So this week I was reading Range of Ghosts, an epic fantasy by Elizabeth Bear, which — unlike most epic fantasies I’ve read — is set in what appears to be an analogue of the Mongolian steppes rather than an analogue of Western Europe, which is enough all on its own to make it interesting. Fortunately I also enjoyed the story.
The world-building in Range of Ghosts is detailed and extensive, reminding me of Guy Gavriel Kay, another author whose fantasy novels tend to be analogues of recognizable countries and regions from the real world, for example, Italy in Tigana, France in A Song for Arbonne, and Spain in The Lions of Al-Rassan. The most interesting conceit in Range of Ghosts, though, is the behavior of the sky; each country or empire has its own sky, which starts and ends at its borders. This makes it easy for Our Heroes to tell when they have passed into another kingdom, and also makes it obvious when a region has been conquered by a new ruler. It must be hell on navigating by sextant, though.
Something else that Range of Ghosts takes from the real world, besides its altered version of the steppes and the Mongols: The value of dogs.
Temur, amused, watched as she prised loose another bone for the pack. Dogs were not livestock; they were honored as near-brothers. No clan or tribe could long survive without its dogs—mastiffs to guard and shepherds to tend—and both breeds served as loyal hunting companions.
A good dog was sky-buried with as much honor as a good horse.
Hey, what do you mean “near” brothers?
Meanwhile, editing continues on Father’s Books! I’m once again operating near the end of the story, where spoiler-free sentences are a little more difficult to come by, but I found a few in the scene I’m currently working on:
He plowed into the back of the stuck vehicle, shoving it the rest of the way under the truck and out the other side. His airbag fired and deflated as he experienced the miracle of instantaneous deceleration into a gas-filled balloon. He stayed put for a moment, stunned, panting, recovering from the shock, the crunch of metal smashing metal fading in his ears, registering that he had emerged more or less unhurt from his brief foray into stuntman life. The airbag sagged in his lap like a gigantic spent prophylactic.
Hmm, airbag = condom for your steering wheel? Sure, why not.