Moonlight, Murder and Machinery: The Characters

The setting of the Steampunk thriller “Moonlight, Murder & Machinery”  is an alternate Regency England where the historical timeline diverged in 1742. This created a decidedly different British Isles where the Industrial Revolution has branched off in a bizarre direction, and an alternative version of Doctor Frankenstein is conducting grotesque experiments. The setting is new, but the main characters are people most of us will recognize!

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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was an English poet of the Romantic era. He is remembered largely for his lyrical works such as “Ode to the West Wind” and “To a Skylark” as well as the sonnet “Ozymandias”, but he also wrote a considerable volume of political poetry and prose expressing his anger at the disparity in the distribution of wealth between the classes and the ruthless tactics used by then Prime Minister Robert Jenkinson in dealing with political dissent. In particular, his narrative poem “Queen Mab” is often cited as inspiration to later working class political movements, such as Chartism and Owenism. He is also famous for being the husband of the author Mary Shelley, and he is associated with many famous figures of the Romantic era, including Lord Byron, John Keats, Thomas Love Peacock and William Godwin.
In “Moonlight, Murder & Machinery”, Shelley joins the Royal Army at the age of 20, out of his idealistic beliefs, and also to spite his father; he is detected as having latent psychic powers, and is drafted into the Crown’s new counter-intelligence division, Red Branch.

 

Mary Shelley

 

Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin; August 30, 1797 – February 1, 1851) was an early novelist who is most famous for her novel Frankenstein, considered to be the first real Science Fiction novel; it was the earliest popular novel whose Speculative Fiction elements were presented as the results of (implausible) human technology.
She was the daughter of the novelist William Godwin and feminist author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. The latter was one of the earliest feminists, famous for her work The Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which is one of the earliest significant modern works in favor of women’s rights.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley married the famous Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. She was  a very prolific author, writing biographies, poetry, articles, travel journals, and short stories in addition to the novels she is most well-known for.
In “Moonlight, Murder & Machinery”, she is an aspiring writer and socialite who suffers from terrible nightmares that seem to predict the future. These latent psychic powers draw her to the attention of Red Branch … particularly the dreams where she sees a crazed scientist intent on creating life from re-animating the dead, in his laboratory …

 

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George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (1788-1824), was a Romantic poet, womanizer, and revolutionary. He gave his name to the Byronic Hero trope, by writing about Byronic heroes and being one in real life.
His father, Army Captain John “Mad Jack” Byron, of a junior line of moderately old gentry, married his mother, Catherine Gordon (heiress to the Scottish estate of Gight, in Aberdeenshire), in 1785. By the time George was born in 1788, “Mad Jack” had squandered most of Catherine’s money, and she took her son to Aberdeen to eke out an existence on the remaining crumbs and a small trust fund. When Byron’s great-uncle, the 5th Baron Byron, died childless, George, then 10 years old, inherited the title and the family seat at Newstead Abbey—which was a wreck that his mother preferred to rent out to junior gentry.
Byron grew up to be a hell-raiser, a womanizer, a political idealist, and an immensely talented poet. He had lovers all across Europe, and died while fighting in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830).
In “Moonlight, Murder & Machinery” he is Captain Gordon, a seasoned veteran of Red Branch and leads the squad that includes Percy Shelley as a new recruit. He becomes Shelley’s mentor, as they fight such grotesque enemies of the Crown as Boiler Calhoun and the Dandy Brethren.

 

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The poet John Keats died of tuberculosis when he was only 25. Given what he accomplished in only that time, there is much speculation about what he could have done with a full literary career — for example, he was in progress on an epic poem, The Fall of Hyperion, which had the potential to become a classic on the level of Paradise Lost, but was left unfinished when he died. We’ll never know.
He is most famous for his series of odes, which remain very popular today. They include “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, “Ode to a Nightingale”, and “Ode on Melancholy”. He also wrote many other poems, such as “Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art”, “La Belle Dame sans Merci” and “The Eve of St. Agnes”. His poetry and letters advanced some revolutionary theories of literary composition, such as ‘negative capability’, and the concept of the ‘chameleon poet’, that still influence writers today.
In “Moonlight, Murder & Machinery”, John Keats is head of Red Branch’s Research and Development Division, where he conducts experiments into the soldiers’ psychic and physical capabilities … and how they can be enhanced.

 

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(Above:Dr. Andrew Crosse and his ‘acari’).
Who was the real-life inspiration behind Doctor Frankenstein? Many have been named as the scientists who first gave Mary Godwin the idea … such as Giovanni Aldini, protege of Luigi Galvani, the discoverer of ‘animal electricity’; James Lind MD, friend to the Shelley family; Johann Conrad Dippel, a rumored alchemist; Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein, who perhaps inspired the name of the protagonist; and most intriguing of all, Dr. Andrew Crosse, who claimed to have spontaneously created an insectoid form of life called ‘acari’ in his laboratory (to this day, exactly what he did, how he did it, and what the ‘acari’ really were remains unexplained).
These are some of the main characters in “Moonlight, Murder & Machinery” … want to see them in action? Go HERE!

 

Moonlight Ebook Cover

 

 

 

About J P Catton

Speculative storytelling and skewed fiction: the blog and website of author John Paul Catton.
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