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REVIEW: Runner by William C. Dietz

REVIEW SUMMARY: Interesting action-packed book that explores the collapse of a technological society.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Jak is a delivery man (or runner in this time) who is asked to deliver a very interesting package – a boy believed to be the reincarnated spiritual leader of the predominant religion. In addition to dodging a rival sect who wants to eliminate the boy, he also runs into a woman capable of reading thoughts who is occasionally possessed by the spirit of the former ruler of the 1000 planet empire.


PROS: Excellent action sequences, the exploration of a space-faring society dealing with technological collapse is well done, most characters are complex.

CONS: Ending seems very rushed, and the plot stalls out right near the climax.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a fun book that offers a decent read, if not much to savor afterwards.

The action sequences and the fast plot are the strong points of this novel. The fights, the flights, and the subsequent chases are all well done and artfully written. It shows why he’s regarded as an accomplished author of military science fiction books such as Legion of the Damned and The Final Battle.

But Dietz’s characters are also surprisingly complex – and quite believable. I was pleasantly surprised to find almost every character in the book has motivations and behavior which aren’t at all stereotypical. For example, the character of Hoggles, a minor one who joins the runner on his mission, has a side-story that explains why he’s running from his troubled past. The major characters, like the love-interest Norr, deals with the possession in a manner that is very realistic.

Unfortunately, despite these strong points, the books overall plot stalls out at the end, becomes predictable, and felt jammed out. The real climax of occurs about 75 pages before the end, but yet the plot wasn’t finished yet, so a second, far less interesting climax was added on and the overall book suffers because of it. And despite the action and characters, the plot is relatively simple. It was easy to see the end well before it happened.

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