Thursday, 13 September 2012

First Impressions and all that... 'Tears in Rain' (Rosa Montero)

I'm not talking about those impressions that start to form after you've read five pages of a book (or even just the first page). I'm talking about a book that you see on the shelf (or in my case, one that turns up on the doorstep) that you know nothing about about at all. In those first few seconds all you see is the cover and the blurb, maybe a quote if you're lucky. You can't get a lot more 'first impressions' than that :o)

That's what happened to me, yesterday, when a copy of Montero's 'Tears in rain' arrived. To be fair, I'd asked for a copy (having skimmed the blurb in an email about something else entirely) but I'd forgotten about it until the book turned up. And there's something a little more real about having a book in your hands that really concentrates the mind and gets you thinking about what you're holding.

So, you're going to get exactly what I got. The cover, the blurb and a little quote. I'll give you my first impressions and I'd be interested to see what yours are. The plan is then for me to read it and see just how much (if at all) my impressions change. Here goes,

I have to say the cover left me feeling pretty cold. If you've seen one alien cityscape you've seen them all (that's how I feel anyway) and the lady's eye aren't nearly as striking as the artist wanted them to be.

When a growing number of replicants die suspiciously before their ten year expiration dates, detective Bruna Husky answers the call to investigate. Built for grueling jobs and given false memories to help them interact with humans, replicants have long been engaged in a bitter struggle over the rules that govern their existence. Probing this minefield of of political and moral intrigue, Bruna - a combat replicant - soon realizes she can no longer tell her allies from her enemies. Yet she must somehow survive the most terrifying fight of her life and stop an insidious plot that could rewrite history itself.

So far so 'Bladerunner' (they're even using the word 'replicant') but what had me intrigued was the promise of the examination of 'replicant rights', something I haven't come across much in my reading (apart from Joel Shepherd's 'Cassandra Kresnov' books, I really don't read enough sci-fi). This has actually got me more interested, in reading the book, than the promise of the 'insidious plot'.

'It was called Blade Runner. It was a strange, well meaning film as far as the reps were concerned, although Bruna found it somewhat irritating. The androids bore little resemblance to real ones... Even so, there was something profoundly moving about the film.'

What do you do when you've clearly been inspired by some classic sci-fi but also want to make it clear that you're doing your own thing? You tell everyone right there on the page, it's a risky step to take (could be interpreted in other ways) but fair play to Montero for coming out and saying it. At least, that's how I read it.

Those were my first impressions then, what were yours? Like I said, I'll be reading 'Tears in Rain' (there's a little time before the publication date) and I'm interested to see how I feel afterwards.


Unknown said...

The cover didn't grab me at all, and as saw the title "Tears in Rain" it made me think of the final speech at the end of Blade Runner. Looks like it's too close to the idea of the movie, using the reference as a means of defence.

Good luck with it :)

big_cheddars said...

It looks like a bloody interesting book, but the author may have slightly overstepped the reference mark and pulled the movie into the direct canon of her world. Which would be interesting, a fictional book inspires a fictional story in which the movie (possibly?) played a crucial role in the way the world developed. It's an interesting take, but it looks like it could be good.

Anonymous said...

In numerous interviews, Montero does claim Blade Runner as the initial inspiration for the novel. But is clearly only the inspiration for several elements (read the novel already in Spanish), primarily the title and the limited lifespan of the reps. Montero is an author who has been probing how one faces death since the beginning of her trajectory, and this novel uses the technique of an android who knows her lifetime limits to explore how to face up to death. Bruna in not allowed the standard palliatives against death, such as religion or family, yet somehow manages to find her place in the universe. Great novel.