Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Crystal Venom Crystal Venom
by Steve Wheeler

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

Crystal Venom is Steve Wheeler’s second instalment in his A Fury of Aces series. Crystal Venom starts up where the previous volume, Burnt Ice, left off.

This was a book that confounded my expectations as I was expecting a continuation of the changing point of view storytelling technique of the previous book. But no; Crystal Venom could have been sub-titled ‘Marko’s Story’ as it was told from his perspective. This change was both surprising and welcome as not only did it make for a more cohesive story but the viewpoint transitions in Burnt Ice were sometimes so rapid that this reviewer became confused as to who was the current narrator.

Crystal Venom is also much more dramatic story than its predecessor, with Sergeant-Major Marko Spitz’s unit becoming a sparring device between factions within the competing power structures of the pan-galactic human diaspora. And those factions are playing in a most uncompromising fashion, which can be deleterious to the health of those that get used in the competition. With at least one member of the unit suffering a temporary death – if a hiatus in living of several years can be counted as temporary.

Steve Wheeler has progressed as an author with Crystal Venom written in style that is very reminiscent of Robert Heinlein. I hope Mr Wheeler approves of that comparison.

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