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Field Guide to the Mesozoic Megafauna

by Michael Swanwick

(Tachyon Publications, $8.95, 32 pages, saddle-stitched paperback; 2003, but dated February 2004.)

cover scanI first viewed this booklet -- for booklet it is -- when I received my laden membership tote bag at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington this past Halloween weekend. Initially, I tossed it aside with those booklets containing sample excerpts of novels, and I didn't look at it again until I was packing to go home. A closer inspection revealed that it is, in fact, a very short anthology of even shorter short stories -- and my first introduction to Swanwick's prose. I chortled or smiled my way through every one of the eighteen stories: cameos of clever wit and imagination, mostly less than a page in length. Better yet, they were about dinosaurs. A very nice combination. Also, I managed to finish the book on the flight home: considering this was a 45-minute flight and I spent only 30 of those minutes reading...

Mesozoic Megafauna is a delightful collection of dinosaur stories exposing these reptiles to a myriad of entertaining, if highly improbable, situations. The multiple award-winning Swanwick proves himself an absolute master of extremely short fiction, packing quite a lot of story into just a few words, or even a single scene. I for one am looking forward to reading more of his works. In the meantime, why not check out Mesozoic Megafauna just to find out what the "old theropod-in-a-rubber-tenontosaur-suit trick" is; discover the dangers of dueling with Mosasaurs; learn how the West was really won; and find that proving hypotheses can often be hazardous to health and machinery.

What I want to know is: What about Woolly Mammoth stories? Maybe they'll appear in his next short-short-stories collection. I wish.

Review by Marianne Plumridge.

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