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Bone Dance: A Fantasy for Technophiles    by Emma Bull order for
Bone Dance
by Emma Bull
Order:  USA  Can
Orb, 2009 (1991)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Emma Bull describes her story Bone Dance as 'A Fantasy for Technophiles', and it is indeed an unusual mix of post-apocalyptic science, voodoo and Tarot. The protagonist is Sparrow, an androgynous trader of old and extremely rare videos and CDs in a post-apocalyptic Minnesota. Armageddon was apparently unleashed on the world by Horsemen, powerful telepaths able to take over others' bodies at will.

Sparrow is very secretive, even with friends. As the story opens, s(he) worries over recent blackouts. When s(he) consults his/her bruja friend Sherrea, s(he)'s told 'There's gonna be blood and fire, and the dead gonna dance in the streets' before 'the light of change'll shine in the tower of shadows.' Soon s(he) meets two of the last three surviving Horsemen - Mick Skinner who's been riding Sparrow's body and Frances Redding who's on a personal mission to destroy Tom Worecski, the Horseman who 'pushed the button.'

They are taken in by a group resisting the city's power base, using voodoo. The city is run by A. A. Albrecht (with Worecski in the shadows) - he keeps power by controlling electricity and fuel, outlawing other energy sources. They plan to take down Worecski, with surprising revelations along the way about Sparrow's origins and friends. Though their first attempt is betrayed and goes badly awry, Sparrow and allies survive to try again, this time with the help of Hoodoo Engineers - and Sparrow finally gets to go home.

Though Bone Dance is rather complex and not for the casual fantasy reader, it's well worth the effort for anyone who sticks with it. By no means my favorite of Emma Bull's works, it's probably the most imaginative, and filled with fascinating music and movie cultural references.

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