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Literature: Bears Discover Fire

Bears Discover Fire is a 1990 Hugo Award-winning short story by Terry Bisson. It follows an ordinary man going about his life shortly after bears discover fire. The focus of the story is mostly on the narrator and his nephew and mother.


Story provides examples of:

  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted. The bears are not nice, but they aren't mean either. They're just bears.
  • Cool Old Lady: The narrator's mother.
  • Creepy Uncle: Entirely averted. The narrator is arguably a better parent to his nephew than his nephew's real parents.
  • Death Is Such an Odd Thing: The narrator's mixed emotions over his mother's death at the end of the story.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The events at the end of the story suggest that the humans and bears won't get along peacefully for long.
  • Most Writers Are Human: The fact that bears have discovered fire is the central point to the story, but the focus is still on the human characters. Otherwise averted, as the bears of the story are given few human characteristics.
  • Title Drop: Early on in the story.