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Bone Wars by Brett Davis
(1998, Baen, US$6, 312 pages. ISBN: 0-671-87880-8.)

Rating: A- : Aliens stole our fossils! A fine and funny alt-hist tall tale.

There's not a great deal of geological science-fiction extant, so I'm pleased to report that Bone Wars is worthy of your attention.

Montana Territory, 1876: Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope are both digging in the Judith River fossil beds, with no great success, and spying on each other's camps. They learn of another bone-digger, who shields his camp behind a "ghost wall," and has found some truly magnificent dinosaur specimens. A fourth paleontologist appears, an odd-looking fellow who claims to be from Iceland, and wants help to save the prize bones from being shipped off to "Sweden"....

Stir in a cowboy who's really a girl, a Sioux who's a Yale graduate, a deserter from the Little Big Horn, and a wild ride on a ceratopsian -- all done in impeccable late-19th century prose -- and you have a most entertaining confection. Recommended, with the usual caveat that others' reaction to (alleged) humor is notoriously unpredictable.

Brett Davis, whose writing I haven't previously encountered, has clearly done his historical homework. He writes in a spritely mock-Victorian style that's just right for the tale. This is a very amusing book. Fluff, but good fluff.

There's a sequel, Two Tiny Claws (1999), which I'll have to look for. I picked this one up on a whim, having heard of neither author nor title. I'm glad I did.


Review by Peter D Tillman; More of Peter D Tillman's reviews can be found at: SF Site and Google "Peter D. Tillman" +review for many more!

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© Peter D Tillman 8 November 2000