Book review: Field Guide to the Mesozoic Megafauna, by Michael Swanwick

4 04 2017

Michael Swanwick is a US science fiction writer whose novels and short fiction, over the past three-and-a-half decades, have won the Nebula, Hugo, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy Awards.

FieldGuideToTheMesozoicMegafauna

I’m a sucker for dinosaur stories, and Field Guide to the Mesozoic Megafauna is chock-full of them, eighteen in a chapbook-sized volume of just thirty-two pages. Swanwick’s writing, perhaps especially his flash-fiction work such as showcased here, is characterised by whimsy, inventiveness, and intriguing juxtaposition. None of these stories is long enough to fully engross the reader, but equally, none outstays its welcome; and several, such as ‘The Thief of Time’, ‘Parallels’, and ‘Iguanodon anglicus‘ convey a poignancy beyond their brief wordcount. While not every story here manages to hit its mark precisely, most do, with wit and deftly twisted humour. Thematically it’s not, I think, particularly representative of Swanwick’s larger body of work, but the writing is wonderful, like a less gonzo Howard Waldrop. It’s fired me up to check out more of Swanwick’s short fiction.

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