“Cheris was unable to organize her first heart-stop impressions of what had been the rest of the battalion. Feet scraped inside-out next to unblemished boots. Black-and-gold Kel uniforms braided into cracked rib cages. Gape-jawed, twisted skulls with eye sockets staring out of their sides and strands of tendon knotted through crumbling teeth. A book of profanities written in every futile shade of red the human body had ever devised, its pages upended over the battlefield from horizon to horizon.”
You need something to read. You enjoy science fiction — not exclusively, there’s too much other good shit out there for you to limit yourself solely to one genre — so you look to the Hugo nominees, normally a solid indicator of quality. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee piques your interest. It is a military space opera. You liked Starship Troopers and Old Man’s War and The Forever War. You appreciate a good space opera. You look at amazon and there’s a quote that says the book is “As if Cordwainer Smith had written a Warhammer novel.” (Gareth L. Powell) You don’t know who the hell Cordwainer Smith or Gareth L. Powell are, but you played Warhammer 40k in high school. Remembering hours and hours of bloody desperate battles between space marines and chaos heretics, you are pretty convinced this is the book for you.
But you aren’t rich. Before you buy something, you want to make sure it’s worth your hard-earned money. You look at a few reviews to make extra-sure that it’s a Good Book. Time after time, the reviews say that the book is really difficult to read. But they assure you that the effort is Worth It.
In the time in which I write this, 1851, magic is waning. The research that DODO paid me to perform indicates that magic will cease to exist at the end of this month (July 28). When that happens, I will be trapped here in a post-magic world for the rest of my days. The only way anyone will ever know what became of me is through this deposition. While I have managed to land myself in comfortable (by 1851 standards) quarters with access to pen, ink, leisure time, and privacy, it has been at the expense of my freedom; my hosts would not consider allowing me out of the house for an evening constitutional, let alone to seek out witches who might help me.
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland is about a U.S. government agency that uses witches to time travel.