Bone Wars by Brett Davis

Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 19, 1999

Bone Wars by Brett Davis

Seven people attended the discussion of Bone Wars. This is an alternate history SF novel about paleontologists who get mixed up with aliens in Montana near the end of the 1800s.

Only three of us had finished the book. We all felt that the book had started slowly, although those who persevered said that it got better later on. From the cover material and the author’s previous work, we had expected this book to contain a lot of humor, but that expectation went unfulfilled. The book is told straightforwardly and has a fairly simple plot, leading some of us to wonder if the book was intended for younger readers. The book seemed longer than it needed to be, with many of us commenting that it felt “padded”.

This book had some good elements. Many felt that the academic rivalry between the scientists was enjoyable and realistically depicted. We liked some of the characters, particular a Native American leader who was a supporting character. One of the characters in the book is an aspiring writer of “penny adventure” novels, and in many ways this book reads like an example of that literary tradition.

One problem was that this book’s subject matter invited comparison to much better books: Petrogypsies by Rory Harper, Them Bones by Howard Waldrop, and many of the works of H. Rider Haggard. We felt that if Davis wanted to explore material covered well by these good books, he needed to work harder if he didn’t want to suffer in comparison.

— A. T. Campbell, III