Recently, my editor commented on my current novel she was reading, “It sounds more like a Victorian novel…” Attentive lady! I intended it that way. Whereas the first novel, Three Moon Station, was considered a “futuristic Western,” being set on a station (or ranch) on a pioneer planet where the people lived like mid-18th century Terrans, The Finer Gentleman is set on the planet Arcanis, where society is presently in a Regency-Victorian frame of mind though their technological advancements are miles ahead into the future.

I meant it that way. I like Regency stories, and I like Westerns, and I also like Sci-Fi, so…

Wanting to show the hero’s reaction to a place completely in opposition to where he’s lived all his life, I felt that time period was the right one. It’s been done before…look at Gulliver’s Travels or Visit to a Small Planet or that wonderful but short lived TV series, Hard Time on Planet Earth. Practically any SF story featuring an alien (Mr. Spock, anyway?) makes a commentary on life on Earth. And transporting someone from one culture to another has long been a satirist’s staple to point out the foibles and failings of society. And believe me, society has a lot of failings!

OK. So I was on my way…somewhat…

Taking a quote from Marcus Aurelius, “He would be the finer gentleman that should leave the world without having tasted of lying or pretence of any sort, or of wantonness or conceit,” I asked the question: What would happen if an 18th-century American cowboy was suddenly dumped into 18th-century English society? Chaos would probably ensue as he wore his boots and spurs to the dining room, broke down his wife’s bedroom door because he thought married couples having separate bedrooms was an idiot’s idea, elbowed the cook aside and prepared his own scrambled eggs and invited her to share them, and suggested to the king that they “mosey on down to the saloon and get a shot o’ red-eye.” Sar Trant isn’t quite that blatant, but he does end up in a drinking match with his new “kin,” the Margrave of Arcanis, smoking illegal cigars and guzzling Scotch whiskey until both men are so snockered they have to hold each other up in the receiving line, while the Margravine looks on with a disapproving eye.

Back to the main idea… If you’re doing a commentary on society, that society has to have problems. Right?

So what’s the matter with Arcanian society? Plain and simple, they’re now hypocrites. Once a barbaric people, guzzling mead and marauding about the countryside, they’re currently on the upswing of the pendulum. They’ve now so civilized they’ve become complete prudes, hypocritical in their public natures…hedonistic in their private ones. A pregnant woman is expected to stay at home, hidden away until she gives birth, that very condition so forbidden, a physician hesitates to even speak of it to the lady’s husband—and Sar certainly plies his own with pointed questions on the subject, while that learned gentleman turns red and stammers his answers. Yet this same gentleman may be found at the local tavern with a barmaid on his lap after he closes his offices for the way.

All very…dare we say it… Victorian?

Having read the Inspector Pitt and Thomas Monk series of mystery novels written by Anne Perry—and if reading them doesn’t raise your womens-liberation hackles, nothing will!—I was all too aware of the double-nature of that period of history, and I felt transposing it to the aristocratic society on another planet would do what I wished perfectly. Now I was really into the story, contrasting the life Sar had left—a friendly, down-to-earth pioneering community much like the mid-18th century Mid-West, with the hypocritical, repressed, and at the same time thoroughly sensual and libertinistic lives of the aristocrats with whom he’s now expected to live. They considered themselves “gentleman” by right of birth but laugh at Sar, who’s a gentleman because he was raised that way.

The continuing battle between mores and morals.

Sar ends up in big trouble, mainly because of his trusting nature, and…because he’s a gentleman…a gentle man. And it’s that very gentle nature which will earn him the title of “the Finer Gentleman” before he’s through with the Arcanians.

I think I did a pretty good blending of very different genres.

The Finer Gentleman is available from Class Act Books. http://www.classactbooks.com/The-Finer-Gentleman-by-Icy-Snow-Blackstone-Trade-_p_297.html


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8 comments

  1. Beth Trissel // May 19, 2011 at 3:22 PM  

    Super post, Toni. This sounds oh so interesting and unique. Love the pics too.

  2. Pamela Varnado // May 19, 2011 at 3:49 PM  

    I love stories that cross genres. The trend is so popular these days. There's even a movie coming out this summer titled, Cowboys and Aliens. I've seen the trailer and can't wait for the release date. Oh, and I love Anne Perry's inspector Pitt series also.

  3. Nightingale // May 19, 2011 at 4:48 PM  

    I read Three Moon Station and it was really good. From this post, it appears The Finer Gentlemen will be another winner.

  4. Mary Ricksen // May 19, 2011 at 7:01 PM  

    I love the cover of this book and the premise is really right up my alley. I am looking forward to reading this one!!!

  5. Toni V.S. // May 19, 2011 at 7:47 PM  

    Thanks everyone for the good comments. My Copy Editgr even went online and stated she was buying it and the original and recommended it.

  6. Mary Marvella // May 20, 2011 at 2:30 PM  

    That Icy Blackstone is something else. She writes wonderful stories and a lot of them. She is prolific and creative. Go, Icy is HOT!

  7. Tony-Paul // May 20, 2011 at 7:13 PM  

    Icy Hot! Now that's a combination!

  8. Josie // May 21, 2011 at 1:28 PM  

    Toni,
    Wow---this story sounds amazing. Love the pics and the idea of crossing genres.