REVIEW: Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell
I first heard about Tobias Buckell
on Adventures in SciFi Publishing, Episode 24. I heard that episode a few months ago, and it left me itching to read Crystal Rain. Tobias’ “ask a writer” spot on Adventures in SciFi Publishing and numerous stories on EscapePod kept him in my mind. You can read the first third of the novel and supplemental materials here.
The story starts with a bang. Pepper, an obviously enhanced human, falls from the sky. John deBrun, is a fisherman with a mysterious past (and hook). Oaxyctl, a spy, is given a mission by his god. Meanwhile, in Capitol City, we’re introduced to Dihana, the prime minister and General Haidan, leader of the mongoose. These characters and an army of Azteca marching over the mountian set the stage for an epic adventure. From the start, the pacing is fast, short chapters and shifting POV characters keep that pace going for pretty much the entire novel.
The genre of Crystal Rain is hard to place. We’re shown a world with a strange mix of technology, that’s easily described as “steampunk.” There are gods that might be aliens, pushing the genre either toward science fiction or fantasy. Space Opera and/or military science fiction on a grand scale is hinted at. The common thread among all these colliding genre’s is that Buckell respects each and writes consistently well. This book has helium blimps, amphibious steam boats and wormholes. It has battles on land, sea, and air. Archeology and treasure hunting add to the adventure.
Buckell has a unique voice and his Caribbean heritage shines through, in the language and the nautical realism. This was a refreshing and thought provoking read and I’d highly recommend it. I ordered a copy of Ragamuffin hours after finishing Crystal Rain. I need to experience more of this universe.