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World Fantasy Award nominee 1994, Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee 1994.
The changeling's decision to steal a dragon and escape was born, though she did not know it then, the night the children met to plot the death of their supervisor...
With these words, author Michael Swanwick ushers us into a remarkable realm of darkest fantasy, erotic dreams and industrial magicks – equaling the undiluted power and uniqueness of his Nebula award-winning masterwork Stations of the Tide.
Jane is a human changeling child coming of age in a world of violence and monsters. An abused outcast, she toils unceasingly alongside trolls, dwarves, shifters and feys in the dank, stygian bowels of a steam dragon plant – helping to construct the massive, black iron flying machines the elvan rulers use for waging war. Young Jane's days are bleak and her future seems hopeless – until a cold yet tantalizing inner voice whispers to her of high lakes, autumns stars... and freedom.
The voice leads her to a junkyard dragon – old and broken, kept alive by hatred and a still-unsatisfied thirst for blood. And he promises to help Jane escape, if she will, in turn, help him to fly again. But untold wonders and terrors lie beyond the factory gates – where a true name is a weapon... and erotic temptations wait to corrupt a young girl already hardened by life's cruel inequities.
A quick mind and a taste and talent for thievery will sustain Jane, however, on her strange and arduous journey from slave to student, from alchemist to avenger – while drugs and dreams transport her Elsewhere, on fleeting trips to a stolen reality. And through it all, the dragon lurks in the shadows – filling her head with violent visions, drawing her into a web of unknown plots and unseen forces. And, ultimately, at his controls, the changeling will confront powers that have always ruled her life – seeking impossible answers through the obliteration of history... and the end of all things.
Michael Swanwick (born 1950) is an American science fiction author. Swanwick is one of the most acclaimed science fiction and fantasy short story writers of his generation, having received the Hugo Award for short fiction five times in six years. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo: Michael Swanwick at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005. Picture taken by Szymon Sokół. Source: Wikimedia Commons.