Here in a few years, after catching up on some other long term projects, I’d like to have another go at melding science/engineering and novel writing. I’ve been reading through the intro to A Practical Treatise on Locomotive Engines Upon Railways written in 1830, and apparently, even though the basics of locomotion had been worked out by then, the theoretical details, such as pressure variability and evaporating power had not been cemented into neatly constructed physical equations that one could use to construct an engine for a prescribed power, velocity, &c. The Treatise was the first attempt at doing so and also corrected previous theoretical errata.
A credible possibility for my next offering would be to take the 10 year old nameless girl that appears throughout Of Woodbridge and Hedgely, who Mr. Winter, an engineer from a wealthy industrial family, takes under his scientific wing at the end of the novel, and turn her into a 20 year old protagonist in 1830, equipped with the mathematics and engineering knowledge of the day, who has discovered these detailed equations by her own study at one of Mr. Winter’s operations, and uses such to help design and build one of say, the big Stephenson locomotives that won the right to run between Liverpool and Manchester, during a famous contest held for the purpose. Stephenson did contract out some of the components to his winning locomotive; one could imagine a certain tooling engineer butting her head into the matter, with regard to design, when a contract came down, or working directly under Stephenson in some anomalous manner (it was actually Stephenson’s son that did a lot of the design work). Perhaps even some industrial espionage and patent disputes that get physical would be called for, to turn the story into more of an action-adventure. Part 1 could conclude with the Liverpool/Manchester Line contest, then Part 2 would be about sailing to America with a newly commissioned locomotive, where perhaps a convoy of ships are harassed by privateers/Letters of Marque, and a Patrick O’Brian style high seas battle ensues, &c. Part 3 would be another railway contest which the protagonist somehow plays a vital role in.
Indeed she may also uncommonly pursue multiple romantic dalliances, experiment with abortifacient drugs, offer a quick tongue, similar to Kasey Michaels’ character, Tansy Tamerlane, in The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane, affording odd Regency/Victorian Era slang to thwart her naysayers as she negotiates the male saturated field of engineering and materials construction. Oh, and she would wear pants of some sort; the like to Mr. Winter, indifferently running around in filthy shirtsleeves in parts of my present novel. There might be some sort of story there. Charlotte would be her name, in honor of oWaH’s Charlotte, who [***SPOILER***] suffers great tragedy towards the end.