This has been my favourite episode so far. The first two episodes were set-up that introduced us to Mur’s rich future, and now we get down to some action. Some blood thirsty action. In this episode we get to see the Red Granny doing her thing in The Most Dangerous Game. Does it say bad things about me that I’ve enjoyed it the most?
The pace really picks up, and I don’t think it’s just some primal glee in gladitorial pursuits that made this entertaining for me. Mur writes action well. Perhaps this has to do with having engaged in martial arts herself, but if so, she has not fallen into the trap of some writers* of getting over-excited by their knowledge of an area and taking one through the moves in excruciating detail. Moreover, the most interesting and exciting parts were moments when characters did something unexpected, utilising the different conditions of fighting in a vacuum to their advantage. Especially the Red Granny.
Marco becomes more engaging, too, as he reflects upon and gets caught up in the action. I like the fact that (although he is rooting for the Red Granny) he remains repulsed by the bloody nature of the sport. I get very tired of SF stories involving fights to the death that seek only to show humanity’s barbarism. Mur also uses Marco’s lack of knowledge of the game to good effect as he gets the Li-Jun to explain to him the parts he does not understand. This could be a clunky device, but she handles it well, and uses it to show us both more about Marco, and to develop the characters of the Li-Jun as well. They remain enigmatic, but I think we are also starting to get a sense of their differing personalities – they are not all the same.
Perhaps there is some barbarism in my nature. I love The Running Man (in both film and book versions), and I was pleased to hear Mur cite it as an inspiration in her introduction. I will also probably be chasing down The Most Dangerous Sport, the story for which the game the Red Granny is fighting in is named.
I am definitely hooked, now, and will look forward to listening to the next installment!
*I actually really liked Helm, but Steven Gould does like his research, and the aikido bits were a real test of patience in places.