An excerpt from "The Parisian" by Fergus Neff

The Parisian is story two in my Tales of the Stones anthology that begins with The Gardener. It is an introduction to the world of humans without electrical power, where society has taken alternate routes to explore means of transport and industry. The Parisian is about an accident in the lives of three young people that changes the course of humanity.

I have published an excerpt at the Sci-Fi Almanac:; reproduced below.

The Parisian

"Are you set?" Con barely heard Ben's sister Patrice shout over the nervous tension rushing through his ears. Beads of sweat formed above his eyes and on his forearms as he prepared to save his own life moments after take-off. Should he mistime releasing the wings, he was as good as dead.

"I'm ready. Set." His voice more croak than reply.

"We fly!" Ben bellowed. With both arms bulging he pulled back the release lever, unleashing thousands of kilograms of tension bound in the nest of tiny wooden branches encasing man and craft.

The wind roared in his Con's ears, his blonde hair blowing back as he and the folded glider exploded vertically upwards into the sky from the roof of the ruined forty storey 'scraper. Seconds passed; the increased gravity on his frame made him feel faint and disoriented. A full kilometre up, his eyes were blurred with tears and dust from the atmosphere, he finally managed to breathe in. Con looked to each side to ensure he had picked up no debris during launch, before he gently pulled the cord to unfurl his wings. The craft immediately stalled and he fell backwards through the morning air. He experienced a nauseating roll to the right and adjusted his controls; the sun crossed his wings and he was a bird. Man and machine gliding smoothly across the ruined Parisian skyline.

Twitter: @chillyspoon

Illustration of the Stone Pod for The Parisian by Keith O’Connor – Aug 2009.