cover image Dancing with Bears

Dancing with Bears

Michael Swanwick. Night Shade, $24.99 (280p) ISBN 978-1-59780-235-2

Following 2007's The Dog Said Bow-Wow, Swanwick sends his postapocalyptic con artists Darger and Surplus to ferry seven genetically enhanced brides from the caliph of Byzantium to the duke of Muscovy. Unfortunately, the plot requires Darger and Surplus to separate for much of the book, depriving readers of their entertaining banter. Moving among both the highest and lowest members of Russian society, including Pushkin in liquid form and aristocrats in self-cloned leather clothing, Darger and Surplus uncover a coup plot that involves political climbers, religious zealots, and the vengeful revenants of the ancient Internet, leading to a climactic battle in the streets around the Kremlin. Swanwick doesn't stint the whimsy while touching on the sadness and joy at the core of a story about losing the past to gain the future. (May)