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Dark Tangos by Lewis Shiner

1/09/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Dark Tangos in the USA - or Buy Dark Tangos in the UK

author pic

pub: Subterranean Press. 207 page deluxe hardback. Price: $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-396-9.

check out websites: www.subterraneanpress.com and www.lewisshiner.com

I was familiar with Lewis Shiner’s work as a contributor to the ‘Wild Cards’ mosaic stories, so I was curious when this book arrived. As it turns out, ‘Dark Tangos’ isn’t actually in our genre but makes for an interesting example for you novice writers out there to study first person and his character’s unusual hobby of tango dancing, unfamiliar country and language backdrop research and bring it to life in a compulsive read. One section of the book was so intense, that I went way beyond my normal daily page allocation to complete.



Robert ‘Beto’ Cavenaugh is separated from his wife and his company has relocated him to Buenos Aires where he writes computer programmes for his. It also gives him a chance to fulfil his passion in tango dancing where he meets Elena, whom he discovers later has been orphaned but raised by a businessman whose been hiding his real name and was part of Argentina’s violent political regime decades earlier. Along the way, Cavenaugh also discovers his company had been involved in paying off said regime for the CIA. Drawn into this by Mateo, Elena’s real father and usurper, he becomes part of a people’s jury against her foster father. Anything beyond that is spoiler territory and I doubt if you would want to go through what Cavenaugh goes through.

Looking by the number of people Lewis Shiner had to consult to ensure he got his facts right before the necessary deviations to make the story work, it’s hardly surprising he brings a vivid feel to the story. As a study in technique, it is also a skilled accomplishment and shows that even SF authors can write general fiction well. If you want a surprising read outside of the genre, then I think this one will actually be an intense experience.

GF Willmetts

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