Book Talk: 'Hunter's Run' by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Book Talk: 'Hunter's Run' by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham

Alexander Wallace is on the run.
They say that too many cooks may spoil the broth (but honey, I don’t think that’s true - at least in all cases). Many readers are skeptical of books with two authors; here, they would be apoplectic at a book that has three. One may justly worry if such a book can maintain any sense of coherence.

Such makes Hunter’s Run a bit of a hard sell. This book is ultimately the brainchild of Gardner Dozois, the anthologist who brought to the page so many incredible short stories in science fiction and fantasy and in other genres (the cross-genre anthologies he edited with George R. R. Martin are superb), who for the longest time could not bring the story anywhere; at that time, it was in novella form. Enter Martin, of Game of Thrones fame and longtime friend of Dozois, who worked on it with him. They brought in Daniel Abraham, who did his own work, and brought forth the completed novella Shadow Twin. Dozois later expanded Shadow Twin into Hunter’s Run.

I found Hunter’s Run in my neighborhood library, a small schoolhouse-sort of building constantly used as a poker chip in County budget fights (something that my neighbors find to be irritating to no end). It was one of those random finds that makes me remember why I love libraries, and how essential they are to the public good.
Hunter’s Run concerns, as you might expect, a man on the run. That man is Ramón Espejo, a man who ended up killing somebody in a bar fight. That in and of itself is not an uncommon thing on frontier worlds like São Paulo, the lushly realized world on which this novel takes place. What is uncommon about Ramón's situation is that the man that he ended up killing was a diplomat. You had the hunter; now you have the run.

Ramón is exactly the sort of roguish character that drives so much science fiction; he joins the ranks of Han Solo in being charming and dashing, but he never allows us to forget how he is ultimately at the mercy of circumstance. He is a street-smart man in a hardscrabble universe, doing what he needs to do to survive. He is deeply flawed, as we all are; the reader will not find a paper cutout here, but rather a fully fleshed-out human being who is loveable and frustrating in equal measure. His relationships with all his fellow people feel real; none can say that this book suffers in human terms.

His journey has him traversing the jungles and mountains and rivers of São Paulo, one of the most well-realized planets in any science fiction novel I’ve ever read. There is danger among that Arcadian landscape, dangers that test our wary protagonist in ways he never expected. This planet is a dark and foreboding place, reminiscent perhaps of Jack Vance’s Big Planet and its titular world. In a very real sense, Hunter’s Run is a modern take on the old subgenre of planetary romance, albeit one that doesn’t feel quite as close to fantasy as the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

One of the frustrating things about writing reviews of this nature is that I can’t spoil anything, but I will say that Hunter’s Run has some of the most clever plotting that I’ve ever seen in a science fiction novel. In a way, it’s a miracle that it did not become muddled in the collaboration between three different writers, but it did not to our great benefit. This is science fiction storytelling at its highest form, and when you get to one particular moment you will appreciate the craftsmanship to which you have borne witness.

This novel is a sterling example of what science fiction can do. I know I tend to overuse the word ‘triumph’ when reviewing books that I like, but I can think of no better word. Hunter's Run should be savored, and elevated to the classics of the genre. It is honestly dismaying that it has not gotten the accolades that it so richly deserves.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad