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Literature / Crystal Rain

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A science fiction novel by Tobias Buckell, set in the same universe as Sly Mongoose and Ragamuffin.

John deBrun is a fisherman on the tropical land of Nanagada. He lost a hand on an expedition to the frozen North, and now he doesn't go adventuring anymore. He sails from Brungstun, comes home to his wife and son, and doesn't try to remember his life before he washed up, amnesiac, on the beach thirty years ago. He sells his catch, paints pictures, and never misses carnival.Now, though, the Azteca have pushed through the Wicked High mountains, seeking slaves and sacrifices for the Teotl, their bloodthirsty alien gods. One in particular is charged with finding John deBrun and extracting vital information about a relic of old technology. A space capsule has crashed in the Nanagadan jungle, depositing a ruthless killer named Pepper, who has but one goal on Nanagada: Find John deBrun. General Haidan, head of the elite Mongoose-Men, is setting up another expedition to the North and knows that there's only one man who can lead it: his old comrade in arms John deBrun. Adventure is coming, and John deBrun will never be the same.


This work contains examples of:

  • And I Must Scream / Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Pepper and deBrun spent nearly three centuries in coffin-sized escape capsules making their way back to Nanagada from the collapsed wormhole. Many other were in the same situation, but most of them committed suicide within the first hundred years, after it became clear help wasn't coming.
  • Badass Boast: "I am Pepper. I am the man your gods will have nightmares about for the next fifty years."
  • Badass Longcoat: The immortal cyborg killing machine Pepper is never voluntarily without a full-length trenchcoat.
  • God Guise: The alien invaders are split into factions, the bloodthirtsy Teotl whose priests rule Azteca and the quiet Loa, who advise Nanagadans. Both claim divinity.
  • Sealed Badass Ina Can: Pepper spent nearly three centuries in an escape pod on his way back to Nanagada. When he emerges, he has a whole lot of ass-kicking to catch up on.
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  • Living MacGuffin: Oaxyctl is looking for John deBrun because he wants to torture "the code" to a spaceship out of him. We later find out that John is the code — he has to be bodily present (and alive) to open the spaceship.
  • Lost Colony: Nanagada became one when the Ragamuffins closed the wormholes in a last-ditch effort to stop the Teotl invasion.
  • Lost Superweapon:The Ma Wi Jung though it's not exactly a superweapon, per se.
  • MacGuffin Person Reveal: Oxyacytl spends all of trying to get the entry codes for the Ma Wi Jung from John deBrun, by means that range from deception to Cold-Blooded Torture. They all fail, because the entry code is John deBrun's DNA, palmprint, and heartrate.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Tobias Buckell started writing Crystal Rain by listing all the cool things he could think of. Mongoose men fight Aztecs with zeppelins, while the pirate hero (at least he has a hook and likes to sail) battles amnesia on a steampunk quest to the frozen north to recover the secrets of their offworld ancestors.
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  • Super Soldier: Pepper. His body actually burns off a good fifty pounds over the course of a single fight, and he has to keep eating and drinking constantly during lulls in the battle to keep his metabolism running. So badass that he actually came out of a And I Must Scream situation more or less unscathed.