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Widowmaker Reborn
Mike Resnick
Bantam Spectra Books, 297 pages

Widowmaker Reborn
Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick sold his first book in 1962 and went on to sell more than 200 novels, 300 short stories and 2,000 articles, almost all of them under pseudonyms. He turned to SF with the sale of THE SOUL EATER, his first under his own name. Since 1989, Mike has won three Hugo Awards (for "Kirinyaga", "The Manamouki", and "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge"), a Nebula Award (for "Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge"), and has been nominated for sixteen Hugos, eight Nebulas, a Clarke (British), and five Seiun-shos (Japanese).

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Review of The Widowmaker

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

Jefferson Nighthawk is known as the Widowmaker, the most famed bounty hunter in the galaxy. He was abandoned by his employers after an assignment went spectacularly awry. Cloned as a 23-year-old, his keepers have created a new version of the Widowmaker, this one trained to be much deadlier than his predecessor, and sent him after a kidnap victim. This is volume two in a proposed trilogy.

With the first clone of Jefferson Nighthawk having been killed at the end of the first novel, it's not truly surprising to find a second created at the beginning of The Widowmaker Reborn. Like nearly all the characters who populate Resnick's Inner Frontier the Widowmaker is extremely competent and self-centered, with an arrogance bred from the ability to back up his claims. This actually makes his character more interesting than the run-of-the-mill larger-than-life figures who star in some of Resnick's other novels.

One of the reasons for his intriguing nature is the fact that clones maintain a telepathic link both to their original and those cloned before them. Although they realize they are independent, and may have a different agenda than the other versions, the cloned Nighthawks insist that they have the same loyalty to the original Widowmaker as they have to themselves. This question of individuality, or lack thereof, is examined in the books -- although the existence of a different clone would perhaps have added to the speculation since we could then observe how clones of someone else would view the situation.

Jefferson Nighthawk is not the only character trying to sort out his identity. When he finally meets Ibn ben Khalid, his target, and Cassandra Hill, Ibn ben Khalid's kidnap victim, the question of identity becomes a trifle more confused. With The Widowmaker Reborn, Resnick also sets the stage for the original Widowmaker to meet one of his clones in the final book of the series. It is a reasonably safe bet that the original Widowmaker would feel similarly about his clones as they feel about him, but it's a safe bet Resnick will add yet another dimension to his study of individuality and identity to the series with such a meeting.

The Widowmaker Reborn is written in Resnick's transparent style which allows the reader to enjoy the story even while Resnick is preaching his morality play. Resnick's enjoyment of writing shows in his prose. He frequently alludes to various films in his work, this time working in a slight homage to character actor Sidney Greenstreet by naming one of the bars, the Blue Dragon.

If you've read Resnick's earlier work, you'll find very few surprises in Widowmaker Reborn. The main character acts exactly as the reader has come to expect Resnick's characters to act. If there are any surprises, they are from events which fail to happen. Widowmaker Reborn is a good continuation of the Widowmaker series.

Copyright © 1997 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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