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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hunter's Run by Martin, Dozois, and Abraham

Hunter's Run by George R.R. Martin, Garner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham. New York: Eos (HarperCollins), 2008. ISBN: 978-0-06-137329-9

This is nitty gritty SciFi at its best. Our protagonist, one Ramón Espejo is an uneducated, roistering, hard-drinking, hard-living, blue collar kind of a guy who finds himself in an untenable situation, and makes the best of it. He's an independent prospector on the lam from the law, after a drunken spree in which he brutally murders a visiting gringo muckety muck, who while out in the wild unexplored reaches of the planet, stumbles onto an alien secret that is definitely too big for him.

Not only that, but he realizes that he is actually a clone of himself, slaved to the aliens he's discovered, and tasked with finding and preventing his real self from getting back to civilization to report what he's found. By killing himself (his other self), if that's what it takes.

The basic scenario is this: human kind finds itself somewhat adrift in a universe where alien races seem to have the best real estate already locked up. These aliens, at least some of them, are happy to use human kind as their worker bees. Espejo, along with an entire mining crew, ships off to a frontier planet to help in its development and exploitation.

While out prospecting, he inadvertently stumbles onto ANOTHER alien civilization, carefully hidden away, and determined to remain so. Apparently humans are mere pawns in a much larger game of high stakes, in which one alien race is trying to wipe out another, for reasons poor Espejo is not equipped to fathom. But he IS willing to play whatever limited cards he has, in hopes of first surviving, then bettering his situation.

“Gritty” is hardly an adequate description of this story. Suspense there is too, in plentiful supply. Definitely recommended for anyone who enjoys a universe which doesn't assume that humans are always on top, or even remotely NEAR the top in the fight for survival. But still, we humans persist. We struggle on. We refuse to give up, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

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