Please welcome Jonathan Green to the blog! The new Ulysses Quicksilver omnibus (#2) came out, and he kindly answered a few of my questions about the series!
Will you tell us a bit about the Pax Britannia series, and specifically the stories included in the 2nd Ulysses Quicksilver omnibus?
The Pax Britannia stories take place towards the end of an alternate 20th century in a world where the sun never set on the British Empire. Queen Victoria is still on the throne, kept alive by steam-power and clockwork, there are dinosaurs in London Zoo, robot Bobbies help police the crowded streets of the metropolis, people live under the sea as well as on the moon, Mars is trying to break away from the empire of Magna Britannia, while ne’er-do-wells plot the downfall of the status quo from within.
The main protagonist of these stories in Ulysses Quicksilver, dandy, adventurer, and agent of the crown. The omnibus continues his adventures, beginning with Evolution Expects, in which the new Prime Minister, Devlin Valentine, is trying to eliminate the smog that hangs over the city by use of a Jupiter Station weather machine. Meanwhile, Dr Feelgood’s Tonic Stout is going down a storm with the public. At the same time, a monster from Jewish myth is terrorizing Limehouse whilst being hunted by a bat-like avenger.
In Blood Royal, the 19th century’s most notorious serial killer appears to be back, stalking the streets of Londinium Maximum, while huge parts of the city are not no go areas, following the Jupiter Incident. This time, Ulysses’ investigations leads him to the werewolf-haunted heartlands of Europe where one man seeks to free Russia from the hold of Magna Britannia.
Dark Side takes us to the Moon, Pax Britannia style. There’s industrial espionage, giant robots, aliens, and war criminals, and if that wasn’t enough, Ulysses is being stalked by a mysterious, eye-patched individual.
What makes Ulysses Quicksilver such a compelling character?
His devil-may-care attitude, his sense of style, his line in pithy one-liners, his sword-cane, his car, his faithful manservant Nimrod…
He’s got the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes, the fighting prowess of James Bond, and the wit of Oscar Wilde. He is wish fulfilment personified; he gets to beat up the bad guys and win the girl. What’s not to like?
What other characters in the series did you particularly enjoy writing?
Nimrod, Ulysses’ bare-knuckling boxing champ of a valet, the vigilante Spring-Heeled Jack, and any of the villains who appear in the books. 😉
What kind of research have you done for the books, and what is your writing process like?
Considering Pax Britannia is a made-up world, I actually did a lot of research. The great thing is, because it is alternate history, to a certain extent I could keep the bits from the real world I wanted, and create new things where I wanted too.
There is also a lot of mad science in the books, but for the reader to be able to suspend their disbelief the real bits have to seem very real. So I researched everything from diseases of the blood, to the crimes of Jack the Ripper, as well as the works of H G Wells, evolutionary biology and DNA redundancy.
What do you enjoy most about steampunk as a genre?
It’s a genre that deals with the problems of the present in the context of the future viewed through the lens of the past. It harks back to an eerie when there wasn’t anywhere the human race couldn’t go, nothing that man could not do. Machines could be built to solve any problem, and looked beautiful whilst still being practical.
In fact steampunk is a flavor as much as a genre. You can tell everything from love stories to horror stories, SF space opera to action-adventure-seat-of-your-pants thrillers, all within a steampunk setting.
I have recently finished The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman, which is set during the Elizabethan era and has Doctor Dee solving a murder mystery. I would also recommend Raising Steam by the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett, which is the industrial revolution for fantasy fans.
What are you currently reading?
I Am Scrooge – A Zombie Story for Christmas by Adam Roberts, alongside The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I’ve just published my 59th book, Alice’s Nightmare in Wonderland. It is a choose your path adventure gamebook that is a sequel of sorts of Lewis Carroll’s original Alice stories, but with a dark steampunk twist, appropriately enough.
Next up I am going to be editing an anthology of short stories that blend Shakespeare’s most famous plays with Lovecraft’s most terrifying creations, called Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu. I also have a squid-themed Doctor Who gamebook for children coming out next year called Night of the Kraken, and many more projects besides.
About Pax Britannia: The Ulysses Quicksilver Omnibus Vol. 2:
Three books in the classic steam punk series, in which our hero is beginning to question his loyalty to Empire.
In his ongoing adventures in the services of the Empire, Ulysses Quicksilver – hero and dandy – is increasingly confronted with the darkness at the heart of Britannia. This worthy tome collects three tales of desperation:
Evolution Expects: After more than 150 years as the supreme power on the planet, the British Empire has become stagnant and corrupt. The new Prime Minister, Devlin Valentine, promises change, but there are those who lack the patience for politics. With a dangerous vigilante stalking the streets, a monster on the loose in the East End and rival gangs fighting for control, there may be nothing Ulysses – trapped in the notorious Bedlam Hospital – can do to prevent a catastrophic metamorphosis!
Blood Royal: With the city, and the Empire, reeling from the transformations of a month before, a twisted new religion rises from the devastation. In the meantime, in Europe, the spectre of war rears its ugly head; and rumours hint at monsters, things of myth, on both sides. Ulysses Quicksilver, fighting for peace and for reason – for civilisation itself – follows a path that leads him from the shattered streets of London to the icy wastes at the heart of a dark and bloody empire.
Dark Side: Searching for his missing brother Barty, Ulysses heads to the British Lunar colonies. The trail leads him and his faithful butler into the path of unsolved murders, battling robots, shady millionaires and uncanny inventions. Stalled when he ends up on the wrong side of Lunar law and hunted by a mysterious eyepatch-wearing stranger, the dandy adventurer will uncover, in a secret base on the dark side of the moon, truths that will challenge everything he knew about Britannia…