Strange Horizons, 27 June 2005

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"Pursued by a Bear" by Hannah Wolf Bowen

Hannah Wolf Bowen
‘s story "Pursued by a Bear" is well-written and haunting, but I am not sure I am totally won over.  

The story inhabits the realm of slipstream.  The fantasy is more in the feel of the piece than any magical or supernatural elements.  It deals with the aftermath of photographer, Joss Arthur, being attacked by the last wild bear.  He is traumatized by the attack, but has more trouble dealing with his role as the last survivor of a wild bear attack than the attack itself.  Joss is caught between the bear, who he has begun to relate to through dreams, and his friend, Gary, another survivor of an earlier attack.

The idea that humans are overtaking the natural habitats of wild animals is not so far from reality. The idea that the capture of the last of the wild bears is positioned as fantasy, but is not so fantastic, is a strong message.  

I especially enjoyed Bowen’s use of dreams to connect Joss to his bear.  It was a nice touch that I wanted to see more of.  "Pursued by a Bear," though effective, made me wish Bowen had used a little less realism and a little more magic to tell the story.