Thursday, May 2, 2019

Bonehunters, by Harry Turtledove

[Analog]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Alternate History) In a world where the dinosaurs never died out, Rekek and his adopted son accept a commission to lead a paleontologist to fossil-rich sites in the black hills of what’s South Dakota in our world. (13,806 words; Time: 46m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)


"Bonehunters," by (edited by Trevor Quachri), appeared in issue 05-06|19, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2019.217 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Rekek is a great character! He’s salty and irreverent, but he’s fundamentally good-hearted, and his devotion to Junior is endearing.

Professor Otnil comes across really well too. He’s obsessed with his work, of course, but he still manages to treat the natives with respect, and obviously that redounds to his benefit when his rival shows up.

Red Cloud earns our respect as well. He’s in an awful position, hanging on the edge of seeing his people exterminated by the victorious greens, but he manages to keep his dignity, and such power as he does have, he wields wisely and fairly.

Junior is a bit less developed, but his situation as a person who’ll never fit into either society is a sad one. It’s moving just seeing how much he and Rekek mean to each other.

The setting appears to be geologically our world, but one where there was no extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous and where some of the theropods evolved intelligence.

Con: Probably the biggest problem is that Rekek doesn’t have much agency in this story; he just reports the events that happen. Red Cloud and Otnil are the ones who actually have serious goals and who make things happen, but they're not the protagonist.

A separate problem is that it seems very odd that dinosaur evolution has been almost frozen for 65 million years. (Assuming I’ve got the timeline right.)

I was a little disappointed that the professor didn’t find anything interesting enough to report to us.

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