Viehl, S.L.: Stardoc

StardocBeyond VarallanEnduranceShockballEternity Row
Rebel IcePlague of MemoryOmega GamesCrystal HealerDream Called Time

Sheila Kelly Viehl is from South Florida. She is a USAF-veteran with medical experience from both military and civilian trauma centers.

She writes under several names – SciFi as SL Viehl, Romance as Gena Hale and Jessica Hall, Christian Adult Fiction as Rebecca Kelly and Dark Fantasy, Young Adult and Non-fiction as Lynn Viehl.

SHOCKBALL (2001)

Shockball is book no. 4 in the Stardoc series, but the first one I’ve read. Starting here was no problem. These are all pretty much stand-alone novels that concern the doctor Cherijo Viehl. Warning right away. If you do not like descriptive surgery in your novels, you will have a problem with parts of this novel.

Life has a tendency to surprise us. Sometimes the experience is enjoyable and sometimes, well, not so much. Cherijo Viehl is beginning to get used to the idea. But getting used to having wrenches thrown into what she sees as preferable, can make her angry with herself and her surroundings (most commonly with Duncan Reever).

Cherijo and Duncan are married. As far as I’ve understood, this happened after they became interested in each other when Cherijo was Duncan’s slave (albeit not the most slavish slave around). Now they are trying to adjust to each other’s strong personalities. Tensions are bound to rise. Both are the kind who tries to protect those they love, whether that protection is wanted or not.

Shockball begins with Cherijo and Reever on the Joren starvessel Sunlace. Cherijo is an adopted clanmember, and as such under the protection of her clan. Her clan-brother, Xonea, is the captain of the space-ship. His main concern is to keep Cherijo away from trouble, but finds this intention challenged again and again by Cherijo’s repeated refusal to stay away from danger.

In the previous novel, Cherijo and Reever saved a bunch of non-terran slaves from their masters and are in the process of returning them to their planets of origin. While doing this, they are both worried about the ticking bomb that is dragged along on their journey through the stars. Cherijo’s creator, Joseph Viehl, has gifted her with a spaceship, but Cherijo does not believe for one moment that there is nothing wrong with it. She turns out to be correct.

After having run so long from her creator, Cherijo ends up back with him when Joseph has League soldiers kidnap her and Reever from the Jorens. They are taken back to Earth and Joseph immediately finds joy in telling Cherijo about her future. She is to be his mate, something Cherijo finds repugnant. Reever is held captive as guarantee against her cooperation.

Complications arise when a group of underground Navajoes rescue the couple from the laboratory and take them to their lair. There they meet the Night Horse leader Rico (who seems slightly off). Now it is up to Reever and Cherijo to figure out how to get back to the Jorens without getting killed en route. But before they can leave, they also have to find a way to save the Night Horse from themselves.

Shockball is full of action. We tend to go from one scene to the other, quite often ending up with Cherijo having to use her surgical skills. This is a rip-roaring tale of adventure. There are no attempts at trying to explain how the groups are transported between star systems, nor does Viehl try to make sense of how such completely species are different-planet-races are able to interbreed. Instead this is an action novel placed in space. Viehl writes well and manages to entertain us the whole way.

ETERNITY ROW (2002)

In Eternity Row Reever, Cherijo and Marel finally live together as a family on the star vessel Sunlace. Duncan and Cherijo are trying to figure out how to combine parenthood with their duties, as most parents do. Some children are more precocious than others. Marel is one of them. She has a tendency to appear in the oddest places.

Sunlace is taking Hawk home to the planet of his father. When they get to Taerca, everyone they see seems to be suffering some kind of mysterious disease of both mind and body. Hawk has a difficult time when he meets with his father. Like the rest of the population, his father is fanatically invested in the planet-wide religion.

Later Sunlace goes to Oenrall, Dhreen’s home planet. Cherijo had promised him to go there and see if she could figure out what was causing the population’s sterility. Once they get there Cherijo and the people going with her find that the Oenrallians are manic and addicted to a nerve-desensitizer. But this is by no means the Oenrallians main problem.

Cherijo sees it as her duty to discover the cause of both problems. But the universe is not going along with her plans. Challenges are thrown the way of Cherijo and her loved ones, distracting Cherijo from her work as a doctor and researcher.

As with Shockball, Eternity Row is an action-filled novel whose main goal is to entertain. Viehl does this well. I haven’t read past Eternity Row, but did not find it problematic to end the series here. Being stand-alone novels makes it so much simpler to leave a series, although I have to admit to certain amount of curiosity about the future of the family of Brandon, Cherijo and Marel.

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