Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The CSFF Blog Tour of The Return

CSSF Blog Tour

And we now reach the point in the tour where I completely break with tradition, by actually talking about the book in question, during the tour, rather than six months later.

Some reviewers have commented that The Return works as a stand-alone novel, but I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive about trilogies and can't cope with starting anywhere but the beginning, so this might turn into more a mini-review of the Mars Hill series.

When I first started reading the series, there seemed to be a lot of words - a lot of technical jargon and explanation. Once the story got running, the techno-babble mostly just blended into the background, secondary to the story. And what a story: Action, suspense, the colonization of Mars, wierd fertility cults, cloning... there's a lot going on in the last part of the series, with John Wells back on Mars, and Raines and his growing cult forming the backbone of the Earth-bound story.

The faith of the Christian characters is tested here by the possible existence of not only aliens, but also clones. I think, incidentally, I've worked out what's wrong with Christian characters in CBA novels. If they have cause to speak about their faith, they can come across as either preachy or just plain forced. I don't know about you, but I always find it awkward trying to talk about it with colleagues, and often wish for the benefit of countless revisions and a sympathetic editor before committing to a final version of whatever I might want to say. I think it is fair to say that John and Amy Wells suffer a little less from this than many Christian characters, and in fact the whole Christian element seems surprisingly natural for a techno-thriller/sf hybrid story.

The main characters develop quite nicely over the series; even Malcolm Raines improves with age. In The Evidence I thought he was a bit of a Carpathia clone - generic CBA villain A - but by the final part of the series he has turned into Hugh Hefner's evil twin.

There is at least one fairly significant plot thread left untied at the end, but hey, that shouldn't be enough to spoil the book, much less the trilogy. If you like realistically imagined sf, Clancy-esque techno-thrillers, or a good story with a spiritual dimension, you should read some Austin Boyd.

Other highlights of the tour:

Jim Black asks what stories about Mars we like, and nobody answers.
Valerie is reading the trilogy backwards. Let us know how that works out, won't you.
Deena has an interview with the author.

And there are various other reviews scattered among these blogs:
Trish Anderson - Brandon Barr - Jim Black - Justin Boyer - Grace Bridges - Amy Browning - Jackie Castle - Valerie Comer - Karri Compton - Lisa Cromwell - CSFF Blog Tour - Gene Curtis - D. G. D. Davidson - Janey DeMeo - Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream - Jeff Draper - April Erwin - Beth Goddard - Marcus Goodyear - Jill Hart - Katie Hart - Sherrie Hibbs - Christopher Hopper - Becca Johnson - Jason Joyner - Kait - Karen - Dawn King - Tina Kulesa - Rachel Marks - Karen McSpadden - Rebecca LuElla Miller - Eve Nielsen - John W. Otte - Lyn Perry - Deena Peterson - Rachelle - Cheryl Russel - Chawna Schroeder - Mirtika Schultz - James Somers - Speculative Faith - Laura Williams - Timothy Wise


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Just trash my Tuesday comment, won't you, Steve? You did a great job with the review. I really wanted to know what well-read science fiction fans thought of these books. I'm out of my element, so my saying they're good doesn't measure up to you saying it.

Now if Elliot would just read them, then I'd know if he thought the in-your-face Christianity worked or not. I thought it did.


Terri main said...


Considering this is written for a Christian audience and published by a publisher targeting that audience, I think it works. However, if one was trying to reach a wider audience, not so much. However, there is enough intrigue I think to hold all but the most anti-Christian readers.


UKSteve said...

Well I figured I'd try it your way for a change, Becky. But I reckon I get more comments when I don't read the books, so I'll probably go back to that next time ;)

Valerie Comer said...

Reading the trilogy backwards seems a bit of a pain, to be honest. I've got The Proof sitting in the living room and still have two weeks before it's due back. I'm hoping The Evidence shows up in time to be read in order, but there are no guarantees.

I resonate with your comments about how awkward and/ or preachy we get when sharing the Lord with others also. You're right, no wonder it's so hard to do it right in novel writing. We have no clue how to do it in real life either!