We are at it again! Kicking off the year with a brand-new campaign: Full Steam Ahead!

Yes, we are funding more books. Yes, we would love if you would check them out, maybe show your support. But don’t think you have to do it blind. Here is a taste of Grimm Machinations – the sequel to Gaslight & Grimm, bringing you even more steampunk faerie tales.

The other two books funding through the campaign are A Cast of Crows, a Poe-inspired steampunk collection created in conjunction with the Tell-Tale Steampunk Festival; and Grease Monkeys: The Heart and Soul of Dieselpunk, an anthology that takes a look at the mechanics that keep the tech running, but more on those later.

Over the course of the campaign, we will be sharing these excerpts so you can get to know our authors’ style.

Grimm Machinations 2 x 3

The Porcelain Princess
David Lee Summers

Based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Alberta, the alchemist queen, strode through the palace when she heard music from the courtyard. She followed the sound and sighed. A beautiful, snow-white porcelain automaton danced and whirled to melodies from an internal music box. The automaton had been commissioned by her one-time husband, the late king, as a shrine for his daughter’s heart. She possessed the same ebony hair and blood-red lips as the original. Alberta admired the engineering that went into the porcelain princess. The automaton danced with grace, and she could almost believe the Princess Janara had come to life again.

“She watches, you know.”

Queen Alberta startled, then snarled. She whirled and faced… herself. “She is just a doll,” Alberta said.

The automaton known as Mirror stood, ticking and whirring. It blinked and cocked its head. “Am I just a doll?”

“You’re… different.” Queen Alberta continued down the corridor, followed by Mirror. “You were built to speak for me in public.”

“I was built to be a target for assassins,” Mirror said.

“An indestructible target,” the queen amended.

“‘Difficult to destroy,’ might be more accurate.”

“You watch and report.” The queen’s gaze narrowed. “What do you mean when you say the porcelain princess watches?”

“Do not underestimate her,” Mirror warned. “Her jacquard brain is a fine machine. It stores patterns. It learns. The porcelain princess watches you. She is learning about your contacts and how you govern. When you send her on errands, she learns about the city. The people love the image of the princess. She grows popular and she knows it.”

The alchemist queen frowned as she climbed the stairs and entered her library. As long as a part of Princess Janara lived, as long as the porcelain princess had her human heart, the king had an heir, a king’s child who could build a coalition that could overthrow a king’s widow.

The queen narrowed her gaze. “Automata cannot act independently. They must be programmed.”

“You have programmed me to simulate independent behavior.” Mirror folded her hands in a careful study of the queen’s habit. “How different is that in a world of courtly etiquette and public perception?”

The queen proceeded through the library and stepped out onto a balcony overlooking the city-state of Marsstadt. Smokestacks around the city revealed factories that supplied machines to the surrounding principalities. An airship made its way to a mooring tower near one of the factories to deliver supplies and pick up trade goods. Whoever controlled Marsstadt, controlled the continent.

The queen looked back into the library. Mirror had remained behind. It would never do for both of them to appear in public view, side-by-side. An accidental glance would ruin the ruse. “Have you ever considered taking my place?”

“No, ma’am.” Mirror approached the door but remained in the shadows. “My existence depends on you. I’m not certain the same can be said for the porcelain princess.”

Queen Alberta had taken great pains to assure she controlled Marsstadt. It all started when she had come to the palace as an advisor and the king’s alchemist. One day, the former queen and her daughter, Princess Janara, planned to tour the country in an airship – a goodwill tour to cement alliances with the surrounding city-states. Using her alchemical knowledge, Alberta planted several incendiary devices around the airship. It went up in a satisfying fireball just outside the city’s gates. King Friedrich’s first wife died instantly, and Princess Janara had been mortally wounded.

The king brought in his seven finest craftsmen to build the porcelain princess as a shrine for Janara’s living heart. All the while, Alberta comforted the king. Eventually the king married Alberta, but not before he’d made a decree. “Janara is my true heir. Only the person who pledges their life to guarding the porcelain princess shall succeed me.” Alberta had no choice but to sign the pledge. A few weeks later, the king succumbed to a mysterious illness and Alberta inherited the dancing doll.

“It seems to me the porcelain princess could use something other than palace intrigue to stimulate her jacquard mind. Please summon the royal huntsman. I will be in my laboratory.”

Mirror nodded. “Very good, ma’am.”

ThumbnailDavid Lee Summers became a steampunk in 1987 when he used a nineteenth-century telescope on Nantucket to examine the evolution of distant pulsating stars. Since that time, he has published a dozen novels and numerous short stories and poems spanning a wide range of the imagination. Owl Dance, Lightning Wolves, The Brazen Shark, and Owl Riders comprise the Clockwork Legion steampunk series. His other novels include The Astronomer’s Crypt, Vampires of the Scarlet Order, and Firebrandt’s Legacy. His latest novella is a World War II-era cryptid tale called Breaking the Code.

David’s short stories have appeared in such magazines and anthologies as Realms of Fantasy, Cemetery Dance, Straight Outta Tombstone, Gaslight & Grimm, and After Punk. He’s been twice nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award.

In addition to writing, David has edited the science fiction anthologies: A Kepler’s Dozen, Kepler’s Cowboys, and Maximum Velocity: The Best of the Full-Throttle Space Tales. When not working with the written word, David operates telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Learn more about David at

Learn more about David Lee Summers here:

Website  *  Blog  *  GoodReads  * Amazon Author Page

Follow David Lee Summers on social media: 

Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Instagram  *  Pinterest

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