Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bone Dance

Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles

Emma Bull

Date: 1991-04   —   DVD / VHS

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Fiction, Fantasy

This fantasy is set in a post-apocalyptic future that very much resembles certain cyberpunk worlds. Don't be fooled, however, since certain mystic elements come into strong play. The book revolves around Sparrow, a friend-phobic technophilic youth who makes a living mining the past. One transaction might involve the finding of a copy of a pre-Bang (pre-nuke, natch) movie; another might be in repairing a damaged speaker cone. Sparrow loves the music and movies of a past never experienced by any in this age.

When large chunks of Sparrow's life start disappearing— blackouts of total memory loss— it's the indication of big things coming. The loa— hoodoo energy workers— have brought Sparrow to the City (never named, but probably Minneapolis, Emma Bull's stomping grounds) to break up an obstruction in the energy flow. But Sparrow's individualistic tendencies crash heavily against the need for assistance, and too much stubborn insistence on going it alone might lead to a very bad end.

This is perhaps my favorite Emma Bull book. (Unless it's Finder.) Sparrow is a wonderful character who inspires sympathy even while rejecting it. One gets the sense of a person who has never understood the concept of loneliness, in the same way that fish don't have a word for water. When your only solace is an ever-degenerating record of the past, life would seem lonely indeed to those of us who have had friends. But then again, Sparrow inspires friendship without seeking it— just as well, considering the events in the novel.

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