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From the book jacket: Paleontologist Richard Leyster has achieved professional nirvana: a position with the Smithsonian Museum plus a groundbreaking dinosaur fossil site he can research, publish on, and learn from for years to come. There is nothing that could lure him away-until a disturbingly secretive stranger named Griffin enters Leyster's office with an ice cooler and a job offer. In the cooler is the head of a freshly killed Stegosaurus. Griffin has been entrusted with an extraordinary gift, an impossible technology on loan to humanity from unknown beings for an undisclosed purpose. Time travel has become a reality millions of years before it rationally could be. With it, Richard Leyster and his colleagues can make their most cherished fantasy come true. They can study the dinosaurs up close, in their own time and milieu. Now, suddenly, individual lives can turn back on themselves. People can meet, shake hands, and converse with their younger versions at various crossroads in time. One wrong word, a single misguided act, could be disastrous to the project and to the world. But Griffin must make sure everything that is supposed to happen does happen-no matter who is destined to be hurt ... or die. And then there's Dr. Gertrude Salley-passionate, fearless, and brutally ambitious-a genius rebel in the tight community of "bone men" and women. Alternately both Leyster's and Griffin's chief rival, trusted colleague, despised nemesis, and inscrutable lover at various junctures throughout time, Salley is relentlessly driven to screw with the working mechanisms of natural law, audaciously trespassing in forbidden areas, pushing paradox to the edge no matter what the consequences may be. And, when they concern the largest, most savage creatures that ever lived, the consequences may be terrifying indeed.
Around the world, the dragon has been reborn in modern fantasy fiction. The classic winged fire-breathing reptiles often associated with evil (they do despoil villages and demand virgin sacrifices, after all) tend nowadays to be more kindly disposed to humanity, sometimes aloofly offering magical wisdom, sometimes actively involving themselves in human lives, whether as a servant or friend. In this volume, originally compiled exclusively for the members of the Science Fiction Book Club and not available in stores, editor Marvin Kaye has skillfully gathered brand- new contributions to the hoard of dragon lore by five top fantasy authors. Orson Scott Card-an expert at writing from a child's point of view, as evidenced in his bestselling Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow-offers a gothic yarn "In the Dragon's House" set in contemporary suburbia. Card tells about the mysterious dragon that lives in the wiring of an old house, palpable only to a young boy who in dreams shares its body and feels its true size and power. But what does it really want? Mercedes Lackey, prolific author of the Valdemar saga, writes of a slave boy who is chosen to care for a warrior's dragon. Vetch (and the reader) will learn much about dragon behavior . . . and this special dragon's secrets may be the key to his freedom. (Lackey was so taken by young Vetch that she expanded his adventures into a full-length novel with the same name as this novella-"Joust.") Tanith Lee is no stranger to dragons, which appeal quite often in her award-winning fantasies. The fable "Love in a Time of Dragons" is imbued with her signature atmosphere-Old World, moody, erotic-as a kitchen maid goes a-questing with a handsome champion to slay the local drakkor. But the tale takes a surprising twist. . . . Elizabeth Moon author of the popular Esmay Suiza and Heris Serrano series, takes a break from military science fiction to give us the tale of a young man forced by lies to flee his village . . . into an adventure of dwarfs and dragonspawn, of trust and wisdom, and, ultimately, "Judgment". Rounding off the collection is Michael Swanwick's "King Dragon", a strange amalgam of twentieth-century technology and faery magic, in which the award-winning author invokes a truly sinister and repellent creature-a being with the soul of a beast and the body of a machine- part metal, part devil... all merciless.
A war-dragon of Babel crashes in the idyllic fields of a post-industrialized Faerie and, dragging himself into the nearest village, declares himself king and makes young Will his lieutenant. Nightly, he crawls inside the young fey's brain to get a measure of what his subjects think. Forced out of his village, Will travels with female centaur soldiers, witnesses the violent clash of giants, and acquires a surrogate daughter, Esme, who has no knowledge of the past and may be immortal. Evacuated to the Tower of Babel -- infinitely high, infinitely vulgar, very much like New York City -- Will meets the confidence trickster Nat Whilk. Inside the Dread Tower, Will becomes a hero to the homeless living in the tunnels under the city, rises as an underling to a politician, and meets his one true love -- a high-elven woman he dare not aspire to.
Swanwick has achieved a fully mature work of fiction, Stations of the Tide, that escalates him into the company of such major writers as Gene Wolfe and Brian W. Aldiss. A master of literary atmosphere, Swanwick has created a compelling and absorbing setting on a distant planet in the far future, a world about to be inundated by its own oceans as tidal forces sweep grandly across its surface. A strange, Aleister Crowley-like magician has stolen proscribed technology and become the master of this dying world. And so a man is sent to recover these scientific secrets, a man who is to be transformed by his contact with this enchanting and dangerous world. He may not use force, nor may he reveal his mission. And the mysterious Gregorian, whose powers are real, seems to know all about him, to taunt him from a distance. Swanwick creates a disturbing and intense mood of menace and suspense as we follow the hunter through the chaotic and carnival-like civilization of the planet Miranda; we are charmed and fascinated and finally brought to an astonishing confrontation with death and transcendence. Stations of the Tide is a contemporary masterpiece of science fiction.
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