The Man Who Never Missed
Published in August 1985, The Man Who Never Missed is the first book in Steve Perry’s The Matador series. It stars Emile Antoon Khadaji. At one point in his life or another, Khadaji has been a soldier, a pubtender, a student, a smuggler, a gladiator and a guerilla. He is also the man who never missed. The book chronicles the evolution of a revolutionary. Set in the future on far off worlds, the story combines sci-fi trappings with a centralized character tale that does a good job of serving up entertainment.
The story begins on the jungle world of Greaves where a guerilla fighter is leading a one man army against the Confeds. Armed with two hi-tech dart weapons mounted on his hands, Khadaji takes down the elite soldiers of the Confed military. But being a guerilla warrior is only a part time job for Khadaji. Most of the time, he’s just a businessman running a bar, serving drinks to the very soldiers he shoots down. Slowly the book reveals that Khadaji isn’t just some young revolutionary doing what he can against an oppressive government. He has a plan. It turns out it’s been a plan long in the making. Just as his master scheme is about to come into fruition, the book jumps back in time, giving readers the full picture of how Khadaji got to where he is.
From brief glimpses of his childhood, to his stint with the Confed military, the story shows the transition Khadaji has made over his life. Through the twists and turns, events affect him in ways that will forever change his course in life. He has a moment, ever so brief, that reveals what his purpose might be. From there he goes along a long road of learning to figure out how to get there. Steve Perry’s writing style is interesting. He wastes no time in plunging readers into this world of his creation. He uses lots of strange terms and slang that give the story a sense of being alien and sci-fi like, but without being completely confusing. In that sense, it’s kind of like a sword and sorcery story that doesn’t get lost in world building but instead gets straight to the fun and keeps that as the main throughpoint. The author also has a tendency to say things that can be jarring that reminds me a little bit of Stephen King. You might find yourself reading a scene and all the sudden something crude or slightly taboo will pop up. It adds an odd flavor to the book. However, the writing style is enjoyable and works well for this type of story. The main characters journey is very much a coming of age type story, but one set latter in a person’s life.
For sci-fi fans, The Man Who Never Missed is more of a mild science fiction story than something like Star Wars or Star Trek. There are no aliens in this setting, only a few human created alterations of human beings known as neo-humans or exotics. There isn’t much focus on the means of space travel or the technology of the universe. The tech serves its purpose to add to the flavor of the setting (and for being written in 1985, the tech holds up really well) but is never the focus of the story. The book explores several planets, but none of them feel alien. Mostly, the story uses sci-fi elements to add a little flavor to what is essentially an adventure tale.
At 195 pages, the book isn’t a very long read, however it does tell a complete story…sort of. From cover to cover, readers get an overview of Khadaji’s life and the waypoints that have brought him to stand up against his government. Later in the book, there is some time skimming that borders a little on god-modding as Khadaji sets up his plan to become a revolutionary, but it balances out enough that it doesn’t destroy the story or the character. The most important point, though, is the end of the book. For people who hate cliffhangers, you’ll want to make sure you prep yourself by buying the next book in the series. It’s one of the better endings I’ve read in a book, but it leaves some dangling plot threads, which is understandable given that this is initially described as the first book in a trilogy.
As a Star Wars fan, I picked this book up because I really enjoyed Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire. While The Man Who Never Missed plunges into an entirely different setting without any filters, I had fun reading it. It’s an adult oriented book, so keep that in mind. There is some adult subject matter in the book which narrows down it’s target audience. I’d have to say the story is written more for guys, so I’m not sure how much a female audience would enjoy the book. It’s also not as rich a space fantasy as Star Wars, but it does focus on the characters and story rather than the technology and science. If you’re looking for a quick read to further broaden your horizons, I give this old sci-fi book a recommendation. It holds up pretty well and packs in an entertaining story. I’d rate it a four out of five metal bikinis.