Friday, January 17, 2014

Amish Vampires in Space

(Wow--three months without a new post. I'm sorry, guys. I'M SORRY!)

So today I'm going to tell you about a book I just read: Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz.

When I first heard about Amish Vampires in Space, I was just as skeptical as the next person for reasons that should be quite obvious if you know anything about the Amish. The title and cover scream "camp." Just look at that girl's face. LOOK AT HER. And at the body lying on the floor. And at the chicken hidden on the back cover.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that AViS, as this book shall henceforth be called, was supposed to be a "serious" novel. That's right. Nobody is making fun of the Amish. Nobody is making fun of vampires. This book is played totally straight.

I couldn't contain my curiosity, so I did the logical thing and bought myself a copy.

In the distant future, different planets in the galaxy have been "terraformed" so they will be suitable for human life. Several generations ago an Amish settlement was established on a planet called Alabaster. (The Amish shun technology, but it's okay for them to travel in a spaceship as long as a non-Amish person, or "Englisher," is the one flying it.)

One Amish man named Jebediah Miller secretly monitors Alabaster's sun with some glass instruments passed to him from his father, and Jebediah makes an unpleasant discovery: Alabaster's sun is expanding. The climate is getting hotter, and crops are failing. He knows that if he doesn't do anything, everyone and everything on Alabaster will die.

So Jebediah uses a forbidden piece of technology to call for help. The whole colony is (reluctantly) rescued by a cargo spaceship that is the futuristic equivalent of a giant FedEx truck. They will be taken to another, safer planet to reestablish a colony there.

Only something bad happens once everyone is on board: cargo that was picked up from a different planet contaminates a crew member and turns him into something that can best be described as a vampire. Then he bites other people and turns THEM into vampires. And the chaos gets worse and worse.

In the end, the Amish have to decide whether or not to follow their "Ordnung's" rule of nonviolence and let themselves be slaughtered, or to forsake their law and fight back.

I only had a few issues with this book. First of all, Kerry Nietz uses a writing style that is choppier than I am used to. Also, I wish that I could have learned more about some of the characters and their backgrounds, especially crew member Singer, who acts as a liaison between the Amish and the rest of the crew. I am also curious as to why a colony would be established in a system with a sun so close to the end of its life cycle.

In all, AViS sends a good message: it's okay to break the law of tradition if lives are at stake. Get it? Vampires? Stake?

I'll stop now.

Amish Vampires in Space may be purchased here.