That was just the sexiest single sentence that just set my skull to bursting with vivid imagery and ideas. Now this is what SF is about!
In the Courts of the Crimson Kings is S.M. Stirling’s celebration of the sword-and-planet genre, an unabashed homage to greats of the past like Leigh Brackett and C.L. Moore that’s just so full of interesting characters, world details and story, written with such panache, it makes me feel like whooping with joy every time I crack open the cover.
Though quite serious in tone, Crimson Kings unflinchingly acknowledges its antecedents with a fun intro that has some of Golden Age SF’s greats sitting in front of a TV together watching the NASA broadcast of the first Mars lander coming down – and being intercepted by Martians.
What’s a feral engine? In the Mars of Crimson Kings, biotechnology is king. Unfortunately Mars is also senile, and in some ruined cities the mollusk-like creatures that were designed as airship engines have bred wild. And they’re hungry. And they have a multitude of tentacles. Woo hoo!
In the Courts of the Crimson Kings is planned as part of a trilogy of connected but readable as stand-alone stories. The first book in the series is The Sky People, set on a jungled Venus and featuring dinosaurs and cave people. Again, it’s a proudly-done homage, this time to Edgar Rice Burroughs.