by Mike Resnick

Bantam Spectra


297pp/$5.99/August 1997

Widowmaker Reborn
Reviewed by Steven H Silver

The first clone of Jefferson Nighthawk having been killed at the end of The Widowmaker, a second clone is created at the beginning of Widowmaker Reborn. Like nearly all the characters who populate Resnick's Inner Frontier, the Widowmaker is extremel competent and sel-centered with an arrogance bred of 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 Resnick's novels because the Widowmaker is a clone of the original.
His existence as a clone makes him intriguing because both clones maintain a link to their original and the clones who have existed before them. Although they realize they are different and may have a different agenda than the other versions of the Widowmaker, they 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 add to the speculation since we could then see how the clones of someone else would view the situation.
Jefferson Nighthawk is not the only character who is trying to sort out his sense of 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 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 himself, but Resnick will add yet another dimension to his study of individuality and identity to the series with such a meeting.
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 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 work, there are very little 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 rather. Widowmaker Reborn is a good continuation of the "Widowmaker" series.

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