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 vision of his Nebula award-winning masterwork
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, autumn 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 both 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 the powers that have always ruled her life—seeking impossible answers through the obliteration of history…and the end of all things.
World Fantasy (nominee)
Arthur C. Clarke Award (nominee)