Runner Mass Market Paperback – Sep 26 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Known for his hard SF, Dietz (Legion of the Damned) changes pace with this engaging effort, whose philosophical themes evoke Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation series. In a bleak far future, many technological advances, including interstellar travel, have fallen into disuse, leaving most people in despair. Followers of a faith the author acknowledges is modeled on Buddhism cling to a faint hope for redemption when rumors circulate that a legendary spiritual leader has been reborn, but that good news is tempered by the existence of rival claimants for the position. Jak Rebo, a "runner" entrusted with valuable missions requiring travel between star systems, gets enmeshed in this religious conflict when he accompanies one of the aspirants to the planet where the tests to establish the true heir are to be administered. Action-packed, albeit with a few improbable escape scenes, this novel stands out with its intriguing spiritual explorations.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Young Jak Rebo is a citizen of a far-distant planet, so distant that Earth's location is a mystery and so far in the future that the secret of interstellar flight is almost lost. Jak is called on to deliver to the head of his planet's religion a small box containing the secret of the portals that made star travel possible. Unfortunately, this causes everyone and his brother-in-law, including some lethally skilled assassins and a beautiful woman with skills quite as pronounced if not necessarily as lethal, to take an interest in Jak. Dietz's honorable addition to depictions of the far future, from Wells' Time Machine (1894) to Asimov's Pebble in the Sky (1950) to more recently the works of Clarke and Baxter, is distinguished by the brisk pacing and fleshed-out action scenes that have already made him a respected name in military sf. The book is also quite obviously the first of a series, so Dietz fans can look forward to savoring this new tack in his work at greater length. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In this novel, Jak Rebo is an interstellar runner, riding the starships between planets to deliver messages and other items. He has just delivered a package to its addressee on Anafa and is resting between missions. Then another potential client asks him to visit that evening.
Tra Lee is a ten year old boy. The Red Hat monks believe him to be the reincarnation of Nom Maa, a famous teacher who is destined to lead a great revival of their religion. Since he was two years old, Lee has been raised in the Red Hat monastery in Seros.
Lanni Norr is a sensitive, a genetically altered variant of humanity who has psionic talents. She can see and hear spirits of the dead and can channel them to communicate with the living. However, channeling means being possessed by the spirit.
Jevan Kane is an operative of the Techno Society. He was a favorite of Milos Lysander, a deceased scientist and former head of the Techno Society. Now the society is being run by Omar Tepho, a normal human who had been born with a spinal deformity and other defects. Kane is not one of his favorite people.
Bo Hoggles is a heavy, a variant genetically modified for living in heavy-gravity. He is running from something, but keeps his secrets.
In this story, the Red Hat Monastery in Seros needs to send Lee to CaCanth on Thara to be tested as the reincarnation of Nom Maa and to possibly to become the leader of their religion. The Black Hat sect has also sent a candidate to CaCanth. Unfortunately, the Black Hat monks contend that Lee is an impostor and are willing to kill him to prevent his arrival at CaCanth.
The Red Hat monks want to hire Rebo to deliver Lee to CaCanth. Rebo meets the boy that evening and learns about the mission. Since he himself was born on Thara, Rebo is pleased that the mission would take him to his home planet. However, he has had bad experiences with delivering humans and is leery of repeating such occurrences.
After talking to Lee, explaining his rules and listening to the boy's responses, Rebo agrees to take the mission. He asks the monks provide a double for the boy to cover his departure. He also asks the monks to deliver him to the local runner headquarters in an unobtrusive way.
Norr needs money to hide herself for a while. So she risks a public demonstration of her talents, charging a small fee. Unfortunately, she is possessed by the spirit of Lysander, who introduces himself and tries to recruit people into the society. When he manifests himself, a robot in the audience notes his identity and follows Norr after the performance.
Kane leads an assault on the hostel previously entered by Norr, killing the landlord and others, but the sensitive is not there. She had a bad feeling and went elsewhere to spend the night. After learning of the killings, Norr decides to leave the planet and waits in disguise for the shuttle to land.
This story brings Rebo, Lee and Norr together on the starship. Of course, their enemies also have agents on the ship. A Black Hat monk tries to kill Lee and two robots try to abduct Norr.
After a while, Rebo and Norr become romantically inclined. The Black Hat monks are still trying to kill Lee. Kane follows the party, but is repeatedly unsuccessful in abducting Norr. Lysander eventually changes sides and begins to protect the sensitive from Kane.
The plot is a form of quest to take Lee to his destination. Rebo has been hired to accompany Lee and Norr goes along in lieu of any other goal. Hoggles also becomes one of the party on the second starship.
The tale is full of adventure and escapes. Of course, the party finally reaches CaCanth, but not without close calls. Enjoy!
Highly recommended for Dietz fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of adventurous quests, religious wisdom, and on/off romance.
-Arthur W. Jordin
Sensitive Lanni Norr reads individual energy fields that enable her to speak with the dead. During a performance, deceased scientist Milos Lysander using a metal man as his source tries to take over Lanni's body. She manages to escape, but has to flee. Lanni and Jak meet when separate people try to harm them; they unite while people chase after them and his cargo Tra Lee.
Runner is an exciting thriller that sort of places Tibetan Buddhism in outer space at a time when civilization is imploding. The background comes alive as readers will believe they are at a time when earth is so distant a memory that the planet is considered by most as the mythos home world. Jak and Lanni are an interesting duo as they escort Tra Lee while another sect provides not only another heir contender, but attempts to kill the trio because they feel so strongly that they have the next Norma Maa. William Dietz is at his best with this strong science fiction tale.
This story featured a very unique setting and i have learned that in Sci fi "Setting" is everything. often the world the story is set in is the most interesting element of the story. For example the world and music of "blade runner" is far more interesting than the story line.
In the world of "Runner", technology has decayed to the point that man cannot even repair the ageing technology it uses ,much less invent new tech. as a result only a few planets have electricity and transportation is on foot or animal. High rise buildings are vacant except the first five floors because that is how high it is acceptable to climb stairs.
A Runner ,Jak Rebo is employed to deliver a young monk to a nearby planet to see if he is the reincarnated leader of "The Way". That is the whole premise and the rest of the book takes them on an adventure in this world of specially bred humans. of course there are bad guys trying to stop them.
Jak encounters sentient AI space ships,"heavys"(hoggles), "sensitives"(noor),star gate seeds,bad guys(Kane), ghosts(lysander)and a rude AI master computer named Logos. Funny thing is that logos is in the form of a ratty old overcoat.
Now that combination of characters and events make for an entertaining read. If you are prepared to entertianed by a brave new world and interesting characters, you will enjoy "Runner".
The cliches arent just reserved for the characters, but the settings as well. One of the first planets we are introduced to in the novel is a desert planet full of arabesque characters run by villainous royalty. Apparently deserts can only be occupied by arabian people, and if so, they must be corrupt. I suggest that future writers read (Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People) so that they can start avoiding this cliche.
Lastly, if you are a fan of hard science fiction as I am, you shouldn't expect anything from this book. There is nothing particularly thought provoking and nothing to satiate our political, scientific, or cultural brain cells in its pages.