The Sky People by S.M. Stirling is an interesting new novel, with a somewhat old-time feel. The Sky People takes place on a very different planet Venus than we know exists today.

During the 1950’s, astronomers believed they saw canals on Mars, and concluded they were the work of alien civilizations. The Sky People draws on that assumption and rewrites history to show that Venus is truly a sister-world of Earth, filled with wild animals and species that died-out on Earth, such as dinosaurs, Neanderthals, and enormously dangerous sea creatures. In a world-gone-rampant, our heroes are set forth on a journey to rescue a stranded Earthman, and stumble upon unexpected secrets that will challenge all of humanity’s beliefs.

At times, this book succeeds wildly, portraying big-picture-action and suspense. At other times, it gets annoyingly repetitive and dull. The author does a good job of bringing to life a new and interesting world, not that much different that our own. However, the repeated references to the subtle differences of Venus’s fictional atmosphere grow tiring before long. The author also does a poor job of holding up the suspense, about a traitor in the heroes’ party, by foreshadowing that treachery multiple times, before finally revealing what the reader has already been guessing for hundreds of pages.

In all, The Sky People turns out to be a fairly good novel, but without demanding too much of the reader’s attention. The story doesn’t get flowing until well over 100 pages in, and never quite goes where one would expect–or hope. The epilogue also sparks far more questions than it answers, and follows an annoying Hollywood tradition of leaving the option open for a sequel–or series of sequels.

This reader isn’t sure another is wanted.

– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown