In a thirsty, drought-stricken Australia, the country is well and truly sunburnt. As the Eastern states are evacuated to more appealing climates, a stubborn few resist the forced removal. They hide out in small country towns – where no one would ever bother looking.
Bill Cook and Tobe Cousins are united in their disregard of the law. Aussie larrikins, they pass their hot, monotonous existence drinking at the barely standing pub.
When strange lights appear across the Western sky, it seems that those embittered by the drought are seeking revenge. And Bill and Tobe are in their path. In the heat of the moment secrets will be revealed, and survival can’t be guaranteed.
Without the slightest warning, a raging noise blew in – a roar that tore through the night and shook the earth. The dogs out the front of the pub started howling. Conversations faltered as everyone fell quiet. The noise kept on, steadily growing louder. Tobe and I turned, scanning the sky, seeing nothing. I looked over at him – he was already running for the road, heading for the hill behind the pub.
I followed, unexpectedly clearheaded, taking everything in as if it had been laid out on display.
Everyone ran with us. Sheldon huffed and puffed, cursing his old body. Louise jogged next to me, smiled at me, rapidly overtook me. The Veidts hurried along, somehow making the process look dignified. Max and Maxine moved fast yet made it look like they were taking it easy. Cathy Ng half-limped and half-ran, clutching at her dressing gown, trying not to catch herself in it. The Kumari Kid darted back and forth, circling the crowd, urging everyone to move faster. The First Country captain led his people on, trailing well behind, watchful and wary.
We kept running. We crested the hill. We all stood in silence, raggedly trying to catch our collective breath.
The wind started, furnace-hot. Its screaming whine and the roar that tore through the sky were the only sounds in the world. From the corner of my eye I saw someone lick their finger and hold it up in the air. I heard someone else say: “It’s coming from the west, dickhead.” And then the word rain seemed to be falling from everyone’s lips.
A flash lit up the horizon, staining the sky dull-orange and crimson-red. Someone started yelling: “Light! Light! Light to the west!”
For a moment, it burned too bright, blinding me. It soon faded away, only to then happen repeatedly. I looked around; everyone seemed to have their eyes shut and their fists clenched.
The world shook again.
We waited, all eyes fixed on the horizon, everyone saying the same word over and over: Rain! Rain! Rain! But none came. After a while, people started drifting away and the only sound left was their angry mutterings and disappointed sighs. I turned my back on the horizon as well. Like everyone else, I stared at the ground as I walked. No one wanted to look anyone else in the eye.
What People are Saying
“I was expecting a point to be made—and it turns out to be that communities endure, and that even in the midst of misery people frequently choose to be kind. That hardship doesn’t mean the end of moral development; that really only in hardship can our morals calcify into something tangible and trustworthy. This underlying sense of optimism is very welcome in post-apocalyptic fiction… Bill and Tobe, quintessential piss-taking Aussie blokes as they are, capable of tramping through bush, skinning kangaroos, and being in general the stereotypical manly men, are also both very open with their emotions. They hug a lot, they cry a lot. They don’t consider emotion to be weakness, in others or in themselves, and there’s something very refreshing about all this… Walter constantly goes back to the land in this novel, using it as the touchstone reminder of devastation, and of apocalypse. Readers are never allowed to forget the enormity of the ecological devastation that’s at the very centre of this narrative, and neither are the characters.”
“The protagonists, Bill and Tobe, have a longstanding friendship characterised by jokes, shared cultural references and love of a good time. However, not all the memories they share are good ones and there are limits to what both of them are prepared – or courageous enough – to reveal to the other… They face a daily struggle for survival, constantly short of food and water, and the bleak reality of the arid, drought-stricken environment of Australia is evocatively described… I really enjoyed The Rain Never Came for its exploration of the impact of extreme climate change and its engagement with themes such as freedom and authoritarianism, and the picture of a drought-stricken, lawless world was quite chilling… In three words: Compelling, dramatic, thought-provoking.”
“On the surface, The Rain Never Came is a fairly standard tale of societal collapse in the wake of global climate change… But it has peculiarly Australian depths and dimensions that make it exceptionally rewarding, and especially fresh for non-Australian readers. In American SF (as in larger American culture), we’re accustomed to an individualistic streak, to protagonists who defy authority and convention, to the lovable rogue and the witty badass defying society’s restrictions. Australian culture plays with the same concept, but in a starker, edgier form fraught with more tension. It’s analogous to the way those accustomed to American beer are often overcome by the more potent Australian brew… When the climate turns bad, the government has to force people to evacuate. And larrikins have to refuse to leave, to assert their independence. Yet they must also pay the price of their rebellion. The question of the exact nature of the inevitable price paid by Bill and Tobe informs The Rain Never Came with an unexpected potency.”
“This is a story full of the rich humour peculiar to Australians… It’s a tale of contrasts. Happiness and sadness, beauty and harshness, levity and seriousness… Descriptions in The Rain Never Came were first-rate. I felt the scrub desert, and the sweltering heat (thanks, mate. I loathe heat)… There is a bit of a ‘Mad Max’ feel. Walter is Australian, so I liked the homage paid to this cult classic series set in Australia. I greatly enjoyed how Walter’s culture came through, not just with colloquial language, but its essence also. Tenacity is valued, and reflected, as is fierce independence… As with many other cultural traits, a certain notion of not being full of oneself was imported from the British parent culture, and wicked sharp humour is used to deflate puffed egos… Oh, and the indigenous Aborigines are mentioned often, as First Country people. I really liked that detail.”
“Does your bloke like to read? Is he obsessed with the impending end of the world? Then definitely check out The Rain Never Came by first-time author Lachlan Walter.”
“In The Rain Never Came, the story of two best friends trying to overcome Mother Nature as well as authority will have you cracking up, and flipping the pages until the very end… Told with a flowing and captivating narration, this near-future tale will have you on the edge of your seat… I adored this book, even though it isn’t something that I would normally pick up. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It was quite funny, and I loved all the different Australian slang, which made me feel like I was part of the country.”
“The slow pace seemed natural to the time, place, and the depth of despair and pain the people endure and exude… The author brings to life a fascinating landscape which cannot be ignored, mostly because it engulfs everything and everyone in a manner that I saw as total control – no escape from its hardship, nor relaxing from the stranglehold… This is definitely dystopian. Anyone who enjoys reading this type of story will probably enjoy the challenges this book presents… I felt like I suffered right along with Bill and Tobe in this fascinating tale, and I happily award it 4 stars.”
“The story was not so far-fetched from reality. Although the world setting and description of the whole situation has not yet happened in the current world, the thought of it was alarmingly close to what could be… The literature is by far one of the best I have read… I believe anyone that enjoys reading dystopian novels would enjoy this book immensely.”
“Wow, this book is really powerful! I didn’t know what I was in for when I sat down to start reading, and it truly was a pleasant surprise. Bill and Tobe are strong characters that carry through this gripping plot well…and the ending…well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself!”
“In broad strokes, you would be forgiven for thinking this book might be some form of “Mad Max” fan fiction, but the similarities are only on the surface. This has little in common with the movies, other than an arid climate and a civilization in decline. The mood here is one more of quiet desperation rather than a frenetic race for survival… This is definitely a book that stands on its own, a solid and well-crafted story with fresh ideas. If you’re in the mood for something different, this is definitely one to consider.”
“The pacing of the story starts off quite slowly, adding to the mood of the work. While it isn’t a very long book, it seems to take longer than it actually does to read because of the setting, illustrating how the people have accepted their situation and learned to adapt and survive… It is a heck of a story by an author who can communicate ideas clearly and hold a reader’s attention.”