Steam (Merlin story)

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Title: Steam
Author(s): new_kate
Date(s): 30 August 2010
Length: 40,000 words
Genre: slash fanfiction
Fandom: Merlin
External Links: Steam (chaptered story, LiveJournal)
Steam (whole story, AO3)
Steam (fanart)
Steam (podfic)
Steam (audiobook)

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Steam is a Merlin/Arthur story by new_kate (~40,000 words). It's a Renaissance-era post-apocalyptic steampunk AU set 300 years after canon timeline. The story was written for Paperlegends, the Merlin Big Bang challenge in 2010.

Summary: It's been centuries since King Arthur united Albion and lifted the ban on magic. Ruled by Pendragon dynasty, the kingdom had prospered till a feud between the magicians and King Uther the Second drove the country to the brink of collapse. Now it's up to Prince Arthur and his Knights of the Engine to harness steam power to replace the magic Albion had lost, and it's up to Merlin to protect Arthur while he fulfills his destiny.

The fanart for this story was made by aqualillium who created three beautiful illustrations that took 60 hours of work and also made icons and banners based on the illustrations.[1] All the banners and icons are displayed somewhere in the story as chapter and passage separators. The art itself is featured separately in the artist's journal. The third picture contains a story spoiler.

pennyplainknits podficced the story.[2] It's 3:40:43 hours long.

Recs and Reviews

  • "Yeah. That's some motherfucking steampunk AU right there, bitches, and it is amazing. I'm honestly having some difficulty coming up with words to describe how thoroughly I loved this. At 40k it makes for a lovely, long, satisfying read, but it's not enough to satisfy what I want to see from the universe. I think new_kate could keep writing this universe for ages and I'd forever be clamoring to get my hands on the next bit. I loved everything about it. Every single thing. [...] This fic and this art fit together seamlessly, like they were hatched from the same egg. The color and texture and richness of the details in these pieces, I just want to look at them for hours."[3]
banner showing details from two of the three illustrations made by aqualillium
  • "Yesterday I gobbled up Steam by new_kate which is both a "reincarnation story" and a "Renaissance-era post-apocalyptic steampunk AU set 300 years after canon timeline", which may sound unlikely but works brilliantly. The world she creates is very well thought out and utterly fascinating, the characterisations are spot on, the relationship between Merlin and Arthur develops very believably and it's all contained within an exciting story. And it's beautifully enhanced by some stunning artwork by aqualillium. Just gorgeous."[4]
  • "The premise of this fic is absolute GENIUS. It's not a Steampunk AU. It's a Merlin canon future!fic, and a tale of history repeating itself. Merlin and Arthur lived their lives and created their united Albion and years later, generations later, Camelot is almost decimated when King Uther (the second) chases all Magicians from Camelot and bans magic. The kingdom had become so dependent on magic that they no longer knew how to till their own soil and harvest their own grain. Desperate, they turn to engineering to fulfill the tasks they once relied on magic for. Enter the dawn of steam powered machinary: where the greatest power in the land is no longer the best swordsman, but the cleverest engineer. A young prince Arthur wants nothing more than to bring property to his kingdom, as his legendary namesake did so many years before. An amazing premise and the author delivers on all counts: plot, world building and spot-on characterisation. One of the most fascinating tales I've ever read. As a bonus? Stunning art."[5]

Art Comments

One of the images is used with permission of the artist as cover art for the podfic
  • "I just have to tell you right away how utterly gorgeous I think your illustrations are. The rich, deep and restrained colour palette is beautiful, and the first and second pictures remind me of so many well-loved art works; - art noveau tapestries, illustrations of Norse myths and of Arthurian legends, Klimt paintings - even with the "modern" objects there is a timelessness to it all that I really love. And the last of the 3 is just so sweet and adorable, the lighter colours communicating a happy, joyful, loving mood!"[6]
  • "All your pictures are lovely, but I cannot tell you how much I adore that first one. I love the colours, I love the way Merlin is in profile, but Arthur isn't, (which just makes it that little bit more surprising/interesting than them both being in profile), (not to mention, harder to draw!). I love their clothes, I love the composition with that huge cog behind them and the light above them, (and the white dust-motes catching the light beneath it). I could just eat that picture, (in a good way! *LOL*)"[7]


  1. ^ BIG BANG : Take One - Arts for "Steam" by New_kate, 31 August 2010. (Accessed 07 September 2010)
  2. ^ pennyplainknits in amplificathon. Podfic: Steam, by New_kate, read by Penny, 22 September 2010. (Accessed 25 September 2010)
  3. ^ hermette. rec: steam, 03 September 2010. (Accessed 07 September 2010)
  4. ^ kathyh. Drowning in a sea of fic..., 01 September 2010. (Accessed 07 September 2010)
  5. ^ marguerite_26. If I post a rec on a Saturday afternoon, does anyone see it?, 04 September 2010. (Accessed 07 September 2010)
  6. ^ gilli_ann. Comment, 31 August 2010. (Accessed 07 September 2010)
  7. ^ itzcoatl. Comment, 31 August 2010. (Accessed 07 September 2010)