Bears Discover Fire by Terry Bisson (1993) 254 p.
I bought this book based solely on the title. “Bears Discover Fire.” The implications of that are horrifying. A second sapient species on the planet? Man reigns supreme only because of his oversized brain; on a level playing field, the bears would wipe the floor with us every time.
The book is actually a collection of short stories, and unfortunately none of them, including the titular ursine escapade that was brimming with promise, are particularly good. Terry Bisson is one of those classic science fiction writers who has a brilliant imagination, and some amazing ideas, but lacks the writing ability to really bring them to their full potential (the terminal point along that spectrum being the filthy, wretched hovel of Philip Jose Farmer). Some of the stories are quite bad; most are merely not good. They’re readable, certainly, but Bisson just makes so many mistakes. He drops foreshadowing too early, leaves blatant hints that the reader could easily guess for themselves, and his stories just seem to lack some vital spark. A good effort, but give this one a miss.
Bears Discover Fire at The Book Depository