Mike Resnick’s Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future

“They say his father was a comet and his mother a cosmic wind, that he juggles planets as if they were feathers and wrestles with black holes just to work up an appetite. They say he never sleeps, and that his eyes burn brighter than a nova, and that his shout can level mountains.”

Filter the story of the wanderings of Odysseus through the American Frontier and kick it into the far future. Make the goal of the search not the fair Penelope and the halls of Ithaca, but Robin Hood, in whatever lair he has found.

The story takes place on the Inner Frontier, the edge of human space toward the center of the Galaxy. Authority is not really in charge here: it is a place where the law is what you make it, where the people you meet have stories you may not want to hear, and what you see is not necessarily what you get.

Our doorway into this universe is the “Ballad of Santiago,” an ever-growing song by Black Orpheus, a wandering poet. And the cast of characters has all the color and vitality of the Wild West: we meet Giles Sans Pitié, a bounty hunter with a steel fist and a short temper; Halfpenny Terwilliger, a gambler who finds it expedient not to stay in one place too long; the Virgin Queen, a journalist named Virtue McKenzie whose virtues are more theoretical than real; Father William, who sends some souls to their just deserts a little early and uses the reward money to save the survivors; and the Songbird, Sebastian Nightingale Cain, a bounty hunter who is not fond of the name Black Orpheus gave him, whose past is as checkered as anyone else’s in this raw society, and whose next target is the legendary Santiago.

There are many stories, and many characters, all of whom have a part to play in Cain’s quest. And all the stories, ultimately, are about Santiago, master criminal, mass murderer, king of the smugglers, nemesis of the Democracy. But the stories don’t always agree. In fact, the closer Cain comes to his goal, the more the stories change, the more they talk of a hero, a savior, a redeemer of hopes and dreams – Robin Hood.

Resnick has done a dazzling job of myth building using a framework that is both panoramic in vision and epic in scale.

(Kirinyaga, Inc. 2010)

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

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