Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

  As a Coloradan, I often look forward to the work of horror writer Stephen Graham Jones. His latest, The Only Good Indians (Gallery/Saga Press), is a worthy entry that brings us into collision with the natural world. And anyone who’s tried to debug an electrical problem in the house will immediately be sucked right in.

Ten years in the past, a group of Blackfeet teens stumbles upon an elk herd that is easy pickings. They slaughter many, even though it’s an illegal kill and they haven’t a way of bringing all that meat home. Now the vengeful ghost of a pregnant cow comes back to harrow them.

As bad goes to worse (think "Cabin in the Woods"), Jones’s book touches on many issues, both historical and scientific.

I was reminded of the Magnetic Fields song, “Fear of Trains,” with its haunting litany of difficulties faced by Native Americans throughout our history

We are also reminded to coexist with wildlife. I just came across an ongoing study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to study survival rates of calves under a year old among herds across the state, focusing on how human recreation may be influencing the behavior of elk. There’s a weird but fun story in the Colorado Sun about transporting pregnant elk via helicopter!

If you’re in Colorado in the fall, a real treat is to admire (from a remote, respectful distance) the “bugling” of the elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, as the rutting season begins.

At Third Flatiron, we featured a great story about mass hunts from trains in our weird western themed Principia Ponderosa anthology. The author of that story, “The Hunt,” Salinda Tyson also invoked a Servant spirit that preserved the balance between the human and the natural. If you liked Jones’s story, check out Tyson’s story here.

The Only Good Indians is a finalist for the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Speculative Fiction and is available on Amazon.

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