Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's The Secret Of Johanna Lindsey’s WARRIOR’S WOMAN?

WARRIOR’S WOMANWARRIOR’S WOMAN by Johanna Lindsey is invariably one of the books mentioned whenever there’s a general discussion of science fiction romance. After all, it was among the first wave of books that blended romance with science fiction for the romance crowd. Figuring I was going to read it at some point, I avoided learning anything about the plot. When I found it in my local library recently, I realized I was in the mood to try it (that, and the fact that a little birdie told me how “shudderific” it was. Gawd, was I intrigued!).

Admittedly, I did not have high expectations for WARRIOR’S WOMAN in the sense that I did not anticipate discovering cerebral speculative concepts or edgy content. I figured the story might veer toward campy BARBARELLA-style antics; however, given its original release date, I did expect it to be closer in overall tone/style to Jayne Ann Krentz’s SWEET STARFIRE (and it might help for you to know that I’ve never read a Lindsey book before).

So I cracked the cover and began reading. It started out fine—kick-ass heroine Tedra De Arr is a government security agent and the opening scenes show her in action. Then there’s a coup and she has to go undercover in order to escape invaders bent on world domination. There were plenty of hints foreshadowing that the hero would be all kinds of raw masculine hawtness. I mean, what’s not to like?

The answer: One particular aspect that stopped me cold. To my utter disappointment, about fifteen or twenty pages into the book, I had to stop reading.

Why? The prose. Surprised the holy heck out of me, too. Mind you, this could very well be a subjective reaction on my part, but I found the prose clunky and obscure. “Dense” is the word that keeps coming to my mind, because I had difficulty envisioning exactly what was happening in various scenes. Occasionally, I had to re-read sentences two or three different times to understand the meaning. The author had strung the words together in such a way that for me resulted in a laborious reading experience. I’d never experienced anything like it in a mainstream print romance novel.

It’s a shame, because I was truly looking forward to reading this book. I’ve not finished every single science fiction romance I started, but usually what causes me to put a book down is if I become bored, even if the writing is good. What struck me about this reading experience is that WARRIOR’S WOMAN seemed to have a healthy helping of intriguing can-you-believe-she’s-going-there elements, but they were buried under prose which felt so awkwardly constructed to me that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Plus, I wanted to learn what all the fuss was about.

For comparison’s sake, I visited the author’s Web site and read an excerpt from another of her books. There must be something unique to WARRIOR’S WOMAN and/or my interface with it because the excerpt of that other book was much more streamlined and clear to me.

Maybe you can help me put WARRIOR’S WOMAN into perspective. If you’ve read it, what was your experience of the book? What elements in it captured your imagination? Is this book important to the SFR subgenre mainly because of its place in SFR history, or is there something else it accomplished? If you read it and didn’t care for it, why?

Perhaps I’m better off experiencing WARRIOR’S WOMAN vicariously through your insights!

Joyfully yours,