Tagged octopus

12 Days Until Christmas, Finishing School Style, Plus Gift Ideas for the Gail Carriger Fan In Your Life (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

12 days until Christmas, Gentle Reader, if that’s your thing. Here is a bit of fun from the Finishing School Tumblr.

Here are 12 Gift Ideas For Gail Carriger Fans:

1. Octopus Cookie Cutter ($6).

2. Octopus necklace ($7) for any member of the OBO who doesn’t want to get a tattoo.

3. Octopus Bottle Stopper ($12) for those who prefer wine over tea.

4. 1800s Balloon Art Airship Stainless Steel ID or Cigarettes Case ($14). This is the airship design that the Flywaymen air dinghies are based off of in the Finishing School series.

Or if you’re buying for a big OBO Madame Lefoux fan, the same company makes versions of this case with octopus on the cover.

5. Lace overlay parasol (not good for rain) $13, comes in range of colors.

6. Wonderful Ocean Octopus Nightlight ($18) that I might have to buy for my office. So cute! Perhaps Quesnel had one of these while a child.


7. Stone Octopus Coaster
($25).

8. Tentacles Wall Decal Sticker ($30).

9. Lucky Ladybug Shaped Teapot ($18). For Primrose to serve tea aboard the Spotted Custard.

10. My favorite tea, Twinings 1706 Strong ($12).

11. Gail’s favorite Necklace pen  ($20). I own both and wear them constantly. Standard gel refills.

Bumbersnoot necklace
Also there is also my Zazzle shop full of Gail Carriger branded merchandise. Everything from t-shirts to mugs to buttons.
 
{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins.}

PROJECT ROUND UP  

  • Romancing the Werewolf ~ A Supernatural Society Novella
    Status: Rough Draft.
    LBGTQ reunion romance featuring your favorite reluctant werewolf dandy, the return of a certain quietly efficient Beta, and a very unexpected gift.
  • Secret Project SAS ~ Novel
    Status: First draft done. Resting before second draft.
    Contemporary m/m paranormal romance between a snarky mage and a gruff werewolf. Hella raunchy. Super dirty. Very very fun. Spin off of Marine Biology.

OUT NOW

Romancing the Inventor

Romancing the Inventor: A Supernatural Society Novella

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing a brilliant cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1921A young, brunette Carole Lombard. 1921 via fuckyeahmodernflapper tumblr

1921 A young, brunette Carole Lombard. 1921 via fuckyeahmodernflapper tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

“It was one of those jolly, peaceful mornings that make a fellow wish he’d got a soul or something.”
~ P. G. Wodehouse

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Book News:

Backwards Compatible says of Imprudence:

“With a great mix of humour and characters, Gail Carriger has created wonderfully rich world for Rue to explore. The best part is as yet she does not know what manner of adventures await though I’m hoping Carriger does. If you are new to Steampunk then this is a great series to look into and though I always say start at the beginning, you can jump into to Imprudence and still enjoy the ride.”

Quote of the Day:

“My new supervisor was a gruff old dude who liked the fact that I was a gruff young dude.”
~ Strong Signal by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell

(Highly recommended for fans of contemporary m/m romance.)

Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
Share & Enjoy!


Gifts for the Gail Carriger Uber Fan (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

So, here are some gifts that I, in my limited expert experience on the subject, think that a Gail Carriger fan would really enjoy. Just getting into the spirit of the season.

Gifts for the Gail Carriger Fan

Sparkly fan! ($1.50) Silk Fan with Green Sequins for Dimity from Sophronia.

Parasol Straws ($3.50).

Octopus Cookie Cutter ($5).

Octopus necklace ($7) for any member of the OBO who doesn’t want to get a tattoo.

Fans of the Soulless manga series might like this adorable business card case featuring a parasol ($7).

Octopus Bottle Stopper ($12) for those who prefer wine over tea.

1800s Balloon Art Airship Stainless Steel ID or Cigarettes Case ($14). This is the airship design that the Flywaymen air dinghies are based off of in the Finishing School series.

Or if you’re buying for a big OBO Madame Lefoux fan, the same company makes versions of this case with octopus on the cover.

Lace overlay parasol (not good for rain) $16, come in range of colors.

Wonderful Ocean Octopus Nightlight ($18) that I might have to buy for my office. So cuts! Perhaps Rue had one of these while a child.

Mademoiselle Geraldine’s preferred Tea Cozy ($11). Let the tiny cakes fly!


Silver Octopus Tentacle Ear Cuff Wrap Earring
($20).

Tentacles Wall Decal Sticker ($30).

Lucky Ladybug Shaped Teapot ($18). For Primrose to serve tea aboard the Spotted Custard.

My favorite tea, Twinings 1706 Strong ($12).

{Gail’s monthly read along for December is Newt’s Emerald by Garth Nix, skinflint alternative is Ridiculous by D.L. Carter.}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Francisco Goya (Spanish artist, 1746-1828) The Parasol

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Millinery prints (1891 – 1896) by G. Gonin (France, active late 19th century)
Image and text courtesy LACMA. Costume and Textiles
http-_collections.lacma.org_node_240646

Very Ivy.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Deep Sea Robots Livestream Ocean Floor Landscapes, Creatures

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
A Literary History of Dot, Dot, Dot

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Out now!
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Handed in. Available for pre-order, releases July 19, 2016 in the US.



Gail Carriger’s Books! 

 The Finishing School Series (1850s ~ completed)
1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies,
3 Waistcoats & Weaponry, 4 Manners & Mutiny

 

The Parasol Protectorate Series (1870s ~ completed)
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless

 The Custard Protocol Series (1890s ~ ongoing)
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence (July 19, 2016)

Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels (1870s)
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
Sophie of So Many Books So Little Time says of Manners & Mutiny:
“This was a wonderful ending to a wonderful series and I’m glad I’ve got a whole other series of Carriger’s still to read.”

Quote of the Day:

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Vampires & Werewolves: Around the World in 8 Absurdities (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 


This post is based on a guest blog I did for varkat on the Sillier Side of Vampires.

Vampires & Werewolves: Around the World in 8 Absurdities

Gentle Reader, since I write comedy and alternate history, I spend a good deal of time investigating historical quirks. One of my favorite things to do is take vampires and werewolves and make them responsible for the most unexplainable facts and ridiculous minutiae of the ancient world.

Why? Because werewolves and vampires are intrinsically absurd.

For example: Have you ever worn fangs? Well I have, and there’s quite the adjustment period resulting in a tender lower lip and a pronounced lisp. Thus, newly minted vampires are obviously going to lisp. Those with longer fangs may even drool a bit. You see? Comedy gold.

And werewolves? My warped little mind always jumps to other types of were-creature. How about a were-sheep, a were-dachshund, or a were-platypus? A were-goat? Bahahaha! Skulks about under the full moon, viciously breaking into a girl’s closet to eat all her shoes. I don’t know about you, but I’m trembling in my… oh wait.

What I ended up doing for my paranormal meets steampunk universe was divide up world history into different camps. For some cultures this is easier than others. The Vikings, with all that hair and Fenrir and everything, were definitely werewolf oriented. The Romans, being decadent, incestuous, and obsessed with luxury goods, certainly trafficked with the vampires. I’m inclined to think the ancient Greeks were altogether anti-supernatural because of their obsession with human perfection and generally xenophobic attitude. The ancient Egyptians had animal headed gods, so I come right back to werewolves. Catholic Inquisition? Now we can all guess what that was really about.

And then I sally forth into the unexplainable: how did tiny Britain manage to conquer an empire? Because they were the first culture to integrate vampires (as political advisers) and werewolves (as military agents) fully into their society. This, coincidentally, also explains King Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church (the marriage thing was just a cover up) and the British Regimental system (which makes absolutely no sense until you realize it’s based on werewolf pack dynamics).

But what about that minutiae you mentioned, Ms. Carriger? Well, Gentle Reader, here are some quick thoughts.

1. Russian folk dancing = squarely at the werewolf door.
2. Bet I can guess who started the whole “quenching a sword in blood” rumor.
3. Retsina, metaxa and ouzo = cruel tricks played on the Greeks by the vampires.
4. Absurdly high cravats; well, they hide neck bites, now don’t they?
5. Ever wonder why Italian food has so much garlic in it? Anti-vampire protection. And that led me to basil being anti-werewolf.
6. That phrase “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” takes on a whole new meaning if there are werewolves running around.
7. And what about the term “Dark Ages?”
8. I shall leave you with one final thought: Scottish haggis and blood pudding.

Forget the Free Masons, in my world it’s the Unshackled Silver Smiths and Detached Carpenters that supernaturals have to watch out for.

{Gail’s monthly read along for August is My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

 Frederick Frieseke (American artist, 1874 – 1939)

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Social Octopus Shatters Beliefs About Ocean Dwellers

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
12 Lost American Slangisms from the 1800’s

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
A of JAF Ink says: “In Etiquette & Espionage, Carriger manages to give us a compelling plot set in a steampunk England, engaging and interesting characters, all while introducing us to a new school system that is both unique yet somehow familiar.”

Quote of the Day:
“I advise those who want to become writers to study veterinary medicine, which is easier. You don’t want to be a writer unless you have no choice – and if you have no choice, good luck to you.”
~ Robin McKinley

Gail’s fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Quote of the Day:
“Can I have your door jam on door toast?”
~ The Iz (re. Gail’s misspelling of doorjamb)


Alternate Historical Names for Clothing in the Victorian Era (Behind the Magic)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

1811 ~ Alternate Historical Names for Clothing

  • Togs ~ Clothes
  • Articles or Inexpressibles ~ Underthings, sometimes Breeches
  • Farting crackers or Galligaskins ~ Breeches
  • Buntlings ~ Petticoats
  • Fallalls ~ Ornaments, chiefly woman’s, such as ribands, necklaces, etc.
  • India wipe ~ A silk handkerchief
  • Specked whiper ~ A coloured handkerchief
  • Knuckle-dabd, or knuckle-confounders ~ Ruffles
  • Brogue ~ A particular kind of shoe without a heel, worn in Ireland
  • Rum nab ~ A good hat
  • An old ewe, drest lamb fashion ~ an old woman, drest like a young girl
  • A well-rigged frigate ~ a well-dressed wench

1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

“A button broke as we were fastening out collar – indeed, a button always does break when you are in a hurry and nobody to sew it on.”

~ Around the Tea Table by T. De Witt Talmage (1875) 

{Gail’s monthly read along for July is: Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss}

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

via antique-royals tumblr

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Octopus Mosaics Snap! comparing ancient mosaics

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Macarons: Everything Old is New, but Different, Again.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
A Tasting Menu of Female Representation

PROJECT ROUND UP 

  • Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Releases Nov. 3, 2015. Available for pre-order! In production.
  • Imprudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the Second. Working rough draft, about 1/2 way.



The Books! 

 The Custard Protocol Series
1 Prudence, 2 Imprudence
The Parasol Protectorate Series
1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
 $0.99 short stories (ebook only)
Marine Biology; My Sister’s Song; Fairy Debt;

Book News:
Michael Senft of Zine on Prudence, “Fans of Jane Austen, P.G. Wodehouse and Connie Willis will love this irreverent adventure story…”

Quote of the Day:
“The suspicion started that she laced to tight.”
~ Around the Tea Table, by T. De Witt Talmage (1875)

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.

Flashback ~ Some Fun Interview Bits From Just After Soulless

Posted by Gail Carriger

 
Around when Soulless released four years ago, Gentle Reader, I did a bunch of interviews. Here are a few of my favorite Q&As from that time.
 
1. What jobs did you have on your way to being a writer? Did they help you in any way as a writer? (HidingSpot)
I’ve been everything from a bartender to a tour guide, but I think my career as an archaeologist/academic has helped my writing the most. It gave me great research skills, familiarity with a variety of cultures both around the world now and in the past, good self-discipline, and a paranoia over making deadlines. Oh, and the ability to subsist entirely on a diet of Top Ramen and tea.

 

via FB2. Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it’s something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you? (Gareth Wilson)

I suspect writing is more of a curse for those around me. I get distracted and spacey at the beginning of a project, frustrated in the middle, briefly euphoric at the end, and grumpy when I’m not writing at all. I imagine it’s like living with someone who has a six-month rotation of some bizarre kind of pregnancy – all the time, over and over again.

3. How would you react if you were you attacked by a vampire without even a proper introduction?  (Fantasy Cafe)
Oh, I have no pride or gumption. I would run to the nearest public area yelling for the constabulary.

via FB

4. Give us one embarrassing author moment: (Jacqueline Cook)
I arrived for my very first in-person meeting with my agent with the back of my dress unzipped. Sigh. The moral of this story? Always travel with a lady’s maid. The moral of the moral? Sell enough books to afford a lady’s maid.

5. Do you carry a parasol for defense? (Jeff VanderMeer)
Sadly, no, I’m an unparalleled wimp. There was once an entirely unsuccessful attempt at karate, wherein I kept fretting about actually having to kick people and trying to convince the class to break for tea. Sometimes, however, I’ve been seen carrying a parasol for protection against the sun. I know, I know, crazy talk.

6. Given that your biography states that you are “fond of teeny tiny hats and tropical fruit,” would you please describe your favored method for combining the two, and the conditions under which said combination would occur? (John Glover)
How about a teeny tiny hat decorated with tropical fruit? Or wearing a teeny tiny hat and eating tropical fruit? Or cutting tropical fruit into the shape of teeny tiny hats!

7. Why parasols? (Jonathan Moeller)
You would prefer, perhaps, octopuses?

8. Did you ever find yourself writing a bit of dialog and reading it back to yourself thinking “Wow. That’s just TOO over the top…”? (Nick)
Wait, have you read my book? Uh. No. I did get the reign-in from my editor on a certain bit of dialogue in the second book. I neatly avoided the issue through judicious application of laudanum. (To the character speaking, mind you, not my editor.)

9. CK: Any favorite vampires from lit, film, or TV? (Vampire Film)
I don’t think he really counts, but I love Dorian Gray. I have a real soft spot for Mina Murray in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel series and I adore the character of Drusilla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Not to sneak in werewolves, but I was turned to the furry side by Klause’s brilliant YA novel Blood and Chocolate.

10. Have you reached the point at which you realized that you had “made it” as a writer and author? (Travis)
When I walked into a bookstore store and saw Soulless on a shelf for the first time, there was sputtering.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1897  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Your Infusion of Cute . . .

PB Teen Desk Chair $129

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

(Image source I Like Historical Clothing. Music WARNING.)

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

via PJ Dominicis FB

PROJECT ROUND UP 
Waistcoats & Weaponry ~ The Finishing School Book the Third:
Curtsies & Conspiracies
~ The Finishing School Book the Second: Release date Nov. 5, 2013. 
Etiquette & Espionage
~ trade paperback will be available in the US October 13, 2013

Manga
~ Soulless Vol. 3: (AKA Blameless) Available serialized through YenPlus. Print edition Nov. 19 2013. 
Prudence
~ The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Delayed. Why? Begin rewrite in 2014.

 

The Books!

 

The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT on the Parasol Protectorate series!
Please DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

The Parasol Protectorate omnibus hardback editions
Volume 1 (Books 1-3), Volume 2 (Books 4-5)
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels
The Finishing School Series: Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies (Nov. 5, 2013)
 $0.99 ebook only short stories: Marine Biology, My Sister’s Song, and Fairy Debt

 

Crudrat Kickstarter going on October 1 ~ 31, 2013

Book News:
Love the characters of Lyall and Biffy? You might try my contemporary paranormal romance ebook short story Marine Biology.

Quote of the Day:
“Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do – not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad.”
~ Stephen King

 


Ramblings on Delays, Memories, and Characters

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

One of the interesting things about being an author with one of the Big 6, Gentle Reader, is the time lag between finishing a book my end and finishing a book on the publishing end. I’m not complaining, just getting pensive and ruminative in my old age.

Those of you who follow this blog regularly over the past few years will have grocked some of thsi time lag. You can calculate about when I finish a project, about when I get copy edits and then galleys, and exactly when the book is released. Timeless, for example, I finished early last year, and it comes out the end of next month. The first Finishing School book, Etiquette & Espionage I finished late last year, and it will come out early next year.

I’m not criticizing the process, not in the least. I feel blessed as a writer ~ continually delighted with my agent, respected by my editors, charmed by my publicists, fortunate in my cover art, and lucky in my career. I guess I am just trying to articulate the odd distance I sometimes feel with regards to my own books.

Time spans between writing and releasing is the nature of the publishing beast but hell on a memory like mine. As a friend once said, “I have a mind like a steel colander.” In a month I go out on book tour for Timeless and I remember very little of what I’ve written. As with Heartless I’m going to have to reread my own book, cover to cover. (Never good, because all I see are the flaws.)

On the other hand, this can be exciting. Someone will put a quote up on Twitter or Goodreads from one of my books and I’ll say to myself, “Did I write that? Why goodness, I guess I did.”

This might tie in to the idea of writer as conduit. Sometimes the words go in one end and out the other, in an organic and somewhat digestive manner, and with as little memory attached. If you see what I mean. Oh, lets get away from that analogy, shall we?

All I’m trying to say it that it is odd, and somewhat temporally disassociating, to sit down and start a project (as I am doing now with FS#2 Deportment & Deceit) knowing it will be years before it comes to fruition. I am excited to write it. I am learning all sorts of interesting (and not so interesting) facts about 1852, but often I feel I can’t really blog about my trundlings through my current book because its release is so very far away.


What do you think, Gentle Reader?

Would you like some insight into my research despite the time lag?

What do you hope to see when you drop by my little corner of the internets?

Right now I can’t really take the time to craft posts outside of my current project ~ that’s the way of things when I am in the 2000-words-a-day stage of a book. I’ll try to bring you some final Parasol Protectorate character studies and Dear Lord Akeldamas as Timeless gets closer and closer to release, but for me those characters are graduated, off in their own lives now. I have new babies to concentrate on.

Am I rambling? I think I’m rambling. I’ll stop now.

GAIL’S DAILY DOSE

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Plagiarism & Copyright in 2011

Timeless: Now in production. The release date on Amazon is correct.

Etiquette & Espionage: Copy edits done! Awaiting galley. Release date Feb 2013. Have seen initial cover mock-up and it is stunning!

The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Prudence floats! Release date fall 2013. She’s started waking me up in the middle of the night with ideas.


BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

Book News:
Creativedeeds says, “Oh Alexia, what fun you are to read about!”

Quote of the Day:
“To the British, Myat Toon was a bandit; to the Burmese he was a national hero. Such differences of opinion usually result in bloodshed.”
~ Byron Farwell


Podcasts for Characters (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

There are some authors out there who listen to music while they write. Soem of them even make soundtracks for books. I am not one of those authors, Gentle Reader. As a former dancer I find myself wanting to twirl about too much when music is on.

I listen to a lot of podcasts however, mostly when I am driving, exercising, shopping, running errands, cooking, eating . . . Yeah, pretty much any time I am not writing. In fact, you might call me a podcast fangirl. This is one reason I love Balticon so much. So I realized recently that I associate certain podcasts with certain characters, in a Peter and the Wolf kind of way. Which is to say, they not only seem to tie in together but if I know that character has a scene coming up I will sometimes rearrange my podcast listening schedule to coincide.

Here’s the association:

So if one of those is your favorite character, I wonder if you would like the associated podcast. And I’m curious, do you associate certain music with my books or characters? Do you use music when you are writing?

Timeless: Galleys done, Timeless now in production. The release date on Amazon has been corrected.

Etiquette & Espionage: Working fourth pass edits. Release date Fall 2012.

The Parasol Protectorate Abroad Book the First: Prudence floats! Release date sometime 2013.


BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

Book News:
A bunch of Soulless reviews.


Guest Presentation ~ Espionage in the Aether (Special Extras)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 
 Today, Gentle Reader, I invited Mr. Micah Lee, noted scientist in good standing, to present here the proceedings of his recent talk, given at the Royal Society Tea & Biscuits Event, presided over by Lady Maccon. Lady Maccon pronounced Mr. Lee’s findings most intriguing and was convinced my readers would agree.

(For the careful reader, please note, this presentation takes place some 10 years after the events chronicled in the Parasol Protectorate.)

Espionage in the Aether:
Security Challenges Inherent in Aetherographic Transmissions

Presentation to the Royal Society of London (Lady Maccon presiding) for Improving Natural Knowledge
By Mr. Micah Lee
Scientist in Good Standing

July 30, 1883

Good evening Ladies & Gentlemen,

Aetherographic transmitters are growing in popularity in England and all other parts of the civilized world because they let us communicate instantly to anyone, anywhere, as long as there is aether to carry the message. If you take a dirigible flight above London you’ll see that many a House of Quality now boasts and aetherographic receiving chambers on the roof. The offices of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry have one of course, as do most of England’s Hives and Packs, as well as many well-bread daylight folk, Her Royal Highness included.

Undoubtedly, classified messages get transmitted on a daily basis and the only thing preventing eavesdroppers from learning everyone’s secrets are crystalline valves. In order to receive a message sent from one transmitter, you must have that transmitter’s crystalline valve in your receiving chamber at the time the message is sent. But the British Empire has many enemies. How long before one of them builds up dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of receiving chambers using every possible crystalline valve setting, recording secrets being sent from all corners of the world? All it would take is sufficient funds and a good deal of land. Has one of Britain’s enemies already built such an espionage network estate?

Since eavesdropping on aetherographic transmissions takes nothing more than petty resources, the only safe way to communicate through the aether is to assume that all of your enemies are listening. You can utilize fake identities and code-words to muddle the meanings of your messages, but fortunately there is a safer way to keep secrets: the fine art of encryption.

Encryption is nothing new. It is said that some of Egypt’s hieroglyphic writings are actually encrypted messages. Julius Ceasar, dictator of the Roman Empire, invented a cipher known today as the Ceasar Cipher, in which you shift every letter of your message a set number of characters later in the alphabet. With such a cipher, the word SECRET might look like FRPERG. Such ancient codes can be easily cracked now, during the Age of Science, but there are newer more secure codes in development.

There are contemporary experts in the field of cryptography. The American poet Mr. Edgar Allen Poe wrote an essay for Philadelphia’s Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine in 1841 entitled “A Few Words on Secret Writing,” discussing the ways one develops, uses, and breaks substitution ciphers. Some people call these cryptograms and solve them for fun. You take the alphabet and scramble it up, and then substitute every letter in the real alphabet with your scrambled version. You might end up replacing every I with a V, and replacing every Q with an A.

And even before that, almost 80 years ago, Mr. Thomas Jefferson the noted American invented a device known as the Jefferson Wheel Cipher. It is a set of circular wheels on an axle, each wheel with the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet painted on its edge, the letters in shuffled order. Mr. Jefferson’s device had 36 such wheels. If two people pre-arranged which order the wheels were placed on the axle (this order is referred to as the key), then they can encrypt and decrypt messages together. One must spell out a message on any row by rotating the wheels, and then copy down any other row’s characters and deliver this message. The receiver of the message can copy these ciphertext letters on his own Jefferson Wheel Cipher, and as long as the key is the same, he can look at each row until he finds the plaintext.

How does this all relate to securing aetherographic transmissions from eavesdroppers? Let us invent characters to use as examples. Mrs. Chripshaw is in her London mansion, and Mr. Haverbink is in Paris on a top secret mission. Miss Duffletree is an American spy in Boston with a keen interest in what Mrs. Chripshaw and Mr. Haverbink are saying. For this example we can pretend that Miss Duffletree has successfully guessed or figured out which crystalline valves Mrs. Chripshaw and Mr. Haverbink are using to communicate. When Mrs. Chripshaw sends her secret message across the aether, Mr. Haverbink is sitting in a Parisian receiving chamber collecting each letter. But at the very same moment, Miss Duffletree is doing the same in Boston. Mrs. Chripshaw’s secret message fell into the greedy spying hands of Miss Duffletree.

However, now let’s pretend Mrs. Chripshaw and Mr. Haverbink both have a device similar to Mr. Jefferson’s Wheel Cipher. Before Mr. Haverbink leaves for Paris they both agree what key they will use to encrypt messages. Before sending the message, Mrs. Chripshaw encrypts it using her Wheel Cipher device. Then Mr. Haverbink and Miss Duffletree would both receive the same ciphertext at the same time. Mr. Haverbink, however, would be able to decrypt it with his Wheel Cipher, while Miss Duffletree would be stuck scratching her head.

Science has barely scratched the surface of encryption machines. In the end one will find that the strength of the encryption depends on the complexity of the key being used. In the case of the Ceasar Cipher, the key is simply a number between 1 and 25 – how many letters to offset each letter. This can be easily cracked by trying all 25 combinations until you see plaintext. In Mr. Poe’s substitution ciphers, the key is a scrambled version of the alphabet. It is much harder to crack than the Caesar Cipher because there are such an enormous number of possible ways to scramble the 26 letters of the alphabet. Not to mention there are clues in the ciphertext. For example, the letter E occurs much more often than the letter Z, so if you note a letter in the ciphertext that occurs the most often it is more likely an E than it is a Z. Given that, a simple substitution cipher can normally be cracked by a modern scientist within the space of one afternoon.

But, what if we use the power of technology to make the key so incredibly complex that it would take someone years or even centuries to try all combinations? What if you encrypted each letter of your plaintext using a different shuffled alphabet, the key being a series of dozens of shuffled alphabets? What if your key changed every day, and you could figure out what today’s key is supposed to be based on some sort of mathematical formula in relation to positions of the stars with a random, pre-shared variable in the mix? With the power of steam, in conjunction with the technology that makes Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine possible, we could devise a portable encryption device capable of scrambling messages that are virtually impossible for anyone without the proper key to de-scramble, and field agents could carry such devices with them.

Without encryption, our secrets are no longer safe! If we wish to use aetherographic transmitters to communicate, we must do so with full knowledge that our enemies will be watching every letter as it emerges from the aether! As aetherographic transmitters rise in popularity it becomes more and more clear that encryption, dear Sirs & Madams, is the future of long-distance communication.

Presented by

The Most Honorable and Most Analytical

Mr. Micah Lee

(@micahflee on The Twitters)

Please join me in thanking him for this most marvelous presentation!

~ Miss Carriger

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .
Sam on reviews

Timeless: Copyedits back in, awaiting galleys.
Etiquette & Espionage: The Finishing School Book the First: First run passes from editor, much tweaking.
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.

  
BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

Book News:
Treehouse takes a look at the first three Parasol Protectorate Books.

Quote of the Day:
“In going upstairs the gentlemen should precede the lady; in going down, he should follow her.”
~ Etiquette for Gentlemen, 1850


All About Podcasts (Miss Carriger Recommends)

Posted by Gail Carriger

 

My dear Gentle Reader, you may know (or have noticed) that I am an avid podcasting fan. Recent online conversations have tempted me to provide you with a list of some of my very favorites. Here they are:

Writing/Story Related

  • Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing
  • Dragon Page
  • I Should Be Writing
  • Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop Podcast
  • Writing Excuses

Human Interest

  • The Moth Podcast
  • NPR: StoryCorps
  • This American Life
  • All in the Mind
  • Savage Love Podcast

Academic and Educational

  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Get Fit Guy (Q&DT)
  • Money Girl (Q&DT)
  • NPR: Planet Money
  • The Nutrition Diva (Q&DT)

Fandom

  • Brass Needles
  • Geekson
  • Out of the Coffin
  • Slice of SciFi
  • STEAM Geeks

Comedy

  • The Bugle
  • Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4
  • Judge John Hodgeman
  • NPR: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me
  • Scotland’s Funny Bits
  • The Smartest Man in the World

Because I am Weak

  • Answer B!tch Audio Podcast
  • Blow Hard
  • Erotica a la Carte
  • Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews
  • NPR: Car Talk

Depends Upon the Guest/Topic

  • Functional Nerds
  • Geologic Podcast
  • Litopia
  • The Nerdist
  • The SF Signal

Most Missed

  • Survivor Guide
  • Stephen Fry’s Podgrams
  • Polyschizmatic Reprobates Hour
  • Memories of the Futurecast
  • Shortcomings Audio
  • The Perfect Ten
  • Radio Free Burrito

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
You know you want it. The Tentacle Mustache!
Your Writerly Tinctures:
Literary Agent on Sending Ideas to Clients.

Timeless: Back from editor, off to Gamma (who is taking it to Israel). My book travels where I haven’t!
Secret Project F: Plod plod.
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.


BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

Interview and give-away over on My Bookish Ways.

Quote of the Day:
“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.”
~ Will Shetterly


The Winnah & Poll Results

Posted by Gail Carriger

 


Contest winner

Alicia is the winner of the Sans Âme Contest & A New Facebook Group. I simply put the number of members (1076) into a random number generator and got 63, which happened to be her.

Please don’t be disappointed, as I pointed out on the Facebook group there will be many more contests. Some coming right up for the new fashion blog and for the release of Heartless. Some time in the distant future I am also plotting a Parasol Protectorate Ultimate contest. (I have been saving first editions of every book, including the ARC and foreign language publications, plus all the swag, plus the audio-books on CD, in a special octopus bag for the be-all end-all Uber Fan contest after the series has ended).

Poll Results
Thanks to everyone who participated in the recent poll, I found the results very interesting. I neglected certain areas of media and literature because those are things I have little or no contact with myself, so I’m unlikely to blog about them. The poll was more for me to determine what I should chat with you about. I mean there is hardly any point in me burbling on about Top Chef if none of you watch it, now is there?

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:

Your Writerly Tinctures:
Size matters?

Timeless: Back from editor, off to Gamma (who is taking it to Israel). My book travels where I haven’t!
Secret Project F: Plod plod.
Secret Project PPA: Only a twinkle in my little eye.


BIG FAT SPOILER ALERT! Really, DON’T READ THE BLURB ON AMAZON if you haven’t read the other books first!

League of Steam Interview for the SteamGeeks Podcast. Discussed Mourning Jewelry among many other things. Really fun. Although the last 15 minutes got eaten, so not quite certain what is there.

Quote of the Day:
“It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon it says, “Work!” After beefsteak and porter, it says, “Sleep!” After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!”
~ Jerome K. Jerome, ‘Three Men in a Boat’


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