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Owl Dance
David Lee Summers
Flying Pen Press, 266 pages

Owl Dance
David Lee Summers
David Lee Summers is an author, editor and astronomer living somewhere between the western and final frontiers. His latest novel, Dragon's Fall, released in five parts, is from Sinful Moments Press. His wild west/steampunk collection Owl Dance is Flying Pen Press. In addition to his work in the written word, David works at Kitt Peak National Observatory.

David Lee Summers Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Revolution of Air & Rust
SF Site Review: Tales of the Talisman Volume 8, Issue 4

A review by Sandra Scholes

Fatemeh Karimi has fled the oppression of her country and intends to make a new start for herself in another land. Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico meets her when a new life-form comes to Earth called Legion. Now Fatemeh and Ramon have to pull together to find out who he is and why he has come to Earth. While they are taking their time investigating, they run into others: outlaws, inventors and pirates. Ramon is a man of the world and great with a gun and Fatemeh has an ability she can use to her advantage that involves animals.

David Lee Summers started out this novel from the first story, "The Persian Witch," which had been previously published in David B. Riley's anthology magazine Trails: Intriguing Stories of the Wild West. That was the first time we got to hear about heroine Fatemeh Karimi, and thankfully he didn't leave it there. Summers had written the rest of the stories featuring Fatemeh and Sheriff Ramon Morales; "Electric Kachinas," "The Pirates of Baja," and "The Clockwork Lobo." David Rozansky has also partly to do with Summers's reason for creating his novels about Ramon and Fatemeh as he wanted an outline for a steampunk novel. "The Clockwork Lobo," first appeared in M.H. Bonham's anthology Wolfsongs 2.

In "The Persian Witch," Sheriff Ramon Perez is warned about a woman who professes to be a healer by Mrs. Chavez. She has the belief she is a practising black magic user, a bruja. But then there is the subject of jealousy to consider, for when he talks to the supposed bruja, he finds out she is Fatemeh Karimi who considers Mrs. Chavez a fraud and a charlatan as she only consults cards and makes love potions for her clients. Mrs. Chavez could see her as competition especially if she is better than her. When he gets to see Fatemeh, he finds he sympathises with her over leaving her homeland as it has put her life in peril to be an independent woman. It does help that she is a real healer, not a fake. This is partly the reason she thinks he might need her, but he would also like to protect her. It's not hard to like this story. There are many connections in it like Ramon's nickname being Buho which means owl as she can connect mentally with these birds. Mrs. Chavez's antics at attempting to drive out Fatemeh fall flat when Ramon discovers her plot to trap her as a witch. Instead of them sounding sinister, they seem comical. It stands out being more about them having trouble with a mine, but turns out to be more about the freedom of movement and choice of religion.

All life questions its origins in "Electric Kachinas." Legion does too as he can only be someone if he enters another human's body and lives his life through them. He is a series of nanites which gathers information on people around the universe. He has visited many places, and soon meets Ramon and Fatemeh in his travels. Legion realises that it isn't always a good idea to enter anyone's body even though their body might be compatible to his nanites as not all men will be as stable as he. The kachina doll puts everything about this strange case into perspective, and also when Fatemeh tries to help solve it. I liked the uniqueness of this story as it stands out from the others.

"The Pirates of Baja." is a story where the author mentions that there are inventors, outlaws and pirates and he isn't joking. Ramon decides to take a job working as security for a railroad as there's a group of pirates they have had problems with at the port of Los Angeles. Burke has already agreed to pay him a year's wages for only a week's work. Though it seems like a great way to earn extra cash, Fatemeh is unsure as she believes he might be in great danger. He tries to alleviate her cautious manner by saying he was put in similar danger when he was Sheriff. Burke has a greater role to play in this story as does Fatemeh whom I was starting to like even more from reading so much about her in the previous stories.

In "The Clockwork Lobo" where Fatemeh had trouble in "The Persian Witch," Ramon advises her to be careful with how she interacts with the local people when they visit their next town, Messilla. They don't allow horses and they might not like seeing Fatemeh even if she is a healer. The price of staying at a house is dear, and for a moment he considers the sign on the porch that offers a reward for killing off wolves that have been attacking the local cattle. Ramon thinks it would be foolish to ignore the promise of making some cash, but Fatemeh is horrified that he would want to kill defenceless animals for money. As Fatemeh has close association with owls, she sees it as sacrilege to want to kill, but they find it hard to pay the rent when they want to stay somewhere for the duration of their visit. The plot gets interesting when Ramon investigates the wolves, and one in particular doesn't look like the rest.

David Lee Summers is an author, editor, astronomer and editor of Tales of the Talisman magazine. His work has appeared in the anthologies Space Pirates and Space Horrors and Owl Dance marks his seventh novel to date. His stories have been published in Science Fiction Trails, Human Tales, 2020 Visions, Space Sirens and Six-Guns Straight from Hell. He doesn't always work in literature; he works at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Two pages in, I thought there were only four stories featured in this volume, but there are many more I haven't gone into as I would like the others to be more of a surprise to readers; "Day of the Dead," "The Trial," "Kid Antrim," "The Folly of Liberation," "Oil and the Future," "The Breakdown," "Lincoln County War" and "The Shadow of the Owls" are some of the other stories that feature Ramon and Fatemeh. Owl Dance got me interested in the two main characters as I got to know more about them the more I read through their escapades. Readers of science fiction, fantasy and steampunk would find this book fascinating and well worth the price, as would Summers's other novels.

Copyright © 2013 Sandra Scholes

Sandra writes enough material to fit into a War and Peace size volume most of the time and when she isn't she writes science fiction poetry. Her work has been in Love Romance Passion, Love Vampires and Active Anime. Magazine.

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