The idea of developing one of the core themes from Blade Runner – artificial humans with a limited life span, created to do the dirty jobs that futuristic people would rather avoid – is an intriguing one. Bruna, the central character in ‘Tears In Rain’ is such a replicant. She’s a combat model, built and trained to kill, and then demobbed after her term of service to scrabble a modest survival in an uninterested, occasionally hostile civilian world. Until her short lifespan expires, of course. Then all of her constructed past, her actual experience and any potential future will be washed into oblivion, lost in time.
This scenario was good enough to grip me for the first part of TiR, and I was delighted that the author chose not to build her future history around the entire Blade Runner universe, but instead just borrow a couple of concepts from it and tip the hat in that direction. So there’s no concern about polluting either Philip K Dick’s or Ridley Scott’s realities: this book is a totally separate creation, with a convincing world-view of its own. There are breakaway human colonies in space; memory implants; alien civilisations, and a neat idea about FTL travel – frequently explained in the style of a Wiki-archive, which I really enjoyed.
However… where it all fell over somewhat was with the actual story, an investigation into mysterious replicant deaths amid rising human / replicant tensions. It plodded it several places, and there are a couple of sections of the world’s worst exposition, where main characters suddenly deconstruct their entire lives to explain otherwise baffling behaviour. Clumsy.
Worse than that was the way the interesting aspects of the female investigator were wasted. She starts out as an alcoholic, shaven-headed, tattooed and angry kick-ass combat rep, ready for action. She’s indomitable, if angst-laden. In no time she turns into a whining hapless girly, dependent upon big strong men to save her and solve the mystery. Really, so 19th century…
Perhaps the translation hampered the pace of the tale. It’s a pity, because all the promise of the premise and the opening chapters disappears by the midway, and I kinda ambled to the end, having lost a lot of interest.