Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to a local high school class here in Las Cruces about the steampunk genre and my writing process. One of the things I mentioned is that I like to take walks through the cemetery. Now this may seem a little morbid, but I find one effect is that it puts me in touch with local history. I see gravestones and I ask who these people were and what they did. One tombstone that regularly catches my eye belongs to Mr. Charlie Miller.
In this case, I haven’t researched Mr. Miller, but the tombstone goes to show how iconic Pancho Villa is in the Southwestern United States. His raid on Columbus, New Mexico led to America’s first incursion on another country in which we used air power.
When Robert E. Vardeman asked if I would be interested in contributing to his “Empires of Steam and Rust” series which presents an alternate 1915, the first thing that came to mind was Pancho Villa, John Pershing and the use of airplanes. In this alternate history, the Wright Brothers never made their famous flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Instead, America’s air power rested in Zeppelins. So I asked what if Pancho Villa found a new way to fight such cumbersome aircraft? This became the foundation of my novella Revolution of Air and Rust.
As it turns out, Revolution of Air and Rust just got a really nice review by Neal Wilgus in the magazine Pablo Lennis. Here’s an excerpt: “…Villa stumbles into a portal into a parallel Earth, which not only saves his bacon but allows him to return to his home world with a flying machine equipped with machine guns. That’s the basic situation in this fast moving and gripping story by David Lee Summers&hellip…”