Strafing Eagles

If you thought the strafing hawks in Leviathan seemed unbelievable, behold the 1912 French air force experiments with eagles:


Note that these weren’t engineered creatures like in my books, nor were they equipped with special razor talons. They were just regular eagles using their own claws.

Of course, in 1912 airplanes were barely reaching tops speeds of 160KPH (100MPH), and the world altitude record was about 4000 meters (13,000 ft) for heavier-than-air craft. Depending on the species, eagles can get close to that speed while diving, and have been spotted at higher altitudes.

I’m not sure what top airship altitude is in 1912, but it was probably higher than 4000 meters. But there’s no way an airship could go faster than an eagle back then. So the whole thing probably seemed feasible, except for the tricking business of training eagles to attack something much bigger, and to tell friend from foe.

I have no idea how long this program lasted, but it probably didn’t bear much fruit. (Lucky for the eagles, who got to stay out of the Great War. Though the pigeons wound up fighting.) By 1914, planes were flying at up to 200KPH and at altitudes of 6000 meters, beyond the capacity of any bird to hunt.

But as I often say, you can’t always tell what technologies are feasible before they’re invented. From way back then, walking machines and fighting eagles looked like a real possibility.

This attack eagles story was a hit all over the world, by the way. Here’s another version ganked from the Freeman’s Journal in Sydney, Australia, 4 July 1912.


A pretty weird moment in military history.

Okay, I’m still matching any contributions you guys make to the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, the wing of Nano that assists teen novelists. The YWP is revamping their website, refreshing their already excellent (and free!) curriculum guides for schools who participate in Nano, and expanding their outreach to correctional facilities, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities.


Donate in the next month through this website, Justine and I will match the first ten grand of your donations.

Tell your friends!

Future of Storytelling

Here’s a longer video from The Creator’s Project (a Vice and Intel collaboration), about the Future of Storytelling work that the USC School of Cinematic Arts World Building Media Lab has been doing with my Leviathan series.

What interests me about this project is that it’s a form of extreme rpg/fan fiction. They’re taking the raw materials of the world of Leviathan and building it into a digital environment that’s both interactive and useful for telling extended stories, often with different characters, altered timelines, and crazy new beasties. For me, it fires the same brain cells as when you guys write fan fic, that sense that my and Keith’s world keeps echoing out there somewhere in other people’s brains, where those characters (and new ones) get to have more adventures.

So thanks to the students at USC and their sponsors, and to all you guys who write fan fic and generally let your imaginations roam.

Here’s my previous blogpost about the project, and the post on The Creator’s Project blog.

Intel Leviathan Project

For the last couple of years, the USC School of Cinematic Arts World Building Media Lab has been working on a project based on my Leviathan series, in partnership with Intel. I visited the lab last July, and took lots of cool pictures, but have been waiting for them to reveal their work publicly before jumping in. They have, and I am.

What the lab is doing is a combination of high technology and storytelling, or what some of them call “extreme Leviathan fan fiction.” They’ve created a 3-d virtual model of the airship, both inside and out, backstories for all the crew members, and a host of ancillary material, like diaries and historical timelines (more detailed than any in the novels).

This expanded world can be experienced in a lot of ways. As print:


Or by walking around in the 3-D models of the airship using VR helmets and interact with the characters, which is what I’m doing here:


Or in a large group of people, interacting in 3-D with the story-stuff using tablet tech, like here at CES:

Leviathan @ Intel CES Keynote from Tawny Schlieski on Vimeo.

Obviously, this is pretty cool. (Note: The whale in that footage can only be seen through a phone or tablet, so many of the people there couldn’t see it. But a lot could, as you can hear from the cheers.) And it’s pretty overwhelming to walk into the labs at SCA and see all these smart people working in my world. It’s not unlike encountering fan-fiction archives based on my work, except this one has a multi-million-dollar budget for multimedia. In terms of material detail, this kind of world expansion takes Leviathan well past where Keith and I did.

And really, this is “future of entertainment” that people blather about. Not any specific technology, like tablet-3D or VR helmets, but this cooperative, expansive world-building. Whether it’s created by corporations who command massive resources and a stage at CES or a few thousand fan-ficcers typing quietly in the night, the thing that’s cool is the same: Someone gets inspired by my text (and Keith’s illustrations, of course) and deciding that this world MUST GET BIGGER, and, by jove, they’re the person to do it.

Of course, this is also the past of entertainment, when nobody “owned” stories, and everyone added to whatever was being told around the campfire. But new technologies do expand the ways we can make stories bigger, both in the objects we can create (3-D models!) and the ways we share them (Deviant Art!). So yeah, it’s not just the campfire anymore. It’s more like a campfire that’s linked to all the other campfire, and we can control the flames.

By the way, I love SCA’s redesign for the Leviathan itself, even though it’s not the bowhead whale of Keith’s (still canonical!) illustrations:


Anyway, I have more of this stuff to share with you (Click here for more from their press kit), but I have the rewrites for Afterworlds due on Monday, so I really should stop procrastiblogging and end here.

Hope you’re having a lovely new year.

(Bonus Info: That Uglies news that I’ve been promising you almost fell through, but then it didn’t. And it will be released for public consumption sooner or later.)

WildCat Volger

I am working very hard on the rewrites for my next novel, Afterworlds, and as such have not blogged. Sorry.

In lieu of actual content, I give you a cat who looks like Count Volger:


Thank you, Twitter’s @countassmaster for this image.

I challenge you all to find cats who look like the other characters in Leviathan.

In related news, I suck at Photoshop:


Dalek Week Halfway Done!

Dalek Week 2013, the Deviant Art celebration of all things Deryn and Alek, is about halfway over (depend ending on one’s timezone), and there are some lovely pieces up.

This work by Thisoneofmarvels is for the “Scotland” theme, and uses the Scottish and Austrian flags as motifs:

dalekflags small
Click on image to embiggen.

Very beautiful! I love how serious Deryn is.

There are many more to see, so head over to the Dalek Week 2013 folder to feast your eyes and leave your praise.

New Japanese Leviathan Cover

Just received the new Japanese cover for Leviathan, the paperback version!

(Actually, the previous edition was also a paperback, but a larger format. For my future bibliographers: the old one was 184mm x 106mm, and this new one is 148mm x 105mm.)

In any case, here’s the new Japanese cover!


I like how this cover is a bit darker, and steampunkier, than the old one. Alek looks a bit less young, and his goggles are better too. Also, it has a blurb from Hideaki Sena, novelist, microbiologist, and president of the SF&F Writers of Japan. Thanks for that!

For comparison, here’s the old one:


Can’t wait to see the rest of the series come out with this new look.

Click here to see my collected covers, for editions foreign and domestic.

Leviathan Table (Fan Art!)

This is pretty cool. It’s a table restoration by Fiona S. and her grandma, featuring monoplanes, the Emperor’s airyacht, and a kraken on the top.


Here’s a close up of the air yacht Stamboul:


But wait, there’s more!

The side panels feature a flechette bat . . .


a strafing hawk . . .


a message lizard . . .


and the ever-popular perspicacious loris!


Truly a magnificent piece. And it’s great to see everything in such vibrant colors. May you have many fine tea parties on this table, Fiona.

Just a wee headsup: There may be some Uglies news before the end of the year, or in early 2014. Look for it right here, or in the pages of your favorite industry rag.

UPDATE: Ebooks of both Uglies and Leviathan are on sale for all of December in the USA. Click here for details.

Russian Goliath

Please enjoy the Russian cover of Goliath. The book comes out in December in Russia!


And here are the others, for your referencing pleasure:

The lovely Leviathan:

And the possibly even more awesome Behemoth:

Things I like about this series of covers:

Book 1 has Deryn, Book 2 has Alek, and Book 3 has them both. Like the US paperbacks, but with Deryn first.

The clothes are great (especially Alek’s leather trousers). Painter can paint.

Love the Leviathan itself. True to the book, but it glows in a way that only this color medium can produce.

The person in front with the Big Object in the background is kind of a theme of the books. That is, the struggles of the characters are foregrounded, but the scale of background events (and creatures and machines) is always huge and within view. Keith was very careful that the illustrations always alternated between close-ups to pulled-out images, from faces to Big Stuff. It’s nice to see both scales represented here on all three covers.

Well done, Eksmo.

ALSO: If you’ve never read this book I wrote called Uglies before, you can do so now for free on PulseIt, but you have to join up to do so.

TMI Premier (updated!)


I’ll be blogging more about my trip soon, but first a note about the opening of the City of Bones movie next week. Justine and I will be hosting a first-night screening here in Sydney, which is put together by Kinokuniya Bookstore. There will also be a special greeting from Cassie herself, using some sort of magic. (Or possibly recording devices.)

So if you live in Sydney, and enjoy seeing movies on the first night with a screaming, rambunctious, has-read-the-book-several-times crowd, I suggest coming along.

Also, there’s a costume contest!

Here’s the event page on FB, so you can do all that FaceBooky stuff with it. And here are the details for non-FB types:

WHEN: Thursday, 22nd August at 6:30pm

WHERE: Event Cinemas, George Street, Sydney

DRESS: Prizes for best costume

COST: $18.50

Tickets are on sale now and are strictly limited. Purchases can be made in-store (at the cashier counter) or over the phone: 02 9262-7996.

Be there or be truant.


There’s an iTunes sale on the Levithan series audiobooks. From now until August 27, you can buy any of the three for $5.95. (I assume this is US iTunes store only.)

Download LEVIATHAN here.
Download BEHEMOTH here.
Download GOLIATH here.

These are really good, because Alan Cumming rocks.