Draiken Dies by Adam Troy Castro

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The story is set on a backwater post-industrial-hell-world in an even more backwater post-industrial-hell-world town near where John’s enemies have located themselves. The town is drab and boring. As are the residents, the buildings, the environs. Even the food is drab and boring, some sort of boiled seaweed served in as drab and boring a manner as possible. In such a setting, anyone as not drab and not boring as Delia was bound to attract attention. In the fullness of time, John's enemies come to collect Delia, but Delia has other ideas, and that's when the story becomes interesting. Truth be known, the main reason Delia fights her assailants the way she does is to alleviate the drab boredom. Once they have her, you know interrogation will surely follow. Delia's interrogation scene is a delight to read, and the story ending poignant, though I must say I feel bad about John.

During her interrogation, Delia speculates that his enemies did break John and that this is the reason he came after them, after decades of hiding, and why he did not or will not now allow himself to leave the past in the past and seek to live a normal life full of love and joy and happiness instead of living a life full of calculating, scheming, risk-taking vengeance seeking. It is this obsession and pursuit of vengeance that kills him figuratively and literally. He has become a tragic hero living a living death in which he is unable to function in any way beyond pursuit of vengeance for this decades old wrong. He could not allow himself the luxury of love On The Tropical Paradise where he lived until the end of Sleeping Dogs, and he cannot allow himself the luxury now of loving Delia, despite knowing how much she would welcome his love. She would do anything for the sake of this potential love--anything.

John and Deliah had found common cause after encountering another of Castro's odd couples, Counselor Andrea Cort and the Porrinyards on New London in “A Stab of the Knife”. They end that story kicked off of New London by the Diplomatic Corps (unjustly I think, considering all the help they were) and sent off to a place in the opposite direction to the one John wishes to go. And one absolutely nowhere near anywhere Delia wants to go. Before “Draiken Dies,” Delia enlists in John's cause and begins to help him fight the people that hurt him so long ago. They prove themselves a formidable team in, “The Savannah Problem." Although I disagreed with his decision at the time, I guess John has shown that they really should have let “Sleeping Dogs” lie.

In Stab of the Knife, John learns that the organization that broke him/tried to break him decades ago has been in and out of favor with the Confederacy Diplomatic Corps numerous times during his hiatus. Though he is persona non grata to Andrea, she and Tasha Combs give him information that is useful to him but useless to them because the group’s past connections to the Confederacy rule out official action. These people have been developing mind control techniques, and for this Andrea would destroy them. But John’s enemies aren’t the only ones developing mind control techniques, and they are not worth the bother-- officially. In the past, for example, a man called (Beast) Magrison had brought death, destruction, and horror to millions using such techniques. His final days are spent in exile on a planet best described as pathetic, living among a people best described as pathetic. In The Third Claw of God, members of the Betelhine Corporation are experimenting with mind control techniques to sell as weapons. This precipitates a power struggle of which events in “A Stab of the Knife” play a part.

Shuffled off in the opposite direction from the direction that would be useful, Delia and John eventually make good use of this information-- in fact they use it to the best of possible effect-- to enlist an ally in their quest-- an ally with warships at her disposal.

There are unanswered questions in Draiken Dies. For instance, why is Dalia so much larger than average and so much stronger than average? Is it by design or by accident? We know that her golden skin and hair color is a matter of aesthetics and personal choice. Her unique qualities lead to speculation over who would play Delia on TV or in movies leads one to the conclusion that no one could approximate Delia’s size. However, height aside, Allison Janney from Mom could do a creditable job of portraying Deila’s physicality, attitude, and personality, and I think she would do well if anyone chose to make a movie about Delia.

The girl Delia takes in after rescuing her from a rapist has the appearance of being some sort of protege or perhaps she is a hint about the nature of Delia’s antecedents. Tellingly, the old man who antagonizes Delia in her cell says that the girl will never be like Deliah. But Delia responds that she has no desire for the girl to grow up to be like her.


  • "Draiken Dies by Adam Troy Castro." Philipp Michel Reichold. Sep 24th, 2020.
  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact. September-October 2020. "Draiken Dies." Adam Troy Castro.
  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact. July-August 2018. “A Stab of the Knife.” Adam Troy Castro.
  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact, January-February 2019. "The Savannah Problem." Adam Troy Castro.
  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact, July-August 2015. ed. Trevor Quachri. "Sleeping Dogs." Adam Troy Castro.
  • The Third Claw of God. Eos / HarperCollins. 2009. Adam Troy Castro.
  • Adam-Troy Castro's Our Human

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