Top positive review
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GOOD BUT WITH RESERVATIONS
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!