the Little Red Reviewer

If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love, by Rachel Swirsky (Hugo Nom)

Posted on: June 23, 2014

All of the Hugo nominated short stories are available to read online, and you can read Rachel Swirsky’s lyrically haunting “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love”, from the March issue of Apex Magazine, here.    (I’ll be posting reviews of the Hugo Nom’d short stories all week)


Here are my thoughts on “If You Were A Dinosour, My Love”, by Rachel Swirsky.


Half song, half prose poem, half prayer, with each paragraph beginning with the last phrase of the previous paragraph, the story put me in the mind of how a masterfully composed symphony returned to variations on a theme.

The title is the first line of the story, and it builds so very slowly –  she’s going through a thought experiment of if he was a dinosaur.  That his singing voice would be beautiful, that the geneticists would be all over him, that so he wouldn’t be lonely they would clone a mate for him, and even though she’d have lost him to a lady dinosaur, she wouldn’t be sad for losing him.

This is not a story, this is a kaleidoscope, with each touch, each incremental move of the barrel bringing something completely different into focus, taking you somewhere else, taking you one step closer to where the narrator is, at first, afraid to go. She wants to give you the imaginative, the impossible, the fantastically beautifully absurd before forcing you down to reality. You’re not sure where the story is going, you’re spiraling towards something, obviously, but the pitch perfect imagery is such a distraction that you don’t really care where you’re going. And then the end smacks you like a T-Rex’s jaw clamping down on your neck, and you suddenly know, without a doubt, exactly where that first sentence came from, where every sentence and thought came from. But a T-Rex is not about to eat you, this is reality and you are unfortunately, doomed to live.

You’ll be lured in by the lyricalness, pulled in further by the inescapable emotion, and then profoundly moved by the haunting devastation. This story killed me a little bit, and then I read it again, and it killed me a little bit more.  A truly amazing piece.


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9 Responses to "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love, by Rachel Swirsky (Hugo Nom)"

Sounds very adventurous. IMHO SF should be doing more of the experimental stuff.


Okay, I’m off to read it! I love pretty much everything in Apex, as a rule. When I started paying attention to the SFF world again, one of the first things I did was read Apex, and I was like “holy shit! THIS gets to count as science fiction/fantasy? This is awesome!”


It certainly a story that gets you right in the feels!


What a great title. I haven’t gotten to that issue yet.


The end of this one completely slayed me. It was really beautifully done.


It sounds so strange! Let me go read it right now!


I confess – I don’t think I’m civilised enough for poetry! I said it! Now, you don’t have to speak to me any more. However, on a positive side – this cover is so gorgeous that I want it on my wall. Apex covers are awesome sauce. Really stunning.
Lynn :D


…so, it’s not science fiction, it’s not fantasy either, it’s just some woman’s overheated internal monologue about how much she hates those horrible red-state rednecks and wants to kill them all, and presumably it won a Nebula with the votes of people who feel the same. Allllllllllll righty then.


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