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[books] Dancing With Bears - Lakeshore — LiveJournal
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2011-05-26 05:51
Subject: [books] Dancing With Bears
Security: Public
Tags:books, publishing, reviews
A while back, I had the privilege of reading an advanced uncorrected proof of Michael Swanwick's new novel, Dancing With Bears. (Trade hardcover from Night Shade Books, May, 2011). Man, this novel is a total blast.

The book documents the further adventures of Darger and Surplus, Swanwick's post-apocalyptic con men seen elsewhere, including several stories in his collection The Dog Said Bow-Wow. It's a caper story set in a fairly distant future after an inversion of the Singularity. The rise of the machines failed. Their ancient intelligences brood wrathfully in buried bunkers and along secret networks, while the world above muddles through with a decidedly orthogonal technology drawn in equal measures from the eccentric biotech of John C. McLoughlin's The Helix and the Sword and the more arch threads of the steampunk movement.

Dancing With Bears is not New Weird, nor steampunk. It is post-apocalyptic fiction in the tradition of Alas, Babylon, Canticle for Leibowitz and Riddley Walker, except set in a future which is a hell of a lot more fun and less grim for both the reader as well as for at least some of the inhabitants. Especially Darger and Surplus.

The sheer improbability of Swanwick's Muscovy anchors the tale. Bizarre socialites, genetically engineered courtesans, ancient treasures and common venality interweave in a delightful dance. Dancing With Bears is an amazing, entertaining dip into a distinctively imagined future.

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User: shsilver
Date: 2011-05-26 13:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Michael Swanwick was toastmaster at the Nebula Awards last weekend. At the reception on Friday evening, he was presented with a one-of-a-kind leatherbound copy of Dancing with Bears made possible with the assistance of jlassen.
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User: deborahjross
Date: 2011-05-26 14:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Dancing With Bears" is one of my favorite kid's songs. Does the book reference it?
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Galdrin ap Morgan
User: galdrin
Date: 2011-05-26 17:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Does it make any difference if you haven't read anything about Darger and Surplus - whoever they may be?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-05-26 17:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No, I think it's pretty darned fun regardless. Prior knowledge would be about backstory, and Swanwick keeps the reader clued in directly. This isn't series fiction so much as in continuity.
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