Monday 25 April 2011

U is for Ulysses Quicksilver

Who else?

Ulysses Quicksilver is the hero of my Pax Britannia steampunk novels. He was first unleashed upon the world in Unnatural History, which was first published in 2007.

In two scant months the nation, and all her colonies, will celebrate 160 years of Queen Victoria's glorious reign.

But all is not well at the heart of the empire of Magna Britannia. A chain of events is about to be set in motion that, if not stopped, could lead to a world-shattering conclusion.

It begins with a break-in at the Natural History Museum. A night watchman is murdered. An eminent Professor of Evolutionary Biology goes missing. Then a catastrophic Overground rail-crash unleashes the dinosaurs of London Zoo.

But how are all these events connected? Is it really the work of crazed revolutionaries, seeking the violent evolution of Magna Britannia? Or are there yet more sinister forces at work?

Enter Ulysses Quicksilver ­ dandy, rogue and agent of the throne ­ back from the dead. Aided by his ever faithful manservant Nimrod, it is up to this dashing soldier of fortune to solve the mystery and uncover the truth before London degenerates into primitive madness and a villainous mastermind brings about the unthinkable. The downfall of the British Empire!

Since then I have written a further six novels and have already made a start on the eighth to feature Quicksilver. I've also written five novellas featuring the character. When Time's Arrow is published next year, it will bring the total number of words written about his adventures to around 700,000!

The character has changed and developed as I have continued writing the stories and his family (along with its secrets) has been extended too. So who is Ulysses Quicksilver? Well here's what I wrote about him in the introduction to The Ulysses Quicksilver Omnibus (2010).

Ulysses Quicksilver is a patriot, a lady’s man, a toff, a show-off, an expert swordsman, a damn fine shot, an epicure, a dedicated follower of fashion, a thrill-seeker, a man of the people, a lover, a fighter, a habitual challenger of authority, a man of action, an incisive mind, a mass of contradictions, a playboy – but most importantly of all, he is a hero. But who is he really?
Well, inevitably, as he is a creation of my imagination, in some ways he is in fact me. However, there’s some James Bond in there too, a dash of Sherlock Holmes and a soupcon of Oscar Wilde. But, at the end of the day, with nearly half a million words published about him and his adventures, he is his own man; just as Pax Britannia has become something that is more than the sum of its parts.

If you'd like to read more about Ulysses Quicksilver's adventures, don't forget The Ulysses Quicksilver Short Story Collection is available now from Abaddon Books and that Pax Britannia: Anno Frankenstein is out next month.

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