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Crystal Rain

(Xenowealth #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,349 ratings  ·  159 reviews
Long ago, so the stories say, the old-fathers came to Nanagada through a worm's hole in the sky. Looking for a new world to call their own, they brought with them a rich mélange of cultures, religions, and dialects from a far-off planet called Earth. Mighty were the old-fathers, with the power to shape the world to their liking—but that was many generations ago, and what w ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 7th 2006 by Tor Books
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,349 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've been hearing about Tobias S. Buckell's Xenowealth series for years and finally got around to it last month. My schedule made reading time difficult to find, so it probably suffered somewhat from that, but overall, I really enjoyed Crystal Rain, book 1 in the Xenowealth series.

John DeBrun has no memory of his past, but there are a few odd things he's realized about himself, such as the fact that he doesn't seem to age or get sick (unbreakable!). We find him established with a wife and son an
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
The one about a land war on an isolated and technologically
retrograded colony world, with shadowy aliens working behind the

. . . Yeah, no. This book is a study in how social justice
awareness isn’t transitive. Buckell’s name got tossed around a lot a
couple years ago in race fail because he’s an author of color who, my
goodness, writes nonfaily science fiction about people of color. What
no one told me was that he simultaneously fails at disability. He
fails at disability like a boss, you guys
Apr 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 2008
This book was so much fun to read. Imagine another planet inhabited by Caribbean people and Aztecs. Imagine “gods” that require blood sacrifices. Imagine a world settled by humans who get cut off from the rest of humanity and have lost most of their technology and whose origins are the stuff of myth and legend. This is the setting of "Crystal Rain" by Tobias Buckell.

When you read as much genre fiction as I do, you start recognizing the formulas and get pretty good at determining where the story
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Crystal Rain has a few minor flaws, but it’s a fun novel with an interesting setting that can best be described as Caribbean steam-punk. The novel takes place on a distant, former colony world that was undergoing terraforming. About 300 years prior to the events in the novel, an interstellar war spilled over into the solar system where the world is located. In desperation, one side in the conflict set off a massive EMP burst that fried every computer and circuit board in the system. All ships an ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 04, 2012 marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: own, sci-fi-fantasy
I think I'm setting this aside after including it in a speed-dating project. I feel bad because I've met the author and he signed it... I talk more about why here.... care to tell me to try again?
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Excellent debut novel. Fantastic world-building (much of which is only hinted at or briefly disclosed in this novel), great characters (with "Pepper" going on the list of one of the best characters of recent years) and a good story. Recommended.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Uniqueness can be a difficult thing to find in fantasy literature, as most novels follow the general archetypes. The medieval English setting established in the Sir Thomas Malory’s classic “Le Morte d’Arthur” has been grossly overused in the genre. So it is immensely refreshing to discover a fantasy/sci-fi novel that revolves around a Caribbean/South American type of setting. Creativity is a wonderful thing.

“Crystal Rain”, the strong debut novel by Tobias S. Buckell, is a unique hybrid that atte
The Flooze
With Crystal Rain, Buckell creates a crazy mish-mash of fantasy, myth, and sci-fi. All of which is wrapped up in the enigma: Who the heck is John deBrun?

He's a man with a hook. A fisherman. A family man. But he must be so much more since gods, spies, and a strange guy in a top hat are all hunting for him. The different factions think John can provide important information, but all he has is a case of amnesia.

The mystery of his true identity ties all the story threads together, but it's not the o
Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 rated it liked it
An entertaining, quick-moving sci-fi adventure.
John deBrun suffers from amnesia. He has no idea where he's from or who he used to be. He was found by the inhabitants of Nanagada, descendants of Caribbean emigrants, and taken into their community. After time, he has made a rewarding life for himself, married a woman that he loves and had a son.

Do you think this peace and happiness is going to last? (All together now: "NO!")

Soon enough, it's discovered that the brutal and warlike Azteca have tunn
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is first rate SF, blending exciting action with interesting ideas in a plot that is paced beautifully. Buckell fits a lot into these 350 pages.

It's difficult to reveal much plot, because the author does such a nice job of slowly unveiling the history of his characters and world throughout the book. A man named John DeBrun who lives with his wife and son in a small jungle village on an island world called Nanagada has a rough past. He led a seafaring voyage north on behalf of his government
Neal Asher
Nov 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Well, for various reasons I’ve not been reading as much as usual, and my ‘to read’ pile has been stacking up. First on my list upon returning to it was Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell. It’s always a little worrying reading a book by an author you’ve had contact with since you always feel the urge to say something nice even if you don’t mean it. I’ve tried to hammer down on that over the last few years. Now I will only comment on a book if it is one that grabs me and keeps me focused on it through ...more
Scott Marlowe


*** This review originally appeared on Out of this World Reviews. ***

Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell is the first novel of Buckell's set in his Caribbean-style sci-fi world. Buckell himself is a native of that region of the world, though he now resides in landlocked Ohio. You can follow the author on his blog. Buckell contributed a Pepper story to the Seeds of Change anthology, of which I received an advanced reader copy and reviewed. I also previously reviewed Sly Mongoosewhich is th
Adrian Halpert
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fantastic debut novel by Tobias Buckell!
The story takes place on a distant planet called Nanagada and is about the descendants of the Aztecs, appropriately called the Azteca, launching an attack on the descendants of Caribbean settlers on the planet. In a desperate move to stop the Azteca, an expedition, led by the mysterious John deBraun, heads north to find a fabled weapon that could be their only chance to halt the attack. All the while, mysterious alien beings lurk in the background, mani
Tim Hicks
Jun 09, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not realize that Ragamuffin was the sequel to this one, but it quickly became obvious to me. It wasn't too much of a problem; they're both capable of standing on their own. It was a bit odd to know the eventual fate of the characters, though.

In contrast with Ragamuffin, the characters in this one felt slightly more introspective. Part of that is because John deBrun has amnesia, and consequently spends a fair amount of time wondering about himself. Pepper seems more roguish and dangerous (a
Mar 19, 2008 rated it liked it
This book has many good ideas, and is well researched at a cultural level (its Rastas Vs. Aztecs as they have colonized a planet in the future but lapsed into circa 1900s tech because of some apocolyptic event).

The main character is John DeBrun and he's multidimensional, and interesting. He's somewhat unique in that he is a father and not a teen doing self-discovery.

Also, the Aztec gods are creepy aliens, and the only way to fight them is when you have bionic implants.

But the pacing lags becau
The Azteca have finally found a way across the Wicked High Mountains and are descending upon Capital City, slaughtering all the Nanagadans that get in their way. The young mayor of Capital City has plans, but all they will do is delay the Azteca. The Nanagandans' only hope is that the explorer John deBrun can find a mythical artifact from long ago, the Ma Wi Jung. Helping John is the bioengineered (to be AWESOME) Pepper, while an Azteca spy skulks undetected in hopes of hindering their quest.

Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I picked up Crystal Rain because I happened upon the sequel, and wanted to read this one first. Now that I understand how little connection there is between the two, I'm not certain that it helped. I still don't understand why the police of this world are called "Ragamuffins"...
The basic premise is that a very odd combination of human ethnic groups ended up settling a colony planet, then got cut off from Earth. Aliens, who were at the heart of the reason for them being cut off, molded the differ
Interesting read. Basically Aztec Gods as aliens on a distant colony world stuck behind a destroyed wormhole. I apparently read book in this series some time ago and I guess I didn't realize it was part of a series, even a loose one. It had interesting pacing, readable but slow. And the interesting technology was almost always just barely off screen. There was also some pretty definite use of a Caribbean dialect. Nothing about this really blew me away. But it hints of possibilities in an author ...more
Joey Woolfardis
Feb 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015, bloody-cack
Confusingly either an alternate Caribbean/Aztec set sci-fi or a steampunk militia fantasy without much world building. It tends to drift. Not written well and whilst I appreciate the dialogue was supposed to make you feel like they couldn't speak "English" well, it was just jarring and unnecessary. Didn't get that far, but apparently John's hand grows back once he regains his memory? Like a man with one hand can ever have a full memory? Or a full life?
Aug 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle-books, sf
I enjoyed this story overall. It took a while to really get going, but once things started the action continued. There was a bit of a mystery, a lot of action and some science mixed in. A little too much politics for my taste. But I liked his writing style okay, and I'd read more of his work.
Peter Bradley
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Please give my review a helpful vote -

Pepper has been looking to get off of the collapsed human colony world he has been stranded on for a long time. All that stands in his way is an invasion by a revived Aztec empire led by their horrific, blood-seeking gods. Fortunately, Pepper is uniquely qualified to deal with such inconveniences.

I listened to this book as an audiobook and it blew me away. I have been reading science fiction for fifty years. This book
Geoffrey Allan Plauché
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
[My rating, if GoodReads allowed half-stars: 3.5 stars.]

Steampunk is currently all the rage, but this book was published before steam engines and airships and whatnot became recently fashionable. And besides, Crystal Rain (Tor, 2007) is not your ordinary steampunk. It has a healthy dose of post-apocalyptic science fiction as well, but here too Crystal Rain breaks the mold. On the one hand, the setting includes sailboats and airships, gaslights, firearms, and, mostly in Capitol City, steam-powe
Jim Mann
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
On Nanagada, the descendants of Earth settlers live with relatively low technology and with only distorted memories of their past. They are basically divided into two groups: those who live on the peninsula of Nanagada, including Capital City -- many who are descendants of islands cultures on Earth -- and the Azteca, from over the Wicked High Mountains, who practice human sacrifice in honor of their living gods. As the book starts, an Azteca invasion of Nanagada has started, and the main charact ...more
This is the first book in the "Xenowealth" series by Tobias S. Buckell. When I read this one the phrase, "And now for something completely different", came to mind. In this one colonists from Earth who are primarily of Caribbean descent are living north of the "Wicked Highs" mountains. They are being attacked by the descendants of South American peoples called the Azteca who live south of the mountains. They have been cut off from Earth for many hundreds of years and most technology has been des ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Earth colony centuries after a worm hole was closed to protect from invading and vicious aliens. A guy with no memory. Caribbean culture fights Aztec culture in a very, very, standard tale. It's one thing to imagine a culture based on an existing one, but an entire nation patterned after an extinct and blood thirsty one? Too far.

Not just average, but also not enough to hold interest in reading more books in the series.
Jenny Thompson
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy
There were parts that dragged, but overall, it was an intriguing beginning. I liked the far future society of Caribbean refugees on a planet far from Earth who had lived on this new planet so long that the idea of anything before was barely more than mythology. Mistaking aliens for gods is also a fun trope, even if I wanted to understand these aliens a bit better. Perhaps that's for the sequels.
Jul 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: world-booklist

"Better to hope, look forward, and plan. Keep moving.'

"Nobody will ever be the same."

Elton Mottley
A Caribbean voice

Interesting sci-fi take will probably invoice would recommend. Focusing on Latin American and Caribbean characterisation is highly original a good read
David Sheffler
Feb 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
The world doesn't make sense to me and the prose and characters didn't grab me. I just didn't care about what I was reading.
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Born in the Caribbean, Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author. His novels and over 50 short stories have been translated into 17 languages and he has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. He currently lives in Ohio.

Other books in the series

Xenowealth (4 books)
  • Ragamuffin (Xenowealth, #2)
  • Sly Mongoose (Xenowealth, #3)
  • The Apocalypse Ocean (Xenowealth #4)