01/12/2007. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Pyr/Prometheus Books. 313 page enlarged paperback. Price: $15.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-59102-546-7.
check out website: www.pyrsf.com
In 19th century Kenya there was a fabled giant pachyderm called the Kilimanjaro Elephant with enormous tusks. Author Mike Resnick even shows a picture of the tusks showing they exist. The elephant must have been a real giant.
In 6303, the tusks have become increasingly like a myth. The last of the Massai, Bukoba Mandaka hires Duncan Rojas, a researcher on distant planet Braxton's base for Records Of Big Game to track them down. Even though he is being paid, Rojas finds himself getting more intent in the mystery as he guides his computer on its search through the records and who owned them. He also develops an interest in Mandaka's own obsession, especially as the Massai is not very forthcoming to his reasons.
Essentially, that is the framework Resnick creates to encase eleven short stories of the lives of various people and aliens who owned these tusks, each weighing about 200Ibs. None of them are exactly wholesome and each have different agendas or reasons to sell ranging from gambling debts to war trophies.
I have to confess that this is my first time reading any of Resnick's longer works. The intrigue of what happened to and what is going to happen to the tusks is sufficient to read all the way through and not to cheat and look at the final chapter. What I did find a little harder going is how often the story was carried solely by dialogue to the point that in a couple places where it would have been nice to have seen a little action, the choice was ignored. Maybe its me, but I do think there is a need to balance dialogue and text if only to distinguish between stories and screenplays. Saying that, 'Ivory' would make a very an interesting audio-book.
Aside from this weakness, this book should have you intrigued enough to maintain your interest as well as give a sharp reminder of our own ecology and how little worth we put on things.
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