Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City: Prologue by John Scalzi
My rating: 4/5 cats
Some years before a forward-thinking alchemist named Yehd Aisohn had come to Imo Morde, the newly-advanced Imperial Wizard, with an audacious plan to light Smaelkaven through the use of refined lodestones, wrapped in the finest copper wire, spun inside a metal cage, attached by other wires to a cunning sphere of glass with a gossamer filament inside, which would glow, bathing a room in soft, warm, golden light.
Morde had the wires attached to the alchemist to see if he would glow as well.
He did not.
this silly little fantasy-parody was exactly the tor short i needed today. in order to meet my quota of reading one-tor-shortie-a-week, i’ve been trying to squeeze them into the wee hours before my saturday workday begins, and i’ve been finding that SOMETIMES, 6 am in a dark apartment isn’t the ideal time/place for some of their heavier themes like bleak ecology or social injustices. this hugo-nominated “excerpt,” written years ago as an april fool’s day goof, made for a much gentler on-ramp into my day. even though i knew, going into it, that it was a satire of popular genre tropes, i still winced at its turgid opening paragraph, fearing it was all going to be “that” kind of humor, but after scalzi makes his intentions clear about what kind of a ride you’re in for, he backs off the bludgeoning and delivers a pretty fun story while keeping the giddy genre-jabs coming. it was a welcome change from the “this is our future, and it is terrible” mood some of the shorts have been leaving me to deal with for the rest of my day.
as a result, today should be GRAND!
read it for yourself here: