Saturday, December 26, 2009

Starfire by Stuart Vaughn Stockton

I learned about MLP because of this author.

"Let me explain. No, is too much. Let me sum up."

Some fellow church members knew Stockton as a boy and bought his book when it was published by MLP. They loaned me the book and some Internet links for Stockton, and I did the research that ultimately led to my entry in the MLS Premise Contest.

Back to the book.

I started reading Starfire in the emergency room when one of my grandmothers was getting stitched up after a fall. Several family members can attest to my despair at that time, and not for my grandmother's sake (she recovered nicely). The prologue instantly transported me to a world where dinosaurs are the dominant species, volcanoes spew ash and fire into the air at will, and plants move around as much as the animals. I thought, If this is the quality MLP seeks, I'll never make it with them. Who could? This writer is too good for the rest of us mere mortals.

Again, my relatives will testify to this. So will the hospital emergency staff on duty that night. I am not the quietly despairing type.

Stockton creates an enormous, violent, technicolor world, where Rathe must survive and thrive in the fight-or-die-fighting rules of his society. His empire is at war, and through sheer coincidence (or is it?), he gets the break he needs to elevate his position from unknown runt to war hero.

Is he worthy of the trust of his new team, or will he prove himself to be just a soft-shell from an unknown family who got a lucky break?

I have never read nor wanted to read a book with dinosaurs as the main characters. After the first chapter, I wished I had a tail because the things are so darn useful.

Fortunately for me, my despair eventually wore off and I realized Stockton is not a god of writing but a man with a well-conceived and executed story. I was relieved when I found my first typo (Jeff the Publisher explained on the boards why books have typos, and his reasons sound accurate).

Dinosaurs with weapons, computers, airplanes and ground transports are a wonderful mix of contrasts to this reader, reminding me of the epic battle between the demon Hell Boy and the fairy monsters in Hell Boy 2. Talk about clash of worldviews!

Stockton isn't afraid of violence, blood or killing characters to prove the situation is serious. This is a real world, with a real war, and real casualties. I especially enjoyed the little Karey Or (carrier?) who contains the computer program that will launch the Starfire weapon and end the war, thus elevating Rathe to positions beyond his wildest dreams.

This is subtitled Book 1. I have no idea how many books are planned, but I will be buying them, right after I buy a copy of this one for myself.

This book will appeal to guy and girl geeks and nerds (as far as I know, jocks only read sports magazines, and there isn't a lot of romance for the girly-girls). I had to read in snatches over the course of a month, and I had no problem remembering where I was or what was happening.

Stockton includes size charts (I used a lot), species definitions (don't think I read it) and lexicon of unfamiliar words (only looked at twice because he's so good at defining in context). I would have liked a listing of all the different types of saurn but not having one didn't hinder me too much.

To sum up: Great book. Buy it. Read it. Don't despair.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little late in finding this, but thanks so much for your review. I've been fighting my own battles with the writing blues and your kind words have helped immensely.

    And I agree, tails would be VERY useful. ;)

    -Stuart

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