February 13, 2008
Book Review: Hunter's Run by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham
* Genre: Science Fiction, Survival Story
* ISBN: 006137329X
* ISBN-13: 9780061373299
* Format: Hardcover, 320pp
* Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
* Pub. Date: January 2008
Know Thyself. Two words to strike fear into the hearts of many. If we really looked at who we are, would we really like what we see? And could we remake ourselves into something better?
In Hunterís Run, a collaborative science fiction novel by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham, the protagonist is forced to answer just that question, but in a unique way. Ramon Espejo is a prospector on a recently colonized world. Itís a rough life, but Ramon prefers it to the cramped humanity of the towns. But on a prospecting trip, Ramon uncovers a lost, alien, space faring civilization, hiding from all the others. Trapped by them, he is forced to use his knowledge of the wilds to find another man who has escaped the alien's clutches. But that man is more and less than Ramon thinks, and as he and his alien captor seek the escapee, Ramon is forced to learn more about himself than any man would care to.
With such brilliant writing talents as George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham working in concert, you will already know that this story is unlikely to disappoint. And it does not. The story is a survival story of amazing proportions, with not one or two but several significant twists that kept me guessing the ending till the very last page. Some readers will already know one of the plot twists, if they have read ďShadow TwinĒ, a short story which was the seed of this novel.
The three authors have worked hard to make this story something more than the sum of its parts. Although in a few places, there are a few ďtellsĒ (like in poker) of the fact that three authors were working on it, the narrative is cohesive and the characterization consistent. Most readers will not notice it, and once the pace of the story picked up, I was so lost in it that I failed to notice them anymore.
The story has an analogue in such novels as Jack Londonís White Fang or Mark Twainís Huckleberry Finn. Like them, Hunterís Run is about a man (or boy) facing insurmountable odds through which he learns a great deal about himself, although in this story it is on an alien world full of dangers and the constant shadow of Ramonís alien captor over his shoulder. There are so many conflicts to solve within the story that the conclusion comes as quite an amazing feat of the writing craft. This novel will be enjoyed by fans of the authors as well as anyone who enjoys survival stories. It is a deep and honest look at the human condition from both outside and inside the species. Although the novel is told entirely from one point of view, the conversations between Ramon and the alien provide entertaining and frightening looks at just how strange we are.
It is also a character study, a look at Ramon Espejo the man. Ramon becomes a man that the reader will envy and pity all in one thought. And yet, Ramon is us, a whirlwind of conflicting thoughts, desires, and actions. The hero Ramonís introspection is not self-pitying, but a self realization, and as he courses back towards human civilization he finds that he doesnít like himself very much. I saw myself in Ramon, and yet I didnít. Such juxtaposition makes for a compelling character. Ramon comes to know himself, and in that he finds redemption.
George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham's collaborative novel Hunterís Run as an exceptional work. I gorged myself on its words, and had to force myself to go to put it down and go to bed. You will not be disappointed by this novel, nor will you be bored by its twists and unexpected turns. Hunterís Run is a look into what it means to be human, through the eyes of a self-imposed outcast. Donít let this novel pass you by.