Rated PG. Contains violence, unsavory characters, and opaque slang.
(Technical Note: There was an encoding error in the original that resulted in a few skipped seconds at 15:00. I’ve corrected it. If this bothered you, please download the file again. If you just want to know what you missed: Suicide asks “Split?” and Tintype replies “Each.” Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks to Thaurismunths for pointing out the problem.)
by Samantha Henderson
List, then. 1788, New Holland becomes New South Wales, and dear England starts to send her slithies there, her dribs and drabs and pick-pocks and whores and cutthroats, to drain the cesspool Britannia’s become. And then we pin the gravitational constant, and solve Pringle’s Mysterious Logarithm, and then just when we’re ready for it there’s an explosion of a different sort (I’m a proud product of my state school, whoreboy though I became). From the skies over Van Diemen’s Land streaks a merry flaming angel arcing down to earth and boom! Kills most of the slithies, and their Bulls, and the Murri and the Nunga in their Dreamtime too, far as any know. Sky goes red from Yangtze to Orkney. A few Nunga are left, fishing the Outer Isles. And more slithies come soon, for England’s still all-of-cess, and we’d just as soon have them die.
But! Scattered all about, like Father Christmas tossing pennies, rare earth, yttrium and scandium in luscious ashy chunks. And soon there are Magnetic Clocks, and Automatons, and Air-Cars, and good Queen Vickie trulls about in a Magnetic Carriage like everybody else. But still there is cess, and ever will be, pretend as they might at home, so still the slithies are transported.
And a good thing for Merrie Olde too, because nowhere is there as much rare earth as Australia, being that’s where the Great Boom happened, and nothing so useful for gathering ore and jellies as a big jolly family of convicts. Work for the Squatters when you’re Docked; work for them after you serve your time and are pensioned, but on your own terms. Or whore-about. Or prentice to the tech gnomes. Or mine gold, which never goes out of style. Or wander the Nullarbor, looking for the Source, and die. Or fish with the Nunga, if they’d have you, which they won’t. Stick with your duet/triune mates, if you would live out the year.
Always something to do.
But don’t fly, not much, because the variable-mag will crash you deep, and don’t depend on Carriages to work all the time. Beware your metal, for it can betray you.
About the Author
Samantha Henderson’s short fiction and poetry have been published in Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Interzone, Weird Tales, Goblin Fruit, and Mythic Delirium and in the anthologies Tomorrow’s Cthulu, Running with the Pack, and Zombies: Shambling through the Ages. Her work has been reprinted in the Nebula Awards Showcase, Aliens: Recent Encounters, Steampunk Reloaded, and The Mammoth Book of Steampunk. Her stories have been podcast at Podcastle, Escape Pod, Drabblecast and Strange Horizons, and she’s the author of the Forgotten Realms novels Heaven’s Bones and Dawnbringer.
About the Narrator
MarBelle has a strange compulsion to watch as many films as he can get his hands on and find jobs that give him a legitimate excuse to drill filmmakers about their work. Directors Notes is the multi-decade incarnation of this disorder and remains so much cheaper than film school.