Hunters Run

by George R. R. Martin

On the colony planet of São Paulo, a man named Ramon Espejo kills a man in a fight outside a bar over a woman. It transpires the man was a diplomat, and Espejo decides to lie low in the wilderness in the north of the planet's major continent. While in hiding, he accidentally discovers an alien installation. The suspicious aliens capture him and render him unconscious. When Ramon wakes up, he learns that another man had followed him into the alien hideout, but has since escaped, presumably to reveal the existence of the aliens to the rest of the colony. The aliens do not want this and thereby enslave Ramon using highly advanced technology, deciding that since he is human, he can be used to track down and find the other intruder. Ramon at first tries to stall and help his "prey", but his plans are ruined by his captor Maneck, whom he eventually gets to know a little better, during their travels together. Ramon realizes that the aliens are not evil or fundamentally incomprehensible, only culturally different. He then learns a few things about the race and accordingly, begins to question some aspects of his own life. Eventually though, it is revealed to him that the man they are chasing after is actually the "real" Ramon and that he (the man who is kept prisoner by Maneck) is actually an artificial clone made by the aliens. There never was any other man who broke into the installation, it was Ramon who has escaped. Now disheartened, the clone-Ramon manages to escape by tricking his alien keeper and eventually meets up with his original. The original Ramon does not recognize him, since the clone is considerably younger and in better shape. After traveling together for some time, the clone realizes with a start that he does not actually like the person that he is (or was) very much; the original has never met Maneck or gotten to know the aliens and thus has never had time to ponder some of the questions the clone has started to struggle with. After the real Ramon finally sees that he is traveling with a man who bears uncanny resemblance to him, the clone kills his original in an act of desperation and then, assuming his (former?) identity, takes up a new life as his old self in the capital. The novel ends with him deciding to go back, make peace and reach out to the aliens in an attempt to use their knowledge of the planet's mineral wealth to enrich him. The story ends before we learn their response to this offer.