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A Serpent in the Gears an entertaining mix of cyberpunk and espionage

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies - Issue #34
A Serpent in the Gears
Margaret Ronald

A Serpent in the Gears is one of those rare short stories that manages to tell a quick top notch plot while also building a rich world full of history and political intrigue. Readers will find themselves mesmerized by the clockwork land of Aaris and the surrounding countries hinted at during the story. This brief glimpse satisfies the imagination to be sure but leaves a deep yearning to know what drove the Aaris people to build the Sterling Pass in the first place and to become who they are now.

The story centers around the Royal Society Party’s political and scientific inquiry to the closed of land of Aaris. A land shrouded in mystery since it’s inhabitants built gun embankments into the Sterling Pass the only viable passage through the high mountains that surrounds it. These magic infused guns run off thaumic reservoirs never needing maintenance and have stood sentinel against intrusion until now.

The Regina is a new AirShip that has been recently developed that has the capability to fly high enough to bypass the gun embankments or so their research has informed them. The scientific inquiry begins even before the Sterling Pass is reached as the bones of a dead air serpent is discovered in the spring thaw of one of the surrounding mountains. Quickly the anatomist and other researches discover there is more to the serpent than meets the eyes as gears and steering mechanisms are found integrated throughout the creature making them wonder if it is some hybrid and where it come from.

The discover is but a hint of what is to come in the land of Aaris, but the true enjoyment lies not only in the magic infused clockwork creations that Margaret Ronald dreamed up but in the political espionage and complex characters that the story focuses on. The research party contains a slew of scientists each united on this purpose for various reasons that include prestige, money, political maneuverings, and deception.

However Charles a simple valet holds a secret for why he has joined this expedition beyond simply being the valet of the Colonel Dieterich, a secret that if discovered would be his end. In addition to the rich character developments the mechanical hybridization of Professora Lindquist was thoroughly enjoyable as she basically is a Brain in a tank hooked up to various devices for speaking and moving around. A rich humorous image comes to mind through the various descriptions of her throughout the story.

Readers will enjoy A Serpent in the Gears for various reasons including the plot, rich characters, and a world full of new and imaginative steampunk creatures and mechanics tossed with a dose of magic. Regardless of what genre of fiction you enjoy I suggest you head on over to Beneath Ceaseless Skies today to read this amazing story that is sure to please. When finished don’t forget to go to Margaret Ronald’s website to read some of her other tantalizing works of short fiction.

If you enjoyed this book you may also like:

Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald Mind Games by Carolyn Crane Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
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