With Volume 8 in her Alien Series, Gini Koch is opening out her canvas to reveal a huge story behind her story.
It fits with the theme of "What's Really Going On Here?"
And oh, given the current political season in progress, you just have to be asking yourself that question about your real world experiences. Nothing is as it seems.
Against the backdrop of our "real" world, these novels become even funnier.
Yes, they are Action-Romance, but they are also fraught with humor just as Star Trek was (and is, and will be, I expect.)
Last week, I posted the Index to a long series of long posts on Theme-Worldbuilding Integration:
Koch's ALIEN Series is a marvelous example of what you can do with a well-integrated junction of theme and worldbuilding.
Koch has taken one character, Kitty Kat, given her a "life-story" or recurring theme and a coping strategy that works on a vast variety of problems life throws at her.
From that firm platform, Koch has built out a huge universe. In Volume 8, we are getting a glimpse of a universe behind these stories as large, thematically rich, historically relevant, and philosophically sizzling as E. E. Smith's Lensman Series.
When Lensman was first published, you couldn't have Romance in a galactic action story. E. E. Smith (Doc Smith) did it, though. The Lensman romance inspired me to write SFR, and now Gini Koch has taken it all one step further. She has built a world based on the most modern theories of space-time, and revealed the philosophical questions those theories ask.
This structure would collapse (e.g. become boring, incomprehensible, nonsensical, or meaningless) if it didn't have this integrated platform underneath the drama.
The setting is contemporary Earth -- with excursions to other planets. But mostly the plot devices include incursions into Earth's environment from other planets.
Then bit by bit over the first 8 (of what I hope will be many more) novels, the larger universe outside Earth is revealed.
In Alien Research, a new character is introduced whose existence doesn't change the Situation -- but does give us an AHA! moment when we finally begin to understand "what's going on" here.
You might want to look at my review posted on Amazon:
From a technical, craft standpoint, you can study these novels as examples of a manuscript which I see as in need of perhaps as much as 20% line-cutting. There are wordy phrases, dialogue loops, and speeches that could be rewritten to be more incisive dialogue.
But the plotting is exemplary, the visuals are penetrating, the cast of characters is huge but each is vividly drawn so you do remember them with only the slightest prompting, and the main character is someone you might actually like to BE.
This is a great series, and after eight huge novels, still shows signs of becoming greater.
The ALIEN SERIES is Science Fiction Romance at the genre's best.
Generation V by M. L. Brennan is a Vampire Novel I might have missed.
I met M. L. Brennan as she was signing autographs at Worldcon in San Antonio in 2013, and only just got around to reading the book she autographed for me, Generation V.
Now I see there's another one available on Amazon:
I'm thrilled, but I haven't read IRON NIGHT yet.
Generation V is tightly crafted, smoothly written, well paced, and an all around satisfying read, whether you like Vampire Romance or not. Though romance isn't in focus in this novel, the potential is there. More than Vampire Romance, though, the potential of this series is for Alien Romance -- the women in this hero's life are not, hmmm, all human.
Although Generation V is a Vampire novel, urban fantasy with a dark and bloody side to it, the overall tone of the point of view character's take on the world is more on the "light" side.
The main character's name is Fortitude, and he definitely has that virtue.
His family is rather typical of today's urban fantasy vampires -- bloody, murderous, and blythe about the supernatural.
There is not a lot of deep substance showing in this first novel. None of the characters seem to be interested in puzzling out "what is really going on" -- which in this case would be an intersection of the fantasy/magic world of mythic creatures with our everyday Earth (instead of aliens from outer space, as Gini Koch is dealing with).
But the potential for such depths of mystical theory are wound deep into the springboard of this first novel.
Fortitude is well educated, but has a lot to learn. He has skills, talents and abilities that can be "re-purposed" (you did read my review of ALIEN RESEARCH on Amazon, didn't you?) just as Kitty Kat has.
He is a fish out of water and does not know it (yet).
In this first novel, Fortitude begins to come into his heritage as a Vampire, and learns how vampires are made.
Generation V also gives us a hint of the politics of supernatural creatures co-existing among humans, and that has a potential to rival Washington D. C.
If the theme-worldbuiding integration is done as well for this new fictional world as Gini Koch has managed to do so far, M. L. Brennan has a winner on her hands.
You will want to be in on the ground floor to watch this universe being built.