Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Review: Tears in Rain

I added Tears in Rain to my to-read list somewhat impulsively after reading an excerpt published on BoingBoing. It was not without it's flaws, but also had some strong points, and I enjoyed reading most of it despite the flaws.

The book is Blade Runner fan-fic. A noire detective story in a future setting very much in keeping with that film. The main character is a Replicant (Android) drawn into investigating a series of strange Replicant deaths  after one of these occurs in her apartment. The further she unravels the mystery, the more twisted the conspiracy becomes as the bodies keep piling up.

Along the way, there are some very nice bits of sci-fi, both in the smaller details of the settings (courier robots, home automation, etc) and in the larger questions put before the reader (e.g. ethics of tampering with people's memories, when/if that becomes possible, for example. Also I really liked the treatment the author gave to state-control of information and revisionist history when all our history is centralized in a wikipedia-like system. Very thought provoking).

My complaints about the book: (1) It was desperately in need of editing down to about two thirds its size. The author took on too much, and some of it should have stayed on the editing room floor. (2) There was some unimaginative bits of sci-fi that broke the immersion (personal computers are still mobile phones, and they still use GPS). (3) Rather than name-checking the Blade Runner characters or universe, the author name-checks the MOVIE itself, which totally broke the immersion where it was done. Finally (4) while most of the book was too long, the ending definitely felt like it came together and tied off too quickly, like the author was trying to rush.

These flaws aside, it's a good 'B' level read for Blade Runner fans

Tears in Rain