Review of HUNTER'S RUN by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham
Eos, January 2008
When he kills a man in a bar fight, Ramon Espejo heads for the open country. As a prospector, Ramon can comfortably live in the wild for months--and the authorities will have stuck someone else with the blame before he comes back. As long, that is, as he doesn't get into trouble. But trouble is exactly what he finds when he investigates a spot on an unexplored mountain and finds not valuable ore, but clear evidence of an alien civilization.
Aliens are not a huge surprise, but a new brand of alien, in the middle of nowhere, hiding inside what looks like a solid mountain--that is strange. Even stranger, the aliens tell Ramon that he's responsible for helping them track down a human witness who spotted the evidence and is heading back toward civilization. Word of their existance cannot be allowed out--no matter what the cost. And they have ways of compelling Ramon to help them.
With one of the aliens along to supervise him, Ramon sets off. But the man they're tracking has all of the outdoor skills that Ramon has. Tracking him through an unexplored wilderness just might get Ramon--and his alien--killed. Of course, even if Ramon is successful and does what the aliens want, he doesn't think they'll just shake hands with him and walk away. His future looks short.
Authors George R. R. Martin (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Martin), Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham combine to create an old-fashioned science fiction adventure story--complete with alien plots, a heroic man who refuses to give up, and unsuspecting government dupes. But they give the old plot standby a darker touch, with a damaged protagonist in Ramon, and a serious attempt at creating an alternate way of thinking as well as levels of complexity in the alien race.
HUNTER'S RUN is a quick read--unlike one George R. R. Martin's ultra-complex fantasy novels, but it is surprisingly effective at a number of levels, with muted lessons about our own world, thought-provoking questions about what it means to be a human, and with a strong character arc. Too often, multi-author works seem to end up as the lowest common denominator. Happily, this was not the case with HUNTER'S RUN.
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