The Iron Dragon's Daughter

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The Iron Dragon's Daughter
Iron Dragon's Daughter.jpg
Author Michael Swanwick
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fantasy
Publisher Millennium
Publication date
November 1993
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages x, 424 pp
ISBN 0-688-13174-3

The Iron Dragon's Daughter is a 1993 novel by writer Michael Swanwick that combines fantasy and science fiction. The dark and nihilistic tale follows Jane, a changeling girl who slaves at a dragon factory, building part-magical, part-cybernetic monsters that are used as jet fighters; until she crosses paths with an old, rusted dragon named Melanchthon and escapes.

The Iron Dragon's Daughter was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1994.[1]

The novel changes fantasy tropes and archetypes, such as elves and dragons, for which critic John Clute labeled the book an "anti-fantasy." Swanwick admits having written it both as a homage to J.R.R. Tolkien and in reaction to a handful of writers he claims exploit Tolkien's milieu and the readers' imaginations with derivative, commercial fantasy:

[...] The recent slew of interchangeable Fantasy trilogies has hit me in much the same way that discovering that the woods I used to play in as a child have been cut down to make way for shoddy housing developments did.[2]

The dragon Melanchthon is named after German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, an associate of Martin Luther. Further references to Lutheranism can be found in Swanwick's novel Jack Faust.

Swanwick has written another book in the same setting, entitled The Dragons of Babel. Excerpts from it have periodically been published as short stories. They include King Dragon, The Word that Sings the Scythe, An Episode of Stardust, A Small Room in Koboldtown and Lord Weary's Empire. Most of these were originally published in Asimov's Science Fiction.


  1. ^ "1989 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  2. ^ Nick Gevers, "The Literary Alchemist: An Interview with Michael Swanwick", Infinity Plus (24 December 1999)

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