Review: It all began as a joke.
The farce is retold in the novel’s introduction. Kerry Nietz took the title Amish Vampires in Space and ran with it, though. When I first heard the name of the book, I naturally assumed it was a satire of the over-abundance of Amish romance titles.
Nietz took the satirical title and wrote a serious novel. And he succeeds. Big time.
I became familiar with Nietz’ work through his excellent Dark Trench Saga. I’d categorize his stories as hard science fiction, and he brings that same attention to detail into this novel. He writes about Amish culture effectively and accurately (I’m moderately familiar with Amish society). He has also crafted a future that is quite believable.
The story feels like very natural, in that, I believed that a group of Amish had once purchased a ride to a new planet to colonize with their way of life. I believed the conditions that caused Jebediah Miller to violate the rules against using technology. And I found the situation that led to the vampires on the space ship well grounded.
Amish Vampires in Space is almost equally character and plot driven. The plot takes slight precedence in the story, but the characters (both “Amishers” and “Englishers”) are likable and relatable.
This is a great novel. There are clashes of worldview. Conflicts within both the ranks of the Amish and the space-farers. Explorations of rules versus grace. And, of course, lots and lots of vampires to worry about. (And how do the pacifist-Amish respond to the violent outbreak?)
The only problem with the novel is one of its strengths… the title. Every time I have mentioned the book to someone, I’ve had to add, “but it’s a serious book.” Indeed, the first time I heard the title I thought it was a farce. Reading the history of how this book came about, though, the title makes sense, and I can’t imagine another title.
Amish Vampires in Space is a solid stand-alone novel. (A few loose strands have left open the possibility for sequels.) So who should read it? Science fiction fans should certainly pick this up. Especially fans of hard science fiction. Readers who also enjoy Amish novels will also find much to enjoy in this book… even if they’re not terribly interested in science fiction. Finally, readers who want to read something completely and utterly unique need to check this out.
Rating: 5/5 (I Loved It)