Book Review: Shadowrun 2XS

Shadowrun #4: 2XS by Nigel Findley

Title: Shadowrun #4: 2XS
Author: Nigel D. Findley
Published By: ROC Fantasy
Year Published: 1992
Page Count: 324
ISBN: 0-451-45139-2
Notes: 2XS (pronounced To Excess) is possibly the best Shadowrun novel you will ever read. The story is told in the first person and deals with the life and times of one Derek Montgomery (known as Dirk, on the streets).

Dirk is a hardboiled detective type in the vein of Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade (made famous by Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon). The difference, of course, is the setting. While Spade dealt with crime figures and loose women in the late 1930’s-1940’s, Dirk deals with life in Seattle in the mid-21st Century (2052, to be exact).

Within the world of Shadowrun, magic has resurfaced and mythological creatures roam the streets of what is called the “Awakened World.” Based loosely on the Mayan prophesy of great change in 2012, the world of Shadowrun states that the “great change” was magic becoming real. The Sixth World is the setting of this science-fantasy adventure.

It is against this backdrop that Montgomery finds himself, quite unwittingly, drawn into a conspiracy that will shake the very foundations of the Sixth World. The opening line of the book sets the tone immediately:

If this thing could be said to have started anywhere, I suppose it started with a woman with a gun.

With this opening, Findley (who died in 1995) begins a narrative that is spellbinding. It so opens the world of Shadowrun that even people new to the setting (it’s based on a role-playing game of the same name) can easily see how the world fits together and gain a ton of insight into the milieu.

The story is tight, the characters well-developed, and the action is clear and flows logically from one scene to the next. Findley skillfully weaves the various pieces of this tapestry together to create a cohesive whole.

If anything detracts from the text, it is the presence of a handful of editing errors; characters misnamed and minor punctuation errors. Otherwise the book is excellent.

Grade: A must read, if you are a Shadowrun fan. Five Goons out of Five.

About WonderGoon

WonderGoon is seeking enlightenment and questions everything.
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2 Responses to Book Review: Shadowrun 2XS

  1. storydad says:

    I agree, this is an excellent book, though only my second favorite of that era’s shadowrun novels. If you look around my house, you’ll find a battered, well read copy of this book lurking somewhere it probably should not be, like next to my bathtub or something, I’ve read it many times. It usually does not stay on the shelf long.

    My favorite of the time was called Changling, I think. I loaned it to a friend many years ago and I hope they enjoyed it because I never got it back. It told a story of a young man who went through the Change, from a bright human teenager into Troll. The book covers how he was essentially forced to run away from home because of his neighbors fears, and how from there he fell into a life of crime in Seattle’s Shadows. I found it touching as he struggled to continue his education, despite what he felt was brain damage from his transformation, concepts once easily grasped now frustrating and confusing him. He struggled on however, his studies earning him the street name of Profezzre—something his bosses found pretty funny in hired muscle that by their standards could barely speak. Eventually he comes to terms with his state, and despite his lifelong studies finally paying off in a ‘cure’ for goblinization he refuses to use the treatment, and in fact winds up instigating shadowruns of his own to derail and prevent the sucessful research of others’, as he realizes that there are those who would force the cure on metahumans and mages, destroying the lives of millions globally, and removing the wonder of magic from the world.

    There’s a newer set of novels that were released somewhat at the same time as the game’s 3rd edition. That series starts with the book Born to Run, which I actually saw in the dollar general the other day on their 1.00 book rack. It’s a good series that also does an excellent job of decribing the Sixth World. The only downfall of the series is that it feels like it’s aimed at a younger, late teenish audience.

    Michael Stackpole also published a book of short stories called Raven and Claw set in the shadowrun world. I believe they were originally written early in the drafting of the game, because many elements of the world are changed, especially concerning magic. Even so, it’s some of the best shadowrun fiction I’ve read, told in first person by the character Wolfgang Klaus, an associate of Professer Raven. The feel of the stories pulls heavily, intentionally and shamelessly from the old pulp fiction Doc Savage series of the ’60’s and ’70’s. It would seem that Wolfgang is a Wolf Shaman, though his relationship with his totem is very unorthodox from the rest of the shadowrun fiction out their. Rather than outright spellcasting, Wolf grants Wolfgang his strength, which at times means his senses are heightened and he’s made stronger, faster, etc…. and when Wolfgang fails to control Wolf, it means he’s something like a werewolf. Professer Raven assures him he’s not a werewolf, but he’s not living with Wolf on a daily basis either. Each story is of a different incident or investigation, and they are loosely linked into a rough timeline though each is clearly a stand alone story meant to be read and understood on it’s own.


    • WonderGoon says:

      I have the “Born to Run” trilogy and I’ve read them several times. They are good books, but I agree, they are aimed at the younger audience. I’d guess the reason why is they are meant to introduce the games concepts to an audience who are not familiar with the world setting. Also, I think they were in support of the action figure line that was out at the time. The line included G-Dogg, Kellan, Lothan, and Street Deacon. I believe they were also some sort of game along the lines of the Hero Clix game. (All of them came with dice). I never got any of the figures, but they looked pretty cool.

      Thanks for commenting.


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