sea battle, appropriately in a novel entitled On The Oceans Of Eternity. One page gives two literary references. One of the things that Alston wants to live to do again involves reading Flecker. We already knew that she was a Flecker fan. See here.
The noises of the battle include:
"...shot crashing home like the tattoo of hail on a roof magnified to Brobdingagian size."
-SM Stirling, On The Oceans Of Eternity (New York, 2000), Chapter Nineteen, p. 388.
"Brobdingnagian" has become a literary word for "big." CS Lewis' Ransom, speaking to Jane Studdock, breaks off in mid-sentence:
"He broke off sharply and a new look came into his eyes. At the same moment a new thought came into Jane's mind, an odd one. She was thinking of hugeness. Or rather, she was not thinking of it. She was, in some strange fashion, experiencing it. Something intolerably big, something from Brobdingnag, was pressing on her, was approaching, was almost in the room. She felt herself shrinking..."
- a touch of Alice In Wonderland -
"...suffocated, emptied of all power and virtue. She darted a look at the Director which was really a cry for help, and that glance, in some inexplicable way, revealed him as being, like herself, a very small object. The whole room was a tiny place, a mouse's hole, and it seemed to her to be tilted aslant - as though the insupportable mass and splendour of the formless hugeness, in approaching, had knocked it askew. She heard the Director's voice.
"'Quick,' he said gently, 'these are my Masters. You must leave me now. This is no place for us small ones, but I am inured. Go!'"
-CS Lewis, That Hideous Strength (London, 1979), Chapter Six, section II, pp. 88-89.
Ok, they're big. Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson use "Brobdingnag" as the name of a really big planet. See here.