|Run Fast, Die Hard|
Shadowrun, Book 35
|Roc Books, 273 pages |
|A review by Todd Richmond|
The correct answer is, of course, all of the above. Don't let that scare you, however. It isn't as cheesy as these phrases make it sound. But if phrases like that really make you cringe, you may want to give this book a pass.
Run Hard, Die Fast is a typical adventure novel set in the Shadowrun universe. As the book begins, Argent, a shadowrunner, is finishing up the routine rescue of a kidnapping victim. As the job ends, he gets a message from Brynnmawr, a mysterious figure from his past. It seems that Andi Sencio, a former partner and lover, needs his help. Never known to turn his back on a friend, even a former one, Argent takes the job. It's straightforward enough -- extract Sencio and her team from the Pueblo Corporate Council lands while avoiding the three megacorporations that are trying to kill them. Argent takes some time assembling a team and devising a plan (about a third of the book, in fact). He and his team spend the rest of the book implementing the extraction.
It is not an especially complicated story, with just a small bit of duplicity and treachery. It is, though, a gentle introduction to the Shadowrun universe, which is a strange mix of cyberpunk and magic. Start with William Gibson's vision of the future, filled with feuding megacorporations and cyberspace. Throw in the Awakening, a return of magic to the world and the subsequent conversion of a portion of the population into creatures out of fantasy: trolls, orcs, elves, and vampires. Mix it all together and out comes Shadowrun. It's a great basis for a role-playing system, which is how Shadowrun started.
The novels that have been inspired by the system often read more like role-playing modules than stories. Fortunately, Run Hard, Die Fast is a cut above that. Argent, the main character, has a past, a personality and principles. Unfortunately, the other characters in the cast aren't developed nearly as much. It's a lot like non-player characters in a role-playing game -- just window dressing for the main characters.
In terms of plot, the Shadowrun books tend to run the gamut of SF and fantasy books. Some are hardcore action while others tend toward more traditional fantasy. The emphasis of this book is more on guns, action and adventure than on intrigue and sorcery. All in all, Run Hard, Die Fast is pleasant read for an evening or two.
Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.
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