What would a hybrid tentacled-horror unholy cross between H.P. Lovecraft and Tom Clancy write if it set out to do a sendup of Anne McCaffrey, Bram Stoker, and J.R.R. Tolkien?
Live from the Borderlands of Faerie: At Charlie Jane Anders's Writers with Drinks last Saturday night, Charles Stross read the opening to his brand-new The Nightmare Stacks. The whole is excellent. The opening is very, very fine and well-done. But the opening does not give an accurate picture of the full craziness.
So here is another passage. In this passage, the horns of Elfland call "boots and saddles", and we watch the Wild Hunt of the Unseelie Court of Faerie as the Queen of Air and Darkness prepares to take to the skies. Weyr Search was never like this:
: The Nightmare Stacks: "As the huge moon sets and the sky darkens towards true night...
...the ground crews in Malham Cove prepare the first two firewyrms for flight. Strikers One and Two are fettered, quiescent, upon the cracked limestone and grass below the cliff face. The dragons’ barrel-thoraxes rise and fall slowly, air pumping through their air sacs. Their legs, weak and hollow-boned, are splinted with a filigree of titanium trusses to stop them shattering under the weight of riders and weapons payloads. Woven copper wire hoses vanish into mouth and rectum, driven by moaning ventilator boxes to keep the corrosive fumes away from anyone who might approach them. Once airborne the deadly fluoritic acid (a decomposition product of wyrmspit) will diffuse away naturally, but close to the ground it can dissolve the bones inside the ground crew before anybody notices.