Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell
Might contain spoilers.
In 2007, my family came running back to India after a year spent in Canada. If I recall correctly, I picked up Crystal Rain on an impulse at the airport, just in case the two books I was already carrying weren’t enough for the flight. It’s always carried good memories for me ever since I read it during those first few weeks back home, and reread it several times in the fourteen years since.
It was nearly as enjoyable this time as the first, though the volume of gore was as unpleasant to wade through as ever. The book also has a pair of easy flaws to notice today: the white saviour complex and the women being no more than props, save for Dihana, who is anything but. Perhaps the white man’s perspective on Caribbean culture too, although this white man is Grenadian, which should count for something. Nevertheless, the story is brimming with fascinating scientific and philosophical concepts. It melds the past, the present, and the future to paint a picture of a world and a universe very much worth exploring, where the idyllic co-exists with the brutal.
Despite always wishing there were more of the story, I must confess I didn’t realize until this time that Crystal Rain was the first in a series titled Xenowealth! I suppose the sequel may not yet have been available in India when I finished this one (not that I looked).
Once I became aware of its existence last year, I found and purchased the book online with some difficulty, only to have a ‘novel’ and unwelcome experience:
It looked like someone had copied the text from an ebook into Word, reformatted it, and printed it at home. Just as I was about to ask some friends if anyone else thought it was a fake, I received an email from Flipkart saying they had reason to doubt ‘the authenticity of this item’ and were removing all listings from the seller. They called me soon after that to offer a refund (which I haven’t received to this date).