The Doctor and the Dinosaurs is the latest in Mike Resnick’s Weird West Tales, featuring Doc Holliday, Tom Edison, Ned Buntline, and, back for an encore, Teddy Roosevelt. And once again, Goyathlay, known to the white man as Geronimo, is the motive force.
Doc Holliday is on his last legs. Well, he’s actually flat on his back in the Leadville Sanitarium and not expected to last another day. Geronimo, however, has other plans for him, and appears (this time, as an owl) with an offer: two scientists, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel C. Marsh, once colleagues and now bitter rivals, are digging in Wyoming for dinosaur fossils. The problem is, they are digging through Comanche burial grounds to get to the fossils. The Comanche aren’t too happy, which normally wouldn’t bother Geronimo a bit, but their probable method of retaliation has him a little nervous, if you can imagine such a thing: he’s worried that the Comanche medicine men will start resurrecting dinosaurs to do away with the scientists and their teams. But he’s not sure they can control the dinosaurs – in fact, he’s pretty sure they can’t, or won’t – and that they – the dinosaurs, that is – will find their way to Arizona and Apache territory. He wants Holliday to stop them – Cope and Marsh, that is – and so avoid the whole scenario. In return, he offers to restore Holliday’s health, insofar as he can.
Needless to say, it gets a lot more complicated than that.
Like others in the series, there’s a lot of talk in The Doctor and the Dinosaurs, background and history, but the characters are so vivid and so quirky that the talk doesn’t really slow the story down very much.
And the story itself is kind of knotty and fun, although once again the plot is little more than a framework to display the wildly eccentric characters. And on that score, one of the most enjoyable things about this series is the way that Resnick has taken the larger-than-life legends of his characters and turned them into real – and sometimes rather disreputable – people.
It’s light reading, perfect for a lazy summer afternoon.
(PYR [Prometheus Books], 2013)