Sly Mongoose, by Tobias Buckell

If Crystal Rain was Tobias Buckell’s Caribbean steampunk novel and Ragamuffin his Caribbean space opera, perhaps Sly Mongoose could be described as his Caribbean tribute to George Romero. Mongoose is much more than that, but the nod to the zombie genre is alive and well, no pun intended.

Mongoose opens on the planet Chilo, where enormous floating cities hover above the toxic surface of a planet gripped by extreme heat and corrosive clouds. The citizens of Chilo are getting along well enough (if you discount some rather unsavory living conditions, and if you are willing to risk the lives of your children just to maintain your way of life) until Pepper, the one-man army from Buckell’s first two novels, literally falls out of space, inadvertently killing a young boy. Pepper amazingly survives the fall, and he brings terrifying news: an army is to coming to eradicate the people of Chilo — an army of zombies.

Not your Night of the Living Dead variety, but humans altered by a disease spread through bite. A disease that in short order turns regular folk into raving, gnashing delivery systems called the Swarm. A disease that was created for a singular purpose. But what is that purpose, and how can Pepper save an entire planet when he is an outsider?

Sly Mongoose is a strong and vibrant third book from Tobias Buckell. It starts faster than Ragamuffin, and Buckell slows the velocity only on occasion, and never for long. Like Ragamuffin, Mongoose can be read independently from its predecessors, and Buckell infuses the milieu of his universe into the story without overshadowing the issues at hand. The writing is tight, the sentences short, the chapters punchy and sharp as Buckell uses language to convey pacing and flow.

There is a richness of detail in Crystal Rain that is missing here, but Sly Mongoose is by no means a lesser book. It pushes all the right buttons, delivers on all its promises, and manages to be quite gory while avoiding sensationalism. If you have never read Tobias Buckell, Sly Mongoose is a good place to start, and I recommend you do.

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  1. […] in Sci Fi Publishing’s Shaun Farrell reviews Sly Mongoose: Sly Mongoose is a strong and vibrant third book from Tobias Buckell. It starts faster than […]

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