I’m half-way through The Secret History of Fantasy and this is the story I’ve enjoyed the most: Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson. What a fine story this is! It felt completely real from beginning to end, and like the best fantasies it left me wishing it was real. Terry Bisson’s voice is authentic, his first-person narrator realized without a single false note. I challenge anyone to finish this story and not want to meet the narrator, sit around saying not much with him, and go see those bears.
Then there’s Theodora Goss’s story Sleeping With Bears. Was there ever a more enticing wedding party? By the end of it, we all understand why someone would marry a bear.
There’s something about bears that makes people write fine, fine fiction. People let bears be what they are; bears don’t require that you project anything onto them. They’re just as big as we are and have their own lives without our participation. They carry on right in front of us, as if neither of us mattered that much to one another, and in this set us a good example to follow. And some excellent authors have taken up that challenge.