“The Guilt Child” is up in the current issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies.
This is one of those stories that’s been coming to me the same way lately: I’ll start spinning out some worldbuilding idea — in this case, the industrial magic I’d used in the background of “A Serpent in the Gears” — and once I start to get a clearer sense of it, a story will appear and derail any serious worldbuilding. In this case, it was the idea of magically-infused automata that sparked it, the question of sentience, the inconvenience this would pose to, say, a factory owner whose machinery became self-aware . . . and suddenly there was Stamper, and Carla, and hot tea.
I’m still finding the edges of this world, but I’m finding it fascinating that each story that springs from it is a different kind of story — pulp espionage adventure, mystery and romance, coming-of-age, and now a fairy tale of sorts. Complete with ogre. Hope you like it!
It was here, where the gold light gave way to the sparky blue of condensing thaumic ore, where the spring chill evaporated off the boilers, that her cousin stopped. “Stamper!” he called, pitching his voice above the din. “Stamper!”
The pounding paused, one press after the other, some of them halting in mid-blow. A mass of cables shifted, its fittings turning and locking into place. “Jamie,” said a low, titanic voice, the kind that the pantomimes gave the Stone King.