Crystal Line

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Killashandra Ree joined the Heptite Guild to become a crystal singer and to escape her past. Using her voice as a resonator, she sings the frequencies of the gem deposits buried on the planet Ballybran, locating and then harvesting crystal of all colors, even the most powerful Black. In between trips to the Ranges, Killashandra journeys off-Ballybran with her cutting partner Lars Dahl to experience other ways of life and climates, but also because she needs to get away from Ballybran to “ease the crystal pulse in her blood.”

Membership in the Heptite Guild has its rewards. As a skilled singer, Killashandra enjoys near-eternal youth and gains considerable wealth. But she is forever tied to Ballybran by her body’s need for crystal, and the memory loss of the crystal singer is setting in. This is the fate of all singers except the Guild Master, who needs to keep his memory currents lively in order to manage the group’s intricate affairs. When Guild Master Lanzecki becomes thralled by the song of the crystal and is lost in the Ranges, Lars is tapped to take his place. Since he can no longer sing duo in the Ranges with Killashandra, he asks her to join him at Headquarters. Hurt, refusing Lars’ offer, Killashandra instead races off-planet, alone, right back into some familiar, but unremembered, ways. When she eventually returns to Ballybran under summons from the Guild, Killashandra finds herself involved in undertakings that not only restructure the activity of the crystal singers but also offer reconciliation: between Killashandra and Lars, and deep within the memories of Killashandra herself.

CRYSTAL LINE is the third volume in the Crystal Singer series, and it is probably a good idea to read the books in order. Unusual terms and concepts can then build sequentially, and the earlier works offer a rich setting within which to appreciate the many facets of Killashandra. As McCaffrey takes readers into Killashandra’s world far away, she simultaneously—and delightfully—entices us into the inner reaches of our own.