Two anthologies release this week with steampunk stories by Naomi and me.
"Cherry Tart," a rare straight piece, is coming in Ellora's Cavemen: Flavors of Ecstasy III. It releases Sept 22, Tuesday. I'll blog more on that when I have a cover.
"Skyway Robbery," a steampunk Robin Hood menage a trois, is coming in Like a Corset Undone from Circlet Press
A safe excerpt follows:
Marion looked up from the aetheric tank where the representations of the airships drifted in and out of view amid scudding clouds. “Three degrees more to port or we'll never catch those Edisonian bastards!”
Obligingly, Robin turned the wheel of the pirate dirigible, Sherwood Forest, to the heading. Marion had picked up navigation skills as if born with a tank in hand, despite the fact it was her first voyage. She had begun badly, orphaned on the doorstep of a workhouse, and progressed to a shop-girl working for a glover. He smiled to think how fast she had agreed to be a boy to pursue a life of flight and piracy.
He watched his crew as they scurried here and there, preparing for the battle. Little John, his first mate, gathered the boarding party with their grapple-launchers. Will O'Hara, a runaway Fenian, and Mudge, his little jack-of-all-trades, angled the burning-glass that stood along the port side. He'd named his whole crew after his ancestor's legendary band, saying it was wiser so, since no official would accept a report that Robin Hood and his Merry Men had just robbed them.
Once the burning-glass was settled, Will scooted up to him and nipped his neck as he slung a quiver of explosive arrows on Robin's back. His time with the Fenian Brotherhood had given him a love of explosives and shiny things. It amused Robin, most of the time, to indulge him. “Just pull the fuse and fire. The fuses are a little longer so you don't lose your eyebrows again, Robin darlin'.” Will stole another kiss and dashed off to do more tinkering with the glass.
Robin saw Marion shoot him a dark look as she watched them. She might be filling his bed, but Will had been there first. Robin had no intention of giving up either one of them.
He'd informed Marion of this the second time Will had gone overboard under suspicious circumstances. Fortunately, Will was small, light and fast enough to grab at some netting. Robin had found him pretending to be working while he awaited rescue. The normally fearless boffin had worn safety harnesses for weeks afterward.
“Your new navigator has a ferocious temper, Robin darlin'. But sure, I probably deserved it,” was all Will would say of the incident.
The fat industrialist dirigible, with its enclosed gondola, emerged from the mist like a surfacing whale about to spout. Robin allowed himself a grin of pleasure and stroked the smooth yew wood of his bow. He loved hunting trips.
He glanced at where Marion had bent over the tank again. He appreciated his lady and her new-found skills, but never more so than when she stood like this, her trousers taut over her legs and rear. Only he and Will knew her true sex. She bound her breasts, lowered her voice and dressed in men's clothing, with enough layers to hide her shape, by his orders. It might be the newly-minted twentieth century, but his crew was as superstitious as any that had ever sailed, Phoenician or Norse or their own ancestors under Drake and Morgan. A woman aboard ship was bad luck to their minds. To Robin's thoughts, she would become another bit of spoil to be quarreled over. That development would serve no one.
Will still scurried about, his blue eyes shining with delight at testing his new toys, and his sharp Irish tongue lashing all the men with curses and blarney in English and Gaelic alike. Speaking the Irish language might be grounds for jail time on the ground, but Robin loved the sound of it and here, he was the law. He watched Marion track Will's motions as effectively as she tracked the Edisonians.
He wanted the battle done, the Edisonians' wealth aboard his ship, and to be bundled into the master cabin with Will and Marion while John held the helm steady for their hideaway. He needed to resolve this personal mess and the sooner the better, lest it spill over the crew. Ah, there would be time. The Edisonian ship was in his range, although he was not yet in theirs.
“Fire one!” Marion yelled.