Friday, November 10, 2006

The Dragons of Summer Gulch

If you enjoy fantastic paleontology, you will probably enjoy Robert Reed's short story "The Dragons of Summer Gulch" ( ETA: current story link), published in SciFiction in 2004. It takes place in an alternate Wild West. Like our own world, terrible lizards once roamed the plains; the difference is that the prehistoric lizards were mighty dragons rather than dragons rather than dinosaurs. The tale starts with Barrow, a prospector for dragon fossils, which are rather valuable.
Back in town, an educated fellow had explained to Barrow what science knew today and what it was guessing. Sometimes the dragons had been buried in mud, on land or underwater, and the mud protected the corpse from its hungry cousins and gnawing rats. If there were no oxygen, then there couldn't be any rot. And that was the best of circumstances. Without rot, and buried inside a stable deep grave, an entire dragon could be kept intact, waiting for the blessed man to ride by on his happy camel.
Barrow turns up more than he expected at his digs, with major consequences. Read the story online at SciFiction on Robert Reed's web site.

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