Clementine, by Cherie Priest; Subterranean Press, 2010
Warning: May contain spoilers. On the other hand, I’ve also taken liberties.
Opening: Medium Shot
Cover of Clementine. In the foreground stands an African American man, holding a Gatling gun in his left hand, an ammo belt in his right. Against a cloudy green-and-peach background, a bronze-colored dirigible hovers.
Female Narrator (Voice Over)
At just over 200 pages, Cherie Priest’s Clementine reads almost like a screenplay. The action starts on page 17.
Two armored airships collide; petal shaped scraps of metal peeling off and falling out and down.
That’s my ship. That’s my ship!
A male back, dark-skinned, marked with weals and pinkish scars; a woman in a low cut bodice, lots of cleavage, smiling, her eyes are in shadow; Lamar, under the instrument panel of an airship; Simeon, loading a pistol and looking worried; Ossian Steen, peeling an orange with a long knife; arial view of two airships; exterior of an 1880’s building with a sign “Pinkerton Detectives;” a woman walking away from the camera, narrow-waisted, with voluminous hoop skirts, past two men. One narrows his eyes, one raises his hat; Allan Pinkerton, leans back in chair, folds hand; a woman’s hand places a Civil War vintage pistol into a carpetbag.
All Captain Hainey, escaped slave turned air pirate, wants, is to get his ship back, but he has no idea he going up against the Pinkerton’s newest operative, and the Confederacy’s most successful spy.
Phinton, full face, smirking.
Pardon me, ma’am, but would you not be the fine stage actress and notorious confederate spy Belle Boyd?
Nobody calls me Belle.
That’s Belle Boyd.
Dark, cluttered interior with a strange machine, brass and copper, lots of tubes, in middle background; a boy’s face, frightened; an airship exploding; Marie, firing a pistol; dashboard of an airship; a map of the United States, the Mason-Dixon line in dark red; an orange jewel as big as a tangerine.
In a world where the American Civil War went on for twenty years; where loyalties shift without warning
A telegram; an airship lifting away from a tether; Hainey, yelling, as he fires the Gatling gun, teardrops of flame flaring around its muzzle.
Can an escaped slave and a betrayed spy work together?
in on an airship.
to the gun turret. Maria fires a Gatling gun. Camera pans from over Maria’s shoulder to track the gun.
I’ve never been asked to sit still and look pretty.
Dark-skinned hands play over a steam-punk style instrument panel; woman’s arms embrace the frightened looking boy; and old man’s hands, veined and shaky, place the orange jewel into a brass and copper setting.
Are the characters complex? No. Is the action intense? Yes.
Maria’s hands clutch a metal ledge. Camera zooms back to medium shot: Maria clinging to a ledge. Camera zooms back; Maria hanging from the edge of the gun turret of an airship sailing through clouds.
Like a great action flick.
Maria’s hand slips free. Maria’s other hand slips free.
With good suspense.
Dr. Smeek’s face, looking frightened
She’s my ship. I stole her fair and square, and I’ll do what it takes to get her back.
Maria, running through trees, skirts without hoops caught up in one hand. Union soldiers are firing at her.
An easy read. An interesting world.
Maria’s hand, reaching. We hear gunshots behind her.
Hainey braced in doorway of airship, reaching down with one hand
Camera pans to
Maria running, reaching up.
Hainey’s hand. He grabs Maria’s.
And hold on.
An airship rises above a line of trees. Suddenly a yellow fireball engulfs it. Flames roll toward the audience.