A collection of short stories and stories which were supposed to be short when they started whose number is gradually increasing through the ceaseless labour of I Blame Communism.
They take place in the 1850s and 60s in a sort of central European Fantasy Kitchen Sink. The events and personalities of the age are the ones we're used to, but strange and supernatural things and people abound. They aren't concealed by The Masquerade, but educated city people simply tend not to ecounter many of them, dismiss what others do as peasant superstition, and dismiss what they do as their minds playing tricks on them.
One educated city person formerly in this condition is Ottokar Jankovac, 20-something student at the university of Vienna (though a native of Moravia in the modern Czech Republic), protagonist, and mostly-reliable narrator. His exploits and insights are recounted episodically in his whimsical style; he's fond of extended metaphor and involved descriptions of his surroundings (suspiciously, so is I Blame Communism).
The stories never stick to one genre. Ottokar has a lot on his plate: there's his studies; his imaginative and frequently disasterous attempts to find cash; his role in the Christian von Hoyerswerda Society of Learned Gentleman, a circulation ring for banned books cunningly disguised as a sextuplet of eccentric students, which is so cunning because that's also exactly what it is; his reluctant entanglement with the supernatural and international diplomacy; and his related but enthusiastic entanglement with one Elke Vanderschmidt.
Before long, a few should be available on the internet, once they're nicely polished up.
One day, this series shall provice example of:
- Adventurer Archaeologist: Elke's father, Ambrosius Vanderschmidt, is the 1850s version.
- Anachronism Stew: Averted as best the author can, but he does slip. Railway construction in this Austrian Empire has been rather more extensive, and since an encounter on a train is an important part of the continuity, this isn't going to be corrected.
- Double Agent: Ottokar is no Chessmaster, but he does sometime-contradictory supernatural odd-jobs for Vienna and Constaninople. This is unlikley to end well...
- Media Watchdogs: Ottokar's nemesis.
- Screw You, Elves!: The Countess Preslov thinks that the country has gone to the dogs (apes?) since people lost their respect for their supernatural betters. Her son doesn't.
- Translation Convention: Officially, it's all in German and Czech.
- Unreliable Narrator: Lampshaded by Ottokar himself on occasion. "The events of this tale are, in a way, under my control, and I decree that I made that comment as a piece of sharp, ironical wit. And you, dear reader, are going to believe it."
- We Are Everywhere: The Imperial Bureau for the Obscure and Unnatural know where you live. They also know where you keep your banned books, and where you go when you want privacy. They have people everywhere, you know.