C is for Crystal Singer

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

| | |
I was going to try to stick with new books for the A-to-Z, but I decided that Clockwork Angel was going to take too long to both read and review with all the blog reading I want to do, plus working on my story and making more crochet samples. (One of these week I will finally have some signups and be able to teach my first crochet class. Not part of the challenge specifically, but not something that can be neglected either.)

So, instead of a new book, here is one that's a bit of a classic, or is to me anyway: Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey.

Her name was Killashandra Ree; and after ten grueling years of musical training she was young, beautiful--and still without prospects. Then she heard of the mysterious Heptite Guild on the Planet Ballybran, where the fabled Black Crystal was found. For those qualified, the Guild was said to provide careers, security and the chance for wealth beyond imagining. The problem was, few people who landed on Ballybran ever left. To Killashandra the risks were acceptable.

I read this book years ago. Perhaps it first interested me because I studied music in high school: marching band, concert band, pep band, jazz band, and music theory. (Though I didn't go on and study it in college beyond a semester of private singing lessons.) But I also enjoyed Killashandra's desire to excel and not let anyone make her settle for less than her capacities.

Several times during the application process, Killa is warned that she should not continue with her plan to become a crystal singer. Her singing mentor calls Ballybran a "den of addled mentalities and shattered nerves." Crystal singing "isn't sensible," says the captain who brings her to the moon base over the planet. Even the FSP makes sure that she receives full disclosure of the dangers that await her if she chooses to go to the planet, for even if she successfully integrates with the spore symbiont, she still has the risk of char, catastrophic accident, sonic storms, and memory loss. (Some Singers consider the last to be a benefit, even if it sometimes interferes with being able to find old claims.) Incomplete integration means some sort of physical impairment and placement as one of the support staff on the planet. She is determined that she will succeed and become one of the fabled Crystal Singers, not matter the hazards. But it is not an easy road.

Not only is Killa herself fascinating, McCaffrey does a wonderful job creating Ballybran and the universe in general. From the society at large to the tiered level of careers on the planet, she has developed and integrated the various people Killa meets. They have their own motivations and reactions, some helpful, some concerned, and some haughty. And Ballybran's geography is remarkably detailed. I've always been able to picture it from the inverse mountain ranges to the base to the living quarters. The famous Ballybran crystal is also remarkably well done. There are different shades, each with their own special qualities. However, black is considered the best, necessary for instantaneous communication between linked crystals regardless of distance. You can imagine how important that can be when taking about interstellar distances.

Crystal Singer is followed by Killashandra with Crystal Line wrapping up her story and the research into how to mitigate the hazards, particularly the reasons for the memory loss. I love all three books and come back to them probably once a year, which means I've read them close to 20 times, give or take a few.

ROW 80 goals:
1: Keep up with the A-to-Z daily challenge. - Yep, A, B, and C now done.
2: Write 2 paragraphs on Meridia every day. - Mon: 3 paragraphs, Tuesday: lots of paragraphs (woo!)
3: Read at least 5 blogs very day. -They weren't all ones not from my blogroll, but I did check out some new ones. At least 5 both Mon and Tues.


Anonymous said...

Hello, dropping by as part of ROW80. I like your goals for this round - simple, short, and easy to monitor. Hope things go well.

Jaleh D said...

Thanks, Lee. I hope so, too.

Post a Comment