The Sterling Directive
By Tim Standish
An espionage thriller set in an alternative late 19th century London.
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It is 1896. In an alternative history where Babbage’s difference engines have become commonplace Captain Charles Maddox, wrongly convicted of a murder and exiled to military service in Canada eight years ago to avoid prosecution, is illegally returning to Britain to visit his dying father.
Recognised by an old acquaintance connected to the murder, Maddox is challenged to a duel and, returning to an old haunt, is caught up in a raid by the paramilitary Bureau of Engine Security. He is arrested, interrogated and imprisoned in a high security cell at Millbank gaol, to be held there, awaiting the death sentence he had previously avoided.
Instead, he is rescued by a covert agency called the Map Room. Maddox is given the choice of taking his chances with the Bureau or joining the Map Room as an agent and helping them uncover a possible conspiracy surrounding the 1888 Ripper murders. Seeing little choice, Maddox accepts the offer. Under the codename Sterling, he joins the team of fellow agents Church and Green, controller Collier and in-house mechanical computer expert, or ‘tapper’, Patience. Overseeing them all is the well-to-do, well-connected and frighteningly well-informed head of the Map room, whom Maddox knows only as Milady.
With help from the Map Room team, Maddox (now Agent Sterling) and Church’s investigation takes them from a tour of the Ripper murder sites to an upmarket teaching hospital, and from a criminal fixer in the East End of London to the fringes of Blackpool nightlife.
Along the way Church and Sterling uncover a years-old and closely-guarded conspiracy deep within the Bureau, and one that its members will go to any lengths to protect. Success depends on the two of them quickly forging a successful partnership as agents and following the trail wherever, and to whomever, it leads. In doing so they can put the Ripper murders and the conspiracy surrounding them to rest once and for all.
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Tim Standish grew up in England, Scotland and Egypt. Following a degree in Psychology, his career has included teaching English in Spain, working as a researcher on an early computer games project, and working with groups and individuals on business planning, teamworking and personal development.
He has travelled extensively throughout his life and has always valued the importance of a good book to get through long waits and longer flights. With a personal preference for historical and science fiction as well as the occasional thriller, he had an idea for a book that would blend all three and the Sterling Directive was created.
Tim sees this as the first in a series of novels featuring Agents Sterling and Church (and almost certainly Patience). He is already working on the second book, which will be set in America and reveal more of the alternative history of Sterling’s world.
When not working or writing, Tim enjoys long walks under big skies and is never one to pass up a jaunt across a field in search of an obscure historic site. He has recently discovered the more-exciting-than-you-would-think world of overly-complicated boardgames.
“Gentlemen. Before we proceed, I must ask you both whether you are willing to resolve this dispute by any other means?”
The fog that clung to the concrete surface of the platform was given a pale glow by the first light of an early dawn. Burns, my second, could barely be seen where he stood, scarf wrapped across his face, in the shadow of a black iron pillar some way beyond me, a little further than the distance I would have to walk. It said much about the length of my absence from London society that the only second I could find at short notice was the man known about the Club as ‘Secondary’ Burns, a man who had, to my knowledge, offered his services as duelling assistant to eight of our fellow members, each and every one of whom had subsequently been unsuccessful in their aim.
No wordplay intended.
- 27th September 2019 Close to the Edit
Just a quick update on where things are with The Sterling Directive.
I had my first call a few weeks ago with my editor, Craig. He was really good to work with and has the gift of being constructively and helpfully critical in a way that is encouraging - both overall and when it comes to specific aspects of the manuscript. He also has a very wry and deadpan sense of humour.
I was quite…23rd June 2019 Why are there airships in Sterling's Victorian London?
When I was writing The Sterling Directive I had a small, dedicated group of readers who read each chapter as it was written and gave me very helpful feedback. While most of these early readers spotted right away that I was writing a counterfactual Victorian novel - some even calling it 'steampunk' - one or two of them asked me the same question: why are there airships in Victorian London?
Airships…31st May 2019 Half a century, half a century, half a century onward...
Hi everyone! Just getting in touch with some great news on the Sterling Directive front – the campaign has passed the halfway mark – we’re at 54% to be precise. So a big thank you to all of you for supporting the book.
I also wanted to share some more details about the ‘Victorian Verse’ reward. As with the Limited Edition Print, and ever mindful of my artistic limitations I will be calling on the…27th April 2019 Pledges, prints and tweets!
So just a quick update with news of progress on a few fronts. Firstly, and excitingly, after six weeks The Sterling Directive is just over a third of the way to being funded! A huge thank you to all of you who have pledged so far.
Secondly, Andrew Park has finished the design for the Limited Edition Print and it looks amazing!
I think he has done a great job of capturing the feel of an…13th April 2019 A limited-edition print, by Jove!
A big thanks to everyone who has pledged so far. It looks like the Super Patron Paperback is the most popular choice, and a very fine one too, combining paperback and digital editions and a mention at the front of the book.
For those who like a little illustration alongside their historical-sci-fi-thrills I thought I would share a little more about the Limited Edition Print that is on offer for…30th March 2019 The game's afoot!
Wow! Well the project is off to a great start with 27% of the target raised in the first ten days, which is really heartening for a first-time novelist, first-time Unbounder and even a first-time crowdsourcer.
I didn’t know what to expect and, to be honest, I was pretty surprised when Unbound agreed to take me on as an author. I mean, I think the Sterling Directive is good (but I would say that…
These people are helping to fund The Sterling Directive.
Rhel ná DecVandé
Sonja van Amelsfort
An anonymous donor
Mary Ann le Lean