Quantum Steam Theory - Part 1 of 5

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Selina Mothshaw sat at a heavy oak table in the Vertigo Central Library. The book in front of her lay open at a chart. Dense text covered the page around the graph. Selina tried to read the opening sentence for the sixteenth time.

“Quantum steam theory can, in effect, be described as the optimum state in which all matter resides, such matter being defined as that which is existent within the ordinary spectrum of reality as it is laid out in the Principles of Rumbaud, chapter 4, sub-section 23, paragraph 14. Quantum steam theory is to be applied to all such questions of existence as can be most commonly considered by the thoughtful member of Vertigan society. The theory...”

She pushed the book away. Selina tried to remember what prompted her to choose quantum steam theory when her classmates opted for molecular physics or steam philosophy. Her father's words echoed in her head, telling her that a quantum steam theory qualification could net her a job with the Weimar Corporation’s research division. Selina didn't want to be a steam theorist, but without a viable alternative, she had little choice but to follow her father's advice.

Selina stood up and paced around the table. No one else sat in this section, and the librarians had already cleared away the books and papers left by other students. Her footsteps echoed around the vaulted room, the sound of hob-nailed boots on polished wood sounding like an army on patrol.

Selina looked at her college work. The books lay unread, and doodles of automatons and weaponry cover her ledger. Selina thought she might apply for an internship with Weimar's arms division.

Selina wandered away from the table. A map of the library tacked to a bookcase caught her eye. According to the diagram, the section on weaponry lay at the very back of this floor. She pulled the map from the tacks.

Selina slipped between the stacks into the next reading area. A huge map of Vertigo City lay on the table. Hand-painted monsters lurked in the river, and pencil marks traced a route around Justice Park. A book on anatomy weighted down one corner. Selina wondered if another student was researching the Meat Beast.

She left the map behind and walked among the high shelves. She peeked into another reading area. Four boys sat around a table, flicking wads of chewed up paper at each other. A fifth boy sat apart, attempting to concentrate on a thick book bound in green leather. The other four boys ignored him.

Selina consulted the map. The weaponry section lay around the corner. Her route took her into a narrow corridor. The ceiling dipped, and wooden floorboards gave way to bare flagstones. A damp chill hung in the air. Selina shivered. Selina thought of her quantum steam theory homework, and considered heading back to the reading area. Half of an equation floated through her mind, and she grimaced. She ventured further into the depths of the library.

Part 2 : Part 3 : Part 4


Adam Byatt said...

*claps hands* Love the free-flowing style you have here, Icy. A great hook. And I'd be checking out the books on weaponry too.
Adam B

Icy Sedgwick said...

Thank you, Adam!

Selina first made an appearance in the opening episodes of The First Tale so I thought I'd backtrack a bit and flesh her out.

Tony Noland said...

Reminds me a bit of my own university days, spent in the library.

Tiffany said...

Hi Icy,

Got a link to your serial from Adam on twitter. This is such an imaginative piece. You've set up some wonderful questions to be answered. Hope to read another. Have a great day!-Tiffany

David G Shrock said...

I can't believe she's considering ditching exciting scientific homework for weaponry... okay, weaponry is exciting, too.

Anonymous said...

Yay! Excellent start, Icy. And of course, I'm very happy to be visiting Vertigo City again.

Great 1st episode. Looking forward to the next one!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Tony - I wish my uni had had a library with a weaponry section.

Tiffany - I'm glad you liked it! Part 2 will be next Tuesday.

David - Heh, Vertigo weaponry is ESPECIALLY exciting!

Gracie - Welcome back to Vertigo! Stuff really kicks off next week...

Carrie Clevenger said...

Hell. Yes. You've really found your voice Ice!!!

Sam said...

Really enjoyed the voice and tone of this piece. I like your descriptions of the library too. Looking forward to reading the next installment.

Jason Coggins said...

So glad we didn't have to wait for another Vertigo outing. This feels very much like the city we came to know in The First Tale. Just one question about the chronology. We met Selina before but is this before or after TFT?

Harry said...

I feel way out of the loop here, like I need to read alot of archives. I don't know what Selina is up to, but so far I like the way you put her up to it!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Jason - it comes before TFT but don't worry, it pretty much sits outside everything that happens in TFT. It's more of a sideline into something that happens to Selina.

Harry - Keep reading and find out!

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