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Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles [Paperback]

Emma Bull

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Book Description

July 7 2009
Sparrow’s my name. Trader. Deal-maker. Hustler, some call me. I work the Night Fair circuit, buying and selling pre-nuke videos from the world before. I know how to get a high price, especially on Big Bang collectibles. But the hottest ticket of all is information on the Horsemen—the mind-control weapons that tilted the balance in the war between the Americas. That’s the prize I’m after.

But it seems I’m having trouble controlling my own mind.

The Horsemen are coming.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Second Edition edition (July 7 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765321734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765321732
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #569,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This voodoopunkfunny! novel focuses on Sparrow, an androgynous trader of old and extremely rare videos and CDs in a post-Armageddon Minnesota. Sparrow gets caught up in an internecine fight between two Horsemen, the last survivors of the group of powerful telepaths who caused the apocalypse. The book moves slowly at first, but Bull keeps the focus on the people and their relationships, and eventually the offbeat characters draw the reader in. It is especially rewarding to watch Sparrow's dawning realization that it isn't necessary to do things alone and that there are friends to help. Bull has a sharp ear for relaxed dialogue and conversational humor, and one gets a true feel for this world, where large cities meant to hold millions are populated by mere hundreds and Jane Austen is a name even the literate no longer recognize.p. 132 Sparrow's androgyny is also skillfully handled. Like mystery writer Sarah Caudwell's protagonist Hilary Tamar, Sparrow is sometimes masculine, sometimes feminine, sometimes neither, always believable. While not as strong as Bull's contemporary fantasy classic War for the Oaks , this is a winning book.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

YA-- In the pitiless post-apocalyptic future, Sparrow's confusion and self-doubt are more than mere teenage angst. How much more may determine the future. Mixing symbolism from the Tarot deck, voodoo mythology, and a finely detailed vision of life and technology after the nuclear war, Bull has come up with yet another winner. Sparrow's video-age consciousness has obvious appeal for the MTV generation. A tense, ferocious dance on the deteriorating high wire of the future.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably Good June 2 2005
By Shannon Watkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If life held any justice, Emma Bull would be at least as famous and as (presumably) wealthy as Neil Gaiman. Anyone who enjoys his writing will positively revel in hers.

'Bone Dance' first caught my eye as a library book almost ten years ago and it was with vast happiness I bought a used copy from Amazon last summer. And really, it's the PERFECT book to read around St. John's Eve.

The protagonist is Sparrow, a mysterious but deeply engaging character with a shadowy past and a sudden tendency to black out, only to later meet characters who seem to know more about these episodes than poor Sparrow does. The greater plot concerns the Horsemen, supersoldiers created by a now-defunct U.S. government who had no bodies, gifted with the ability to seize any host body and destroy its owner's mind. Sparrow and friends (Sherrea, Theo, and many others, all finely and absorbingly drawn) are now living in a world after the Horsemen caused a nuclear holocaust, where folk magic has new credence and technology is precious.

I can't decide which I like better: the plot(which is dynamite), the characters (all of whom you'd love to spend time with), or the prose itself (witty, sparkling, and apt to make you lose whole hours while reading it). I generally don't go in for a lot of cyberpunk beyond William Gibson, simply because it's usually too invested in its own tragically hip and fiercely cutting-edge coolness to actually entertain the hapless readers who find it, but this is pure quicksilver magic. I'd give it ten stars if I could.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not As Good as _War for the Oaks_ but Still Brilliant! Aug. 27 1998
By Andrew Carey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like most of Emma Bull's work, _Bone Dance_ is better than 98% of everything that's on the fantasy shelves today. I didn't find it as fabulously built as _War for the Oaks_, but it was still a marvelous read. Bull takes a common theme (life after nuclear war and the breakdown of civilisation-as-we-know-it), and turns it sideways . To begin with, it takes place in a city, not the usual post-nuclear desert; for another, not everybody has turned into punk-rockers/bikers. Instead the city has become a multi-cultural meeting ground, with a government whose power seems to be based on control of energy and communications resources and an economy large enough to support an entertainment business and a trade in luxury goods (such as pre-war compact disks and videotapes). Add in a likeable protagonist, a lot of voudou, and a former member of the psychic clique responsible for the war, now on a mission of penance (she's spent the past few decades killing off her former colleagues), and we have a plot that more than fits the fascinating milieu. Best of all, Bull had abandoned the tired old USA-USSR backstory for her post-nuclear world; instead there was apparently a war between North and South America Particularly interesting is the fact that--judging from the heavy Hispanic and Afro-French influence in the un-named City--the two were apparently rather similar to each other by the time they came to blows.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Friendship of the Soul July 7 2005
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ms. Bull does not have very many titles to her credit, but each one of them is very unique, very different from the average run-of-the-mill fantasies that clutter up the bookstore shelves.

Bone Dance starts with a post-nuclear setting, but rather than a world of deserts and a civilization blasted back to stone-age technology, here we still have cities, electricity, even full-flavored showings of old movies and music clips intertwined in the best traditions of artistic DJ's. Of course, the infrastructure that produced the technological goodies needed to do such shows no longer exists, thereby providing employment for Sparrow, our first-person narrator, as he is one of the few that still has the necessary knowledge of electronics to repair this gear when there are the inevitable breakdowns.

Sparrow has a problem, however, of having `blank' spots in his memory, times when he can't remember what he did or where he went, only knowing that where he woke up is far from when his last memory says he was. Finding out the answer to these blank spots involves tarot cards, the Horsemen, the dictator of the city, a search for revenge on the person who helped instigate the nuclear war, hoodoo magic, and a cast of very well realized characters. Each of these characters have their own pasts and problems, and they all grow and change considerably during the course of this book's action. Some of the action is very `unpretty', almost gross, but provides a strong line of plot thread that well illuminates one of the main thematic points here, of the importance of friendship and community and that the means to find these things involves baring your soul a bit to others. The odd meld of magic and technology here is refreshing, with some interesting descriptions of the meaning behind the various tarot cards, something I don't normally subscribe to, but Ms. Bull makes them an integral part of the plot, and here it works well.

A strong book with a taut plot that is not telegraphed, highlighted by characters that are very different but quite recognizable, a setting and a group of ideas that are not just a rehash of stuff seen hundreds of times elsewhere, all are very good. I had some quibbles with some of the minor characters not being presented with enough force to make them memorable when they reappear after fifty page gaps, and I found some of the descriptive work either over- or under-done, sometimes leaving me floundering about just what the scene was or wishing she would get on with the story. These are definitely minor quibbles, however, as the general prose is quite adequate, the story line engrossing, the main characters real. Recommended for all those readers who are tired of crumbling castles and yet another dragon quest.

--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A shame this is out of print Feb. 16 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This one's even better than Falcon, though I gave them both a rating of 9. Here Bull uses the first person narrative to spring a surprise on us -- the protagonist has a secret that's never mentioned but is perfectly obvious in retrospect, and that's all I'm going to say. We've seen the post-apocalypse setting before, but Bull makes it fresh again by bringing in references to voodoo. The lull after the first climax is the only thing that keeps this book from earning a score of a perfect 10 (and even the "slow part" has lots of interesting stuff going on, just not at the breathless pace that preceded it). GREAT read
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reissue available July 2009! (was "Please reissue this book!") Aug. 7 2004
By mabs - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Bone Dance" (along with "Falcon") has got to be one of my favorite all-time books. Emma Bull is an amazingly gifted storyteller with a sure, deft touch. If you haven't yet discovered her, you are in for a treat: complex characters, layered plots, detailed world-building, humor, and, above all, a compassionate yet clear-eyed understanding of human weakness make this an outstanding story, which, in my opinion, far exceeds "War for the Oaks" (perhaps her best-known work.) While "Oaks" is a delightful story, it is in "Bone Dance" that Bull really hits her stride. If you like Lois McMaster Bujold, Diana Wynne Jones, or Tanith Lee, then you will probably like Emma Bull too. This is a book that will haunt you long after you put it down.

Thrilled to learn that this gem is finally being reissued on July 7, 2009 - Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles. Now, if they will also reissue "Falcon"...
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