Book Review of The Superlative Stream by Kerry Nietz

Last month I posted a book Review of Kerry Nietz’s A Star Curiously Singing, and mentioned The Superlative Stream was on my wishlist.  If you looked closely at the photo in this post, you might notice I have checked off a book from that list.

I was nervous about The Superlative Stream. I desperately hoped it would live up to the high bar its sequel set and was afraid it wouldn’t. I needn’t have worried.

SandFly, with his female companion HardCandy, have traveled to Betelgeuse in search of the source to the Superlative Stream that changed the way they thought and challenged everything they ever knew. When they arrive, they discover something the original crew did not: a planet. Inhabited. After their ship mysteriously goes off-line, SandFly and HardCandy are welcomed by the highly-advanced people of the planet. HardCandy thinks this is a meeting the scriptures predicted. SandFly is not so sure, and is more concerned about their original reason for traveling to Betelgeuse. Are these people the source of the Superlative Stream? And even if they are, can they be trusted?

A Star Curiously Singing captured me through its unique style and world. In The Superlative Stream the style is there and the world..! The world triples. We are introduced to the Beetles (or Jinn, depending on who you ask). They have their own strange world, their own society, their own philosophy, their own surroundings. We are also shown HardCandy’s past. Her life may have been on Earth, but she had a completely different life from SandFly, whose world we saw in the previous book.

We learn of HardCandy’s history in ‘flashbacks’ scattered throughout the book, like a separate, parallel story. Normally I dislike so many ‘flashbacks,’ especially when they are not directly affecting the plot. To my surprise, I found myself looking forward to the next glimpse of HardCandy’s old life. Many questions left by A Star Curiously Singing about the characters are resolved (although I’m still waiting to learn more about the ‘sweet spot’ HardCandy found that contained a less-censored stream). I still feel like Nietz wrote or at least outlined HardCandy’s story independent of The Superlative Stream, and wonder what HardCandy’s story would have been like had it been given its own book.

I get edgy when the weirdness of sci-fi is mixed with theology, and I was worried when the reviews of The Superlative Stream seemed to show aliens. I can’t stand people trying to reconcile aliens with the Bible. Call it a pet peeve. Even in general it really takes a good story for me not to scoff at supernatural in sci-fi. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I wasn’t let down in this area either. It’s weird, but sci-fi is supposed to be weird.

In the end we are thrown ‘back’ into the conflict on Earth, which now encompasses both the physical and spiritual world. It’s hard to know how to classify The Superlative Stream as a sequel. Usually, you can easily say that either the books in a series are standalones with an over-reaching arc, or are one big story broken into parts. The DarkTrench Saga is feels like both (so far), which is interesting. And different. But fun.

The Superlative Stream is another must-not-put-down by Kerry Nietz. I’m usually a cheapskate when it comes to buying niceties such as books, but when the next in the DarkTrench Saga comes out, I won’t wait for it to go on sale to buy it. 5/5 stars.

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About Kathrine Roid

I'm an science fiction and fantasy author living in Texas with an undead parakeet and teleporting cat. Think about that for a moment.

Posted on April 27, 2011, in Book Reviews, Christian Speculative Fiction, Posts by Genre, Reviews, Science Fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the kind review, Kathrine. Glad you enjoyed TSS…and I’m so excited for you to see the next one. 🙂

    Kerry

  2. And to answer your question about HardCandy’s story, I really didn’t know it until I was writing the book. Then it was like “oh…this is how it all comes together…how things connect…” She took over my head. 🙂

    • Interesting! And it felt like such a separate story.
      She took over a lot of readers’ heads as well. 🙂 I, for one, really enjoyed HardCandy’s development in TSS.

      • Thanks.

        Yes, while writing it I was thinking “My publisher is gonna hate this. It is going to seem like all I’m doing here is flashbacks. But I’m not, really. Plus, this story won’t let me go.” I also suspected there would be some people who thought the HC portion was just some old backstory I had laying around and grafted in. It grew up as part of the process, though.

        The scariest thing about TSS for me was the fact that I had to put it aside for a few months when I was only about half way done. When I picked it up again, and re-read it, I really liked what I’d done, but I wasn’t sure I could get HardCandy’s head back.

        Took a little prayer, but we got there. 🙂

        Probably more than you wnated to know, but there ya go.

  3. A nice book review, thanks.
    I know you from Blog Catalog.

    • You’re welcome, whoever-you-are. 🙂

      Hey, next time use a name! You got nabbed by my spam filter – I just happen to be a person who double-checks my spam filter’s conclusions – and I guess the strict match of name, website, and email got the filter’s attention.

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