Ray Cazador walked into the casino on Bedloe’s Island like he was doing it a favor. Head tilted up, eyes cool, arms akimbo, feet pointed out and forward, just that much short of a swagger in the legs. He didn’t mind all the faces turned to look at his — literally nobody in the world knew who he was.
Ray Cazador appears in the story “Bad Beat for Aaron Burr” by Kenneth Hite, published in The New Hero Volume 1.
Confident, bristling with foresight, and armed with a sap, Ray Cazador might seem like an ordinary pursuer of fugitives. But then why does his head spin with an ever-tumbling array of historical possibilities? That would be because Ray chases his fugitives where few can go—across alternate dimensions and contrary timelines. In “Bad Beat For Aaron Burr” he tracks his target, a man named Troutman aiming to make a forbidden deal with Aaron Burr’s Mexican Empire, through a world of spies and high-rollers. First stop: the casino on Bedloe’s Island.
Kenneth Hite brings the mastery of historical grandeur and minutiae we know from his roleplaying work to the short story form. Told in a style both sharp and brisk, Ken’s tale avoids the usual pitfall of the alternate history genre. It tells us what we need to know, when we need to know it, never letting the storytelling lag to pursue some stray extrapolation. His adroit hand with exposition can be seen in the way he trusts the reader to dive in and find herself in the world, as the action unfolds.
“With this story, I was aiming much more at characters like Elmore Leonard’s skip-tracer Jack Ryan or Richard Stark’s consummate working crook Parker than at any iconic ‘time patrol’ figure,” Ken says. “I wanted to convey a world where cross-time travel was normal enough that people didn’t stop and tell each other about it all the time.”
Kenneth Hite has designed, written, or co-authored more than 70 roleplaying games and supplements, including the Star Trek Roleplaying Game, GURPS Infinite Worlds, Day After Ragnarok, Trail Of Cthulhu, and Night’s Black Agents. Outside gaming, his works include Tour de Lovecraft: the Tales, Cthulhu 101, Zombies 101, Where the Deep Ones Are, and the graphic illustrated version of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to U.S. History. He writes the “Lost in Lovecraft” column for Weird Tales magazine, and his essays and criticism have also appeared in Dragon Magazine, Games Quarterly Magazine, National Review, Amazing Stories, and in anthologies from Greenwood Press, Ben Bella Press, and MIT Press. He lives in Chicago with his wife Sheila, two cats, and many, many books. He blogs at princeofcairo.livejournal.com.
All New Hero artwork by Gene Ha.
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