Friday, May 23, 2014

Meet Andrew Leon Hudson, Author of TDC 3: The Glass Sealing!

Available today!
1. What aspects of Southwatch are you exploring in TDC 3: The Glass Sealing? 

One of the things I love most in science fiction is the opportunity it presents to reflect facets of the real world, and at the risk of being too typically British I've zeroed in on issues of class--but I didn't want to present a superficial conflict between selfish rich fat cats and hard-working paupers. Although I was partly inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement (where the participants sometimes feel like they fall into such extreme categories!), in normal life people's ethics and motivations are rarely so clearly defined.

Nobody sets out to be "evil", but when conflicts arise we can all become the villain of someone else's story. In The Glass Sealing I present people from across the social spectrum who each strive for something "good" according to their means--personal improvement, social equality, startling achievement--but who find those aspirations compromised and are changed by the experience, sometimes much for the worse. They may become enemies, but they remain heroes in their own minds. 

But from good intentions can come terrible people...

2. What about the Darkside Codex world made you want to write The Glass Sealing? 

I was already a fan of Steampunk, Weird Westerns and other Alternate History fiction before I encountered the Darkside Codex. I immediately liked the hook of the Dark Cloud, of Southwatch's citizens being starkly divided into the privileged and persecuted by a physical barrier, not just sociological ones. Although this is an original, created world setting rather than the usual pseudo-Victoriana of many Steampunk stories, it seemed to me that it still had a connection to historical England; the industrial revolution created new wealth, new poverty and shook up the established social order, while London's pea-souper fogs could kill anyone caught in them unprepared. Southwatch may be fantastical, but it isn't outright fantasy; there is precedent, echoes of the real world, and I think that gives the series weight.

3. Is it easier or harder to write in a shared world? 

It's tricky to do, certainly, but coming to a world that already existed was a real source of inspiration, and I would say I enjoyed writing The Glass Sealing every bit as much as anything I've written beforehand. Maybe the real question is whether it is easier or harder to edit in a shared world. There may be rules going in, but while you're spinning out the story itself you only have yourself to answer to--it's after you finish that you truly have to toe someone else's line!

4. Who's your favorite character? And why? 

I'm pleased with how both my main protagonists developed, but I have to pick two others as my favourites. I used a number of underworld characters from the Darkside canon and it was great fun making each one distinctive, but the gang leader Black Tom O'Connor stood out. Finding a balance between his being charismatic and amoral, and making him not merely a dangerous criminal but also believably fearful of greater dangers--all that was very satisfying.

My other favourite is one of my characters: Ben Shay, who clawed his way (part way, at least) out of the slums only to find himself in the employ of Black Tom, and is forced to use his knack for going unnoticed by working as an eavesdropper and informant. In The Glass Sealing Ben is given a glimpse of what a better kind of life might be like, and in future stories I'd like to show what happens as he goes looking for one of his own.

5. What is your background as a writer? 

My original dream was to write for the movies. I worked in the prosthetic make-up department of a big budget scifi production straight out of university, got the bug, and spent the next few years writing scripts. Very bad scripts. I then studied a Master's degree in screenwriting and wrote some better ones, until the real world caught up with me and forced me to get a paying job. 

I switched my focus to writing novels in my spare time, then turned to short fiction in order to actually finish something. That made a big difference: I'd had story structure drilled into me, but now my prose improved and I settled on a style that I enjoyed. I got a few stories published and was just starting to tackle longer pieces again when the Darkside Codex came along, so I dropped everything else to give it a go--and I'm glad I did.

6.  How do we find you online? 

I maintain two blogs (that I'm willing to admit to): one with my writing news and links, another where I review books, films and anything else that takes my fancy. I'm not a feverish social networker, but I can also be found on Goodreads and Twitter from time to time.

Twitter: @AndLeoHud

7. Are you a Darksider or a Sunsider? 

Darksider, no question. I burn in the sun but the shadows can't hurt me!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Chronicles of Southwatch: An Article from The Daily Star on Transportation, Architecture, and History


An Invited Editorial by Tarek Al-Baz

Being a Criticism of the Hasty Revision of Our City’s Physical Heritage, a Celebration of its Unique and Invaluable Present Character, and a Statement of Support Regarding the Establishment of its Glorious Future Potential.

You pluck a thorn from the lion’s paw, you watch it grow from strength to strength.

In the year 2776, Baron Raoul Amberville burned the original city of Thorn from the world. In the years to follow, the great marvel we now know as Southwatch flourished in its place, increasing in a splendid style until she rivalled any other city of the empire, and far exceeding those outside it. Yet, for all her grandeur, this was not some divine gift bestowed from above, and Southwatch is no vision of a perfect creation.

The truer comparison is to the power and beauty of untamed nature: the sunken ship that becomes the foundation for a great reef, vibrant colour and darting, flashing life disguising the rotten timber within; or the jungle, conquering the ancient temples of some forgotten tribe with towering trunks and constricting vines, the crumbling remains hidden forever beneath the distant canopy above. And just as the wreck or the temple leave their traces on what comes to take their place, so too does the reef or jungle consume and build upon itself in ways that a foresightful creator might think of as unlovely, detracting from the whole.

In this way, the inhabitants of each—the fish, the jungle beasts, the citizens of Southwatch—live alongside their own history, even if they do not appreciate it as they should. I hear it often said of the old—for example, of Downtown’s Three Ring Circus—that the best course is to erase these now clumsy-seeming remnants and replace them with exemplars of the new, but I disagree. There is value in preserving our awareness of the past, that we do not repeat its mistakes; but what seems a mistake now was perhaps not one then, and this too is a lesson worth learning, and remembering.

In its heyday, the Three Ring Circus was the beating heart of Southwatch. All six arterial roads came together in these linked roundabouts—where, within each of which respectively, canal boats, trains and trams also disgorged their passengers—the traffic of the day swirling and mixing and issuing forth to their destinations, very much the life’s blood of our youthful city. However, as she rose in stature so she rose above the earth to reach for the sky; what lay below was built upon by what followed; the nature of the surface changed, became the foundation, not the core. Yes, the city’s vitality lies elsewhere today, the Three Ring Circus is a tangled snarl at the feet of grand towers, the old arteries clogged and shrunk and, to briefly abandon metaphor for fact, overhung with walkways and bridges and skyways—but that older heart still pumps on, even if our more pampered citizens are to high above to hear it.

Does the rarefied reader never travel down to the surface from his ivory tower? Perhaps not. Perhaps, failing to visit the past we reside upon—or never deigning to set foot beyond home, club, and whatever private vehicle is used to convey him between the two—he also forgoes appreciation of the modern city’s unique means of public transportation. Take the Mandorean Pylon—not as an example; I charge you, travel upon it!—and the traveller sees Southwatch presented before him in all its challenging glory, and as it can not be otherwise be seen.

The Mandorean is the oldest of Southwatch’s vertical railways and, in the opinion of those who trouble themselves to learn about their home, the best. From the roof of the departure hall at Downtown’s eastern border, six pairs of saw-toothed tracks rise clear to the Aerie, connecting with twelve major promenades along the way. Between pairs of pairs of tracks crawl three unique vehicles, with passenger carriages mounted one atop the other and, to each side, modified locomotive engines set on end, dragging them upward on toothed wheels.

At each aerial promenade awaits an elegantly off-set station, reminiscent in design of the head of the traditional instrument that lends the pylon its name. And where the strings, you say? They are arrayed around the pylon itself, twenty-four cables that hum in the breeze—and with the vibrating movement of the gyrocabs, which race up and down them with all the speed the upright locomotives lack. These grant the means to reach the utmost heights of the city—or to descend and rediscover her old secrets, should one be inclined—in less time than it takes to stroll along South Beach, and in all the comfort of one’s own private carriage.

We citizens should take equal pride in all the aspects of our city, her diamonds, her rough, her functionality as well. There is an importance to Southwatch, a significance to her past and a vigour to her present, an unrivalled brightness to her future. And it is for all these reasons that we should embrace the grand project even now being considered at the highest levels of civic governance, and discussed in both cries and whispers seemingly everywhere else.

Miss Jocelyn Duville’s astounding proposal promises to change the face of Southwatch as it has never been before. Should it receive the baron’s blessing, we should not merely welcome it, but rejoice.

Published in the Daily Mail,
12th Day, Tenth Month, 2958

Editor's Note: Andrew Leon Hudson's novel The Glass Sealing will be released as the third Darkside Codex story on May 23, 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Chronicle of Southwatch: Aristos, Airships, and the Aerie

Editor's note: We will publish sections of Herink Lesward's The Chronicle of Southwatch upon occasion to provide our readers with an alternate point of view regarding important events in Southwatch. While the majority of historians cast doubt upon Herink's credibility and his obvious anti-sunside bias, we feel that this maligned diarist can give someone unfamiliar with Southwatch a different perspective on what happened. 

The dichotomy between the sunside and darkside of Southwatch is nowhere more emphasized than in the excesses of the Aerie. After all, what other city in the world has literally elevated the upper class to the point that it floats above the rest of the populace? The upper level of the Aerie is comprised of nothing but scores of airships, tethered to the tops of the buildings of Southwatch and each other through walkways and plazas. Their only link to the city below is the network of private lifts that carries the well-to-do from the Aerie into Midtown and the transportation hubs there. 

The best way to view the Aerie is from underneath it.  On a clear day, the sun's rays stream through the field of bessem airships, coloring the light until the heavens look like an expanse of stained glass. If you're a poet, that's a good thing.  But if you live in Midtown or University Heights, chances are you'd rather have a blue sky with a sun in it, particularly if you have the misfortune to live under Lady Romarty's ghastly pink and purple monstrosity or the Earl of Green Mountain's unoriginal homage to himself. Obviously, a green airship wasn't a stretch of the old man's imagination, and it doesn't matter how fair the maiden, she isn't at her best when the only light that hits her skin is a mottled green camouflage. 

The Aerie itself, however, is a cold and uncomfortable place. Even on the hottest days of summer, the walkways and terraformed plazas always have a frosty wind howling through them.  The air temperature is too cool for plants to grow, so the "parks" are littered with clear bessem terrariums, and therefore the flowers are always beautiful but cannot be enjoyed.  The Aerie smells are dictated by what happens in lower levels of the city, although the Dark Cloud filters out most of the emissions of the factories far below. 

So while the Aerie can be beautiful, that loveliness is aloof and cold--two attributes that suit the district very well.  The environment so perfectly matches the attitudes of the aristocracy that they naturally thrive in the Aerie, much like fungus in a scientist's controlled experiments. 

One of the most interesting things about the Aerie, however, is that it's always changing.  The noble and wealthy trade families who can afford a floating palace are constantly moving their airships around, jockeying for position both physical and psychological closer to the center of the district.  In the very center, of course, are the airships of the most powerful entities in Southwatch.  The Baron of Southwatch, young Thomas Amberville, occupies his family home right in the middle of the Aerie. His ship, one of the few vessels that isn't an affront to the goddess with its blue bessem and silver filigreeed beauty, does not move, and is surrounded by a core of airships that rarely move. Every other airship, however, is constantly moving. Unless you live in one of those core airships, you can go to bed one night and wake up the next day to find all the paths you navigated the day before have been changed. It's impossible to even map the Aerie, and only the Sky Rangers and the Angels of Steel have the ability to find all the ships easily.  The only fairly constant landmark in the Aerie is the immense golden dome of the Caelimane Temple, which has maintained its position two rows away from the Amberville airship for decades.

Which, if you think about it, is a fairly stupid way to maintain order. Originally, the airships of the Aerie wanted to be in the center of the field purely for reasons of security. After all, the pirates that constantly harass the Aerie can only get close enough to the ships on the fringes of the district.  Ships in the center of the Aerie were left unmolested.  But over time, that competition became less about safety and more about proximity until now a familiy's investments and social prestige directly impact their living address.

Put simply, the closer your airship is to the Amberville ship, the more powerful you are. It makes one wonder: what would happen if the Amberville family lost all its wealth and power? Would its beautiful ship fall out of the sky? Would the Sky Rangers come and tow it away? Or would the new power over Southwatch just move into the Amberville airship and claim it as its own? 

Makes you wonder, doesn't it? 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Darkside Codex Bible Update Available Now

After a lot of updates and a slew of contracting new Darkside Codex titles, the third updated of the world bible for potential writers is now available.

If you're currently working on a TDC project, you'll want this new bible. Updated information includes the Aerie, Angels of Steel, more on transportation, the academic world, the fae, aristocracy and noble titles/nomenclature, society, the Dark Cloud and much, much more!

If you have recently submitted a TDC manuscript and there are discrepancies with the updated canon, don't worry. Those discrepancies will not be held against the MS and any changes can be addressed in potential edits.

If you need a copy of the TSC Bible Version 3, email your request to Celina Summers at