If you've been around science fiction for much time at all, you're likely to recognize the title of Tears in Rain, a clear reference to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner film. There's a common denominator that the book shares with the movie--replicants. Specifically, genetically constructed humanoid lifeforms with a ten-year expiration date, at which point they self-destruct.
However, beyond that, Rosa Montero (an acclaimed Spanish author whose work has been translated for English audiences) paints a unique and vivid world of her own rather than just re-imagining Blade Runner or the Philip K. Dick short story that inspired the film, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep."
Tears in Rain follows the misfit misadventures of Bruna Husky, a military-grade replicant who has parleyed her superior strength, speed, and other enhanced attributes into a career is a private investigator. Bruna is a complex creation whose death is inevitable, and she keeps a mental countdown as every day slips her closer to her ultimate end. She is at once fascinated by her own memories of family and childhood, even though she knows them to be false, and harbors a balanced disdain of the humans who fear her and those of her own kind who disrupt the status quo and cause even more trouble for replicants.
And trouble is on its way, to be sure. When several replicants suffer premature breakdowns, Bruna seems the only one willing to go the lengths necessary to uncover the truth behind the deaths. "Antitechno" sentiments are on the rise among the general populace, and whole online history databases are being rewritten by with obvious political agendas in mind.
As Bruna seeks out potential causes for these mysterious replicant deaths, she reveals much of the violent past that has brought humans and replicants near to the breaking point. At the same time, she's shadowed at every turn by a human detective who seems the only one willing to validate her findings, and yet considers her a prime suspect in her own right.
While the world edges towards social warfare and potential genocide, Bruna must go to desperate lengths to uncover a terrible conspiracy that infiltrates the deepest governments and enforcement authorities.
The science fiction elements in Tears in Rain are less about the hardware and wiring and more about self-identity and social revolution (or manipulation). It's a not-too-far future scenario that speaks to tech trends that are emerging today, such as cloning and even the technological evolution of advertising and public journalism in Wikipedia formats.
With Bruna being a military replicant, fight scenes certainly have their place, and the action is swift and brutal, while the weapons employed are horrifically efficient. The most intense battles, though, are the emotional and mental ones Bruna suffers as she tries to piece together both the mystery of the dying replicants as well as her own increasingly fractured persona--one which is undeniably artificial, yet seems, at times, more real than anyone around her, human or replicant.
Tears in Rain is that excellent science fiction blend of fascinating concepts with twisting plots and intense characters who refuse to remain static, even as the world tries to force them into a particular mold.