Mike Resnick has finally written a sequel to Santiago which is one of my favorite SF books. Most of Resnick's books are what I wuld call SF-Adventure. They read like tales from the Wild Wild West. Larger than life characters. No attempts to describe the science involved. Story and characters. Big stories. Big characters.
The Return of Santiago is not as good as Santiago. Of course, few sequels really are. Speaker for the Dead is a better book than Ender's Game but beyond that I can't think of any sequels offhand that are better than their predecessor. Santiago was the stories of people searching for Santiago, the most most notorious criminal in the galaxy. Except no one has ever seen him. In the end, some find Santiago, but he is not the man they thought.
The Return of Santiago is also a story of men and women looking for Santiago, except the time frame is 100 years after the Democracy has unknowingly vaporized Santiago along with the entire planet on which he lived. This is the story of Danny Briggs, who finds the original manuscript of the Black Orpheus. The poem was a chronicle of life on the inner frontier, and much of it revolved around Santiago. But Orpheus never knew Santiago's secret. Briggs reads between the lines and learns the secret. He sets out to become the new Orpheus, chronicling life on the Inner Frontier. But he needs Santiago to be the center of his poem, so he sets about to find the man who can be the new outlaw Santiago.
The story doesn't have the same dawning surprise that the original did. And the characters and stories aren't as large as in the original. Almost from the beginning, I knew the twist that Resnick on which would end his story. The secret in Santiago wasn't much of a secret. But it was fun to watch it revealed along the way. This time around, it seemed like I knew the entire roadmap.
Still a fun read though. And the characters are still as inventive as ever.
- Dante Alligheri, aka The Rhymer, aka Danny Briggs. An excellent, but mostly small time thief who goes on the run from the Democracy. Our protagonist.
- Moby Dick. A 500 pound albino man.
- Virgil Soaring Hawk. A man of Indian descent whose goal is to fornicate in every imaginable way. Dante must have his Virgil, and so he follows Dante through his adventures.
- Waltzing Matilda. She is the best dancer on the inner Frontier, and also the best thief. No one can pin anything on her, but she has the heat on her and so joins up to find a Santiago to take the heat off her. Also the last known descendant of the original Santiago.
- The One Armed Bandit. A bounty hunter with a prosthetic arm filled with weaponry.
- Joshua Silvermane. The moral killer, who isn't in it for the money, but to write wrongs. He is as beautiful, pretty, and deadly as they come.
- The Black Death. An assassin, carrier of a deadly disease but immune himself. He simply takes off his gloves and touches you to collect his fee.
- Jackrabbit Willowby. A corrupt customs official of the Democracy. Rather than collect the money for the government, he mostly keeps it for himself.
- and many others…
Fun book, but read Santiago first or this one will ruin it for you.