a good reminder of why those of us who live in vintage houses, generally don’t have kitchens from the period. I like my refrigerator and microwave, and wouldn’t really enjoy keeping the stove stoked and the ice box full of ice.