I was surprised to read that this novel is essentially a patchwork fix-up of a novella Gardner Dozois started in the 70s, George R. R. Martin partially rewrote and extended in the 80s, Daniel Abraham partially rewrote and finally added an ending to in the 2000s, then Gardner Dozois partially rewrote and expanded again, later in the 2000s.
For all that, it absolutely feels like a cohesive novel from a unified voice. Is it a case of the three authors all having similar voices and styles? I’m not sure, as I have only little from Dozois and Abraham. It could be just that the three of them are all skilled, professional writers, who worked well together over the years, perhaps with the help of some very skilled editors as well.
Daniel Abraham, in the afterword, says he didn’t feel like he was writing a novel with the two heavyweights that are Dozois and Martin, but instead the younger, unsure writers they were when they wrote their sections, and I thought that was a nice poetic sentiment – that these three men had all collaborated, but from separate times, so it was like three young writers writing a novel together through the years. A nice piece of background context for the novel.
The novel itself is quite enjoyable. It’s not brilliant like some of Martin’s other work, but it’s a lot more compelling than plenty of his other science-fiction stories. The pacing lags a bit at times, likely due to the novel’s odd structure stemming from the unusual circumstances in which it was written, but the central premise and character are always more than enough to keep one turning the page.
The ending works so well in how it speaks to the themes and character development of the story that I’m honestly quite shocked Abraham came up with it so many years after the start of the story. Again, the story behind the novel is perhaps as fascinating as the story in the novel.
An enjoyable science-fiction tale, with an enjoyable tale behind the writing. I give it three hunting knives, and a van.