My feelings on S.M. Stirling as a writer have always been mixed. There’s potential there, but he’s stuck in the same ghetto, writing the same Military SF plots in different settings. The Draka novels were interesting, until the last one. The Emberverse was mostly a waste, but still different. In the Court of the Crimson King was a bold and successful return to the spirit of the pulps. But you know what sells now? Stories about girls seduced by monsters. Twilight. And by all appearances, Stirling wrote his own Twilight novel.
It’s incredibly depressing to see all the supernatural detectives choking up the Science Fiction section. But this is actually worse. Because Stirling is capable of better. Instead he switches out vampires for werewolves and writes something like A Taint in the Blood to market to an older version of the Twilight crowd. Does the man actually need the money this badly. I know he’s done Terminator novels, and merchandising books are low, but this is worse. This is developing your own derivative merchandising book. In a market overcrowded with books like it. Or sorta like it.
From Publishers Weekly
Stirling (The Sword of the Lady) launches a new series with a messy and unappetizing mix of well-worn monster tropes and excessive sexual violence. The ancient, powerful, and sociopathic Shadowspawn have always lived among (and interbred with) humans. When Adrian Brézé, the one Shadowspawn capable of resisting his violent urges, discovers that his ex, Ellen, has been kidnapped by his evil twin sister, Adrienne, he begins a war against his own kind. Adrienne repeatedly rapes Ellen, who endures using psychological techniques she developed during childhood abuse, as she prepares her own political machinations. Stirling hits just about every cliché, from the grizzled vampire hunter and mentor to Adrienne’s pathologically devoted servants (who call themselves lucies and renfields). Stirling’s prose is competent, but there’s nothing new in his story, and few readers will have the stomach for the over-the-top sadism.
The cliche part is none too surprising. Or the rapes. Or that he’s managed to write another evil lesbian villain (is this one also blond?). Without reading this, I can guess that the Shadowspawn will be a dumbed down version of the Draka. A depressingly dumbed down version. Especially since this and Emberverse are his main focus now. Writers need to earn money. But doing something like this and dedicating it to…
To Jack Williamson, Fred Pohl, Sprague de Camp and other Golden Agers for inspiration; and Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen.
That’s like writing ad copy for the back of a box of Frosted Flakes and dedicating it to Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. What’s happening to Science Fiction? This is. It’s been swamped by everyone doing their own takes on Twilight and Jim Butcher. Frosted Flakes would taste better.