“Verdant Skies” – by Steve Lyle Jordan

Cover ImageFar in the future, when mankind is struggling to reverse the damage he has done to the planet, the planet itself eventually retaliates in a decisive manner – a cataclysmic eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera which fills the earth’s atmosphere with volcanic ash. The focus of earth becomes the 4 habitable satellites orbiting the planet. So begins the drama that is Verdant Skies.

I can probably sum up this novel thusly: potential script for pilot/two part movie introducing a new sci-fi television series part “Babylon 5″ and part “Star Trek”. Really. There are a cast of characters all developed in an introductory way as if we’re going to be joining them for a whole season and a two part action thriller that serves as a precursor for the actual series which would probably be named “Verdant Pioneers”, also the title of the sequel.

All the characters are represented. The fearless leader of the Verdant satellite with a proud career and a sad past, the sassy and perceptive second-in-command, the slightly less impressive chief of operations who has an inferiority complex, the smooth science consultant and the straight-talking head of the science department, the president of the United States and a sultry diplomat who can mine information as well as she can turn heads. Throw in a couple of daughters, wives, a couple of combat pilots and sundries and you have every space opera television series ever made. But that’s not to say that all I could murmur was “derivative” as I read. Not at all. To me, this was a refinement in ways on what already works well in this arena and it really was a very enjoyable and exciting read overall.

The science used in this novel is interesting in that the author manages to present it in a pretty plausible way. I won’t go into details as it would spoil the plot, but I was impressed at the effort made to show us something that feels believable somehow even though it remains quite fantastic. I felt myself imagining possibilities and this is a very good sign in a science fiction novel.

Meanwhile, the plot is an exciting one with tension built up over two main crises. Once the tension escalated to a certain level I found that pages almost turned by themselves and small chunks of time escaped me completely. I love being lost in a book this way, so I’m pleased to have had this experience with Verdant Skies. Unfortunately though, I was sometimes taken away from this vivid experience by the aspects of the story that frustrated me – the relationships.

OK – so sexual tension between various characters in a television series is not uncommon, but I found this aspect of the novel a bit off-putting. During the first half of the book, there seemed to be an excessive focus on how people looked. During an unprecedented crisis, as tension is mounting, I felt like I was surrounded by characters that only wanted to have sex, watch derrieres and ogle boobies. Relationship status seemed to be annoyingly present as well. We get to hear about how this one hasn’t had much success with women and how the other one doesn’t seem to want women because of the tragic loss of his wife. Let’s not forget this one who could have been with that one were it not for meeting his wife, and how do you think that will turn out? And although there wasn’t a huge amount of sex, the scenes seemed to range from suggestive to bodice-ripping intense to borderline erotica. To me, it was all a bit much and tended to get in the way of a great story.

Otherwise, the writing itself was pretty good and in general, the sentences flowed smoothly. However, there was at least one paragraph highly annoying due to its almost verbatim repetition in several places:

…he became aware of a high-pitched tone, coming from seemingly everywhere around him…it rose in frequency, until it was beyond his hearing, but not quite beyond his ability sense its presence. And then that sense, too, went away.

A small variation on these words appears no less than 6 times in the narrative. I’m not sure what the reasoning for the repetition was but the only effect it had on me was one of frustration.

To summarise, some aspects of this story did impact my overall enjoyment. However, I can’t possibly give Verdant Skies less than 3.5 stars for the simple reason that I’ve already mentally placed the sequel, Verdant Pioneers, on my “to be read” list. I want to know what our fearless crew is going to encounter in the next episode. So how could I possibly finish by saying that this novel is anything but a success?

Rating: 3.5/5

Price at the time of review: $2.99 US

Available: Amazon,Smashwords,Sony,Diesel,Kobo,Apple,Author’s Website

Author site: http://www.rightbrane.com/StevenLyleJordan/index.htm
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9503304-verdant-skies

This entry was posted in 3.5, Novel, Reviews, Science Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>