Title: THE GEARS OF WAR
Genre: YA steampunk
Word Count: 61,000 words
I’m seeking representation for THE GEARS OF WAR, a multi-POV steampunk set in fantasy versions of China and Japan.
Ever since his sister died in an airship bombing raid, Kiyoshi has
been keeping his grief-maddened mother stable by masquerading as his
deceased sister, clothing and mannerism including. When his mother
unexpectedly dies, he’s left a very gender-confused teenager.
Determined to find the man within himself, Kiyoshi heads to the war
front as the pilot of a mechanical steam weapon. His plan is hindered
by a samurai who, believing that Kiyoshi is a girl in disguise, is
intent on protecting ‘her’ from both the enemy and their fellow
soldiers’ attentions. Kiyoshi is unable to discern if the attraction
he feels for the samurai is real or a product of the years he spent
pretending to be a girl.
Kiyoshi soon learns that the enemy has been sacrificing their own
people to animate war golems with their souls. He meets a runaway
golem on the battlefield, a former human girl named Jiao who managed
to free herself from the magic that keeps golems bound to obey their
Together they embark on a quest to find a dragon to grant their
deepest desire. Jiao wants to be a human girl and Kiyoshi is starting
to think that’s what he wants to be, too.
Every morning, Kiyoshi rose from sleep as a boy with messy hair, a
slim frame and, usually, an urge to pee.
Every morning, he rolled up the futon and knelt before the shrine
honoring his sister’s memory, gazing at her sunny face and burning
incense for her. Aiko, the name on the picture said. Aiko, meaning
beloved. Beloved of an entire family, jewel in the eyes of her parents
and role model in the eyes of her little brother.
Every morning, he brushed his long hair until it lay straight and
still against his back, dipped fingertips into bowls of cosmetics to
outline eyes and lips and slid into one of his sister’s kimono.
Every morning, Kiyoshi entered the kitchen as a dead girl.
“Aiko!” her mother said, waving her chopsticks. “You’ll be late for
work again. Hurry and eat.”
“Yes, mother. Sorry.” Aiko’s lips were always quick to smile with
infectious cheer; they spread now in sheepish apology and the smile
Kneeling at the low table across from her mother, Aiko began her
assault on the feast spread before her: miso soup, steamed rice, a
rolled omelet, a bowl of fermented soybeans and various pickled
vegetables. She ate as if to fill a bottomless hole, wielding her
lacquered chopsticks like a weapon to slay her breakfast.
“Eat, eat,” her mother said. “You’re a growing girl and you have a day
of hard work ahead.”