Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Reviewish: The Running of the Tyrannosaurs

I rarely pre-order books. This isn't because I don't love books or value authors (on the contrary, authors are my rockstars and I could build a queen-sized bed out of the books I own in physical copy) - this is because my to-read list is so long and I often don't get to a book fast enough to warrant the pre-order option. (And there's the matter of affording books better when they are on sale.)

Can we marvel, for a moment, at Roberto Calas' cover?
That said, I pre-ordered Stant Litore's The Running of the Tyrannosaurs. The morning it became available, I read it. You could say I devoured it - but I don't want to get even that close to making a dinosaur pun.

Like his previous works (The Zombie Bible and The Ansible Stories), Litore embraces some well-known fiction fodder that might be looked on as too cliche, and turns it into something truly great and worthy of deeper consideration.

Egret is a girl and athlete; she has been selected, altered by nanotechnology, and is a sacrifice for the people. She's an icon, a symbol, and she has been groomed to know and embrace that fact. The story is from her point of view, told in her self-assured voice, and relates the most important day of her life - Patriot Day. This is a day when Egret, and girls like her - embodiments of Liberty - will run with the scientifically resurrected tyrannosaurs for a spectacle.

It's easy to pull out some modern commentary from this story (the girls are rebuilt by their nanites to be 'perfect'), but it's the deeper layer that I found so engaging. Egret, all the runners on Patriot Day, are in competition with each other. This competitive spirit drives Egret, but as she moves through her day, as we get to view her thoughts so directly, there's something else going on. Something that not even Egret completely understands.

It's difficult to discuss it too much without giving spoilers.
It's the dawning of consciousness of a different sort that makes Egret an engaging voice and a perfect narrator for this story. Though it is internal and entirely a sort of stream-of-consciousness journey, Egret is extremely present in her experience. Her thoughts, like the events of Patriot Day, move at a brisk pace and never get bogged down.

The story is succinct, with just enough embellishment (in the form of a little back-story on our narrator) to make it a whole. As always, Litore's execution is spot-on. The story is cohesive and pulls the reader into the moment with Egret. Egret's voice is unique amongst the ever-growing pantheon of Litore's characters and brings the story a gritty, hot texture. The world building is just enough to situate you for the story, but leaves you intrigued to learn more. And - if rumors (from the author!) are true, readers will get a chance to get to know the world of this story more in a future novel.

If it's half as good as this installment (and I'm willing to wager it'll be twice as good), I'm looking forward to it.

Oh, better not forget the fire. Is this working for you? Heating things up? No, better leave the puns out of it. So concludes the second Fire Episode of Reviewish.

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