Gardner Dozois,
George R.R. Martin
& Daniel Abraham,
Shadow Twin
(Subterranean Press, 2005)

When Ramon Espejo wakes up at the start of Shadow Twin, he's pretty sure he is dead. His day gets worse from there.

Shadow Twin is a finely crafted science-fiction novel that was started in the mid-1970s by Gardner Dozois. A few years later, Dozois passed the unfinished manuscript on to George R.R. Martin to complete -- but while both writers agreed the story had promise, neither could work up the initiative to finish it. Over the next 20-some years, the story languished in a creative limbo between them; both worked on it now and again, but neither could or would finish it. Then, in 2002, young turk Daniel Abraham got his mitts on it and finally polished the thing off. Whew!

So, back to poor Ramon. Whether or not he is dead when the book begins, he's certainly up and moving later as he recounts the path that led him from a working colony on another world to the unexplored wilderness of the planet's distant reaches. Ramon is a prospector seeking wealth in them thar hills, but what he fines is a hidden alien base. And the aliens don't like visitors.

Ramon gets away, but not unscathed -- and who better to track Ramon than Ramon himself? If that question puzzles you, I'll urge you to read the book, as explaining it here would give far too much away.

The book presents an insightful exploration of the concept of self. It also gives the aliens voice and thought that seem appropriately alien to my poor human eyes.

An especially nice thing about this novel is that it doesn't read like a story assembled piecemeal over the course of three decades. Nor does it read like the work of three writers with their own voices and styles. Shadow Twin is a short science-fiction novel that packs a punch and leaves you thinking, and the three authors involved deserve kudos for a successful -- if long delayed -- collaboration.

by Tom Knapp
24 February 2007

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