Sunday, November 20, 2005

Afterburn by S.L. Viehl

I have this accidental tradition that has stayed true two National Novel Writing Months in a row, this one being the second. No matter when I purchased the book in question, one of Sheila's books attempts to draw me away from my words. This time, the book got lost on my crowded desktop where it should never have been but for my husband reading it first. And sure enough, I unburied it just in time for the middle of NaNo. A wise NaNo participant would have set it aside, but is there such a thing as a wise NaNo participant? Needless to say, I just finished Afterburn in half a week, an amazing rate for me. I'm thrilled to have read it and sorry to have done so because I wait ten years or more before rereading. However, she does have a new StarDoc novel, Rebel Ice, coming out in January that I can hunt down :).

Anyway, on to Afterburn itself. Her science fiction novels have a good habit of sucking me in with well-drawn alien cultures along with cross-species romances and relationships all tied up in some desperate situation the characters must resolve. Afterburn was no different while at the same time it was completely different. I do not find any trace of formula in these novels even with certain reoccurring elements, basically those I just described. My husband commented that Afterburn was heavily dependent on having read Bio Rescue, the first in this new series that shares worlds with StarDoc. I personally don't think so. I think a person can come in with only this book and will enjoy it enough seek out the first one, and probably also the StarDoc novels.

There is nothing specific I can say without giving something of the plot away because everything is tightly entwined, and I try hard not to do that. It's fast-paced, adventure science fiction that manages to convey complex cultures and inter- and intra-cultural relationships that make sense. Once again, I found this novel an amazing blend of what I classify sociological SF and adventure SF. So, if you like page turners that keep you on the edge of your seat, you should love Afterburn. If you like complex cultural interactions and conflicts, along with detailed, imaginative alien species, you should love Afterburn. How Sheila manages to take these disparate elements and blend them together seamlessly never ceases to amaze and delight me. And I'm happy to say with this one that, while the story comes to a satisfying conclusion, the novel offers several outstanding elements that cry out for another book or two. I expect she'll offer those up for my enjoyment shortly...probably just in time to miraculously appear during the middle of NaNo when my own, not her, words should be my main focus :D.

Enough said. If you haven't given her SF a try, go ahead. I really doubt you'll be disappointed. I certainly wasn't.

1 comment:

Maripat said...

I love her SF best of all which is kind of funny because I don't read a lot of it. Rebel Ice is another reason why I NEED to finish Grady's story because I'm so looking forward to it.

Yeah, I know what you mean about certain books. There have been several times when I've stopped writing so I could read a book by some of my favorite authors.