Keeping in line with this month's science fiction theme, I decided review a book inspired by one of the most popular sci-fi opera’s out there; Star Wars. The novel in question is entitled Red Harvest written by Joe Schreiber. It was meant to be a prequel to his earlier work, Death Troopers, which I will also be reviewing later this year.
When time came to select a science fiction novel to review, my library found itself lacking. Everything I owned that was sci-fi had either already been reviewed, or given away. So in a hurry I went to Amazon to order some new material for my collection. Of course Star Wars was high on my list of interests, and that's when I came across Death Troopers. I was curious of the idea of crossing zombies with this popular sci-fi franchise. I later selected Red Harvest when I found out it was its prequel.
The story is about leader of a Sith Academy, Darth Scabrous, who is attempting to create a serum that will grant him immortality. He hires a Whiphid bounty hunter named Tulkh to steal a key ingredient he requires; a Murakami orchid. The plant is located in the Jedi Agricultural Corps facility on the planet Marfa. When Tulkh steals the orchid, he finds that he cannot take it without the plant's handler, Padawan Hestizo Trace, or else the plant would die. Tulkh takes them back to the Sith academy, where Scabrous mixes the orchid in a strange device. The machine is hooked up to Sith apprentice who, once injected with the orchid infused serum, dies and comes back as a zombie. This infected student escapes, and quickly spreads ‘’the sickness’’ throughout the academy in a single night. Hestizo and Tulkh soon finds themselves trapped, trying to escape the planet while fighting off hordes of zombies.
Back of the book:
Unlike those other Jedi sidelined to the Agricultural Corps—young Jedi whose abilities have not proved up to snuff—Hestizo Trace possesses one extraordinary Force talent: a gift with plants. Suddenly her quiet existence among greenhouse and garden specimens is violently destroyed by the arrival of an emissary from Darth Scabrous. For the rare black orchid that she has nurtured and bonded with is the final ingredient in an ancient Sith formula that promises to grant Darth Scabrous his greatest desire.
But at the heart of the formula is a never-before-seen virus that’s worse than fatal—it doesn’t just kill, it transforms. Now the rotting, ravenous dead are rising, driven by a bloodthirsty hunger for all things living—and commanded by a Sith Master with an insatiable lust for power and the ultimate prize: immortality . . . no matter the cost.
The era of the Old Republic is a dark and dangerous time, as Jedi Knights valiantly battle the Sith Lords and their ruthless armies. But the Sith have disturbing plans—and none more so than the fulfillment of Darth Scabrous’s fanatical dream, which is about to become nightmarish reality.
What I Learned From This Book:
- Crossing genres: The most obvious aspect of this story, is how it crosses two very distinctive genres, Zombies and Star Wars. Each genre are pretty solid on their own, but combining the two is something that has been rarely seen. The author successfully managed to integrate both genres into one epic story. For more information on integration, visit one of my previous writing prompts on the subject.
- The ‘’I WIN’’ button: While reading this novel, I came across a plot device that kinda irked me; the protagonists power to kill zombies by growing plant spores inside them. The plot device works somewhat like a deus ex machina in the sense that it is similar to an act of God, but is more integral to the story, in the sense that it is an innate power the character has. What bothers me is that the ability is so powerful, that it basically negated the threat of the zombies. It feels as though the author knew this, and had to severely limit access to said ability, which is kinda odd since the ability is innate. This is something to keep in mind for future stories; don’t make your characters overpowered.
- Survivor rate ratio: This is a term I came up with in an attempt to explain this phenomenon. It is fully expected that in a zombie story, characters will die. However, some will have ‘’screen time’’ before meeting a gruesome fate. The question I faced was; how much time is too little/long given a certain character? I understand that in order to their death meaningful, the audience needs to spend time with the character beforehand. In this story, I felt some were not given enough time to fully reach their storyline potential, while others had too much time. This is something I will need to research more for future stories.
Joe Schreiber is an American novelist best known for his horror and thriller novels. His works include Chasing the Dead, Eat the Dark and No Doors, No Windows. In October 2009, Joe created his first contribution to the Star Wars universe; Death Troopers. Schreiber was born in Michigan (1969), but is currently based in central Pennsylvania, where he works as an MRI technician and lives with his wife and two young children.
For those interested in reading more books from Joe Schreiber, please check out these following websites:
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Until next time!