As some of you may know, I’ve been a diehard fan of Amish Vampires in Space since it was published. Yes, it started as an inside joke among Christian speculative fiction writers, but then the incredible talented Kerry Nietz wrote a story that took a seeming B-movie premise worthy of theater seats and crafted an excellent book that explored the intersection of faith and action. I’ve spent some time on Twitter, praising the book to people who thought it was only a joke. I’m still willing to do that. As a matter of fact, I’ll say this. If you haven’t read it yet, correct that oversight. Right now. I’ll wait.
But I have to admit, when I heard what Kerry’s next book was going to be about, my initial response was…well, a little mixed.
Really? Amish zombies from space? We’re going to do that now?
That reaction, however, was short-lived. I know how talented Kerry is and I had no doubt that he would be able to slap a bonnet on another horror story convention and make it work. And it is my pleasure to report that it works. More than that, it’s an excellent story.
So let’s talk plot. It’s five years after what the Amish colonists from Alabaster refer to as “the Raven Trial.” They’ve settled on a new planet called Resolve (short for Miller’s Resolve) and they’re trying to maintain their community through their Ordnung. But things are difficult for them. There are new arrivals on their planet. Some of these are fellow Amish who want to establish their own communities. But the last two batches of new arrivals are more problematic: one is family of “English” tourists who want to gawk at the Amish like they’re animals in the zoo. The other is a strangely-behaving man who seems badly injured but isn’t bleeding. Or talking. Or moving all that quickly.
In the meantime, Jebediah Miller, the man who saved his people from the vampires on the Raven, has settled with his wife, Sarah, and their son, Isaac, on a planet called Obelisk. Jebediah and family are trying to adjust to life among the English, but it’s not easy. Their thoughts keep going back to the friends they left behind. This sense of nostalgia only heightens when a man named Greels, who was responsible for the outbreak of vampires on the Raven, is released from prison. He wants to start over again, but he keeps having these odd dreams of the beautiful vampire who first seduced his thoughts.
Soon the colonists on Resolve are faced with hordes of undead Amishers. And Jebediah and his friends are thrown into a new adventure to try to save their family and their friends. But can they before every Amish person on Resolve becomes a zombie?
Okay, the following things are a given when you read a Kerry Nietz novel: a well thought out storyworld that breathes with its own logic; exciting scenes; thought-provoking crises that get you thinking. So I won’t spend a lot of time talking about that.
What I do want to mention is two things that really stood out to me:
First, the zombies. Without dropping any spoilers here, I have to admit that I was left scratching my head a little. In AViS, Kerry was able to come up with a great sci-fi way to explain bloodsuckers and their bag of strengths and weaknesses. So how was he going to explain the undead? How would they fit into the sci fi world that he had constructed? I had a few ideas of how it might work, but what Kerry came up with worked a whole lot better. Again, no spoilers.
But more importantly, I liked the way that Kerry worked in some not-so-gentle criticism at the general rabid fascination that some folks have with the Amish. One of the criticisms that was leveled at Kerry when AViS came out was that he was exploiting the Amish for his own gains. But then, if you go into most Christian bookstores nowadays and peek at the bookshelves, there are a lot of good-looking ladies in bonnets standing in front of buggies. There are a lot of non-Amishly-produced Amish stories out there. And Kerry takes a few swipes at that culture in his book. Good for him.
Another criticism that was leveled on Kerry was that he truly didn’t understand the Amish, that he was mocking them and their beliefs. I never bought that criticism. Like I said, Kerry was very respectful toward the Amish’s beliefs, even when he didn’t agree with them. More importantly, he continues to show that respect by tackling the aftermath of what happened in the first book and how that might affect a group of people with such strongly held beliefs. I thought that he handled this very respectfully and it’s worthy of the read for that reason alone.
No matter how you slice it, Kerry Nietz has produced yet another fascinating read. And unless I misunderstood, it seems that he left the door open for another Amish book after this one. I’m not sure what horror trope he’ll put in a bonnet next. Werewolves? Mermaids? Torgo? But whatever it is, I’ll be there to read it, no doubt about it.
If you haven’t purchased it yet, be sure to pick up Amish Zombies from Space. It’s worth the read.Move over, vampires, it's time for #AmishZombiesfromSpace. Click To Tweet