April 05, 2006

Runner by William C. Dietz

bird's eye view of a maze with silhouette of a runner on a wall and two reflective balls hovering over allRunner is set in an almost post-technological far future. There was an interplanetary culture with frequent starship transit between planets. All that technology has been operating on automatic for a couple of centuries and it's starting to break down. The book follows Jak Rebo, a "runner" or courier. In the first chapter he is commissioned to deliver a young boy to a far-flung planet. The boy is thought to be the reincarnation of a religious leader. What complicates the task is that an opposing sect of the same religion has another boy that they think is the true reincarnation. Lanni Norr is a "sensitive", apparently a genetically modified human with psychic powers including the ability to communicate with the dead. She is in contact with a spirit who wants to bring back the technological era. She ends up joining Rebo and the boy.

The setting is really the most interesting part of this book. But not interesting enough to keep me from wanting to learn how to speed read so I could get through the thing in less time (I was reading it for the Endeavour Award screening process, otherwise I would have just stopped). The plotting feels very much like a role playing game campaign without much lattitude for player variations. Lots of plot coupons, lots of cardboard minor characters helping the main characters through their various trials. If it had been half as long it might have been tolerable, but at over 400 pages, it was just not enough story spread over too many pages. It's not really bad, I suspect there's an audience that will lap this up and beg for more (the end leaves plenty of room for sequels), but I'm not that audience.

Posted by jeffy at April 5, 2006 07:56 PM
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