Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Tobias Buckell has just had his first novel, Crystal Rain, come out from Tor Books. There’s a cool website devoted to the book and a lot of good press about it. Unfortunately, my duties serving as a World Fantasy Award judge have made it difficult to get extra reading in, but the book sounds like a lot of fun, from the Barnes & Noble review:

Set on a distant planet inhabited by the descendants of long-dead refugees from Earth,Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer Tobias S. Buckell’s debut novel is a science fiction adventure reminiscent of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s classic John Carter of Mars saga.

John deBrun lives in a small village with his wife and their 13-year old son. An experienced sailor and fisherman, John leads a simple existence that is close to idyllic — except he often wonders about his life before he washed up on the shores of Nanagada 27 years earlier, with absolutely no memory of the past. When his village is attacked by the Azteca, a fierce nation of warriors who reside on the other side of a looming mountain range, John is separated from his family and becomes involved in a desperate quest to find the Ma Wi Jung, a mysterious artifact once belonging to the old-fathers that could help defeat the Azteca and their bloodthirsty gods forever. But with Azteca spies searching for John, and with a strange man named Pepper hot on his trail, it seems that everyone knows about John’s past except himself…

Not unlike Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars novels, Buckell’s Crystal Rain features an almost invincible Earth-born hero, a distant planet with decaying civilizations and lost technological knowledge, and enough savage combat to satisfy the bloodlust of the most action-obsessed reader. Genre fans looking for a little adventure should look no further than Crystal Rain, which — not surprisingly — is the first installment of a projected series. - Paul Goat Allen

And various blurbs:

There’s a nova in the skies: Tobias S. Buckell is a dazzling new voice, and _Crystal Rain_ is an explosive debut. Read it!
-Robert J. Sawyer

“CRYSTAL RAIN is refreshing and imaginative, an exotic stew of cultures, myths, and technology.”
- Kevin J. Anderson

“After making the Campbell Ballot for Best New Writer with his short fiction, Tobias Buckell delivers on that promise with his first novel.”
—Mike Resnick

Tobias also set up the SF Novelists site, a great resource, and is very active in the kind of networking that helps other writers. Everybody I’ve ever heard talk about Tobias winds up describing him with words that pertain to integrity and being community-minded. He’s a great guy, a talented writer, and someone we will be hearing a lot from, I think.

And, he’s been kind enough to answer my insane questions…



Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
Because Todd Lockwood painted this incredible cover for it that has everything I've ever wanted in a cover. A man who is of mixed race with a hook for one hand, a gun in the other, hanging from the undercarriage of a blimp. That's so cool. In fact, I'll encourage everyone to steal the cover and leave the book behind, it's just acid free paper with ink markings on it. Nothing special really. I'm told far future Caribbean steampunk has been done over and over and the genre is all mine out anyway, so it's all about the cover...

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
I guess if there is a redeeming quality it's that I'm trying to populate a future and universe full of various peoples and ethnicities. Of course, I completely undermine all that by having gleeful fun with explosions, airship fights, Aztec sacrifices, ship battles and duels to the death. So I guess I'm not socially redeemable after all. My book also once burped at an awkward silence during a social dinner, so it's never been invited back to that type of thing.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
If you've been reading about FDA's new dietary requirements one realizes our modern diet does not have nearly enough pulp fiber in it. By ripping the pages out of Crystal Rain and eating one a day you'll be able to add enough roughage to properly ensure a clean colon. This I promise you: Crystal Rain is better than Metamucil.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
I would love for 8-12 year olds to grab this book. How much fun would it be to be reading about Aztec sacrifices as an 8 year old. Every 8 year old needs to know how to crack a rib in order to reach a still beating heart, IMHO.

Why are you always such a bastard? No one who meets you can stand you for more than five minutes.
The word bastard is always funny, because my biological father never married my mother, and thus my response has always been 'why yes, I am actually a bastard in the proper sense of the word' which I then let hang in the air for several beats... hey, I am a right bastard in both senses of the word for doing that, aren't I?

Why don’t you write more about giant rabbits?
It's the prickling sensation running up the back of my neck that one of them is waiting for me in the shadows, just watching, waiting for me to slip up and write about them just once...

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
I'd go into exertainment. I've always dreamed of a line of gyms that offer DDR, video boxing, and cycle plane video games. I'd pay someone to code the face of my my media critics onto the faces of the video boxing opponents and I'd spend all day trying to beat the crap out of their pixels. It would be successful for a while, but then I'd get hooked on pez and spiral into a pit of despair, waking up one morning next to a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew and then realize it was all for nothing and join a law school somewhere.


At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crystal Rain is a really good book- and don't forget- the website for Crystal Rain has the first third of the book for free to view and download.


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