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Dragon America: The Phobos Science Fiction Anthology v. 2 Paperback – 25 Sep 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Phobos Books (25 Sept. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972002693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972002691
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 1.7 x 22.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,396,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First in War, First in Peace, First in the Military Use of Dragons 2 Jun. 2008
By FredTownWard - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In another one of those odd literary coincidences two authors simultaneously got the bright idea of writing historical fiction with dragons. But while Naomi Novik has now produced six novels about Napoleonic warfare with dragons: His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War, Empire of Ivory, Victory of Eagles, and Tongues of Serpents, Mike Resnick has yet to produce the promised follow up to American Revolutionary warfare with dragons: Dragon America.

Of the two Dragon America is the more realistic, if it is proper to use that word in connection with novels about dragons, because in it the dragon is just another animal, albeit an animal with many militarily useful abilities, something like about as intelligent as a dog or a horse. Unfortunately this greater realism substantially reduces the "fun", and dragon fanciers in particular, used to the intellectual equals dragons are portrayed as in most dragon rider fiction, are likely to be disappointed, maybe even appalled at what is done to what is just another animal in this universe.

The novel begins cleverly with a Historical Note about the controversy aroused when "a science fiction writer named Robert A. Heinlein wrote a rigorously extrapolated novel entitled 'Mammal America'" speculating upon how history might have turned out if European settlers in North America had "found themselves surrounded by the same mammalian ecology that existed throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa". The result was books and more books, documentaries, and "more than one fistfight" among "otherwise sedate scholars".

For reasons not entirely made clear (the lack of French intervention?) the American Revolution is going much more badly for the Americans in this universe, badly enough that Daniel Boone has been sent by George Washington to try and recruit some Indian allies. Unfortunately, the number of braves they are willing to spare would not be enough to alter the war's outcome. However, the Shawnee chief's eldest son suggests an alternative: seeking out the great and terrible dragons of legend that they've all heard stories about in the far west, so this they do. Meanwhile General Washington is experimenting with making military use of the much smaller and weaker local dragons, including even of imaginary dragons.

Resnick has offered some truly fascinating ideas about what a realistic Dragon Ecology, with dragons filling most of the ecological niches filled by mammals in our universe, would look like and how they could be made use of by man for military or other purposes. Unfortunately in the process he has considerably reduced their military usefulness in comparison with "normal" dragon rider fiction, to the point that the scheme by which dragon heavyweights are finally brought to bear would make Rube Goldberg blanch and be almost impossible to duplicate. The focus on half a dozen main characters, many of them historical figures, in four essentially separate narratives hinders reader identification. You will be more intrigued by the concept than swept away by the story. The final paragraph reads:

"This was the first time that the dragons of America played a major role in history. It would be far from the last."

Actually, given their limitations and the difficulties involved, I'm thinking it WOULD be the last, which might explain the lack of a sequel.

Note: if you find yourself intrigued by the idea of Napoleonic or American Revolutionary warfare with dragons, how about American Civil War naval action...

with magic?

Land of Mist and Snow
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept 13 July 2006
By Spencer Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a decent read, with Resnick's usual bantering conversations between interesting characters, in this case including historical people. There are some glaring editorial/plot errors. For example, earlier in the book Tall Mountain is clearly described as too large to ride a Blue Nimble, so he has to ride a Landwagon instead; yet later in the book there he is riding a Blue Nimble. And there are a couple of inconsistencies in the military side of things as well. These are things that a good editor would have caught--I'm not familiar with this publisher (Phobos Impact). So these were distractions that made me stop in the middle of the story and say "Wait a minute" and flip back to reread what came before. But aside from that, the story itself was well done, the concept interesting, and overall an enjoyable read from one of my favorite authors, albeit more on the light side.
15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful alternate history fantasy 8 Sept. 2005
By Harriet Klausner - Published on
Format: Paperback
George Washington sends Daniel Boone to the Ohio wilderness where the frontiersman is to seek his adopted father Chief Blackfish to enlist the Shawnee to the American cause against the British. However, Blackfish is irate with his "son" for escorting settlers onto Shawnee lands; in fact Daniel is banned from the tribal lands. Still the brave frontiersman feels he must make the effort and accompanied by only his minuscule dragon Banshee ventures onto Shawnee territory.

When Daniel arrives at Blackfish's camp, he finds British colonial loyalist Simon Ginty advising the chief. Daniel requests a thousand warriors, but a reluctant Blackfish offers a couple of hundred. Instead his son Gray Eagle provides Daniel with a counter suggestion that they head further west to the land of the giant dragons and tame these potential weapons of mass destruction to use against Cornwallis' army. Boone agrees and the two men accompanied by escaped Indian slave Pompey journey to the land of the giant dragons.

The structure of the wonderful alternate history DRAGON AMERICA is actually four interrelated novellas that flow brilliantly together to enable the audience to feel events including believing mythical creatures are genuine. The above paragraphs only relate the beginning of the book of Daniel, but are followed by fabulous entries starring George Washington, Pompey's book and Ephram Eakins (working on training a different dragon breed). Mike Resnick shows why he is one of the best fantasists writing today as he adds dragons to the Revolutionary War and makes his book seem like a thrilling historical fiction as much as a fantasy.

Harriet Klausner
2.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating premise, lackluster execution 28 Oct. 2014
By Kenya Starflight - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you've looked at the cover and title of this volume and were immediately reminded of Naomi Novik's "His Majesty's Dragon," you're far from the only one. In fact, the main reason I picked this book up at a used-book sale was because I had read and loved Novik's historical fantasy series, and was eager to see a similar conceit executed in this volume. Only, unlike Novik's tale of a French Revolution with dragons assisting in aerial combat, Mike Resnick's tale would be set in the American Revolution. Nonetheless, I expected something quite similar to Novik's stories.

Sadly, while a great premise with a fascinating start, "Dragon America" quickly becomes dull, and somehow manages to make its concept boring.

"Dragon America" opens with a snippet of an alternate history, in which Robert Heinlein (yes, THAT Heinlein) writes a book similar to this one called "Mammal America" -- essentially a flipped version of "Dragon America," detailing an America overrun with mammals instead of reptilian wildlife. From there the book divides into four sections, each following a different character. First we follow legendary explorer Daniel Boone as, by George Washington's request and with the help of his pet Darter dragon Banshee, he tries to gather the Native American forces and inspire them to aid the American fighters against the British Army. When he fails in that attempt, he instead decides to recruit some bigger help... the legendary dragons of the frontier. In the second section, George Washington struggles to find a way for an undersupplied army to fight off the well-equipped British forces... and happens upon a plan that involves using dragons as message couriers. The third section follows translator and former slave Pompey as he tries to help Boone in his quest... and accidentally makes a discovery that can help them win the dragons' help and turn the tide of the war. The final section follows Ephram Eakin, a Revolutionary soldier recently promoted to captain, who has to think on the fly to save Washington and his troops from being exterminated... and finds salvation in the wings of a dragon.

I've probably made this book sound more exciting than it really is in the description. The truth is, it's rather dull reading -- Resnick is good at laying down facts, but bad at actually fleshing out his characters or drawing us into an exciting action scene. Descriptions of actions are wooden and have no sense of suspense or thrill to them, and characters are rather flat, even historical characters. One glaring case of this is reading Pompey's section of the book -- I was two chapters into it before realizing it was supposed to be from Pompey's point of view and not Boone's. The only character I found myself rooting for was Eakin, because at least the reader learns to sympathize with his plight as a regular soldier suddenly thrust into a command position he doesn't want... and even then he whines about it frequently, to the point where it gets frustrating.

If you were hoping for epic dragon action as well, you'll be disappointed. The dragons in this book are surprisingly... normal. The biggest ones happen to be herbivores, and even the carnivorous ones are surprisingly unimpressive and un-threatening. Don't go into this book expecting another Temeraire... or another Smaug or Fafnir, for that matter. The writer treats the dragons as just another animal, which might appeal to some but is probably a letdown for many fans of the beasts.

Also, it doesn't feel like Resnick has done a thorough job of researching American history in writing this -- everything feels like it comes from Hollywood's version of the Revolution or a middle-school textbook. Several references are made to "George Washington's wooden teeth" when that myth has long been disproven, and the timeline feels wrong and even rushed in places. Also, there's no reference made to the French and Indian War, despite it laying the groundwork for the Revolution era. I don't know if Resnick was hoping to write these changes off as "part of the alternate history" or if he just didn't care, but it's still jarring to see the research wasn't done, especially when other authors of alternate history do meticulous research before they write.

All in all, this was an exciting premise that needed a better author, better research, and better dragons to give it justice. Pass on this and pick up "His Majesty's Dragon" (if you haven't already) or the works of Harry Turtledove instead.
4.0 out of 5 stars Dragon America review 23 Sept. 2010
By Holly Slaski - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great read, especially for fans of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. Having Daniel Boone and George Washington in the book made for interesting reading at times. The book is hilarious at times, but is shorter than the books I usually read.
Unfortunately, the great fire-breathing dragons Daniel Boone uses at the end to help stop the British are more reminicent of Godzilla smashing through Tokyo, than anything from Dungeons and Dragons. All in all, it's a good book, but it could have been fleshed out more.
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