REVIEW: The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair
Dear Ms Sinclair,
You really love Star Trek, don’t you? Not that I hold that against you. I love it too, including the original series (TOS) with Kirk where men were men and women were, well, sometimes they were clouds of energy that sucked the very life from you, but at some point they could always kiss back.
Your book really reminds me of TOS. No nice Klingons here. The villains are evil bastards without a hint of redeemable material. The monsters? Screw IDIC, kill them all. (IDIC, for the reader, is a Vulcan ideal, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, actually mentioned in the book).
And the hero and heroine don’t spend all that much time on introspection. Sure, they’ve both had major problems, especially the heroine, but other than the occasional nightmare she seems to buzz right past them. But then that could be alien psychology, or military psychology, which is at times even more mysterious.
It’s fairly clear from the hint you dropped at the end of the book that the similarities were intentional. So it’s a fairly fun action adventure with the hero and heroine finding love a bit more quickly and inexplicably than one might expect but hey, they were slower than James Kirk and harem.
The thing is, halfway through the book, I started thinking about John M. Ford’s the Final Reflection. I’m sure you’ve read it, but if not: It’s a Star Trek novel, set in a time slightly before TOS, and whenever people speak of “good ST novels”, this one heads the list, not just because Ford is a brilliant writer, but because he wrote what no one else had contemplated. The book takes place in the Klingon Empire from the point of view of a human prisoner, one who comes to see the Klingons are as ‘human’ as the rest of us. The point Ford made, rather stunning the ST community at the time, was that villains are never just that.
And in this book I found I rather missed that other dimension. The Tresh are good old-school Klingons, pure evil. But it made them rather uninteresting to me, so I didn’t particularly enjoy that source of conflict much. I found myself hoping that you’d do another book using one of the Tresh for a hero or heroine, and reveal them to be more. Unfortunately, a future book wouldn’t help the one I was reading.
As for the zombies, I liked their Frankenstein’s monster aspect. It gave their creators depth, which in turn made me want to know more about them. The zombies did seem a little easy to beat though, if a cop with a Glock and decent aim could take them out. It made me wonder why a special Guardian Force was needed.
Still, those readers who have enjoyed your past adventures, and those who enjoy a good old episode of the original Star Trek will probably enjoy this. For me it was akin to a middle of the road episode of TOS, one where the story was conveniently set on an earth-like planet with human-like aliens and Kirk gets the girl. But if readers preferred Deep Space Nine and more character driven conflict, they might want to steer themselves toward your Gabriel’s Ghost.