[Book Review] A medical sci-fi space soap opera. Because it can.

Stardoc by S.L. Viehl

Stardoc (Stardoc, #1)This series has been on my radar for years. Old school sci-fi covers, alien doctor, dramatic and slightly mysterious titles? Yes, please. I’m going to review the first three books because that’s a) how far I got in the series, and b) because in those three books, we get to see everything that’s awesome in the series, and everything that isn’t.

This first book starts great. We get surgeon Cherijo Grey Veil who leaves her practice and her human world to work on a frontier free clinic.

Beyond Varallan (Stardoc, #2)

She has no real experience with anything beyond human anatomy, but with hundreds of alien species around the periphery of the human world, she’s pretty much been thrown in the deep end. Oh, and, of course, she didn’t leave her comfy house and job in the Earth suburbs because she felt like doing a couple years abroad volunteering. Dr. Veil is on the run.

It’s a kind of Gray’s Anatomy meets the Wild West meets sci-fi babble. There’s doctor in-fighting and intrigue, alien politics, light romantic subplot, deadly plagues, family secrets, controlling fathers… Medical sci-fi soap opera, BAM.

Endurance (Stardoc, #3)

And yet. And yet, the good stuff – the intrigue, mystery, who-will-she-fall-for romantic intrigue – ends up petering out, though, and overwhelmed by the series’ problem children. Namely, the Instant Love, Cherijo’s Mary Sue Tendencies, Rape Scene What?, Stupid Decisions, Why Would You Do That?. Two canaries for the first book, and then it goes downhill from there.

Stardoc would probably go over best for all us medical soap oper- err, I mean, Space Opera fans, who don’t mind the creepy and dysfunctional romantic subplot, but the second and third books ramp up all the bad.

At that point, there isn’t enough fluff romance or reasonable angst to carry you through. For example, in book three, you’d think that the heroine being captured and enslaved by evil alien insects, betrayed by her love, and pursued by her murderous father would snazz up the story arc.

You’d think.

Approach with caution, enjoy with a Margarita.

How about some sci-fi I loved?

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