Title: Owl Dance
Author: David Lee Summers
Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: Flying Pen Press LLC
Release Date: September 14, 2011
When I first heard about Owl Dance by David Lee Summers, I was intrigued by the concept of the novel. When given the chance to read it, I jumped at the opportunity. While the book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I wasn’t disappointed. I have a history of being worried about titles that aren’t backed by major publishing houses. Flying Pen Press is a small, but the quality of this book did not seem harmed by that fact.
It didn’t take long to determine that this book would be an interesting read. The story opens with the meeting of Ramon Morales and Fatemeh. Morales is a Sheriff in a town named Socorro in New Mexico. This intrepid pair starts off in what looks to be a normal, western setting. A chain of unfortunate events and a witch trial put these two characters on the run.
Summers takes the opportunity to show us a bit of this alternate western United States through the eyes of these two characters as they travel across the states.
It doesn’t take long for the science fiction and steampunk elements to be revealed. However, if you’re looking for hard science fiction, look away now. This definitely falls as more of a steampunk, where the imagination is left to explain most of the sciences in the book. You won’t find many references to science at all in the opening of the book. Once it shows up, however, it adds a lot of interesting layers to this novel.
From pirates in submarines to robot wolves, Owl Dance provides as varied a cast of characters as any science fiction fan could desire. Aliens and Russians play into the mix, adding a level of complexity that many science fiction fans should enjoy.
I think this book will be enjoyed by those who enjoy moderate science fiction. It has the drier style I associate with harder science fiction, but the sciences presented are easy to handle without any second thoughts on it. The steampunk and science elements are secondary to story and character, but still play a significant role in the overall book.
The plot starts out as a strong western, but as more characters are introduced and the story takes a more steampunk turn, there are scenes that feel a little disjointed in the general flow of the book. This is made up by far by the interesting characters and general intrigue of the book.
The strongest part of this book are the characters. The romance between Fatemeh and Ramon is blatantly obvious but enjoyable nevertheless. In Gorloff and Legion, there is intrigue rampant that can change the world. The supporting characters, however, often seem flat as they often rely on stereotypes to come to life.
If I had to pick a flaw for this book, the lower science levels would be it. There is barely enough to satisfy the science fiction fan within me, especially earlier in the novel.
Note: The heart of my complaint isn’t the quality of the sciences. It is the quantity.
David Lee Summers’ writing style is matched well to western steampunk. his narrative allows for a strong story, a smooth flow of action, and sensible, realistic characters. There are times where the book feels a little slow and that there was a lessening of tension where I felt that it could have been sustained for longer. Despite this, it was an enjoyable read.
Suggested Reading: I would recommend this book for adult audiences. While this book is suitable for teenagers, I don’t feel that this would be able to hold their attention unless they are serious steampunk or western fans.