Stargate Monuments


Martha Wells

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Into the light

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From kateelliott: Something Greater: An Epic Discussion of Epic Fantasy, Part 1 by Jeremy L. C. Jones He did interviews with 26 writers, 13 male and 13 female, on why they write epic fantasy.

Common Dreams: The Movement to Abolish Corporate Personhood


This is another snippet post for the Clarion West Write-a-thon:

From The Serpent Sea, second book in The Cloud Roads series. Moon meets a queen that's even bigger and scarier than Pearl.

Then a faint sound from above made everyone look up. Someone was climbing down the wall, and Moon didn't need anyone to tell him that this was Ice, the reigning queen.

She was easily twice Pearl's size, and her scales looked pale, barely tinted with yellow, but reflected warm gold as the light struck them; she was so old she had started to lose her color. Her frills had grown long and wispy, like frayed silk; when she partly extended her wings to balance, Moon could see the bones outlined through the near-translucent skin. She had to be much older than Shadow, who was mature but hadn't begun to show noticeable gray on his groundling skin. Moon wondered how many consorts she had outlived.

She reached the floor, then Shadow half-dropped, half-glided down after her. He shifted to groundling and they both moved to join the other queens. Ice sat down on the cushions that waited for her, Shadow taking a seat beside her.

If Tempest was supposed to make the formal introduction of Jade, Ice didn't wait for it. She said, "Jade, sister queen of Indigo Cloud. You have a lovely young consort. May he come closer?"

This one is from The Wizard Hunters, with Tremaine being Tremaine, with Florian realizing for the first time that her friend is a little different. Again, 2003 was not a good time to publish a steampunkish novel. And the cover was beautiful art, but looked a bit more SF than fantasy.

Tremaine looked up at him, trying to hold the mental image of a meek little missionary woman. She knew she couldn't stall much longer but every moment of delay counted. "We've been hiding them," she said.

Gervas dropped the medallion and lifted his hand. Tremaine had time to see it was going to be an open-handed slap before the blow spun her around into the table. She caught herself awkwardly, heard Florian give an involuntary yell of protest. Blinking, carefully putting a hand to her aching jaw, she looked up. Florian must have started forward because one of the guards had her by the arm, twisting it painfully to keep her back. Gervas' expression hadn't changed. He lifted the medallion again and said calmly, "You lie."

"About what?" Tremaine asked, still trying to look innocent and wishing she had thought of a different plan.

"You--" Gervas caught himself. He stared at her, eyes narrowing thoughtfully. "You are not a missionary."

Stalling is over, Tremaine thought. Oh, well. "Give me a chance to prove it." She carefully wiped blood away from her mouth, trying to ignore the fact that her hand was shaking, and grinned at him. "Why don't you ask me some questions about religion?"

Gervas smiled thinly, then dropped the medallion and turned to speak in his own language to the patrol leader. This is over and we're dead, whatever happens, Tremaine thought, sick. She found herself staring at the holstered pistol of the guard standing near her, almost within her reach. Might as well go out with a bang. She had actually swayed toward the weapon when running footsteps sounded outside one of the other doors. It banged open and another Gardier leaned in, speaking urgently.

The patrol leader tensed, looking toward Gervas, who muttered in frustration and snapped an order to one of the guards. The man strode over to the other door and opened it.

Gervas turned to them. Touching the medallion around his neck, he said, "Get in there," punctuating the order with a shove to Florian's shoulder. Florian turned, glaring at him, but moved into the room. Tremaine got a shove too and stumbled after her.

He slammed the door shut and Tremaine heard the lock click. She turned around to see another bare room with a long metal table and chairs, lit by three bulbs suspended from the ceiling. There was a large sheet of paper tacked to the wall, covered with writing in an incomprehensible script. Florian shoved her hair back and started to speak but Tremaine hastily motioned her to be silent.

She stepped to the door to press her ear against it, listening. She heard the men speaking in their own language again in some urgency, then their boots on the stone as they walked away.

Tremaine turned to ask in a whisper, "They have a translator spell; have you ever heard of a translator spell before?"

Florian shook her head. "I've seen one that translates documents; you can make the writing appear in a mirror in another language. But it only works when the person casting it knows both the languages so there's really not much point to it."

Tremaine nodded. The translator was something else Gerard and Niles and the others at the Institute would give a great deal to know about. She frowned. "And the Gardier are capturing civilians as slave labor. Did we know that?" She could see why the government would have concealed that little detail; people were panicked enough already.

"I didn't." Florian grimaced. "If we can just get home, the invasion troop can rescue them." She looked over the room. "Strange. There's no switches or pull cords for the lights. We can't turn them off."

Tremaine's face was going numb and to distract herself she moved to the far wall to study the paper tacked there. It was mounted on a wooden board, with long pins topped with different colored beads stuck in it to mark various paragraphs. It was obviously a checklist or an agenda or something similar. "Why do you want to turn the lights out?"

"So we could lure them in and...." Florian's brows drew together as she considered the variables in that plan.

"Get beaten up?"

"Something like that." She added abruptly, "You didn't flinch."

Busy working one of the long pins out of the wall, Tremaine glanced up, confused. "What?"

Florian pushed her hair back, looking confused too. "When he was about to hit you. You just...watched him. It was creepy."

"Well, yes," Tremaine had to admit. "I should have flinched. It made him more suspicious when I didn't." Thinking that hindsight was a wonderful thing, she stepped back to the door to listen at it again.

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You were ahead of your time ;o) (with the steampunkishness, I mean.)

I really was! :) I did airships before airships were cool.

(Deleted comment)
Thanks! It would be nice if they did, but it's not really likely.

that bit with Tremaine and Florian, I thought, was hilarious. You know, the punchline at the end about the flinching. ^^ Of course, I've read all three books in that trilogy now, so... I know where Tremaine gets it from!

Sadly, there are penalties for being ahead of your time

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