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The Widowmaker Paperback – July 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553571605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553571608
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.2 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,624,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

One of the major voices in science fiction, Mike Resnick presents the first volume in a bold new trilogy.Jefferson Nighthawk--known and feared by many as the Widowmaker, the consummate bounty hunter--has been frozen for a century in order to defeat a deadly disease. Only now the cost of his care has risen, so the Widowmaker is called out of retirement for one special commission, and a very large chunk of cash. A notorious assassin has been wrecking havoc on the Frontier; who better but the Widowmaker to defeat him?

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A mile beneath the glittering surface of Deluros VIII, the capital of mankind's sprawling Oligarchy, two men rode a slidewalk down a long, dimly lit corridor, their voices echoing in the vast emptiness.  One wore gray, one white.  They passed a door, then four more.

"I wonder what he'll be like?" mused the man in gray.

The man in white shrugged.  "Old and sick."

"I know," agreed the man in gray.  "But I've seen so many holos of him when he was...well, you know.

"When he was the most famous killer in the galaxy?" asked his companion sardonically.

"He did most of his killing on the side of the law."

"So the legend goes."

"You sound like you think otherwise," said the man in gray.

"No.  But I know how legends get made."

The slidewalk brought them to a security checkpoint, then stopped until their ID badges and retinas had been scanned.  It began moving again, only to stop once more at a second checkpoint fifty yards farther on.

"Is this really necessary?" asked the man in gray.

"The richest men and women in the Oligarchy lie helpless down here," came the answer. "They are totally defenseless--and believe me, nobody gets that rich without making enemies."

"I know," said the man in gray.  He gestured ahead to two more checkpoints.  "I was just wondering if we're going to have to pass through one of these stations every forty or fifty yards."

"Absolutely."

"I was afraid of that."

"Add it to your bill," said the man in white.

After another two hundred yards the corridor branched off and they chose the sidewalk that veered to the right.  The doors came more frequently now, as did the checkpoints, but finally they came to a halt in front of a door that appeared no different from any of the others.

"We're here," said the man in whites allowing the scanner above the door to verify his retina and palm print.

"I feel nervous," said the man in gray, as the door slid into the wall long enough for them to pass through.

"It's a simple enough procedure."

"But he doesn't know who we are."

"So?"

"What if he's happy the way he is? What if we annoy him? What if he kills people for bothering him?"

"If he was in any condition to kill people, he wouldn't be here," said the man in white.  "Lights!"

The room was instantly bathed in a dim blue glow.

"Can't you make it any brighter than this?" asked the man in gray.

"He hasn't opened his eyes in more than a century," replied his companion. "The room will wait until it knows his pupils are adjusting before it gets any brighter." He walked past a number of drawers built into the wall, checking their numbers, then came to a stop.  "Drawer 10547."

A drawer slowly emerged from the wall, stretching to its full eight-foot length.  The two men could barely make out the shape of a human body beneath the translucent covering.

"Jefferson Nighthawk," mused the man in gray.  "The Jefferson Nighthawk." He paused.  "It's not what I expected."

"Oh?"

"I thought there'd be all kinds of wires and tubes attached to him."

"Barbaric," snorted the man in white.  "There are three monitoring devices implanted in his body.  That's all he needs."

"How does he breathe?"

"He's breathing right now."

The man in gray stared, trying to detect the tiniest sign of movement.

"I don't see anything."

"He's doing it so slowly that only the computer can tell.  DeepSleep slows the metabolism down to a crawl; it doesn't stop it, or we'd be down here with thirty thousand corpses."

"So what do you do now?"

"I'm doing it," said the man in white.  He walked over to the drawer where the body lay, laid his hand over a scanner until it identified his fingerprints, then tapped in a code on a keyboard that suddenly extended from the scanner.

"How long will this take?"

"For you or me, probably a minute.  For the people we've got down here, maybe four or five minutes."

"Why so long?"

"If they weren't dying, they wouldn't be here in the first place.  In their weakened conditions, they take longer to respond to external stimuli." The man in white looked up from the body.  "More than one has died from the shock of being awakened."

"Will he?"

"Not likely.  His heart reads pretty close to normal, considering."

"Good."

"But if I were you, I'd brace myself for when he finally wakes up."

"Why? You've already told me he won't die, and that he's too sick to pose a threat even if he wanted to.  So what's the problem?"

"Have you ever seen a man in the advanced stages of eplasia?"

"No," admitted the man in gray.

"They're not pretty.  And that's an understatement."

They both fell silent as the body in front of them gradually began acquiring color.  After two more minutes the translucent top slid into the wall, revealing an emaciated man whose flesh was hideously disfigured by the ravages of a virulent skin disease.  Patches of shining white cheekbone protruded through the flesh of the face, knuckles pierced the skin of the hands, and even where the skin remained intact it looked like there was some malignancy crawling across it and discoloring it.

The man in gray turned away in disgust, then forced himself to look back.  He half expected the airs to smell of rotting flesh, but it remained pure and filtered.

Finally the eyelids flickered, once, twice, and then, slowly, they opened, revealing light blue, almost colorless eyes.  The diseased man remained motionless for a full minute, then frowned.


Excerpted from The Widowmaker by Mike Resnick.  Copyright (c) 1996 by Mike Resnick.  Excerpted by permission of Bantam Spectra, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.  All rights reserved.  No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gregory McMahan VINE VOICE on October 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Perhaps I expected too much of the Widowmaker, with its sexy blue-skinned babe and Elfin, mildly effeminate and dashing captain at the helm on the cover. Although I did get interstellar adventure, interplanetary shoot-outs, dramatic, but awkwardly choreographed fight scenes, and yes, titilating sexual innuendo, the book ultimately left me a little flat.
Although I really did like the set-up for the ending, the actual sequence of events at the end was kind of abrupt. I do like the irony of the main character's downfall using a scantily clad stray tail, and I did like the scathing cynicism thrown at organized religion, relationships and politics.
Maybe I will check out the second book, and maybe I will not. One thing is certain, though; the premise is quite intriguing, and perhaps the story gets tighter in the second book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is very good, it entertained me, but I enjoyed the 2nd book in the series better. This also caputres the naievete of a three month old in a 20 yer old persons body. Very interestin.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Mike Resnick has done a great at translating the Old West lawman/bounty hunter to the frontiers of space. However, Jefferson Nighthawk, aka the Widowmaker, the best at his job is sent on a mission ill prepared to face the emotional realities of his world. This Widowmaker is a clone that is trained with the original's physical skills, but not the his emotional mind set or memories. Read the book to see if the young Widowmaker survives to complete his mission.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Eastep on December 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
The backcover blurb about a "killing machine," a bounty hunter who is cloned to track down a notorious assassin certainly sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, it didn't take long to realize the author had pretty much wasted the interesting premise through pedestrian (and worse, at times amateurish) writing. All of the characters, except perhaps Father Christmas, are pretty annoying and cliche'ish. Father Christmas is just cliche'ish. The dialogue is inane and too often juvenile prattle, which is really bad because the book is virtually all dialogue. I think this was the first Resnick book I've read. It will be my last.
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