Bone Dance Mass Market Paperback – Dec 12 2012
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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.
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
'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.
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)
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"...