Tobias Buckell’s Crystal Rain is post-technology sci-fi, where people have colonized a distant star, but lost the technology (due to war). The resulting society is interesting; in the Capitol there are a number of forces who remember a star faring era, but the leadership and common people live no more advanced than riffles and trains.
One twist is that the local culture is Caribbean derived; the language has propagated forward, with regional variations. Similarly, the aggressors are Aztec, but manipulated by aliens to have strong reinforcement in their ways of sacrifice.
The conflict between the two is interesting; all of my sympathies were on the Caribbean side, but the peeks we get at the life under the Aztecs makes them understandable. John deBrun is interesting; I found myself doubting and disappointed in him–just the way he and other major characters view him. The reveal near the end is okay, but the resolution of the ship seemed arbitrary. (Well, the final run, at least.)
In the end, I’m mildly curious about the next books in the series, but it didn’t inspire “must buy now”. Though the galactic situation that was setup is quite interesting, and was barely touched on in this book.
Death Sworn, by Leah Cypress, was a fast, fun book. It’s YA, with a solid protagonist, who really does have a reason to mope. Her struggle to uphold the responsibilities placed on her, and her navigating of the assassin’s society, were all captivating. Her big breakthrough–in figuring out how her whole mission had been manipulated into being–was a surprise to me, but made perfect sense in the resulting conversation.
The relationship between the two main characters was very interesting and felt authentic; their sense of duty to their organizations, suspicion at the setup, confidence in their own abilities, and such all worked very well. The Empire has just enough threat–and the characters seem to have an appropriate for their age lack of understanding of the details of the Empire’s modern nature and recent acts–that I’m interested to see what we learn about them.
If I’d had the sequel on hand, I’d have immediately begun reading the next book. (Admittedly, that’s true of most books… but I did enjoy it. And its low complexity made it an easy read.)
I picked up my Winter and Spring issues of Boom: A Journal of California and finally read them. Both were engaging on their main topics; Winter’s theme was The Future, and included articles about how California has often stood in for “the future” for authors. An article about sustainability was excellent, and dug under my perceptions of what sustainability should be trying to maintain and how it’s measured. It seems intuitive… which is how is escapes from being challenged on its underpinnings.
Spring’s subtitle was THE WORLD IN CALIFORNIA. CALIFORNIA IN THE WORLD. It felt more loosely connected, but I enjoyed most of the articles. (Bring the World to California felt a little too like an informercial–and the hard parts were signposted instead of solved.) This issue felt dreamier, more reflective, though the border article was concrete.) I enjoyed them and renewed for another year…
Summer will bring “What’s the Matter with San Francisco.” I’m curious to see what they’ll see.