The Art of the Dragon: 09/12/09
I like to savor my short story collections. I need time between each short story to think about what I've read and to internalize the story. So here it is the second week of September and I am just now cracking the spine (not literally!) on the August / September issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
Dragons in modern day settings seem to be popular plot devices. First on my radar was Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley, then the Dragons of Spratt Ohio by Linda Zinnen (review coming) and now "The Art of the Dragon" by Sean McMullen.
The opening line sucked me into this 30 page story: "I was there when the dragon first appeared and ate the Eiffel Tower." (p. 7) Enter Dr. Carr, the last art history PhD who pays the bills by driving a garbage truck. Really it should be a dustcart since he lives in London but it says "garbage truck" in the story. Nonetheless, he's highly educated on the finest achievements of humankind and he makes his living driving away human generated trash.
On the science fiction front, "The Art of the Dragon" most reminds me of Fahrenheit 451 but for art, artists and art historians instead of books, writers and librarians. If the dragon wants to eat art, the best way to protect the world is to ban art. Not only ban it, but destroy it before the dragon can. As social commentary, it's an interesting look at what art is or might be. Why do we create art? Why do we need it? Where would we be without it?