What I’m Reading Friday – 03/20/2014 – Stardoc Series by S.L. Viehl

I know it’s not Friday, but I’m sick and I’m tired of Netflix.

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1: Stardoc
2: Beyond Varallan
3: Endurance
4: Shockball
5: Eternity Row
6: Rebel Ice
7: Plague of memory
8: Omega Games
9: Crystal Healer
10: Dream Called Time

Four or five (six?) years ago, I stumbled upon a series (well-underway; she started writing it in 2000), of which I just finished the tenth – and final – book.

Not to be mistaken for great literature (they’re campy sci-fi books, so something I like but not necessarily for everybody), they were nonetheless a fun series and I searched for them every time we went to the book store.  I even bought a couple online!  The series centers around Dr. Cherijo Grey Veil, a Terran doctor, and her adventures as a physician to other species inhabiting the galaxy.

1-5:
These were lot of fun to read. I think 1 & 2 were my favorites, 3 was fun but for a few cringe-worthy moments involving tentacles, 4 & 5 were a little lighter on substance but still reasonably good adventures.

6:
I didn’t like this one at all.  I was bored and annoyed through the whole thing, hoping we’d hurry up and go back to what I’d come to expect from the first five books.  I only read it through because I knew there were more (and I had the next three waiting on my nightstand). I hoped this one was an aberration, the author had realized the error of her ways, and would quietly go back to the way things were.

7-9:
They got a little better.  I probably would have liked them more had it not been for an event in 6 whose repercussions were felt quite strongly (in the form of a primary character) in these subsequent books.

10:
Nope.  It started out ok, and was still better overall than 6, but not by much – and with a single event near the end, it completely ruined *every*single*preceeding*book*.  Yup, that’s right – the entire series.

I tend to get really into my books.  The characters become my friends; I explore with them, adventure with them, take part in their ups, down, and everyday lives.  When I look at the books on the shelf, I remember what fun [this] or [that] was, or what a disaster [that event] was, or the triumph of coming out ahead in a close battle – whatever.  After so many years and so many books getting to know these characters, just having a book be the end of the series would have been enough – it *really* didn’t have to take the rest of the books down with it.  I just finished this one, so my discontent is still pretty fresh.  In a day or two, I’ll probably be able to consider re-reading the series, distancing the events of those books from those in the last one.  1-5 are very likely to be on my to-read-again list; 6-10 are a lot less likely (though I’m a bit OCD, and I’ll probably end up having to reread them, too – whether I really want to or not).  Now that I’ve gotten my displeasure out of my system a bit, I’m already starting to look forward to rereading the first one.

If these become part of your to-read list at any point, do yourself a favor and enjoy the first nine books, then go ahead and read the first 318 pages of the tenth. Then just leave it there and let yourself imagine the universe continuing on as though the remainder of the book didn’t exist. It’s better that way. Trust me.

***Spoiler Alert***

You’ve been warned.

In the 6th book, the main character loses her identity and begins a new one.  The book is intentionally written so that the reader isn’t certain which character is actually Cherijo, although I don’t think it was very well done and although I had moments of uncertainty, for the most part, i thought it was too obvious (largely because of how hard the author tried to make us think it was more likely the other character).

In the seventh, eighth, and ninth books, the new identity has taken over Cherijo’s life, family and position.  This new identity is just as childish and annoying as Cherijo usually was, but has fewer redeeming qualities.  Large portions of the plots revolve around how annoyed the new identity is that people still sometimes call her Cherijo – but at least some of the fun, off-world adventures are there, and it feels a little like the books are getting back into the kinds of adventures we found in the first five.  I was grateful at the end of the ninth when Cherijo’s identity came back, annoyed that none of the years preceding it were in her memory, and hopeful that the series could again be as fun as it started out.  I also had hoped that this would *finally* be the end of her relationship with Duncan Reever.  (I remained hopeful until the very end of the tenth book that they would somehow bring back Kao, her love interest who died in the first book, and they would get back together, or barring that, that she would take up with one of the other Jorenians…but alas, it was not to be [although they *did* bring back Kao].

In the tenth book, Cherijo is always mad that her crewmates of the previous five years keep calling her by the name her alter ego had assumed.  She also finally gets to live out the destiny Maggie has been hinting at in the other nine books (maybe eight, I don’t really remember if she’s in the first one or not).  In doing this, at the end of the book, with one action Cherijo erases the entire timeline beginning more than six million years in her past – thus creating one in which she, and the others engineered to be like her, are never born, most of the friends she’d known and loved are never born or never met her, Duncan was never born, and none of the events in the other nine books ever happened.

I would actually have preferred an event that reset the universe so that all life had to evolve all over again, or that wiped out everything entirely.

[Insert annoyed expletives here.]

I’ve never understood why authors do that.   It’s not new, it’s not a creative surprise twist – it’s been done a million times.  It’s lazy.  It doesn’t surprise the readers, it usually just annoys them.

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