Back at Boskone 44, I heard Tobias S. Buckell explain how he pulled together a list of all the cool stuff he wanted to see in a book–and then he wrote the book. And another one. Lots of cool stuff and great action.
The hero of Ragamuffin is Nashara, a superhuman warrior woman, the last survivor of ten cloned sisters with a secret weapon instead of a womb, a weapon that she can’t use without destroying herself. She escapes from the human ghetto of Pitt’s Cross, nearly gets away on a merchant ship, and instead seeks refuge on a Ragamuffin ship. The Ragamuffins are considered pirates by the alien overlords of this universe, the Satrap. They’re actually spacefarers once from New Anegada, the isolated world we first explored as Nanagada in Crystal Rain. While you don’t have to have read Crystal Rain to enjoy Ragamuffin, it adds to the fun when you meet your favorite characters again.
I have to say I liked the first part of the book best. Nashara kicks ass and there’s an awesome chase with the best use of a BFG 5000 ever. Trouble is, Part One takes up almost half the pages, and Parts Two and Three split the rest. They feel underwritten compared to the detailed description and complex world-building we get in Part One. So in Part Two, the action gets faster and sketchier. Part Three flies by, barely pausing at the end long enough to find a moment of resolution between the characters, before opening out to the promise of an even bigger story to come. And yes, there well be a third book: Sly Mongoose.
I hope this means we will see more of Etsudo. Born to a merchant clan of the Hongguo, if he must serve he will use non-violent means and subvert the tools of the Satrapy. Never mind that he edits the minds of people who come near him to ensure their loyalty. Besides, his own mind has been edited and he turned out okay. Didn’t he?
Cool enough to get me interested in the next book.