Books and Viewing, 11/14

Ragamuffin“, Tobias S. Buckell (2007).

This is the second novel set in the Xenowealth. The first and his debut novel was “Crystal Rain” and my short review is here. Crystal Rain introduced the Xenowealth a little bit but it concentrated on the happenings on one planet where future humans have settled. The settlers have divided into two camps, one of them is a caribbean island based culture and the other is based on Aztecs. Both camps were being manipulated or used by alien species and practically eternal humans who founded the colony. The reasons and results of these manipulations are explained and form the intellectual core of the novel but the heart of the novel was the characters and action they were involved in. It was an excellent adventure novel based on the conflict between the two cultures and the novel has solid science fiction elements to spike the mix. Ragamuffin moves the action forward in time and into space allowing Buckell to create another excellent novel and to further explain the goings on in this universe that he has created.

In the Xenowealth humans are not dominant. They are marginalized and enslaved, Ragamuffin is the tale of people who are dealing with this state of affairs in various ways. This allows Buckell to delve into rebellion, collaboration, emancipation and the thinking of the various aliens who have enslaved the humans. These are the just some of the ideas that Buckell explores via his character’s internal worlds, the events that they are involved in, and these ideas help to pull the reader into the novel intellectually, but this is Buckell so it is also a cracking action adventure story with all sorts of fights, escapes and so on.

In the course of the story he is able to introduce new characters, new human groupings, new aliens and then brings back some of the characters from the first novel. He does this in a way that allows the novel to stand on it’s own merits while being enriched by the previous novel. So while the two novels are set one after the other in terms of time, they do not need to be read in that order. In fact Buckell built tension because the reader knows that certain characters will appear at some point and when they do appear it is like watching the calvary riding in. However, Buckell is too smart to just have the story end with folks heading off into the proverbial sunset. Oh no, and it is the use a classic plot while twisting the ending in a way that is based on history and not end in a trite “Hollywood” way that makes book more than just another space opera.


Mushishi (tv series, 2005)

This is a television series that tells the adventures of Ginko and his interactions with Mushi who are interacting with other humans. Ginko is a mushi master and Mushi are nature spirits that have all kinds of supernatural powers. It is a very simple concept but it is done with a simplicity and beauty that are just spectacular. This is not another kiddie anime series, it is for all thinking humans who enjoy wonderful little stories. Just great stuff.



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