by Michael Swanwick
Bones of the Earth
Eos, February, 2002.
Hardcover, 352 pages.
Paleontologist Richard Leyster has achieved his life's dream: to work at the Smithsonian, studying dinosaurs. He has just made a once in a lifetime fossil find that he knows he can study for the rest of his career, when a mysterious stranger named Griffin walks into his office with an ice cooler and an exceedingly odd job offer. Leyster tells Griffin to get lost, but eventually succumbs to curiosity and looks inside the cooler. Inside is a just-killed stegosaurus head. Leyster eventually hooks back up with Griffin, and becomes privy to the greatest secret on the planet: a mysterious species has given humans the gift of time travel and the government is sending scientists back in time to study evolution. Leyster puts up with all the secrecy and multitude of government red tape and rules just to have the chance to see dinosaurs in their natural habitat. Although Leyster enjoys his work immensely, several things about the time travel job just don't add up. And when his colleague and sometime lover Dr. Gertrude Salley starts mucking about with things, some very disturbing temporal paradoxes take place, leaving Leyster with more than one possible future: and some of these futures are very unpleasant, indeed.
Michael Swanwick has given us a dinosaur tale that is both compelling and thought-provoking. Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Awards, Michael Swanwick writes stories which intrigue and provoke. Swanwick takes such timely issues as creationism, evolution and the environment and wraps them in a tightly-constructed thriller. Dr. Leyster, the outspoken and reckless Dr. Gertrude Salley, and the many versions of the mysterious Griffin are all well-drawn and interesting characters which make for very entertaining reading.
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This review was published in the July-August, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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