August 23, 2012

0 Comments

“COPY” by Sylvie Lass

Our first piece of poetry! Very exciting! Keep the content coming! -ED

 

COPY

I am the Copy.

You may know of me as the Enemy, but I am really the Copy.

I am a city, but I am alive.

The minds of my citizens make up my intelligence, and the airships make up my strength.

I have feelings, but I do not love.

I am a double of a double, the ghost of the Empire state.

I am waiting.

Someday I will trade places with my double.

Then I will be smarter, stronger.

I will be able to enter the original.

I will destroy it.

I am the Copy, but not for long.

July 26, 2012

0 Comments

“By the Rivers of Babylon We Sat Down and Wept” by T.W.

POLAR EXPEDITION

“We’re over Greenland, if I’m not mistaken,” Nimrod said from the bridge. For a moment he just gazed through his glass at the horizon, where land and sea became one. “Not too much longer now, old man. Perhaps we’ll set down in Canada this time.” He turned to look at Keats over his shoulder. “Perhaps, should we find somewhere civilized enough to have a proper hospital. How do you find our chances?”

Keats sputtered, a sound that Nimrod recognized as the closest approximation of a laugh the man could manage with half his chest done in. It was a wonder he could breathe at the moment, let alone speak. Laughter would have to go. “My chances are not half so good as yours, sir,” Keats said in his difficult almost-whisper, and Nimrod flapped one hand in dismissal.

“Nonsense. We’ve expeditions aplenty yet to come.”

“Yes,” said Keats, “into the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns, I’m afraid.”

Nimrod moved back into the dimly lit control room. Keats was pale, his usual sanguine complexion faded and his blond hair gone somewhat grey. The fuel pump Nimrod had used to replace his heart was far too small, and his blood could not quite reach all the places it was expected. A doctor might have worried about limb infarction, necrosis, septicemia, but Nimrod was not a doctor.

“Insufferable, dramatic fool,” he said.

Keats’ lips took on the ghost of a smile. “Greenland, you say? You’d best correct for the change in wind, then, lest we place ourselves at the mercy of the Soviets. We’ve only two engines, remember.”

“Ah! Wrong again, my friend. Already corrected. With my pilot dozing here instead of at his post, I’ve had to rely somewhat on my own navigational skills.”

“Heaven forbid,” said Keats, sputtering again. Nimrod sat down beside his and placed a hand on his shoulder.

Nimrod’s fingertips scraped against imperfect edges of metal. He had done up a piece of copper plating, hammered in to follow the curve of his friend’s chest. So Keats wouldn’t have to see his own damage, to know what grotesqueness Nimrod had made of him. He would need specialists, if he was to live. Nimrod had done what he could with a hunting knife and his innate mechanical knowledge. Familiarity with the Carson informed his work as well, as he knew what pieces the airship could spare.

After all, the Carson too was damaged. For a moment, when it had happened, Nimrod imagined that he had lost them both, the man and ship he sometimes fancied extensions of himself.

He might still.

Specialists. Those he would find only in New York. The State Department had, at a time, experimented with this sort of thing. Nimrod had heard rumors. Whispers behind closed doors. He was a man who seemed to be instinctively drawn to cracks and keyholes. Perhaps those stories were why, when he leaned over the broken body of Keats, he had done this. He had looked down at his own hands, stained with blood, so bright against the white that was all else he could see, and he had torn his knife from its sheath at his hip. Had begun his work.

Nimrod regarded Keats more tenderly than anyone in the world, it was true. His batman in the Great War, his companion to the Arctic, the patient co-designer of the Carson. He cared for the man well beyond the love he could ever have given a wife.

And yet. How it pained him now.

“I can afford to be away from the controls for a while,” he said. “Shall I read? We’re back at the beginning.” Nimrod forced himself to smile, though he noticed Keats had closed his eyes. “Next time we’ll bring along a bigger library, eh?”

He sighed and reached for the book.

“I want a hero,” Nimrod read, his voice louder now, filling the ship. “An uncommon want, when every year and month sends forth a new one. Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant, the age discovers he is not the true one. Of such as these I should not care to vaunt, I’ll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan. We all have seen him, in the pantomime, sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.”

He looked up from the page and saw the Keats had gone still. He listened, but there was no breath, no rasping ins and outs. He had come to find that sound, so foreign at first, comfortable.

“Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time,” Nimrod said again.

After a moment of silence, he closed the book, slipped it into his pocket, and continued the poem from memory.

EMPIRE STATE

Captain Carson walked the length of the dining room, examining his artifacts but not quite seeing them. They helped him think. Now and then, he glanced between a photograph and Byron, whose expansive back was turned.

The man in the photograph was young, with a face often overlooked by young women who dreamed of Valentino – but he was not unhandsome. In every instance, he stood behind Carson himself. Back straight, snow goggles pushed up above his head. Smiling. Happy.

Byron did not remember the expeditions. For some time, Carson had supposed that part of his injuries, which were quite severe. The treatment, too, was severe.

But then Carson had spoken to the mysterious Nimrod, and slowly he realized. His memories, not Byron’s, were the anomaly. The expeditions in his mind were dimmed versions of events that had happened long ago, to someone else. Nimrod’s stories were so bright, so vivid. Great feats, superhuman accomplishments, boastful claims. And sadness, too – a sadness that Carson remembered only viscerally, as a vagueness around the edges of his thoughts.

Byron was not the blond man. He was only a reflection, an echo of a dead friend. The peculiarities of the connection between Empire State and New York City had fashioned his mortal weakness into the strength of metal. Or perhaps, based on the understanding Carson had of his double’s demise, it was all merely some sick joke on behalf of the universe.

Yes, Byron was an echo. Like the sound left in one’s ears after a phonograph has gone silent.

Sometimes, Carson thought, those few seconds were the most beautiful.

“Byron!” he called, breaking himself from his thoughts. He clapped his hands. “Some tea, my friend?”

June 27, 2012

0 Comments

Reviews of Empire State, and Interviews with Adam Christopher

  • Drying Ink Review
  • This is a heady mix of superheroes (who aren’t so unambiguous), noir detectives (who really aren’t cut out for metaphysics), and science fiction – which really works. You can’t predict this novel, with its convoluted sides and treacheries: now put those two together with the alternate universe travel of this novel, and you’ll see what I mean.

  • Fantasy Book Review
  • Did you set out with the intention of blending a bunch of genres together, or was it the byproduct of the story you wanted to tell?

    Adam: The blending of genres was unintentional, or at least I think it was. Empire State was the result of several different ideas all coming together to form a single novel. I wanted to write a Chandleresque pulp detective story, and I had this character Rad Bradley all ready to go. I had another idea centred around an alternate version of New York, trapped in an endless Prohibition. And then there was Captain Carson, an old polar explorer, investigating “The Case of the Robot Zombie”, which never got any further than a title and the vague idea that a crazy B-movie plot might be fun.

  • Gail Carriger’s blog
  • GC: Tea or coffee and how do you take it?

    AC: Tea, white, no sugar, in a mug. The milk must be non-fat too – try and slip me regular milk and I’ll know about it!

June 25, 2012

0 Comments

News on Adam Christopher’s upcoming book, Seven Wonders

There’s news about Adam’s latest book! It’s also from Angry Robot, and also about superheroes, but a totally new world! Seven Wonders will be out in September, and Adam is celebrating with a launch at Forbidden Planet.

Exciting additional news: it’s getting a limited run of 100 hardcovers!

From Angry Robot:

Tony Prosdocimi lives in the bustling Metropolis of San Ventura – a city gripped in fear, a city under siege by the hooded supervillain, The Cowl.

When Tony develops super-powers and acts to take down The Cowl, however, he finds that the local superhero team Seven Wonders aren’t as grateful as he assumed they’d be…

File Under: Science Fiction [ Heroes In Action | A Double Cross | Kapow! | Tables Turned ]

June 20, 2012

0 Comments

Empire State story reviews!

All of the Empire State short stories have gotten a review over at Benito Corral Reviews -

As I am such a fan of author AND book, I thought it would be fun and interesting to read and review the short fiction pieces that other artists have created in Empire State.  If you are wondering what it would be like to stretch your own creative muscles in the Empire State, you can find out how here and can also check out what other artists have done.

Now on to the stories!

First up is “The Biggest” by Hugo, Nebula and Locus award winning author James Patrick Kelly.  In his first ever superhero story, Kelly introduces us to Filbrick Van Loon, or “The Stilt”, an earnest young man traveling to New York City to try to find his fortune in the big city after the loss of his mother.  What he finds is indeed the chance of a lifetime, but fame comes with a high price.  Kelly seems to be enjoying himself here and even ties in a well known event in NYC “history” with Van Loon’s story.  “The Biggest” fits very nicely into the Empire State universe.

Thanks Benito!

June 19, 2012

4 Comments

The Adventures of Johnny Ironclad!

Brought to you by the Empire Tea Corporation!

Now, a brand new adventure of Johnny Ironclad, who fights through Enemy territory to return to The Empire State! Today Johnny is face to face with The Dragon Squad!

The Adventures of Johnny Ironclad! EPISODE #105 The Dragon Squad!

Johnny Ironclad – Kevin Berntson
Captain Dragon – Jayne Entwistle
Lieutenant – Michael Oosterom
Sam/Additional Voices – Grant Baciocco

Music by Dan Ring – www.danring.com

Produced by Saturday Morning Media – www.saturdaymorningmedia.com

Grant Baciocco is the creator and host of the Henson.com Podcast, the official podcast of the Jim Henson Company.   He is also the creator of several other award winning, family friendly podcasts including The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd, Did This Happen? and Grant’s Advent Calendar Video Podcast.

June 18, 2012

0 Comments

Skyguard vs Science Pirate!

Author Adam Christopher found this awesome video book report/review by two kids (hey guys, please send in your names! we want to give you credit!) Minor spoilers for the book!

June 6, 2012

1 Comment

Heart and Soul of Empire State: Character Sketch #3- The Pastor of Lost Souls

Everyone knows a book is made of the memorable characters within. So we’re going to get you acquainted with the Empire State characters. Some of them, like today’s entry, have a challenge given with them.

THE PASTOR OF LOST SOULS

The most wanted man in the Empire State, The Pastor of Lost Souls is an enigma the city cannot touch. He is dangerous, leads a cult, and wears a mask, and yet the city can’t get their hands on him. His most effective tool is his holy book, The Seduction of the Innocent. 

SPOILERS: The only person in The Empire State/NYC connection that has no double, he plays two roles within the Empire State, that of highest seat in the world, The Chairman, and that of the most wanted, The Pastor of Lost Souls. With both the weapons of government and religion, he controls much of the city.


Author’s Challenge: We want to know what’s in The Seduction of the Innocent. Rad didn’t seem terribly impressed by it, so why is the cult so large?

May 31, 2012

0 Comments

“Byron Origin Story” by Michael Horan

There’s still time to get in your Byron origins story! Here’s one from Michael Horan!


The mechanics they installed into him were by no means state of the art. The fact that he could move at all without toppling like a blonde floozy on the strip after a long night was a miracle in itself. Byron was grateful, all the same. It could be worse. He could be a drooling blob of flesh, one good eye whirling around the room as his mouth formed silent screams from the pain. Sitting in a oversized wingback, reinforced to hold his bulk, he mused how he could just as easily be in a chair with wheels. Wheels he’d not be able to move as his arms were gone. He’d be tended by nurses who would look at him with a mixture of revulsion and pity as he sat there straining his will to make some part of what was left of his body respond to his commands. No, he was lucky, indeed. Captain Carson had taken it upon himself to see to that. Thinking back to the explosion that made him this way, gears whirred and tumbled inside the numerous large attachments that made him able to move. One step above the old steam engines he used to watch as a child, his mechanical appendages strained, groaned and finally thunked as he flexed the steel cable muscles of his prosthetic arms. They really were a marvel of engineering, responding to the flexing of his natural muscles under the skin to which they were grafted.

Pain shot through his brain in a bright searing moment. This particular pain he was familiar with, though. The doctors/mechanics that worked on him called it feedback. Excess power from the small powerful batteries powering his limbs coursing to his brain courtesy the neural network left inside him. It passed quickly and Byron’s lungs went back to a steady cadence as his thoughts returned to his fate. Standing in a swift, noisy motion, he let the gyros stabilize his balance. He began pacing restlessly, his heavy metal feet coming down solidly with a quiet hiss of released pressure at each step. The Captain had been there when he first awoke after the explosion. His face a steeled mask revealing nothing of what happened. The very picture of stoicism, he explained the details of what had happened to Byron in excruciating detail. Like a man reading a grocery list to a servant, he ticked off the injuries. He calmly explained that Byron was no longer a man but a large living hunk of flesh. A lump of flesh, he soothed, that may still have a purpose. It was then he hit him with the sales pitch. Byron bought the pitch. Bought it hook, line and sinker.

The days grew into months as he endured operation after painful operation. Not sure whether he was becoming more man or less as scientists, doctors, engineers and other “interested” parties observed his progress. Every step of the way the Captain was there offering his solid presence to anchor him. He explained everything, and he had to, Byron could remember nothing.

Never showing an ounce of sorrow or pity for Byron’s plight but always forging forward, the man pulled Byron to health by his sheer will alone. Every time he flexed his will, Byron responded. To each challenge put before him, Byron stepped up. Like some stupendous puppy Byron doted on the man’s every word, every thought. He was enraptured by the man completely. That’s what made the betrayal so painful.

Before he could think further Byron strode to the door of the Director’s office and opened it sharply. The middle-aged man behind the desk raised his head slowly and beckoned Byron in.

“It is with great displeasure” came the slightly mechanical voice, “that I must inform you of the Captain’s wrongdoings.” Settling back in his seat, the man raised an eyebrow “Oh? Do tell.”

The next half hour was spent regaling the man with the details of how Byron had overheard a whispered conversation, courtesy of his new ear, between the Captain and a mysterious woman. He spoke of how they plotted to overthrow the Foundation and wreak havoc on the general public. Using Byron as a battering ram, they would force down the doors of power and hand over the city to the enemy. He told the elderly gentleman all he had discovered of the plot through means secret and accidental coming close to sobbing out loud as he finished the narrative. His heart was broken, but he could not and would not allow this threat from the enemy to come to pass.

“I can do no less than be loyal to those who salvaged me from the ravages of infirmity.” He ended.

“No, of course not,” came the voice from behind him. The voice of a man he recognized.

He whirled in his spot, hands up in a fighting posture, ready to take on the Captain. He hesitated for a moment, noticing something peculiar. Captain Carson was smiling. He was beaming from ear to ear. Byron had never seen a trace of emotion on this face and it stopped him cold to see it now.

“Calm yourself, my good man. The test is over and you have passed with the proverbial flying colors!” Waving to the “director” the Captain said “You may go, now.”

As the older man shuffled himself out, Carson plunked down into the chair and planted his feet on the desk. “I had nothing but the utmost faith in you, but had to be sure. I do hope you understand the need.”

Byron’s steel fists pounded out the dough for his shortbread. He made sure to press out every bit of air from it, ensuring it’s utter dryness. A small smile on his face he muttered, “I do hope you understand the need.” Chuckling, he finished up his task and thought the Captain did indeed understand the need. After all, he kept eating the damn stuff.

May 30, 2012

0 Comments

Heart and Soul of Empire State: Character Sketch #2-

Everyone knows a book is made of the memorable characters within. So we’re going to get you acquainted with the Empire State characters. Some of them, like today’s entry, have a challenge given with them.

THE SCIENCE PIRATE

Empire State tells of The Skyguard and The Science Pirate at the end of their story. But before they were enemies, they were husband and wife, and before that, she was his ward. The Skyguard raised the rebellious Science Pirate, attempting to turn her from a life of crime.

It worked, for a while.

No one knows what triggered the fight behind the battle that created the Empire State.

SPOILERS: Sam Saturn, the death that gets Rad Bradley investigating the mysteries behind the Empire State, is her double.


Author’s Challenge: Domestic dispute or crime of the century? What caused the Skyguard’s and the Science Pirate’s final battle? Best Story wins an Angry Robot care package!