Einstein Must Die! – Guest Author Chris Kohout
What’s a steampunk celebration without a few fireworks? And Nicola Tesla? For those not familiar with Chris Kohout’s highly entertaining Einstein Must Die! here’s your chance for a real treat!
There are two ways to win: First, Chris is giving away FIVE free copies of the ebook.
Plus, EVERY comment made on one of my guests’ blogs in December will be entered for a $50 Amazon gift certificate! So, hop aboard the airship and win!
See the book on Amazon here.
Hi, I’m Chris Kohout, a Seattle-based author who write Sci-Fi/Steampunk novels.
My first book, Einstein Must Die!, is a rollicking, alternate-history yarn about the US and England going to war in 1916. Here’s the synopsis:
“Impending war with England has given Nikola Tesla the chance to build his dream: a weapon to end all wars. The American steam-powered Beowulf tank is larger than a house, and carries enough firepower to face an army. Beowulf also has a mechanical brain, embedded with the consciousness of Colonel Browning, America’s best military strategist.
But in England, King George has put Albert Einstein to work for his own war effort: zeppelins capable of reaching the former colony, and new, radiological bombs to remind them of the price of disloyalty.
When two brilliant pacifists wield technology to bring peace to a planet at war, the final outcome will surprise them both, and the world.”
For me, it all began with one quote from the man himself, Nikola Tesla:
“So long as men meet in battle, there will be bloodshed. Bloodshed will ever keep up barbarous passion. To break this fierce spirit, a radical departure must be made, an entirely new principle must be introduced, something that never existed in warfare—a principle which will forcibly, unavoidably, turn the battle into a mere spectacle, a play, a contest without loss of blood…machine must fight machine. But how to accomplish that which seems impossible? The answer is simple enough: produce a machine capable of acting as though it were part of a human being—no mere contrivance, compromising levers, screws, wheels, clutches, and nothing more, but a machine embodying a higher principle, which will enable it to perform its duties as thought it had intelligence, experience, reason, judgment, a mind.”
He actually said that back in 1910, which is pretty amazing. The first computers were still decades away, but he had the same concept that even today’s artificial intelligence researchers continue to struggle with. It was a visionary concept, but only one of many Tesla became known for. He also worked on a way to speak wirelessly across the globe, what he called the “world wireless telephone.”
Even his stationary was filled with his audacious imaginings: http://static.neatorama.com/images/2010-03/tesla-letterhead.jpg. Until quite recently, Tesla had been unappreciated for his visionary inventions, so I thought he deserved the hero treatment.
So Tesla was to be my protagonist. But who to set against him? History made that an easy decision, since Tesla and Thomas Edison had several famous altercations, including the time Edison welshed on a $50,000 payment he’d promised Tesla.
I decided early on that Edison would work against Tesla’s goal of building such a machine. Of course, Edison had his own reasons for thinking such an invention would be a huge mistake, namely that Edison saw technology as in service to man. For him, a battle machine with a mind would turn that concept upside down.
The idea of a huge war machine with a human mind within it fascinated me. What would that mean for the ‘person’ inside? What happens to that person if their brain suddenly works at the speed of a computer? What if the person in command of such awesome abilities wasn’t prepared for it? And would it really begin to change the nature of warfare?
As the story progressed, a surprisingly wide range of research subjects became relevant:
The lives of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and Mark Twain,
The internal structure of zeppelins,
The physics of AC current versus DC,
The speech patterns of 12 year old girls,
The Battle of Bunker Hill,
Naval warfare tactics in 1890,
Census records of New Haven, CT from 1910,
The Oval Office’s Resolute desk, gifted by Queen Victoria,
Proper greeting protocol when meeting royalty,
How do mortars work?
The layout of a British Ship-of-the-Line
So, yeah, a pretty disparate list. It soon became clear that this world was rich enough to support a series, so I started planning rough ideas for the sequel, and planting seeds to be developed later.
I also had to decide how precise I was going to be with history. Some fans of alternate history are crazy rigid about everything being exactly just so. I kept exact dates and places accurate as much as possible, but I decided I’d rather write a fun scene than a history lesson.
Five months of banging away at Starbucks later, and I had a book!
I found an amazing artist for the cover who turned out to live in Serbia, which was perfect since Tesla was Serbian. He’s actually on their version of the $10 bill. My artist sent me one, and I have it framed over my desk right now.
Finishing a book is a wonderful feeling. Seeing it out there for sale is amazing. But the best thing about being a writer? People you don’t know will contact you and tell you they enjoyed your work. How awesome is that? Very few jobs give that kind of experience, and I’m grateful for it every day.
So, that’s how I joined the author ranks. It’s been a really fun ride so far, and I’m eager to see what the next chapter holds.