That "period piece" I wrote about back in March ended up paying off. I reworked it into a bit of flash fiction and entered it into the Boing Boing Gadgets Gadget Fiction Contest. I would have been happy with just an honorable mention but it turns out I managed to grab second place. The editing is a little rough but here is "The New Machine":
It was a cold February afternoon in 1854 when the defrocked Reverend Daniel Martin addressed his small New England town.
The circumstances behind the resignation of Daniel’s pulpit were not unusual and for that reason among others the former Reverend was still respected by most of the community. A year ago in August Daniel Martin led an attempt to use the legal system to free a visiting slave. When the courts ruled in favor of the owners, the slave mysteriously escaped. There wasn’t enough evidence to bring Daniel to a trial let alone convict him, but that didn’t stop the cries of “nigger stealer” from rising from the south, and on his part Daniel Martin did little to deny the accusations. For this Reverend Martin was made to resign his position in the church, and for this he retained the respect of many of the town’s residents.
You can read the rest at Boing Boing Gadgets.