1858—Warring mages open up a vast inland sea that splits the United States in two. With the floodwaters come creatures from a long distant past. What seems like the End Times forges a new era of heroes and heroines who challenge tradition, law, and even death as they transform the Old West into a new world.
—In the heart of dinosaur country a laconic trapper and a veteran mage risk treason to undertake a secret mission.
—A brilliant magician and her beautiful assistant light up stages with the latest automaton, but the secrets both of them are hiding test their trust in each other and pit them against one of the most powerful men in the world.
—At the wild edge of the Inland Sea, amidst crocodiles and triceratops, an impoverished young man and a Pinkerton Detective must join forces to outmaneuver a corrupt judge and his gunmen.
The more things change, the more they actually do change in this collection of morally fulfilling tales of underdogs and nice guys finishing first in an apocalyptically altered 19th-century New United Americas. The title piece, a short novel, reunites two boyhood friends and rekindles their romance as they undertake a quest to seal the magical rift that flooded the Midwest and South with an inland ocean and herds of dinosaurs. "The Hollow History of Professor Perfectus" pits a rogue mage and her outlaw partner against the wizard-hunter of Menlo Park, Thomas Edison. The final story, "Get Lucky," follows a Jewish bounty hunter who tries to patch up a mishandled love affair and deliver a pair of hefty inheritances to a backcountry lad. Hale (the Cadeleonian Series) mashes up steampunk and fantasy to gleefully unsettle the historical status quo, letting African-American dinosaur wranglers and Asian-Hispanic orphans get the better of their presumptive social superiors. Love and justice triumph as privilege boomerangs on its wielders (like the Wounded Knee massacre activating Native magic) in ways that are slightly predictable but still entirely satisfying.