Dancing With Bears – Book Review by Fred Patten

by kiwiztiger

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

Dancing With Bears, by Michael Swanwick.
San Francisco, CA, Night Shade Books, May 2011, hardcover $24.99 (268 pages).

51wb22YvMqLThis is the first “Darger and Surplus” novel, although it follows two short stories and a novelette; “The Dog Said Bow-Wow”(2001), “The Little Cat Laughed to See Such Sport” (2002), and “Girls and Boys, Come Out to Play” (2005). Aubrey Darger and Sir Blackthorpe Ravenscairn de Plus Precieux (“Call me Sir Plus”) are two charismatic con-men in the postutopian future. Darger is human; Surplus is a dog. To quote the opening of “The Dog Said Bow-Wow”:

“The dog looked like he had just stepped out of a children’s book. There must have been a hundred physical adaptations required to allow him to walk upright. The pelvis, of course, had been entirely reshaped. The feet alone would have needed dozens of changes. He had knees, and knees were tricky.

To say nothing of the neurological enhancements.

But what Darger found himself most fascinated by was the creature’s costume. His suit fit him perfectly, with a slit in the back for the tail, and – again – a hundred invisible adaptations that caused it to hang on his body in a way that looked perfectly natural.

‘You must have an extraordinary tailor,’ Darger said.

The dog shifted his cane from one paw to the other, so they could shake, and in the least affected manner imaginable replied, ‘That is a common observation, sir.’

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