The Dog Said Bow-Wow • shortstory by Michael Swanwick

★★★★★
Meta: ISFDB. Published in Asimov’s October/November 2001. It won the Hugo 2002 and was nominated for Nebula Short Story in the same year (beside of several other nominations). It is a part of the Darger and Surplus series. I’ve read it in the anthology The Dog Said Bow-Wow.

It is one of several stories following the two con-men Surplus and his partner Darger who is a genetically engineered intelligent and talking dog. They remind me a little bit of Leiber’s Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser. Ben nailed it with the „baroque“ or Victorian SF: Alone Surplus‘ longer name „Sir Blackthorpe Ravenscairn de Plus Precieux“ is a perfect demonstration of that crazy, mixed-up future world. I’d even call it Science Fantasy because technology is so advanced that it might be magic – evident from fashion worn at „Queen Gloriana“’s court: „boots and gloves cut from leathers cloned from their own skin.“

The two protagonists invent cons in several European cities where human won a war with artificial intelligence. They had to shut-down communication devices which even now contain those demonic A.Is.

This time, they are around Buckhingham palace – the queen is one gigantic maggot, her bodyguards are apes.
How I love that setting!

It is full of action, narrow escapes, schemes and James Bond like romance. A distinct narrative voice and intelligent, witty dialogues round it up. Entirely entertaining, though maybe a bit too light of substance.

 

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