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Customer reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Hunter's Run
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on 30 November 2013
I have to confess, up front, that I am no sci-fi buff. I don't, normally read the genre of sci-fi that's set in the future or on alien planets etc although I do read a fair amount of the genre that is set in some quasi-medieval period in a sort of 'Middle Earth'. As such, I am an avid George RR Martin fan (A Song of Ice & Fire series) and Daniel Abraham (both the Long Price quartet and the Dagger & Coin series are great). I'd never heard of Gardner Dozois. The premise of Hunter's Run sounded intriguing and, as it was co-written by two of my favourite authors (I ignored Mr Dozois) I had high expectations. And there's the rub.

If I ignore the provenance, then this is a pretty good sci-fi story. The characters are well developed and the descriptive narrative sufficient to paint a vivid picture of an alien world, even if it is very like Earth. The basic moral dilemma upon which the story rests, and which I can't reveal without it being a spoiler, is fairly good but I did feel that the possibilities weren't fully exploited. There is also a gapping flaw in the logic of the story as the main character; a very street wise and cynical creature, is given a tale by one set of aliens, regarding the nastiness of another alien species and he just accepts it as gospel truth, without question. He has the opportunity to question it but he doesn't. As this then drives the rest of the plot line, it seems to be a bit of a leap to me. The conclusion is also a bit vague for my tastes.

However, the overall writing style is pretty good and the story itself is sufficiently sound to hold the interest easily. Hence the four stars.

My grumble is that, without knowing that Mr Martin and Mr Abraham had a major hand in this novel, I would never have guessed. None of their trademark styles are in there (except for Mr Martin's notoriously slow pace of production - Hunter's Run, apparently, took 30 years to get out). There is an explanation of the process of generating this book helpfully included at the end and this may provide a clue to its failure to shine. It seems that the book is, really, a Gardner Dozois product which has then spent many years being passed between all three authors to allow each to write the next section and to 'polish' the other author's work. A book written by committee. Just as mixing three vibrant colours can result in grey, the same literary effect is the result here. Sadly, my suspicious mind leads me to think that this is just a manuscript hidden in a drawer for many years until someone decided to cash in on the gathering fame of Messrs Martin and Abraham and push it out.

Having had my grumble, without my artificially high expectations, this is still an entertaining tale worthy of the four stars awarded so don't let me put you off. By the way, I have recently read the first book written by Anthony Ryan, called 'Blood Song', and it was superb and, oddly, had more of a 'GRR Martin feel' to it than Hunter's Run has.

I have a sneaky feeling that my novice ramblings will offend some true sci-fi geeks so, to you, I apologise but, hey, I'm a reader just like you!
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VINE VOICEon 29 August 2007
When Ramon Espejo, a prospector and local thug, kills a diplomat in a brawl at a bar, he flees as far as he can from the rest of humanity. What he doesn't realise, is, how far. Hoping to make his fortune (and avoid the police) he goes to the mountains where he comes upon something so utterly profound that it changes him forever...

Hunter's Run, is above all, a character-driven novel. It focuses on what makes us, and what it is to be human. Captured by alien life on his own planet, Ramon is used as a hunter to track down someone else who escaped them not long ago. Later, it becomes clear who that other person is, and Ramon changes with that knowledge, as he realises what it is to be who he is.

I really can't say more without spoiling the story, but, the crux of it is a physical and psychological journey, a journey to understand himself, his race, and the alien race better. It was, and indeed, George R.R. Martin does say so in the afterword at the end of the book, reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn in some senses.

With the knowledge that the alien species are hiding from their enemies, the Enye, enemies with whom humanity works with (and, unbeknown, is being used by) Ramon gradually begins to feel more and more for his captors. I would have liked, though, to have seen more reason for what the Enye have done, and I think that would only have added to the story.

It's a richly realised world with a clear set-up. The language, and the description of the alien races is some of the best I've read. Ramon is also one of the few protagonists in science-fiction who has been of Mexican origin. The authors talk of the reasons for this in the fascinating Q&A at the end of the book.

A very good book from a "dream team" of writers. I did enjoy it thoroughly, but I couldn't help thinking that with three such great writers it could have been slightly better. I hesitate to give it this score, out of fear of GRRM fans (of which I am one) descending upon me asking why not higher?!, but... 8 and a half out of 10.

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This story's first incarnation was a novella titled Shadow Twin, which was a limited edition published by Subterranean Press in 2005. Unfortunately, I haven't read the novella-length version of this book, so I can't draw comparisons between the two versions. All I can say is that Hunter's Run is a damn good read!

With this being a collaboration between George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham, I was concerned that their different writing styles would result in a work lacking a certain cohesion. I'm glad to report that such is not the case. The whole tale streamlines quite seamlessly and one can never tell where one author's inspiration or style ends and his collaborators' begin.

Survival, identity and loyalty are probably the three main themes explored within the pages of Hunter's Run. And although there's enough action to satisfy most readers, what with the principal protagonist being pursued by aliens across outlandish wilderness, the underlying storyline which carries this novel remains that of Ramon's inner journey.

Ramon, Hunter's Run's main character, is far from being a likeable fellow. Truth to tell, he's quite antipathetic at the beginning. And yet, as it gradually dawns upon him that he might be more than a fry or two short of a good meal, Ramon slowly grows on you. This character growth is without a doubt the most compelling facet of this book.

Even though the supporting cast consists of a number of characters, only Elena and Maneck play important roles in the greater scheme of things. This doesn't mean that the characterization aspect leaves something to be desired. After all, Hunter's Run is, essentially, Ramon's story.

The worldbuilding, though well-done, is not a predominant characteristic in this novel. I have a feeling that the authors would have liked to flesh out certain things a bit more, but that would likely have hindered the flow of the narrative. As a result, the environment, cultures, and the aliens are interesting, but most of the worldbuilding remains in the background and doesn't intrude on the storytelling.

The pace is somewhat slower at first. But once Ramon -- and the reader -- realizes that something is fundamentally wrong, the story takes off and the rhythm quickens accordingly.

To the nay-sayers out there, there is nothing I can write that will make them want to pick up a GRRM work that isn't ASOIAF. So be it. . . In the end, it's too bad, for Hunter's Run is a solid effort and a fun read. If all of Martin's side-projects are this good, few of his fans should complain! Intelligent yet action-packed, with profanities in both English and Spanish, it's quite a joyride!

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on 8 February 2010
It took a while for me to get into the story (possibly during one of the author transitions) but in the end thisis a nice "The outer limits" style novel with some well designed aliens and an interesting and likeable anti-hero. The world of Sao Paulo is well described, especially in terms of the creatures living there and it seems a shame it couldn't have been explored further using a different story. I particularly enjoyed the dialogue and found myself wanting to use mexican phrases as a curseword by the end. It's an excellent travelling/holiday book for anyone who enjoys decent sci-fi.
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on 18 February 2011
This is without doubt the best new Science fiction novel I have read in many years.

As literature it may not be brilliant, but there are many things to enjoy.

There's a lot of action in the extended chase.

There is a character wholly alone-at least in human terms- with a huge puzzle as to who and what he is.

Excitement, puzzles, one tough hombre, and a neat ending.

Maybe, if you want to analyze it as you read it, then it could be said to be predictable.

However, don't let that stand in the way of a really, really good read, and a book that benefits form a second reading.

The only book I know to compare it with is Barry England's marvellous "Figures in a Landscape".

The longer you wait to read this, the more you'll regret the lost time once you do.
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on 16 August 2015
Great story which uses science fiction to enhance a great thriller story unlike a lot of science fiction which relies on the science fiction element to keep a story going.

Great plot, characters and suspense.

The science fiction also poses some interesting questions for real science.
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on 10 August 2009
As always, George R. R. Martin has put his name on a good book. This time the focus is squarely on the concept of identity and the struggles of facing yourself. The only thing that drags the score down is the fact that it is not quite as page-turning as Martins' books usually are.
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on 21 July 2012
A classic sci fi story but perfectly achieved. The main character is so strong it raises the book way beyond the normal. It is hard to believe that it was written by a group of writers, you cannot see the seams. They must have formed a hive mind or something:)
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on 24 April 2013
The book was a great read. Could read a whole series of it. Unlikely protagonist. Setting was an interesting blend of mexican culture and sci-fi outter space feel.
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on 21 January 2014
This book is very different to my usual texts so it took a little while for me to get into it. However, saying that, I really enjoyed it in the end.
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