Unexpected Rain by Jason LaPier
Publisher’s Description: In a domed city on a planet orbiting Barnard’s Star, a recently hired maintenance man named Kane has just committed murder.
Minutes later, the airlocks on the neighbourhood block are opened and the murderer is asphyxiated along with thirty-one innocent residents.
Jax, the lowly dome operator on duty at the time, is accused of mass homicide and faced with a mound of impossible evidence against him.
His only ally is Runstom, the rogue police officer charged with transporting him to a secure off-world facility. The pair must risk everything to prove Jax didn’t commit the atrocity and uncover the truth before they both wind up dead.
Invested Ivana says…
It’s been a while since I’ve read a lot of science fiction, so it was fun to jump back into that setting. In LaPier’s future, there isn’t much for mankind to do in the perfectly-constructed dome cities. Most people are bored, apathetic, and unambitious, having all of their needs cared for by technology. A few people, like police officer Stanford Runstom, long for something more meaningful in their lives.
When almost 40 people are killed in a life support failure incident, Jax Jackson, life support system operator, is the obvious suspect. However, Runstom believes Jax is too obvious and, partly out of boredom, goes in search of the real killer.
LaPier does a great job of communicating his vision of people in the future being less violent and more apathetic because of all the advantages technology has wrought. Many characters come off as naive, as if being devious and criminal is just too much work for dome-dwellers — which makes them easy prey for someone willing to put in the work to manipulate others. The obvious criminal element is alive and well outside the domes, though, as evidenced by the outlaw gang, Space Waste. I was put in mind of the movie Demolition Man, with its passive but peaceful above-ground dwellers and the independent but criminal underground dwellers.
I also like that LaPier takes the idea of racial bias based on skin tone to a whole new level, describing how the skin takes on different hues and shades based on the environment in which a child spends his or her first few years. What the atmosphere filters, how far you are from the sun, and whether you live in a dome or on a planet’s surface all affect how a person’s skin becomes colored. LaPier also uses variable gravity strengths to describe how body shapes develop – tall and thin on lower-gravity planets, short and stocky on higher-gravity planets.
It is a lot of fun following Jax and Stanford as they figure out the murder one clue at a time. Some of the clues are pretty inventive for a futuristic world. I did have to laugh, though, when I recognized sample bits of the COMP-LEX programming language as a modified version of BASIC. While it might be the only way to write some code most people would understand, it hardly struck me as futuristic since I learned BASIC almost 30 years ago. I can’t say it detracted from the story, though; it was a fun little bit of recognition.
Overall, I really enjoyed Unexpected Rain. I like the world LaPier has created and think there is a lot of potential for more stories in his universe.
- Read an interview with Jason LaPier at The Qwillery.
- Read an article by the author about his vision of the future.
Though this book is being published by Harper Voyager UK, it is available in the US via Amazon.
If you like this book…
A sequel to Unexpected Rain will be published sometime in 2016. For another mystery set in a futuristic world, I would suggest trying the Mindspace series by Alex Hughes.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.