Steampunk pioneer James Blaylock brings back old friends in ‘Aylesford Skull’

The godfather of steampunk is back. And in a big way – 400 pages to be exact.

Associate Professor James Blaylock, author of numerous short stories and novels that are hallmarks of the whimsical science fiction subgenre characterized by steam-powered machines and Victorian settings, has just published his first full-length steampunk novel in more than 20 years.

Fans will be doubly pleased that the
The Aylesford Skull
features the return of some of the novelist’s most adored characters, the brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer Professor Langdon St. Ives and his nemesis, the infamous Dr. Ignacio Narbondo.

Blaylock will be signing his beefy new book and new editions of his earlier St. Ives novels,
Lord Kelvin’s Machine
, on Saturday, March 16, at 2 p.m. at
Book Carnival
, 348 S. Tustin Ave. in Orange.

Blaylock, who teaches undergraduate and graduate level fiction courses in the Department of English, says it felt good to reboot some of his favorite old characters. But it was never his intent to abandon them.

“It’s not that I was through with steampunk. There were other things to write,” says Blaylock, whose
list of credits
are vast.

Time was partially a factor, too. Taking his first sabbatical in 35 years helped him bring momentum to the task of writing the new book, Blaylock says. And it reminded him of one of the reasons he was drawn, along with fellow writers Tim Powers and K.W. Jeter, to pioneer the genre, which has roots in the novels of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells.

“I realized I really missed the language and color of that period,” Blaylock says.

To learn more about the
pioneers, read the online version of the Spring 2012 issue of
Chapman Magazine

Dawn Bonker


  • I look forward to reading this. Actually I am sweating into my socks with the desire to rush right out and buy a copy. I dearly love your work and have worn out more than a few copies of them. For years I haunted book stores, new and used, for copies of ‘Homunculus” and ‘The Digging Leviathan’ in order to pass them out to friends with the zeal of a Jehovah’s Witness passing out ‘Watchtower’. I am also a long-time friend of Joanne King who passed along my copy of ‘All The Bells on Earth’ for your autograph, for which I thank you very much.

    What draws me back to your writing is the awareness of how very weird the area of Orange County truly is. I grew up there and gleefully recognize many of the locales in which your stories are set. Don’t neglect to visit Modjesca Canyon, with the hidden nooks and crannies surrounding it, or the very strange county behind Capistrano in what was once the Leo Carrillo Rancho – an amazing place.

    I look forward to the further adventures of Langdon St. Ives, and hope that Bill Kraken has a bit part or two therein. I thank you again!