SCI FICTION, June 09, 2004

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"Shadow Twin" by Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin, and Daniel Abraham

"Shadow Twin" by Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin, and Daniel Abraham begins as a classic science fiction tale.  A newly colonized planet, São Paulo is gritty, rugged, frontier world.  Ramon Espejo is a mountain prospector, searching and hoping for the big one, the ore mother load that will make his fortune and ensure a life of comfort and luxury.  He wakes up, disoriented and confused. Gradually, his memories of discovering an alien colony during his mining endeavors surface, and with them the realization that he has been captured.  The aliens did not want to be discovered, and they most definitely are not friendly.  On the heels of that uncomfortable revelation is another: Ramon Espejo isn't breathing.

What starts out as a basic tale of first contact, preliminary communication, and conflict, rapidly turns into one of identity and redemption.  Who is Ramon Espejo?  Is he a prospector?  Is he a man angry with himself and the world?  Or is he an unwilling ambassador? In the end, Ramon Espejo discovers that what determines who he is are not his experiences, his memories, or his past, but simply his actions, and maybe a little bit, what he does to shape his future.

As a collaborative effort, "Shadow Twin" is a seamless work.  None of the distinctive styles of Dozois, Martin, or Abraham jumps out at any point, although the solid pacing and firm storyline indicative of Dozois are evident as are the graceful flourishes of phrase and lyrical technique of Martin.  Overall, "Shadow Twin" is elegant and dexterous.  The ending is a mite bit predictable, but only from a point towards the latter end of the story, making for a satisfying and even poignant read.

Definitely recommended.