Try and Kill It


Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Starwater Strains

"Try and Kill It is a rarity among my stories -- one Gardner Dozois liked well enough to run in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Gardner no longer edits it, but he remains one of the friendliest guys I know."


A hunter, appropriately named Tom Hunter, tries to kill a large bear that proves to be more than a match for him.


  • The bear is absurdly powerful. Not only can it turn Tom's bow against him, but it has unkillable zombie paws.

Unresolved Questions

  • What is the nature of the bear? Perhaps it is a werebear?
    • There are legends among the Native Americans of powerful bear spirits. According to this Totem Bear Spirit Guide, "The Brown Bear, including the Grizzly bear has powerful life force, and a shaman with a grizzly bear power animal takes on this characteristic, becoming almost invincible when faced with physical or psychic attack. Beware the grizzly’s temper however, the dark side of this power!"
    • The following passage from Robinson Crusoe could be one of the seeds of this story: “As the bear is a heavy, clumsy creature, and does not gallop as the wolf does, who is swift and light, so he has two particular qualities, which generally are the rule of his actions; first, as to men, who are not his proper prey (he does not usually attempt them, except they first attack him, unless he be excessively hungry, which it is probable might now be the case, the ground being covered with snow), if you do not meddle with him, he will not meddle with you; but then you must take care to be very civil to him, and give him the road, for he is a very nice gentleman; he will not go a step out of his way for a prince; nay, if you are really afraid, your best way is to look another way and keep going on; for sometimes if you stop, and stand still, and look steadfastly at him, he takes it for an affront; but if you throw or toss anything at him, though it were but a bit of stick as big as your finger, he thinks himself abused, and sets all other business aside to pursue his revenge, and will have satisfaction in point of honour - that is his first quality: the next is, if he be once affronted, he will never leave you, night or day, till he has his revenge, but follows at a good round rate till he overtakes you.” (Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe, Chapter XX, FIGHT BETWEEN FRIDAY AND A BEAR).

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