Bone Dance Critical Essays

Emma Bull


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In many ways, Bone Dance continues the cyberpunk legacy by exploring the psychological condition of a post-holocaust survivor through a hard-bitten and intelligent use of interior monologue and a series of trying moral dilemmas. Bull extends this paradigm beyond the exploration of technology and evil corporations, so prevalent in cyberpunk narratives and concentrates more fully on developing her central character. Sparrow is a sharp, cynical loner who has little use for anyone outside of her business transactions. Bone Dance convincingly follows her growth toward a complex understanding of herself as a human being.

Sparrow is never completely cold and bitter, and her love of pre-holocaust relics is more than commercial. She has a sense of time and history, and of how things could have been better in the city. In short, she has ideals about the possibilities of life and human interaction that her environment does not allow her to explore. As Bull makes clear, Sparrow has an affinity with these relics because she herself is a relic, a manufactured object that was “born” a teenager with a yearning for connection.

Sparrow also shares a deep sense of kinship with the Horsemen, another manufactured form looking for a sense of permanence and stability. Guilty over their destruction of the world, Frances and Skinner take it upon themselves to eliminate all Horsemen in a belated gesture of goodwill and in a belief that they cannot...

(The entire section is 462 words.)