Friday, September 11, 2015

The Bone War, by Elizabeth Bear

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, September/October 2015

Bijou the Artificer is called in to see, and ultimately work on, the nearly complete fossilized skeleton of an ancient fantastical beast, a dinosaur, called a Titdal Titan. Dinosaurs are truly ancient creatures, predating not only the ancient peoples, but even dragons. Bijou's techniques involve magic, and her own and her assistant's familiars, both of which are also magically reconstructed bone creatures. Bijou's familiar is Ambrosias, a giant centipede-like creature constructed from the bones of unrelated mammals. Her journeyman Brazen's familiar is Hawti, a reconstructed elephant.

What Bijou doesn't initially realize is that she is stepping into the middle of an academic feud over the proper interpretation of the remains in taking on the reconstruction of this ancient creature.

The story is set in Bear's Eternal Sky world, and Bijou is a recurring character. What she does with her reconstructions is intriguing and charming. Her take on academic rivalry and feuding is fun, and overall this is probably a good entry point for the larger series.

Recommended.