Enigmatic – you’ve asked for feedback. I believe that softening my review would be doing you a disservice. This won’t be pleasant, but it’s the only way. We’re not your family or your flatmates, and we’ll tell you the truth. (That is, our true opinions; you may entirely disagree.)
Okay, let me start by noting that I’ve seen worse stories printed in anthologies which were sold in bookstores, and which I bought for money. However, they shouldn’t have been published. It’s not that the writers were irredeemably bad, just that the editors didn’t do their job. (For a prime example, check out a wretched piece of crap anthology called Full Spectrum. I’d like to bitch-slap the editors.)
Not to my taste, and too close an emulation of Douglas Adams. Too self-consciously clever and cute. However, there are probably people who love it. (Maybe you were trying more for Saki, but you got Adams. If you’re familiar with Saki you’ll probably see what I mean; if not, go read “Shredni Vashtar” and “Filboid Studge”.) There’s nothing inherently wrong with long sentences; having read a fair amount of 19th Century English prose, not to mention American writers like Faulkner and Pynchon, I’m not put off by having to navigate a lot of clauses and asides. I’d second the advice to read each sentence aloud, and see if it might sound better as two sentences. And be careful with your punctuation.
“…plastered with posters and pictures and filled with mobiles and models…” This sentence brought a little bit of stomach acid up to the back of my throat. Too much alliteration. If you’re writing a saga in 10th Century Norse, then you can use that much alliteration. Otherwise, you’ll just annoy people. Avoid alliteration. (Easy to remember because it’s alliterative.) Or rather, have a little alliteration. Break it up a bit.
Horatio is the only character identified as an individual. The other character, really, is humankind in general. I liked the way they got about the same kind of superficial character development (granted, it’s only a roughly 2700-word story). Humankind is clever and sex-obsessed; Horatio is clever and dragon-obsessed. (The little comical interlude about militant feminists and incredibly stupid men is too hackneyed to work; might have worked forty years ago. Clunky rather than whimsical.) It would be nice to have some sense of the internal Horatio; we’re shown the external evidence of his obsession (in fact, that’s basically the whole story) but not much hint of what goes on inside him. An additional fifty to a hundred words, in four or five chunks, tied to events and actions, could take care of this.
The basic idea is a clever take on the well-known device of multiple alternate universes. The prospect of nearly infinite possible worlds being reachable is a great vehicle for a story of obsession. Probably a good idea not to spend too much time trying to make it sound scientifically plausible. I’d like it if you made it clearer exactly what aspects of dragonhood make the creatures inherently unlikely, and how that would be reflected in your imagined multiverse. I didn’t feel you had a good handle on this; or else you didn’t communicate it clearly. This is a real structural weakness, but entirely fixable – have some fun with it and the story will be signficantly more enjoyable.
The denouement would be better if the physical elements (plummeting dragons) weren’t introduced earlier. I’d throw out the three paragraphs immediately before the final paragraph. I like the last paragraph. (The first and second sentences begin with the same words; I’d change the second one so that the meaning was similar, but a little less impersonal. Something like “we may imagine”.)
There; that’s all meant to be constructive criticism. If you think I’m wrong, tell me to stuff it. Whatever you do, keep writing. Did you say this is your first attempt at writing a story? In that case, you’re miles ahead of most beginning writers, and I’m really impressed. At least you finished it, which is more than I can say for most of mine.