Lord Of The Dark Sun
by Stobie Piel, futuristic (2002)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52505-4

Stobie Piel's typical story of her books: it takes 50 pages before the story self-destructs on itself. Mission Impossible could replace its CDs with Stobie Piel's books, I tell you. Speaking of which, it is a pity, because there's one thing Stobie Piel's futuristics and 1980 cheese-o-ramas on TV like Airwolf, Street Hawk, and Misfits Of Science have in common is that they are so bad they are stories only 12-year old kids (and the young-at-heart) will love.

Lord Of The Dark Sun is a typical barbarian and space empath princess novel. The author may dedicate her book to Tolkein but her heart is strictly entrenched in the loincloth of Conan the Barbarian. What this book has over the other "Me barbarian. You princess. Book sucks." types in the futuristic subgenre is that it could be a fun road trip space adventure. But it just isn't.

That's because the author just cannot seem to control her characters from acting like silly kids.

Space Virgin Empath Princess Adriana of Too Many Names went out for some party with her friends when they got captured by evil pirates around the Dark Sun planet system and ended up as breeding slaves for the male slaves on the planet. Sigh. I never liked those Conan the Barbarian stories. Anyway, our heroine gets deflowered in a The Sweetest Captivity thing, and his name is Grunter. Sorry, I mean, Damen. Damen speaks like an overgrown lummox that makes the ugly freak Evan Marriot on Joe Millionaire look like an eloquent demagogue. Barbarian fans, enjoy. Everyone else, tough.

Suddenly these two are exchanging declarations of love eternal. Huh? We aren't even past page 50 yet.

Then next thing I know, in what seems like a fast-forward action scene, everyone has escaped the evil Automon robots (just think Pokemon monsters, only mechanical) and Adriana, injured, is separated from Damen. She heals, but not before the author inflicting me with sentences that have run out of fashion since Robert Jordan gave up Conan for the neverending tedious Wheel Of Time books, sentences such as this gem: "To heal her, I must have her assent, Sierra. She must desire life, or I cannot make the healing bond."

What the...?

Today, Adriana is alive and well. She wants to go back to the Dark Sun to look for her boyfriend. But in the years that passed, Damen has evolved into a fast-talking, eloquent dude - huh, huh, HUH? - and he wants Adriana back. So he pretty much drags her to his spacecraft and we're back to the usual Me, The Captain, and Narrow Cabins plot thing favorite of futuristic authors whose careers, needless to say, never really took off the stars like they'd hoped.

In the spaceship, these two fight. Damen taunts Adriana, supposedly his true love, making her do things she has no idea what she is doing and then taunting her with "You think I will hurt you?" when she sputters angrily at him. For a couple supposedly in throes of the strongest, eternal love ever, they are rather fickle, bickering and fighting over every conceivably petty issues without any rhyme or reason at all. This is a painful ride from somewhere around page 50 to the very end.

The author tells me that Adriana is a tough babe who can take care of herself, but in this story, the heroine acts like an idiot who needs constant rescuing. The hero is frustratingly high-handed and acting like a condescending idiot too many times. Characters sprout "insightful things" nilly-willy - after a fight, suddenly Adriana will tell the hero that he makes a great father and I will go, "Huh? How did she know? Was that sometime after he dragged her to his ship and high-handedly told her that she is his captive?"

The discovery of who is the most evil Automon of them all, by the way, is a downer. It's all the slut's fault, naturally, the slut who is jealous of our heroine. Sigh. I can't even escape the Evil Other Woman Who Is Jealous Jealous Jealous Of Our Pure Heroine nonsense even at the edge of another universe zillions of light years away.

The idea is there, and if Ms Piel has reined in her characters and disciplined herself not to run amok with the flippant high school bickering antics of characters, this may be a fun throwback to cheesy space road trip novels of the 1960s and 1970s. But since the author hasn't, Lord Of The Dark Sun is just a bad book filled with great ideas, even if these ideas seem like thirty years too late in coming. The future is coming, but the futuristic subgenre seems to be trapped in a 1960s timewarp that it can't seem to get out of, and books like Lord Of The Dark Sun won't be improving things any time soon.

I love the cover though. It's tacky, but the colors are superb.

Rating: 62

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