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Dragon America
Mike Resnick
Impact, Phobos Books, 288 pages

Dragon America
Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick sold his first book in 1962 and went on to sell more than 200 novels, 300 short stories and 2,000 articles, almost all of them under pseudonyms. He turned to SF with the sale of The Soul Eater, his first under his own name. Since 1989, Mike has won Hugo Awards (for Kirinyaga; The Manamouki; Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge; The 43 Antarean Dynasties; Travels With My Cats) and a Nebula Award (for Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge).

Mike Resnick Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Men Writing Science Fiction As Women, Women Writing Science Fiction As Men and New Voices in Science Fiction
SF Site Review: A Hunger in the Soul
Review: Kirinyaga

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Dragons infest North America in Mike Resnick's Dragon America, potentially the first in a series of alternate history novels. However, these dragons, while powerful, are simply another species of fauna. Dragon America opens in the middle of the American Revolution as George Washington, notorious for his pessimism, is trying to figure out how to finally defeat the British. To this end, he has sent tracker Daniel Boone into the interior to attempt to form an alliance with the Shawnee.

Although Shawnee chieftain Black Fish rejects Boone's offer, he does provide Boone with two companions, the runaway slave Pompey and the Shawnee Grey Eagle, as well as a quest. There are rumors that somewhere out west there are dragons to dwarf the Nightkillers, Landwagons, and Skyraiders of the east. Boone, Pompey and Grey Eagle set off to find these brutes in the hope that they can somehow bring the Thunderflames back to help Washington.

Resnick switches back and forth between the east and the west. When in the west, his point of view character is either Boone or Pompey. Their relationship is quite typical of many in Resnick's works. Boone is adept at his field and it appears almost magical to Pompey, who can't understand how Boone can do what he does. However, Boone is not portrayed as a super man. He knows his limitations. As he points out to Pompey, Boone has nothing like Pompey's ability with languages, just as Pompey can't compare his wilderness skills to Boone's.

In the east, the two viewpoint characters are Washington and a young soldier, Efram Eakins. Their relationship isn't as close as Boone and Pompey's. In fact, shortly after taking notice of Eakins, Washington gives him an assignment that will take him away from Washington. Although dragons are known throughout North America, for the most part they are simply wild animals. Washington looks at them from a strategic point of view and, with the help of Eakins, Washington begins to make use of them in an attempt to turn the war.

All of Resnick's characters are likable and mesh well together. In fact, one of the more interesting things about Dragon America is its lack of a villain. While this may have the effect of decreasing the tension of the novel, it is not a major flaw as the book is more focused on how Washington and Boone resolve their tasks rather than on defeating someone.

While Resnick's alternate history is a little silly, the dragons should have had a much vaster influence on the previous three hundred years of history, the novel works well once the reader suspends disbelief enough to buy into the basic concept of Resnick's America. Resnick's style is as transparent as ever, which is a much more difficult feat than most realize.

Dragon America is an entertaining book and Resnick's introduction of dragons to the American Revolution is an interesting idea. If the background doesn't quite work, it also doesn't really matter as the novel works well when taken on its own terms. The interaction between his characters and their way of looking at the world are an excellent example of what makes science fiction so enjoyable.

Copyright © 2005 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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