Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: 'Volistad' by Ashley L. Hunt

Colorado author Ashley L Hunt earned her degree in Philosophy at The University of Colorado. She lives in Denver where she creates stories with heroes with great strengths, physical and mental, and pairs them with strong heroines who test their limits, in the end finding deep, passionate love.

Science fiction is an acquired taste – and that taste seems to have infused the entire globe as books and television shows and games and movies all fight for top place in this genre. Ashley has her hand solidly in this realm, having published four series of books that deal with aliens peppered with erotica. She continues her series – ALBATERRA MATES – and now opens a new series of paranormal sci-fi romances, which she calls ALIEN MATES of which this VOLISTAD is Book 3.

Ashley knows how to launch a series about life on another planet that includes a visit from an earthborn creature whose presence creates the change in atmosphere the new planet poses (the new planet is Chalice). She opens the stage for her main characters with some preparatory background so that when the new soon to be lovers meet we are aware of what they bring to the encounter. Many have read Parts 1 and 2 of the series and Part 3 has a bit of a different approach as we see in her opening pages - "When I look down at the men and women before me, I see heroes." The President's voice was filled with pride, as he gazed out over our assembled ranks as we stood at crisp attention. Our navy-blue uniforms were creased to a dangerous edge, our heads were shaved a shining bald, and our faces were solemn and reverent, despite the glare of the setting sun in our faces. It was a beautiful moment, one crafted and shaped for the cameras, and broadcast to all the people of the Pan-American Dominion. The moment said "Hope" to them. It said, "Triumph" to them. To the President, it was the crowning moment of his career, the point where he had finished dragging the people of the American continents, back from the brink of destruction and showed the rest of the world, which was still putting itself back together, that the PAD would lead humanity into a bright new future. "In years past, we used the word ‘hero' to refer solely to the soldadesca. And though our brave soldiers were always, and continue to be heroes, today we have the opportunity to honor a new form of bravery." From beneath my uniform cap, I found the President's face with my eyes. He was everything people needed in a leader, a tall, charismatic leader, young enough to be handsome, but old enough to be wise. He wore the legacy of his extensive war experience in the burn scar that marred the left side of his honey-bronzed face, and, if you looked closely, twisted the skin of his hands. "Today, we send our bravest, our brightest, out into the stars, to make a way for humankind to follow. People of Pan-America, I give you the new frontiersmen, our
especuladores, who will boldly go where no man or woman has gone before. May I be the first to offer a solemn salute to our heroes, the Formers!"
Note the contemporary issues subtly addressed….

In short the plot goes as follows – ‘Joanna Angeles is a Former, one of many young people trained after a terrible war to terraform distant alien worlds. She was told she would be securing the future of humanity against coming ever coming so close to extinction again. But her task seems much less grand when she finds herself trapped in a frozen hell. With only an artificial intelligence riding along in her mind for company, Joanna has ten years to prepare a home for thousands of people- and she’s the only hope they have. Volistad is a Ranger, a warrior and hunter of the ever-dwindling Erinye people. Born with a savage nature and trained to destroy any possible threats to his tribe, Volistad still dares to look beyond and marvel at the arrival of a strange new god on his homeworld. If he wants to unravel the mysteries of this otherworldly newcomer, he must defy the will of his tribe’s elders and face the “god” on her own turf. When the two worlds collide, Joanna and Volistad find themselves caught up in an old conflict, a war whose roots stretch back to the birth of the planet they are fighting over. To survive, they will both have to come to terms with ancient dark secrets, and come to terms with parts of themselves that they’ve hidden from everyone- but perhaps not from each other? Can Joanna make a home in this hellish landscape for the people that are depending on her? Can Volistad save his people from certain doom at the hands of their own past? What connection can people so different from each other find in a world gone mad?’

Another planet and another setting for a rich series of Sci-Fi paranormal eroticism. A fine continuation for the new series. Grady Harp, August 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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