First published in Spanish in June of 2011, Spanish author Rosa Montero’s novel ‘Lágrimas en la lluvia’ was later translated into English by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites and published under the title of ‘Tears In Rain’ in November of 2012.

DLS Synopsis:
It’s January 2109 in Madrid and times had been getting tough for Private Detective Bruna Husky.  Work had been getting harder to find, and her financial situation was worsening by the day.  Being a replicant (otherwise known as technohuman) Bruna was painfully aware that she had just a lifespan of ten years before Total Techno Tumour (‘TTT’) set in and extinguished her life.  And since her lover Merlin had gone, her limited lifespan so far had been far from a joyful existence.  But life is still life – and it should be cherished.

However, Bruna’s fleeting mortality is brought to the forefront of her mind all of a sudden when her replicant neighbour, Cata Cain, bursts into her apartment and proceeds to try to murder her before gouging out her own eye.  Bruna tries her best to save the techno’s life, but with no idea of the woman’s insurance details, or if indeed she has any insurance, her chances at surviving the self-mutilation were minimal at best.  And sure enough, it’s not long before the replicant’s life expires.

Shocked by the traumatic sequence of events that she just witnessed, Bruna uses her private detective contacts to investigate what made her neighbour do such a thing.  A trail that leads her to find that the replicant had an illegal memory chip inserted into her brain.  A chip that could well have been the cause of the severe change in personality for the techno woman.

However, the situation becomes a lot more worrying when, just three days later, a further replicant goes on a killing rampage aboard a busy sky-tram, killing two innocent technos with a knife before taking his life by stabbing the blade into his own eye.  The similarities are too coincidental to be ignored.

And then, from out of the blue, Bruna is asked to meet with the leader of the Radical Replicant Movement (‘RRM’), Myriam Chi, to help her uncover who is responsible for a series of increasingly disturbing death threats.  However, not long after their meeting together, Chi goes on a violent rampage, gouging out a techno woman’s eye before throwing herself onto the tracks in front of an approaching train.

Now the private detective finds herself in the thick of a chaotic series of events.  The once combat techno is now employed to not only investigate the murder of the RRM leader but also the other recent replicant murders.  Bruna is able to put all her time, energy and detective skills towards uncovering the truth behind the recent murders.  And in finding out that four similar replicant homicides took place prior to her neighbour’s psychotic death, Bruna knows that there’s some link that must tie them all together.

However hostility is growing between humans and technos because of the sudden violent behaviour exhibited by these replicants,.  The reasonably peaceful co-existence is now wearing thin.  A situation that, Hericio, the leader of the Human Supremacist Party (‘HSP’) is all too happy to turn to his favour.

The streets of Madrid, and indeed across the entire United States of Earth, are becoming increasingly hostile for replicants.  Something sinister is behind this recent action against the technohumans.  Something that wants to see the techno’s made responsible for everything that is going on.  And it’s a conspiracy that could ultimately mean the end for the entire replicant race.

Time is running out for Bruna to uncover the real truth behind what is going on.  But in a world where memories can be bought, sold, fabricated and erased; nothing can be trusted – not even your own mind...

DLS Review:
Okay, so Spanish author Rosa Montero is obviously a big fan of Ridley Scott’s cult science-fiction film ‘Blade Runner’ (1982).  Indeed, Montero confesses as much in the book’s blurb.  And the novel contains so many references and obviously inspired similarities to the film that at times it feels almost like an unauthorised sequel rather than a standalone novel.  A situation not entirely helped by the novel’s title ‘Tears In Rain’ having been taken from a particularly dramatic quote within the film – “All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.  Time to die.”

Having originally been written in Spanish, you often expect the writing to be a bit clumsy and limited following the translation.  Although the translators are more often than not very fluent in their dual languages, it’s nevertheless incredibly difficult to capture the same use of word or find something that feels as comfortable and descriptive in its place.  However, here it feels that the novel has been translated as near to perfectly as is probably possible.

The writing in sharp, immediate and suggestive, often with a thoughtfully descriptive choice of wording painting a vivid picture of the dystopian future.  And it’s with these intricately thought out details of the science-fiction setting where the novel really excels.  Montero has masterfully created a near-believable picture of her futuristic Madrid, clearly inspired from the ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) blueprint, but nevertheless explored to further, more involved and ingeniously detailed degrees.

There’s a great deal of social commentary shoehorned into the text.  It’s not preaching or overtly in-the-reader’s-face, however, it’s still far from subtle in its brashness.  But it gets away with it, because of the setting it’s been established within.  And the messages are of a wholly justifiable nature, which slots nicely into sync with the characters of Bruna Husky (our principal protagonist) and Yiannis Liberopoulos (Bruna’s closest friend).

Montero’s carefully calculated construction of the novel is admirable in its thoughtful planning.  The end result is a tight and well-paced tale, which successfully maintains a constant momentum.  The inclusion of more detailed text which the archivist, Yiannis Liberopoulos’s, is editing as the novel progresses, brings in important details on the futuristic society that, piece-by-piece, become important to the unfolding storyline.

Indeed, one of the most noticeable achievements of the novel is how everything seems to slot into place so perfectly.  Each individual piece in the novel has some relevance and part to play in the larger picture of the tale.  Montero has a reason for everything.  A clear plan from the outset, that gradual pulls the hundreds of pieces together to produce this elaborate plot of a global conspiracy.  It’s a sci-fi thriller mixed with a hefty chunk of intriguing mystery.  And the combination works incredibly well here.

That said, the novel does have one particularly glaring downfall – the characterisation.  Sadly, perhaps partly as a symptom of the futuristic premise, the characterisation is noticeably weak.  Bruna herself is reasonably well fleshed out (even if she is a replicant), but other than this principal character, the rest of the characters feel more like cardboard-cut-out pawns; incorporated solely to play out their roles in the tale.  The secondary characters of Inspector Paul Lizard (a purposefully confusing love interest) and Pablo Nopal (an eccentric memmorist creator) are nothing more than token gestures in adding some life into the tale.  Their roles in the plot are what establish them entirely, and they have absolutely no degree of characterisation that has any lasting impression on the reader.  And this unfortunately impacts the enjoyment of the novel dramatically.

Nevertheless, the tale is still a worthy read.  It has an unbelievable depth to the numerous intricacies surrounding the futuristic society.  Indeed, much of the interest and enjoyment that can be had from the tale is in the level of inspired thought that has gone in to the wealth of science-fiction ideas exhibited on almost every page.  And the storyline itself is delightfully complex and engaging, with its elaborate levels, subplots and unpredictable twists and turns keeping the reader reading on.  And so it’s definitely still worth a read.  But without any strong characterisation, the novel was always going to struggle to make any substantial impact.

The tale runs for a total of 450 pages.

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