About a month ago I posted a review of Michael Swanwick’s The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus (you can read that review here). Darger and Surplus are con-artists who live in a future where technology is strictly controlled because Artificial Intelligences revolted and nearly destroyed humanity. The Danger and Surplus stories have a bit of a steampunk feel to them as a result.
Darger is a Brit who can fade into any crowd unnoticed. Surplus is a talking and walking dog who has been genetically modified. The Postutopian Adventures of Darger and Surplus collected Swanwick’s short stories about the duo. In Dancing With Bears (2011), Darger and Surplus are pretending to be part of an diplomatic mission from the Caliph of Baghdad to the Duke of Muscovy who rules what remains of Moscow. The mission is to deliver a “priceless gift” which is actually a harem of beautiful women.
But, of course, the mission is derailed by spies, Secret Police, and a sinister ploy by AIs who survived the War. Both Darger and Surplus contend with brushes with death as Moscow swirls out of control. If you’re looking for a Summer page-turner, Dancing With Bears will send you to Siberia. GRADE: A-