The Return of Santiago
by Jerry Wright
The Return of Santiago|
Author: Mike Resnick
Hardcover: February 2003
Paperback: April 2004
Length: PB 464 pp.
Price: HB $25.95 PB $7.99
I just got finished reading Mike Resnick's Widowmaker trilogy, and had a rollicking good time. I remember reading Santiago, A Myth of the Far Future a long time ago (1986 to be exact). The Widowmaker and Santiago were opposite poles in Resnick's future of "The Democracy" versus "the Inner Frontier", with Santiago being an outlaw and putatively a "bad guy", and the Widowmaker being one of the best of the bountyhunters.
Santiago is missing, presumed dead, and has been for a hundred years. Only his legend remains, carried on by the poems of "Black Orpheus". Danny Briggs, a clever small-time thief, is almost captured by the Democracy police, but in hiding out in a temporarily empty house, Briggs stumbles across a missing thousand page epic poem by Santiago's biographer (as it were) Black Orpheus. While waiting for the heat to die down, Danny devours the poem, and realizes that there was more than one Santiago, Santiago was rebel fighting against the worst excesses of the Democracy, and Santiago needs to come back.
Briggs knows he doesn't have the skills to be Santiago, but perhaps he CAN be a successor to Black Orpheus, find a Santiago, spread his legend, and fight the Democracy.
The Return of Santiago chronicles the search across the badland planets of the Inner Frontier for the right man for the job. In Resnick's far future frontier, life is cheap, and people drop like flies. Resnick will introduce an interesting character, and before the chapter is done, the new guy lies dying in the mud.
In some ways I am reminded of Rajnar Vajra's Shootout at the Nokai Corral another fine Space-Western (unfortunately, though serialized in Analog, this fine novel has yet to find a home among book publishers) and the mythic characters of America appearing in Michael Chabon's Summerland. Mike Resnick is trying to create a mythic frontier time in the far future, and for the most part succeeds. The paraphenalia of Science Fiction is strictly background here, as there is little to no explication of what makes this universe tick, but too much explanation would get in the way.
The Return of Santiago is a fine book and well worth your time. It stands well on its own, and does not need a previous acquaitance with its precursor Santiago, although that is a truly fine book worth tracking down. Return perhaps pales a bit in comparison, but hey, it's Resnick, probably the premier SF Mythologist of the 21st Century.