ALTERNATE TIMELINES: historical speculative fiction with diverse characters by Dusk Peterson
Historical fantasy. Alternate history. Retrofuture science fiction. Diversity.

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WATERMAN: a Turn-of-the Century Toughs series ¶ By Dusk Peterson

How can a youth from a bay island boarding school survive when he is sent to a futuristic prison?

Waterman is a speculative fiction series set in an alternative version of the Chesapeake Bay region during the 1910s and during the future as it was envisioned in the 1960s.

The series is part of the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle. Companion series: Young Toughs.


Click on the linked titles of stories to read the online versions, where available. (Information about my online fiction.) For the bookstore versions, click on the appropriate links. Multiformat e-books are free.


Honor and reviews


Finalist, Best Gay Fantasy category, in the Rainbow Awards 2013, for the novel (within a novel) The Abolitionist.


"What I love of Dusk Peterson's stories is that they are all fantasy . . . with deep roots in real history. While reading one of his books, whatever the historical period he picked and reinvented, you have the feeling [of being] plunged in a true historical novel, sometime even more an historical essay than a romance, but in the end, Dusk Peterson manages also to give you the romance, and odd as it sounds, most of the time his romances are among the most romantic I have ever read. Why odd? Since I think I have never heard Dusk Peterson associated with the romance world; so here is my suggestion to all the romance readers: go and pick one of Dusk Peterson's [e-books], this one in particular is a good pick, and give him a try, I'm sure you will not be disappointed." —My Reviews and Ramblings (Elisa Rolle).

"The underlying theme of the stories is inherited power relationships, the effect on individuals of being unable to fit into the established hierarchies, and the wisdom of learning from those below you." —Goodreads (Catana).

"The emotions and ethics and world-building are rich, deeply satisfying and sexy." —Amazon (Yingtai/Justine).

"Finally someone who is good at writing stories which appeal to my quirky intellectual mind and deliver the goods (so to speak). Extremely satisfying." —Anne Blue, publisher of Kanallje Press.

Master and Servant (Volume 1 of Waterman)

Born into a society with a strictly ranked system of masters and servants, Carr has sought to tread his way delicately between the clashing values of the parents who raised him and the uncle whose household Carr will one day live in. Yet when he and other students at his boarding school become the latest participants in an ongoing battle between the oystermen of their Bay, Carr finds that his position of power may bring danger, not only to himself, but also to a schoolfellow he is drawn toward.
     ¶ Data: 160,000 words.
     ¶ Honor: Master and Servant #1: The Abolitionist: Finalist, Gay Fantasy category, in the Rainbow Awards 2013.


The Abolitionist (free multiformat edition | Kindle edition). When a foul-mouthed, seditious foreigner turns up at your door, what are the benefits of letting him in?

The True Master (free multiformat edition | Kindle edition). In a society where the rank of master or slave defines every aspect of a person's being, what do you do when you're a master and you envy your slaves?

Unmarked (free multiformat edition | Kindle edition). "Fair play" is the motto of the Third House at Narrows School, but that motto takes on a different meaning when a lonely member of the Third House is secretly wooed by a young man from a rival House.

Sacrifice (Volume 2 of Waterman)

The deepest sacrifices arise from love.
Feed subscriptionTo receive notice of e-book publications and free fiction, subscribe to Dusk Peterson's e-mail list or blog. See below for a progress report on upcoming fiction in this series.

Short stories

Lost Haven: a master, his servant, and a disappearing island (published in Risk). Amidst a servant's nightmare, can a haven of hope be found? Meredith has brought his beloved master to the island where he spent the happiest days of his childhood. But when danger descends upon them, they must seek refuge, and Meredith must confront the tantalizing sorrows and rewards of change.

Master's Piece (published in Risk). He was his master's piece: the model for his master's sculptures. But his master was different. . . . As Pip longs for the unobtainable, his master finds that he is beginning to have doubts about a long-standing custom in his nation. Yet how can he risk giving up what he values most?

Rain (The Eternal Dungeon / Life Prison / Commando / Michael's House / Waterman; published in Lockup). Five boys. Five rainy days. Five opportunities for trouble. In this cycle of five short stories, five young men in troubling situations must make choices that will change the path of their upcoming lives . . . and the path of the societies they dwell in.. Five boys. Five rainy days. Five opportunities for trouble. In this cycle of five short stories, five young men in troubling situations must make choices that will change the path of their upcoming lives . . . and the path of the societies they dwell in.

Maps and series resources

Maps for this series and related series.

Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of historical speculative fiction series that includes this series. This page includes resources such as a chronology of major political events in the cycle.

Waterman research. Blog entries by the author on research for the series. Earlier entries are labelled "Prison City research."

Bibliographies for the series:
Islanders and Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay.
Masculinity, Crime, and Everyday Life in Victorian and Edwardian Times: Boarding Schools.
Retrofuture: Visions of the Future, 1945-1975.

Progress report: status of upcoming stories

Updated August 2016. All titles and ordering are tentative at this point.

Sacrifice (Volume 2).

Cycle (Volume 3).

Warden (Volume 4).

Blackout (Volume 5).

The numbering within this volume is especially tentative. I'm not sure how many stories there will be, other than the ones I've listed.

Side stories.

None currently.

Next series in the Turn-of-the-Century Toughs cycle:

[ Young Toughs ]

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Creative Commons License: Some Rights ReservedThis text, or a variation on it, was originally published at as part of the series Waterman. Copyright © 2002-2017 Dusk Peterson. Some rights reserved. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( You may freely print, post, e-mail, share, or otherwise distribute the text for noncommercial purposes, provided that you include this paragraph. The author's policies on derivative works and fan works are available online (

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