5628: Shadowboxer (1997)
Autor: Nick Pollotta
Data wydania: kwiecień 1997
Ilość stron: 288
Cytat na okładce:
Armed with an ancient secret one megacorp makes a bid for global supremacy
Dla krasnoludzkiego najemnika Two Beards łatwy sposób na dużą kasę okazuje się łatwym sposobem na szybką śmierć, kiedy próbuje wytropić sens słowa "IronHell". Teraz, mając za plecami wachlarz najróżniejszych postaci, które koniecznie chcą walki krasnolud musi ogłosić śwatu czym jest słowo IronHell - zanim świat nie przekona się an własnej skórze.
An easy way to make a big pile of cash is looking more like a quick way to an early grave for dwarf mercenary Two Bears as he attempts to track down the meaning of the word "IronHell". Now backed by a motley array of characters all spoiling for battle, he must rapidly unravel the incredible secret of IronHell--before it unravels the world!
Dwarf merc Two Bears signs on to dig up some data on the word "IronHell". Easy job, easy cash - until the decker helping him gets her brain fried in the Matrix. Now he must battle megacorp muscle and high-tech pirates to unravel the secret of IronHell - before it unravels the world.
- Shadowboxer (novel)
- by Nicholas Pollotta
Spoiler Warning: This review contains spoilers for Shadowboxer.
I was very disappointed by this latest Shadowrun novel.
Where shall I start? Let's be positive about the whole thing and start with the things I liked, shall we? First of all, some of the characters were intriguing. I especially liked Delphia, the natty samurai with the unique weaponry. Thumbs, the street troll, was also an interesting character, though he had some flaws that were difficult to get past. The elven mage Emile was well done, and it would have been nice to see him (and his ferret familiar, Grand) more.
Another positive thing I can say about Shadowboxer was that the writing style was good. Pollotta is adept at engaging the reader and keeping the pages turning. Even with all the novel's problems, it was hard to put it down.
Now on to the negatives. There are many. In no particular order:
For one, I find it highly unsporting for the author to ignobly kill off what is ostensibly the novel's main character halfway through the story. Despite the fact that the back cover of the book claims that the story is about a dwarf named Two Bears, the bulk of the action takes place after Two Bears has been eliminated. He didn't even get a "good death." I felt a bit cheated by this development.
A second problem is characterisation. While some characters, such as Delphia, were reasonably consistent, others, like Thumbs, were not. The troll was presented at the beginning of the book as a street dweller, reduced to following a likely-looking prospect to look for jobs, but yet he showed remarkable savvy and experience when his services were engaged. Further, his cyberware seemed inconsistent with his situation. Where a street ganger obtained the money for wired reflexes, a reflex trigger, and cyberspurs was not explained: I would have liked more of Thumbs' background. We got more background on Two Bears, who was much less important.
A third, and perhaps the largest, problem in my opinion is one that is purely subjective. Pollotta seems quite enamored of the "world is a sinkhole" view of life. Characters were being killed faster than we could count, many of them in graphically messy ways. Almost no one was trustworthy, and a large percentage of the characters were depicted as either thorougly vile or at the very least dishonourable and without redeeming virtues.
Characters, notably a fellow named Wesley (later to become Attila), were introduced, played with a bit, and then forgotten about. One can assume from the narrative what befell him and his companion, but after following their exploits throughout much of the novel, it would have been nice to see their eventual fates. I'm still not certain why they were included in the first place.
A minor point, but the book could have done with a bit of editing. I counted a number of typos (such as "Tir Taingire") and outright misspellings (such as "Buddah"), the effect of which was jarring in a professionally-published novel.
Finally, the ending of Shadowboxer was extremely unsatisfying. Cheated--that was how I felt when I reached the end. The completion of the story was, in my mind, not an adequate reward for the events that occurred.
Perhaps I am old-fashioned, in that I prefer stories to have protagonists who prevail over odds, a worldview that's a bit more optimistic, and an ending that makes one feel like the effort of getting through the book was worth it. Shadowboxer provided none of these.
The only thing that saved Shadowboxer from our lowest rating is the writing style, some of the characterization, and the excellent background material about Miami and piracy.
OCENA: 1,5 (max 4)
The job seemed simple enough: find out the meaning and origin of the word, "Ironhell." But, like all books in Shadowrun (not to mention investigative-type stories) it's hardly that easy.
The book is set in Miami, unique to date in the series, and the portrayal of life in the tropics is interesting. But it is more than offset by the mood of the story. Shadowrun stories are generally dark, true - this is a distopia, after all. But the characters aren't supposed to abandon all hope! Long before the end of the book, though, the reader knows it is a losing cause unless a miracle happens - and miracles are very rare in shadowrun. Near the end of the book, even the characters give up, and it makes the ending extremely unsatisfying.