And so it all comes full circle.
This morning, as a part of my morning routine, I logged on to Facebook to see what sorts of antics I missed while I was unconscious. Usually, it’s nothing all that surprising. Today, though, was different because I learned that Amish Vampires in Space, a book by my friend and fellow Marcher Lord Kerry Nietz, was featured on The Tonight Show in a segment unfortunately named “Do Not Read.” Were my eyes deceiving me? Was that really Jimmy Fallon holding my friend’s book on national television? They weren’t. And he was.
Check it out for yourself:
Not too shabby, huh? Sure, the book is the butt end of some really tame jokes, but I think that’s kind of appropriate, since the book kind of/sort of started as a joke anyway.
As I marveled at the way AViS (as those of us “in the know” call it) was blazing across Twitter, I realized something rather frightening. I had never posted an official review of this book. I read it during my blogging hiatus a few months back. So I determined to correct that.
So here we go, folks. My thoughts on Amish Vampires in Space by Kerry Nietz.
I loved it.
Oh, wait, you want more than that? Okay, here we go.
Jedidiah is an Amish man who lives on a planet called Alabaster. He and his community colonized Alabaster many generations earlier. But now, Jedidiah is nervous. Alabaster’s sun has started behaving oddly. He had been warned by his father that this day might come. His father even left him instruments to keep watch on the sun, to make sure that the colony is never placed in danger. When Jedidiah uses these instruments, he realizes that Alabaster’s sun is about to die. Thankfully, his father left instructions about this too. Hidden on Jedidiah’s farm is a device. Technically, using such a thing would be forbidden by his community’s Ordnung, or rules, but Jedidiah knows he has no choice. He activates the device and is promptly caught by the elders. He faces shunning for breaking the covenant of the community, and he doesn’t even know what the device did.
In the meantime, a freighter picks up a distress call from an unknown colony. They’ve already evacuated a destroyed science facility, putting them behind on their schedule. But they’re obligated to investigate the signal. This brings them to Alabaster. The Amish settlers have to decide: do they stay on a planet that might be doomed? Or do they go with the Englishers to a new world?
You can guess already what they’re going to decide. And that’s a problem. Because there’s another life form on board the freighter. And it’s hungry…
One of the things that irks me about this book is the way that people react to it. A lot of people have written it off because of the title and/or cover. They assume that this book is some sort of campy parody that will mock the Amish and their lifestyle. They couldn’t be further from the truth.
This is phenomenal story, and it’s played straight. This isn’t done for laughs. Kerry takes the Amish very seriously. Yes, I know, it seems odd that the Amish would ever colonize another planet, but think about it from their perspective. If being Amish is all about escaping and distancing oneself from the modern world, what better way to do that than to leave the world entirely? No more temptation to become corrupt by the fallen world. It makes a certain amount of sense.
What’s more, Kerry uses this seemingly outlandish story to tackle some very serious topics, such as the clash of cultures or how far pacifism should go before it becomes the very evil you’re trying to avoid. And all of this is wrapped up in a science fiction adventure that blew my mind when I read it.
So why did I say at the beginning of this piece that we’ve come full circle?
Because in many ways, this book did start as a joke.
It’s actually an inside joke among those of us who produce speculative fiction with a Christian twist. Many years ago, we observed that Amish romances were really hot in the Christian marketplace. At the same time, vampire books like the Twilight series were flying off the bookshelves at the same time. Someone observed that if we wanted to create the “perfect storm” kind of book, we should slap a bonnet on a vampire. Boom. Instant best seller. And because we wrote speculative fiction, why not ship the whole lot of them off to space?
Jeff Gerke, who at the time was the owner of Marcher Lord Press, even went so far as to create a cover for a fake book entitled “Vein Pursuits” (If you want to see it, buy AViS. They have a copy of it in there). He showed it to some of his authors as a kind of joke.
Kerry took it as a challenge and, as a result, wrote Amish Vampires in Space.
I’ll be honest, when I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke as well. There was no way that anyone could produce a serious science fiction book with that as the title. I’ve since had to eat my words, and I’m glad to do so.#AmishVampiresinSpace is no joke. An excellent book you should read for yourself! Click To Tweet
This is simply a phenomenal book. I’ve carried the banner for AViS since it came out and I will gladly continue to do so. I’ll even go so far as to join a trend that just started: AViS posing.