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REVIEW: Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair

Dear Ms. Sinclair,

Book CoverJanine loved a book of yours she read a few months ago and that plus the posts asking us to try and review more RSF books is what got me to try “Down Home Zombie Blues.” Like Jane, I’m still not too sure of the title but as a relative newcomer to the genre, the book itself worked well for me.

Yes, you use lots of Star Trek references but it does give a good, quick visual reference for readers and with a book of this length, there’s not much extra room for long drawn out descriptions. Even though it does come off at times as cheating.

You tell us that Jorrie is a 8 year veteran Guardian who’s also got real life experience as an Interplanetary Marine fighting the major enemies of the state. I love that throughout the story, she remains a focused, battle tested warrior though I did get tired of Theo referring to her as his one woman army. She’s faced the worst that her world can throw at her and remains dedicated to her job. Though she’s willing to jettison some of the gen pro regulations when the need arises. She doesn’t do anything out and out stupid to advance the plot and the missteps she makes I think are adequately explained and understandable.

I like the fact that as a policeman, Theo watches, notes facts, waits to get the full picture and doesn’t go off the deep end when confronted with the incontrovertible fact of life from outer space. He stays calm, uses his intelligence and works the problem without making it worse. No silly tantrums, or “I don’t believe this is happening” or “we’re different from all the other Nil tech worlds you’ve encountered.” I like that you do have some dirtballers who want to question things and who act in ways that the Guardians warn Theo they will when confronted with off world advanced technology. I have noticed that in the RSF I’ve read that centers on aliens landing on Earth, there’s a tendency to try to portray us as somehow better than any other Nil tech world. Would we be?

But one major problem I had was how is Vekran so similar to spoken English? I could see that a la Battlestar Galactica we might be distant descendants of ancient space travelers but how can a language which is constantly evolving and which is so totally different from its origins and today is such a hodgepodge from different languages be similar? Okay, it’s your book and apart from some “universal translator” implant, this was an easy way for the inhabitants of the dirtball to understand the aliens but it makes no sense. I can also see why you’d want to avoid mention of any more implants since there are enough of those already and nasty things they are too.

I’m coming at the story from the vantage point of someone who doesn’t read a great deal of SF or RSF and for me in my blissful ignorance, the story worked fairly well (aside from the language). I thought the R was worked well into the SF story and speaking as someone who usually doesn’t like rushed romances, I had no problems with this one. I’m still puzzling that bit out. I thought you kept the suspense up and didn’t obviously manipulate the plot “just where it’s needed” to get what you want and where you wanted it to go. There were enough disadvantages for each side but they were laid out in the beginning and not suddenly mentioned.

Is this the end of this series or will we see more battles between the Guardians and the Tresh? Like Jan, I would have liked to have seen some nuances to the villains. The zombies are not sentient beings and are for the most part totally controlled by computer codes and the Tresh are very two dimensional. The word count for the book is long so maybe you felt the need to cut somewhere and this is what you chose? But as Diana Norman stated in a recent interview, this creates villains who don’t caste a shadow. Overall though, I was happy with my reading experience and do intend to try some more of your stories and other RSF. B-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

14 Comments

  1. Lisa
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 15:35:19

    Thanks to both of you for reviewing another Science Fiction Romance. I’m looking forward to reading Linnea’s latest.

  2. clara bow
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 17:29:30

    >Star Trek references…Even though it does come off at times as cheating.

    Er, well, if that’s the case, then a lot of SF/SFR books i’ve read are guilty of that as well! Not necessarily with just Star Trek, but many books share similarities when it comes to super advanced technology. Or homages to movies/films. I bet that happens a lot, too.

    At any rate, thanks for the review! I love adding a new SFR to my TBR pile. I also appreciate that I can surf in to DA a couple times a day and see something different each time.

  3. Jan
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 22:10:27

    I thought one point was kind of conveniently thrown in, when the description of the protective field surrounding them was suddenly adjusted midway through the book to account for some things being able to pass through it and not others. But really, there wasn’t any of the silliness that occurs in some Romantic SF where people suddenly get more and more powers just to escalate the action. *coff*AnitaBlake*coff*

    I did like how the Earth people reacted pretty realistically, or at least what I think would be a realistic response to the situation.

    This wasn’t a bad book. It was entertaining. I just prefer a little more depth these days.

  4. Jan
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 22:14:57

    Clara, this book uses the same tools and terminology as Star Trek, and purposefully ties itself to the Star Trek universe at the end. If she hadn’t done that at the end I’d have been annoyed with the references, because most writers at least change things around a little. But the fact that she did put that tie in made the book more of an homage in my mind, and so everything became acceptable to me.

  5. clara bow
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 00:16:06

    >But the fact that she did put that tie in made the book more of an homage in my mind, and so everything became acceptable to me.

    Thanks for clarifying! Personally I like to know ahead of time which “mindset” I need when reading genre fiction–e.g., knowing if something is an homage. Like the difference between THE PRINCESS BRIDE and LOTR. I hope that makes sense.

  6. Jayne
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 07:45:44

    Clara, I guess I didn’t make it clear in my review that I didn’t mind the Star Trek references, especially since I haven’t read much SF or RSF. I guess I just expected less of it from an author who’s written a lot of books in these genres.

    And I adore The Princess Bride. Both book and movie. “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father prepare to die!”
    Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  7. Linnea Sinclair
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 11:52:08

    Hi again! Okay a little more time today and I’m honestly a bit confused by trying to comment two places in once on the same blog (and if someone following this hasn’t read my comments on the other review, please do!).

    Star Trek: as I said, no denying I’m a fan. However, it was THEO who was the fan in the book and hence, the references to a great extent were from his point of view and perspective. He’s equating what he can’t understand with what he can: Star Trek and Star Wars. He’s “beamed up” to Jorie’s ship because that’s the terminology that come to mind. And a crewmember reminds him of a Wookiie because he has no other frame of reference. I apologize if that wasn’t clear but that was the intent. It’s Theo’s experience.

    Not surprisingly, when I was researching his character and interviewing dozens of law enforcement officers, a large number of them were Trek and Star Wars fans. Some even use code names derived from the shows/movies. Much of Theo’s thought processes–since I’m only a lowly private detective and not a cop–were verbatim from what my cop friends told me.

    BTW retired Hialeah, FL police officer Joel Reyes basically invented the interior of Theo’s department-issued SUV, right down to the missing A/C vents and blocked cup holders. ;-)

    But back to Trek. Jorie does make some references, yes. That’s because–as Theo begins to catch on but doesn’t want to really think much about–there are similarities between her culture and his. How that happened I leave up to the reader’s wacky imagination but was it chance or a typo that Vekran and Vulcan sound not dissimilar? (And Jorie was NOT Vekran, so…).

    Okay, inside jokes in the book, yes.

    Jan, if you want depth then I’m honestly not the author for you. I don’t do depth. I do fun. I do Saturday Afternoon at the Movies. I think George Lucas is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I love Monty Python, Galaxy Quest, Bennie Hill and Mel Brooks.

    In my fifty-mumble-mumble years on this planet, I’ve had far too much depth. I know many readers want that–and hey, great. If we all liked coconut rum fudge…oh, you don’t like coconut rum fudge? More for me! Yay! (And if you do like coconut rum fudge, then pull up a chair, I love to share.)

    I’ve noticed on two very high-brow, literati-type blogs my books have been termed brain candy, beach reads and guilty pleasures. I have no problems with this damning-with-faint-praise. I hope to God I am a beach read. That’s my aim.

    Believe me, I’m very comfortable sitting in the dining room at the Ritz Carlton with a bottle of exellent wine and Chateaubriand for two. But there are times when nothing will do but MacDonald’s french fries.

    You want fries with that? ;-)

    In sincerest appreciation for your time and reviews,
    Yours from Paradise Central, poolside at the Home for the Perpetually Confused in Naples, FL,
    ~Linnea

  8. clara bow
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 17:01:38

    >Inigo Montoya

    Sigh. I really should not publicly admit how many times a year I utter that line. Great stuff, eh?

    >I've noticed on two very high-brow, literati-type blogs my books have been termed brain candy, beach reads and guilty pleasures.

    Hm….if these folks are commenting as such because they’ve also been reading your books, then someone needs to come out of the closet. I hope that in the same breath they’re saying the same thing about Star Wars/Star Trek. Bottom line is, there’s something for everyone.

  9. Leslie Kelly
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 17:19:54

    >Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father prepare to die!”

    Will you hate me if I admit I met Mandy Patinkin and he delivered “the line” for me? Oh, my…shivers still…one of my best celebrity interactions. Second only to when Hugh Jackman held my hand and flirted with me. Kid you not.

  10. Janine
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 15:19:05

    Second only to when Hugh Jackman held my hand and flirted with me. Kid you not.

    Leslie: I hate you. ;-)

  11. Jayne
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 20:05:37

    No, I hate her more! Hugh and Mandy?! Hearing “The Line.” Arrrrgh, I hate you. [G]

  12. Jayne
    Dec 02, 2007 @ 08:23:39

    “BTW retired Hialeah, FL police officer Joel Reyes basically invented the interior of Theo's department-issued SUV, right down to the missing A/C vents and blocked cup holders. ;-)”

    I meant to comment on how much I liked this aspect of the story. No fabulous “Miami Vice” style cars for this poor guy!

  13. Virginia DeMarce
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 20:25:09

    Okay, let’s be fair about Vekran. Jorie didn’t have any idea why the language was so similar to English, either, and sent the problem off to a think tank for further study :)

    The author didn’t just ignore the problem.

  14. Jayne
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 08:56:32

    Virginia, I guess this just points out one of the many things that a ScF author has to deal with that most other genre authors don’t. Creating your own world seems like it could be thrilling on one hand and daunting on the other. So many things to work out and think through….

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