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Sly Mongoose Hardcover – August 19, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Xenowealth Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Buckell returns to the universe of Crystal Rain (2006) and Ragamuffin (2007) for another action-packed story of human colonists fighting to survive on an alien world with all the odds against them. The story bounces between two protagonists: teenage Timas, one of the few inhabitants of the floating spherical city of Yatapek who can maintain the enormous mining machine that harvests ore from the furnace-hot surface of Venus-like Chilo, and Pepper, aka Juan Smith, an elite Ragamuffin soldier from New Anegada who'd prefer to forget about his violent past. As the only survivor of a ship infected with a virus that turns people into murderous zombie slaves of the alien Swarm, the last thing Pepper wants is another fight, but with the Swarm making inroads on Chilo, he has little choice. Buckell delivers double helpings of action and violence in a plot-driven story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. (Aug.)
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From Booklist

Chilo is a world of high pressure, intense heat, and acidic rain, in which domed cities float above the clouds, where the pressure and temperature are survivable. Timas, 14, supports his family by going down to the surface in one of the few remaining groundsuits to repair the mining head vital to the city’s survival. When Timas’ city is damaged by a messenger crashing into it, everything he knew is turned upside down. The crasher, Pepper, who survives, alerts Chilo to approaching zombie invaders. Then the high-tech Aeolians send Katerina to demand that Pepper be turned over to them for trial on charges of destroying a starship. But something is hidden on Chilo’s surface that is worth starting a war for. Timas, Katerina, and Pepper must lead the struggle to survive the invasion, and in the process all undergo unexpected changes and learn the true extent of their capabilities. Buckell’s world building, full of strong Aztec and Caribbean elements, is spectacular; the story, finely tuned and engrossing. --Regina Schroeder

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765319209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319203
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,197,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tobias S. Buckell is a Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He now lives in Ohio.

He has published stories in various magazines and anthologies. He is a Clarion graduate, Writers of The Future winner, and Campbell Award for Best New SF Writer Finalist. His work has appeared in the Year's Best Science Fiction anthologies. His novel Ragamuffin was nominated for the Nebula and Prometheus awards.

You can visit his website at www.TobiasBuckell.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Sly Mongoose is set several generations after Ragamuffin, and our old friend Pepper is back in the middle of the latest crisis. As always the alien machinery inside of him has caused him to outlast and outlive everyone around him, so he's the only character you'll remember from previous books. The descendants of the Azteca fled New Anegada and their alien masters, and now live in floating cities set about a deadly planet called Chilo.

One of the things I love about Buckell's work is that his books in this series have enough similarity of style, exploration, themes, etc. (not to mention the fantastic character of Pepper!) to satisfy someone who's looking for more of 'the same'. However, each one is also quite different from the previous books, so you certainly won't feel bored with the material! Each book takes place some time after the previous one, in this case several generations later. Each book explores a different part of the universe, although at the same time it takes on the consequences of previous plots. So there's a ton of new material while also a few familiar threads to hold onto. This also means that the books can stand alone, although you'll have an easier time following some things if you know what came before.

The characters are complex and interesting. As usual it could be argued that Pepper is actually not the main character, although perhaps he is more so in Sly Mongoose than in the last two books. This is a great approach, because Pepper's certainly not your standard hero, nor even your standard anti-hero, and it's often both useful and important to see events through other people's eyes as well.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An intense debate over how to deal with illegal aliens... a virus corrupting the results of electronic voting... a runaway greenhouse effect... This would sound like something out of current headlines, if not for the zombies. Everything is better with zombies.

Buckell returns to the universe of his previous 2 novels and humanity is still misplacing it's resentment toward its (now former) alien overlords by finding new and exciting ways of killing each other. The setting is what initially sets this book apart from your average adventure filled science fiction yarn. The caustic Venus like atmosphere of Chilo offers us a dizzying array of floating cities, air ships, clockwork dragons, but the people that choose to live on Chilo give the story its soul.

If you've read the Crystal rain, you'll recognize the Azteca. If you've read Ragamuffin you'll recognize the Consensus as an extrapolation of democracy enabled by the Lamina technology. If you've read either, you'll love seeing Pepper in action. If this is the first book you read by Buckell, it'll definitely entice you to read the previous books.
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Format: Hardcover
The reason this book is still on my mind is that it shows the pros and cons of the opposites of democratic choice. On the one hand are the Aeolians who vote on absolutely everything, all the time. On the other are the Yatapekians who use a more traditional patriachal structure to get things done. But when an imminent threat arrives both people drag their feet trying to figure out what to do about it. That part of the plot struck me as insightful. Even in the face of clear and present danger some people dither around.

So the plot was good but the book is full of cliches, as others have pointed out. I leave you with two things: the main bad-ass character actually acts like a bad-ass and often sacrifices others, or others' opinions of him, to get to a positive solution for the whole. To the point of quickly killing someone when he could have probably just restrained them during a fight. He's totally a take-no-prisoners kind of guy. If there is no point in keeping a threat alive, he doesn't. On the downside, when the ragamuffin-types talk using pidgin (broken English) it's annoying. I know the author is from the Caribbean but it's annoying down there too. And it seems like the "talk" slipped a few times into the editing of the regular paragraph descriptions. And THAT is one of my biggest pet peeves: bad editing.

Still, it's a fun, easy read. I probably would have loved it as a 13 or 14-year-old. Now as a 30 something, it's a decent way to pass a few nights instead of watching bad T.V.
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Format: Hardcover
Space zombies. Floating cities. And Pepper leaping out of a spaceship and riding a heatshield down, sans parachute. What else do I really need to say about this one?

Sly Mongoose is Tobias Buckell's third novel, set in the same universe as Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin, but Pepper is the only character from the earlier books. As with Ragamuffin, this isn't a direct sequel, though it does continue the larger story Buckell is creating about humans struggling to survive and find their place as they discover just how dangerous a place this universe can be.

Sly Mongoose is set primarily on the planet of Chilo, a loosely Venus-like planet with crushing gravity, a corrosive atmosphere ... generally not a pleasant place to live. The inhabitants live in floating cities, descending to the surface to maintain the outdated and unreliable mining equipment. It's a hard life, and when Pepper drops in, it gets a lot harder. The Swarm (space zombies!) is coming, searching for a secret hidden on Chilo's surface, and they're prepared to kill anyone and everyone in their way.

Buckell does a lot of cool things in this book. For starters, Chilo's inhabitants are the descendants of the Azteca from Crystal Rain. One complaint I had about Crystal Rain was that the Aztecs came across as fairly straightforward villains without as much depth as I wanted. Sly Mongoose develops them into fully fleshed out people, still struggling to live down the shame of their ancestors' actions back on New Anegada.

Sly Mongoose leaves me curious where Buckell is going with this series. He's setting up a very dangerous and violent universe, one in which humanity will either need to unite and work together, or face extinction.
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