S.L. Viehl,
(Roc, 2005)

The planet K-2, home to the aquatic 'Zangians, is scheduled to play host to a four-race peace summit when Sublieutenant Burn mu Znora manages to "kill" his entire pod during a training simulation. Grounded by his commander, he is nevertheless chosen as a gunner by another pilot. When the Ylidii ambassador's ship is attacked by mercenaries, it is Burn who must go aboard and rescue the ambassador and her people. There, he meets delicate, beautiful Liana, the ambassador's daughter. With someone trying to sabotage the peace process, Burn and his unit must safeguard Liana and the rest of her people.

Afterburn is a new entry in Viehl's Bio Rescue series, which follows the adventures of the SEAL (surgically enhanced/altered life-forms) pilots of the Bio Rescue unit. Nearly all of Afterburn's characters are aliens; there are very few humans in the story -- and that's not a bad thing. Viehl manages to bring her alien characters to full, colorful life, making them very "human" (for lack of a better word). The interactions between the various aliens are fascinating; while it might be tempting to make humans the heroes of the piece, Viehl makes them, as a people (with a few exceptions, of course), xenophobes who are almost universally despised.

This is a satisfying story all the way around, with great characters and plenty of action. While it might be helpful to have read other books in the series, it is not necessary. However, now that I've read Afterburn, I'll be looking for the others.

by Laurie Thayer
7 January 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.