I’ve just finished reading Stardoc by SL Viehl, and was left wondering why I’ve never picked it up before. Possibly because I previously read one of the books Ms Viehl writes under her Lynn Viehl pseudonym (If Angels Burn), and didn’t get into it. While she classifies her Lynn Viehl books as dark fantasy, I rather think that they are paranormal romance instead (or certainly the book I read was shelved as one). And as a romance, it didn’t really work for me.
Moving on to her SF Stardoc series, I loved Stardoc (which is the first book) and will definitely be getting the rest in this series.
The main character, Cherijo Grey Veil, is a surgeon who moves to a distant colony outpost to practise medicine. Ms Viehl has a vivid imagination, which comes into play when describing the different alien species that Cherijo comes into contact with in the ER. And there’s a whole lot of them. The first part of the book describes how Cherijo finds her feet on this new planet, which nicely introduces the reader to this world as well.
I found Cherijo engaging and wanted to read more about her. Sure, she may very well verge on the edge of being a Mary-Sue, but still, I liked her. It’s SF, but there’s not a huge amount of hard science in it, making it an easy read. It’s probably not one for the SF purist, though.
There are some weaknesses, for instance, the romance part certainly struck me as underdeveloped. It’s similar to the relationships in some of Anne McCaffrey’s SF books where I’m left thinking “Where the heck did that come from?”. In this book, Cherijo and her partner, Kao, met, went out a couple of times, and the next thing I know, they’re swearing eternal love. Maybe I’m just used to romance books, where there’s a definite build-up of tension and chemistry between the h/h, but this jarred me slightly. On the other hand,
… maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t get too attached to Cherijo’s partner…
There are also some slightly disturbing scenes, which may be a showstopper for some. Note this is definitely not a romance, even though there are strong romantic elements. And oh, if I start thinking about it properly, the character development somewhat lacking, especially some of the secondary characters…
But having said all this, I read this book straight through in one sitting, I’m intrigued and I want to know where this series is heading. A B+ for me.
On a side note, I’ve updated my 2007 Book List page and realised that I’ve actually read a lot. To be exact, 27 books since Jan 1 (and that’s not counting re-reads). And it’s been a good mix of books from the romance, SF, fantasy, and mystery genres. Or all four in one.