I have bits and pieces of this in my head. For some reason, the protagonist is being pursued by hired killers. I want to say that he knows that they're coming from the beginning. They're all themed, all famous, with the chapters being introduced with bits of verse like nursery rhymes describing their usual tactics, but only one of them is sticking in my head. One of the assassins is known as "Simple Simon" with the rhyme riffing off of the traditional nursery rhyme with him killing the pieman for his pies. Either that assassin or one close in time to him attempts to kill the protagonist by rigging their showerhead (might have been a sonic shower) with lasers, and is killed by being forced into it.

Other than that, my mind is blank. It was a paperback. I read it somewhere in the 1990s in the United States in English.


I believe I have found it, Santiago: a Myth of the Far Future. After searching for variants on the phrase "Simple Simon killed the Pieman", I found reference to the RPG, which included some of the quatrains. I requested a copy from my local library to confirm, and indeed, it was the correct book.

I have also learned that Mike Resnick wrote a sequel, The Return of Santiago, and that The Outpost serves as a sort of prequel, being set in the same universe.

  • Yes, I have that book, and Chapter 18 of that books starts of with the poem "Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair .." I can't however confirm the sonic showerhead part yet, I'd have to re-read the book to confirm (been a while since I read it). The blurb read. "Wanted throughout the galaxy, he had evaded capture for thirty years. Now two men, Songbird and Angel, take up the challenge - and gamble their lives in the attempt" – Dijkgraaf Mar 14 '15 at 7:06
  • That has to be it, though what you remember isn't what I'd consider the most salient points. Santiago does feature multiple assassins (or rather, bounty hunters), one of them being Simple Simon. Some chapters start with rhymes (not always about an assassin). – user56 Mar 14 '15 at 11:40
  • @Gilles: It's bizarre, the sort of things I do remember about these books sometimes... – FuzzyBoots Mar 14 '15 at 12:33

There is an episode like this in Charles Stross' 2003 novel Singularity Sky, though (1) it is not the main theme of the book, (2) some of the details don't quite match and (3) it comes too late. All of which adds up to it probably not being your text, but it matches the title and may be of use to future viewers.

The governor of Rochard's World, Duke Felix Politkovsky, asked the Festival for youth and a life of adventure and the festival has provided this in spades.

Felix has several magical companions, one of whom is a giant talking rabbit, and they are pursued by "mimes" who throw goopy nano-tech "pies" that zombify victims. For a while the story follows Mr. Rabbit's attempt to obtain aid for Felix who is radiation burned when he calls on the Festival for further help as the mimes close in.

With the sequel Iron Sunrise this novel comprise the Eschaton universe.

  • No. I'm afraid that was not the one. But thank you. – FuzzyBoots Mar 14 '15 at 2:49

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