Book Review: Bone Dance by Emma Bull

Orb
315 pp.

Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesI first encountered this book back in the nineties. It is a post apocalyptic science fantasy with a lot of interesting ideas and some great adventure. Bone Dance was reprinted last year into trade paperback format along with War for the Oaks (another favorite of mine). It fits into both the science fiction and urban fantasy genres, and has a theme and concept that can be defined as “hoodoo punk.”

The protagonist of the story is Sparrow, a trader who deals in movies and tapes, music and sound systems, and recovery and repair of everything from television sets to projectors. Sparrow is hired to find a lost movie supposedly about the Horsemen, a covert and extremely secret service operation formed of powerful psychics with the ability to among other things, jump from body to body and possess people. According to the legends surrounding this possibly mythical movie, the production of which was canceled on account of everyone involved coming to a bad end.

Sparrow refuses, but various mysterious encounters and blackouts prompt Our Protagonist to seek out a friend named Sherrea for a reading. The reading of course only serves to freak Sparrow out more. Someone or something speaking through Sherrea warn Sparrow that something big is about to go down, and Sparrow is at the center of it all. It turns out that the Horsemen aren’t dead, and for whatever reason, they are all targeting Sparrow.

You may or may not have noticed my attempt to keep from using a gendered pronoun when referring to Sparrow. The reason is relevant to the plot, and one of the big turning points of the story. The writer uses the same technique throughout the novel, even, and especially after it’s revealed. Of course, it must have been easier for her, since she wrote the book in first person. Still, I have a very clear memory of going…“wait…is Sparrow a man or a woman?” Then trying to find a indicative pronoun of some kind. (Hint: There is nothing in the narrative that indicates gender. Not even with an assumed heterosexual filter.) Sparrow was one of my favorite characters, seconded only by Sherrea and Myra.

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Filed under apocalyptic, book, Emma Bull, fantasy, Review: Book, urban

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