It’s kinda odd to be (sort-of) included in a Steampunk Storybundle because I’ve never considered myself a massive fan of the steampunk/clockpunk movement. (despite the fact that there are some awesome names there – Cat Rambo, Genevieve Valentine – obviously I need to check my presumptions at the door like whoa). Partly it was because a lot of the “Victoriana But With Goggles!” motif felt very one-dimensional, but there are writers in the genre who I’ve enjoyed. They take a slightly different angle with the concept, and the stories are substance over flash. You’ll see there is also the South East Asian steampunk collection, The SEA Is Ours, in that bundle, so definitely not a one-dimensional package.
When I was initially asked if I’d be interested in contributing to a ghost steampunk anthology my first thought was “why me?”. Then I realised I’ve been writing so much stuff that fits a loose definition of the genre but without the Victorian and colonial trappings, so I plunged back into my Three Dog Dreaming-verse, and wrote a story about love and ghosts and roosters, which was included in the anthology Ghost In The Cogs.
It is winter in Pal-em-Rasha and all the roosters have been strangled. We are in mourning. The prince was born white and strange, his dead sister clinging to his heel, and since then, three weeks have passed without cock-crow.
People work with their heads bowed and their lips pinched. In the markets—normally ringing with calls and shouts and trades—money falls from palm to palm in muffled offerings. Even the People of the Dogs wrap the hooves of their shaggy red oxen with rags when they come down to the city from their mountain homes. Peasants chase the monkeys away from the orange groves and the tamarind trees, and the leaves hang dry and limp. The little brown doves do not heed the king’s order for silence, and they line the buildings, chuckling at each other in low coos, taking turns to steal the fallen rice from between the road stones.