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Nor Crystal Tears by Alan Dean Foster
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English (8)  Italian (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
scifi
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Fun romp.
Naturally, on a space romp like this, humanity will find another poor, bewildered species, make first contact, take them under our magnificent wing - and from their an alliance is born.
Humans do not shed Crystal Tears - but Thranx do. As does one young agricultural worker with a destiny he never dreamed of...(nor did any of the other members of the Commonwealth-to-be).
For once we get to see what first-contact would be like from the OTHER end of the contact pool.
As far as how it reads... it's Foster's Commonwealth series.
  dragonasbreath | Oct 4, 2011 |
Stunning book detailing the first interactions between the human and thranx species. Having read a number of the books set in the Humanx Commonwealth universe before reading this, it was great to flip back in time, so to speak, and see the beginnings. ( )
  rbaech | Nov 28, 2010 |
This is the sort of book you don’t so much read as devour, lying on the sofa and taking only occasional breaks to recharge with salty corn based snacks, or hot and cold beverages (got to keep those fluids up), remembering to shift position occasionally to prevent chaffing, all the while studiously ignoring that pile of ironing, or that mound of dirty dishes, or that you should have picked up your kid from school three hours ago….oh no! It’s compelling stuff, at one point near the climax of the book, I think my heart rate picked up with excitement! Either that or all the snacks and tea were having a profound physiological effect.

As an infant, Ryo feels a restlessness that is unusual in his family and his society. This is something of a problem for him, as his society is formal and ordered and expects their citizens, on reaching maturity, to choose a job and stick to it. Ryo chooses forestry management and, to be fair, he’s good at it, but there’s still something restless about him and when that turns to recklessness, this presents him with problems.

Problems for him, but delight for the reader. Contented characters may have their place in fiction, but it’s usually just to be shaken out of their contentment. Likewise, hermits who like in caves may have their place (usually, a cave) but reading two hundred pages about a bloke watching his toenails grow is not the stuff of good science fiction. And ‘Nor Crystal Tears’ is good science fiction.

The start of the book is dedicated to describing Ryo’s life and his family and his development from infant to adult. We learn a lot about his society and its customs. The story is set in the future and on an alien planet, so Ryo’s society is quite different.

The plot revolves around what happens on first encounter with aliens. It does an excellent job of describing just how strange, how very different an alien race really could be. More importantly, it throws up what the reaction would be if the alien race, in appearance anyway, were like something from our nightmares, not in an imaginary creature sort of way but rather tapping into our primal fears by resembling something that used to lurk in the darkness.

Not that this is an actual first first encounter, Ryo’s people have faster-than-light space travel and so have made contact with other alien races; the problem is that the only intelligent alien race they have contacted already turn out to be aggressive, war-like and thoroughly nasty. So Ryo and his people are on guard against any further space going nasties and this suspicion, that a new species may turn out to be another gang of thugs with guns and rockets; or even worse that they form an alliance with the enemy, is a frequent fear expressed by the characters.

Just how tentative first contact can be is handled brilliantly here, it manages to convey how the unexpected and unknown is met, not just on a galactic scale, but in a way that is very much based on what would happen if a ‘different’ family moved into the neighborhood, which is essentially what happens here. It just so happens that the neighborhood in question is the spiral arm of the galaxy.

There’s plenty to keep the hard core sci-fi fan happy here; space ships, ray guns, aliens, odd transports and of course the gadgets or tools that you really hope somebody will invent soon because they sound so cool.

But the real charm comes from Ryo being a Thranx, an insect like being from the planet Willow-wane and the ‘aliens’ encountered being humans.

It’s a great idea and is dealt with, and sustained, very well. But there’s much more to the novel than this neat twist. Ryo is a very likable character and very human – more so than some of the ‘aliens’ he encounters. And a character with humanity, more than the ray guns and the space ships, is what makes good science fiction – we explore the galaxy through his eyes, even if they are multi-faceted and can never shed tears of water, nor crystal. ( )
  macnabbs | Jul 4, 2009 |
This is one of the books I totally stole from my mom when I moved out because I couldn't imagine not having it around. Fascinating insectoid space-faring race! They smell like flowers! First contact with humans!And, as usual, Foster is kind of a bio nerd, which is endlessly enjoyable when applied to world building. ( )
  bzedan | Nov 17, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Dean Fosterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Whelan,MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For the tiger with the little girl voice and the velvet claws, My agent, Virginia Kidd, with thanks for Ten years of encouraging purrs and constructive scratches.
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It's hard to be a larva.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345291417, Mass Market Paperback)

Before Man and insectlike Thranx had become allies, when the reptilian AAnn were just occasional raiders of Thranx colony worlds, one young Thranx agricultural expert lived a life of quiet desperation.
A dreamer in a world of sensible, stable beings, Ryo buried himself in his work -- reclaiming marshland from a tenacious jungle -- until he came across a letter describing a relative's encounter with horrid, two-legged, soft-skinned space-going beasts . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:06 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Before Man and insectlike Thranx had become allies, when the reptilian AAnn were just occasional raiders of Thranx colony worlds, one young Thranx agricultural expert lived a life of quiet desperation. A dreamer in a world of sensible, stable beings, Ryo buried himself in his work -- reclaiming marshland from a tenacious jungle -- until he came across a letter describing a relative's encounter with horrid, two-legged, soft-skinned space-going beasts.… (more)

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