Fans welcome the next instalment of DMU academic's series of steampunk novels

Fans of a De Montfort University (DMU) academic’s writing turned out in force to get their hands on the latest instalment in his series of books known as “The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire”.


Rod Duncan, who teaches Creative Writing at DMU, in Leicester, has attracted a growing fan base after the debut novel in his series – called The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter - was nominated for the prestigious Philip K Dick Award and earned plaudits from critics in the UK and the US.

The Philip K Dick Award is named after the legendary sci-fi writer whose books, and the incredible ideas contained within them, formed the basis of classic films such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Stephen Spielberg’s Minority Report, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly.

Last week, Rod attracted a large audience of fans, fellow writers and aspiring novelists, who saw him launch his second book in the instalment, Unseemly Science.

This latest ‘steampunk’ sleight of hand spins an ever-widening web of intrigue and illusion around his central character, the double-life detective Elizabeth Barnabus.


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The series is set in a Victorianesque version of Leicester and other parts of the East Midlands and events happen in the aftermath of a Luddite revolution that has reigned back technology.

The steampunk world Rod has created has attracted a passionate following from readers while the man himself has been praised by people who have been under his tutorship.

Jan Greis, from Warwick, said: “I actually took a writing workshop with Rod and he mentioned how he was working on something a bit different.

“I was fascinated with the book that was published. I have never read the Steampunk genre before although I am a fan of science fiction and fantasy.

“I really enjoy his style of writing. Every now and then there will be sentences that you read and they really are quite beautiful. The characterisation is excellent too. I  pre-ordered Rod’s new book. I haven’t read it yet but am really looking forward to it.”

Julia Wood, from Leicester, has been mentored by Rod as she works on her first novel.

She said: “He really is a splendid mentor. He knows the ropes when it comes to publishing your work and really knows what perhaps doesn’t work in your writing and knows what to do to put it right.”

Barbara Matthews, PVC Dean for the Faculty of Art, Design and Humanities, said: “It is great for our students to be taught by someone who is such a fine writer himself.  I am delighted that Rod has achieved international success with his “The Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire” series and proud to have him on the team.

“I was pleased to see so many members of the Leicester writing community at the book launch;  proof that DMU’s Leicester Centre for Creative Writing is succeeding in reaching beyond the university campus.”

Writer Rod said: “A book is just an object until it finds a reader. That’s why book launches are special - they mark the moment when a book comes to life. It's great to see such a large crowd turning out for Unseemly Science. “

An entire world of the Gas-lit Empire has also been created by Rod online. It includes maps, back stories, newspaper articles from the Empire and mysteries to solve.

Posted on Tuesday 26 May 2015

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