Next up is "Bears Discover Fire," which, in a way, is about bears discovering fire one year in the near future. However, in a more accurate way, this story is about how bears discovering fire affects one man and his extended family, including his brother, Wallace, his nephew, Wallace, Jr., and his ageing mother. It's a touching and wry story with a whimsical touch, and it's just good to read. It reminds me a lot of a story call "Triceratops Summer" by Michael Swanwick which I read shortly before starting this blog. Both are really simple but beautifully written stories where science fiction elements are really only there to help drive the true story, which centres on the characters, rather than to take centre stage.
Frankly, this is the kind of SciFi that I prefer: stories where the characters come first and the "science fiction" is there as a supporting aspect to the story. This is not to say that the science fiction element of the story can just be swapped out for the conventions of another genre (in both of the stories mentioned here, for example, the science fiction elements drive the way the characters act and react). If it could, why would you bother writing SciFi at all? Instead, I hold that the SciFi elements are necessary to each of these stories. But, in the end, they're really not what's important. In other words, the story takes centre stage over the science, which is something that I often find is a rarity in the genre.