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Crystal Rain Paperback – January 20, 2015
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From Publishers Weekly
John deBrun, an amnesia victim with a hook instead of a left hand, must save his adopted society on the planet Nanaganda by recovering a lost technological artifact, the Ma Wi Jung, in Buckell's at times overly violent but enjoyable SF debut. John, living happily with his wife and son, has suppressed the memories of everything before his rescue from a watery grave 27 years earlier. When one group of native humans along with alien beings invade John's town, he winds up captured by the planet's other human society, the Azteca, whose culture is based on ritual sacrifice. Ruled by bloodthirsty, genetically engineered aliens called the Teotl, the Azteca have tunneled through the mountain range that separates the two human societies. Only the heroic efforts of John and acquaintances from his murky past can stop the ruthless Azteca. For a first-timer, Buckell handles his interlocking narratives well and his characters retain their humanity (even the slightly alien ones). Unusual for the genre, the many victims of torture and death are evenly divided between males and females. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
John DeBrun lives, mostly peacefully, on Nanagada with his wife, Shanta, and son, Jerome, troubled only by the fact that he remembers nothing of his past. War is brewing, however, with the Azteca preparing to finally cross the Wicked High Mountains in search of new sacrifices for their gods, the teotl. As the mongoose-men, defenders of Nanagada, struggle to hold out, John discovers that what he has forgotten may hold the secret to saving Nanagada. Pepper, clearly one of the mysterious old-fathers--wonder-workers from a distant planet who fought a war that left the land devastated and deprived of functional metal technology--claims to have known John long ago. Haidan, leader of the mongoose-men, and Dihana, prime minister of Capitol City, coerce John into leading an expedition to find Ma Wi Jung, which, according to the Loa--godlike beings who interfere with human affairs--is their only hope for defeating the Azteca. Buckell's first novel conjures a vividly imagined world, spiced with intrigue and adventure that unfolds at a breakneck pace. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I listened to this book as an audiobook and it blew me away. I have been reading science fiction for fifty years. This book brought me back to the science fiction I read in my youth with captivating cultures and strange worlds. The author Tobias Buckell has put together the oddest cultural mash-up imaginable. The colony world seems to have one large habitable continent. The portion north of the "Wicked Highs" is Nanagada. Nanagada is under the control of a culture derived from the islands of the West Indies. This gives a lot of characters a colorful Jamaican accent. Nanagada seems to be a nice place with a lot of diversity and people who enjoy fishing and farming and a reasonable level of technological development.
South of the Wicked Highs, however, is Azteca, where the ancient culture of the Aztecs, with its Flower Wars and human sacrifice, has been reinstituted by "gods" known as the Teotl. The Teotl are aliens who want to conquer Nanagada and kill their ancient enemy in Nanagada, known as the Loa.
The story rips forward from the beginning of the Azteca invasion of Nanagada. We are introduced to John de Brun and his family on the eve of the invasion. The family is separated from each other by the invasion. There are near escapes abounding as John makes his way to Capitol City. In Capitol City, we meet Edward Haidan, who is the chief of the "Mongoose Men," Nanagada's bush-based military. (The city militia are called Ragamuffins." No explanation is provided in this book for those names.) We are also introduced to Dihana, who is the mayor of Capital City. The duty to defend the last vestige of decent civilization falls to these two. Into this mix, we follow the mysterious Pepper, who is simply the most dangerous man in any world.
We gradually come to learn that Nagada is a devolved colony world. There was a war between humans, Teotl and Loa a long time ago. There is technology up for grabs that may determine the outcome of the Azteca invasion, and, maybe, the fate of human civilization beyond Nanagada.
From start to finish, the book moves along with energy and excitement, revealing just enough to keep the reader tantalized by what is left unrevealed.
Buckel has done a good job of thinking out things like wormholes and nanotechnology. This is a refreshing bit of Golden Age writing with Jamaican spice. As a lifetime science fiction reader, I recommend this book.
On a distant planet in a distant future: John DeBrun washed up on a beech in Nanagada 27 years ago with no memory of whom or what he was. Now John makes his living as a fisherman and lives with his wife Shanta and son though he still desires to know who he was and where he came from. Meanwhile the Azteca who until now have been held at bay by an impassible mountain range have now found a way to wage a full scale war on their enemies in Nanagada. Their motivation comes from what they perceive to be gods, the Teotle which are actually aliens. Now John and the Nanagada government must race to unlock the technological secrets of the old fathers which are across an ocean and buried in the snow in order to save the people of Nanagada from the Azteca and their gods the Teotle...
"Crystal Rain" is a decent first effort by Buckell but he does have some holes in his writing game to fill.
The Good: The story overall was interesting and Buckell builds a solid world with an interesting back story that is gradually explained as the story unfolds. The dynamic he created between the Gods/aliens and humans is interesting. The humans come to believe that the Aliens are gods beacuse of their power and because so much time has passes since the two species had initially been introduced.
The Bad: Buckell's writing is vague at times and leaves a little to be desired in this department. There also seems to be a lack of continuity in his writing as characters seem to immediately go to their next action without any lead from one point to another.
Overall: "Crystal Rain" is a decent first effort by Buckell and is worth checking out for any Sci-fi fan.