Ohkay. Confession time. I really like the Stardoc novels by S. L. Viehl.
Though it’s more of a guilty, secret love than a happy marriage.
The premise for these ten novels is that Cherijo, running away from her tyrrant father, is a brillant surgeon thrown repeatedly into space-flung adventures. She discovers that she is a genetically engineered clone experiment thing of said father–and the rediculosity begins from there.
When I’m reading these books, my brain tears in two. Intellectually, I know that the situations are over-the-top, the science is fuzzy, cataclysmic plots are cataclysmic, and what was that nonsense about pseudo-Navajo culture in book three? And I hate Reever, I don’t think she loves him. I think he’s a toad.
But I Have. To. Know.
I’m a crotchety and opinionated old biddy and books rarely keep me up all night anymore. I have to think about reading when I read, I have to concentrate and make myself sit down and set a timer for 20 minutes of reading time.
Not with my pal Stardoc! I just crack the cover and off we go! Zip!
I want Cherijo to be successful at whatever it is that she’s doing in each novel, and it’s difficult to stop reading.
And I’m not the only one who feels this way. When researching for the Reviews article that nrlymrtl and I teamed for last weekend, I looked through a bunch of comments and reviews for different Stardoc novels. Of course there were the usual occasion of gibberish, but most of the unfavorable reviews centered around the fact that Viehl had tried to kill Cherijo in book 5! Not complaining that she is a bad writer but complaining that they wanted her to write more! They were pissed because they so loved that character.
What is the mechanism about some characterizations that suck a reader in?
Part of it is that I am familiar with this world, and so it’s a lovely vacation to visit my friends there again.
Viehl is very good at distincting one character from another. Xonea would never do or say or react in the way that Squilliyp does. Viehl cannot swap one character for another. Even when Cherijo is gone and replaced by Jarn, Jarn is a distinctly different person even though she occupies the previous Cherijo body and has her surgical knowledge (fuzzy science–I already said that).
Descriptions are well-balanced between giving me sensory input and maintaining the action sequence.
I don’t know, I don’t know. I just know that Viehl is a masterful writer to be able to have me happily traipsing at Cherijo’s heels despite employing so many tricks that otherwise would completely shut down a story for me.
I would like to see her give herself over to a more robust sci-fi opera series, and let go of the telepathy character linking.