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Literature / Stardoc

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Stardoc and its sequels, collectively known by the title of the first book, are a series by American romance novelist S.L. Viehl that are best described as part Space Opera and part Medical Drama.

The ten books in the series are:

  1. Stardoc
  2. Beyond Varallan
  3. Endurance
  4. Shockball
  5. Eternity Row
  6. Rebel Ice
  7. Plague of Memory
  8. Omega Games
  9. Crystal Healer
  10. Dream Called Time

Viehl's duology Bio Rescue and Afterburn, the stand-alone novel Blade Dancer, and several short stories are set in the same universe, and have some overlap in cast.

The series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Precursors: The Jxin. You don't find out the full extent of their status as such until fairly late in the series.
  • Accidental Marriage: First, Cherijo Grey Veil and Kao Torin. Later subverted by the son of the Patriarch of Furin: The proposal is an entirely symbolic act of (entirely feigned) gratitude.
  • Artificial Limbs: In Blade Dancer Jory has a prosthetic knee due to a serious injury while playing shockball. It's later smashed by her blade dancer school rival, and she ends the book with a prosthesis from the knee down.
  • Back from the Dead: Kao, in Dream Called Time, thanks to Maggie. Quite conveniently, he's forgotten everything after a point shortly before meeting Cherijo.
  • Bed Trick: Duncan disguises as a Fish Person in order to rescue Cherijo, and they end up having sex. When she finds out the truth, she doesn't mind. Guess he was that good.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The series absolutely revels in it. Jorenians alone have green blood, twelve-chambered hearts, unusually large and complex spleens that are a vital organ to the species, compartmentalized stomachs, and built-in cartilaginous subdermal "body armor."
  • Bloodstained Defloration: When Cherijo and Kao Torin have Their First Time, he's concerned afterwards that he's accidentally injured her. She informs him it "always" hurts the first time human women have sex, before demanding seconds.
  • Born Under the Sail: The Jorenians are known for developing wanderlust and taking large portions of their HouseClan on deep space cruises for months or years at a time.
  • Burial in Space: Jorenian tradition, as seen in Stardoc, is for the dead to be ejected from the ship on a course that will result in cremation by stellar or planetary atmosphere. As seen in Plague of Memory, it doesn't always go as planned.
  • Clone by Conversion: In Plague of Memory Cherijo's long-dead first love, Kao Torin, is sighted on the Hsktskt homeworld. He turns out to be a genetically altered Hsktskt, created from DNA extracted from Kao's corpse which was buried in space by Jorenian custom.
  • Continuity Nod: The spinoffs stand on their own but often mention events from the main series and vice versa. Shockball makes a brief reference to a shockball player named Jory Rask, who becomes the protagonist of Blade Dancer. Blade Dancer in turn gives a quick summary on the current relationship between the League and the Jorenians (i.e. all diplomatic ties broken over the question of Cherijo Grey Veil's personhood) after Jory tries to barter passage to Joren, and a later book has Duncan and Cherijo leave Marel in Jory's care.
  • Cosmic Retcon: The main plot of Dream Called Time.
  • Cunning Linguist: Duncan.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Jorenian warriors do this to anyone who threatens their families.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Poor, doomed Kao.
  • Designer Babies: Are explicitly illegal, thanks to some laws that Joseph Grey Veil got pushed through. After all, he can treat his clones as shittily as he damn well pleases that way.
  • Dismembering the Body: Jorenians sometimes declare ClanKill against particular enemies, in which case they eviscerate them with their claws after defeating them.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Kao Torin becomes infected with the plague afflicting Kevarzangia Two, and Cherijo injects him with her own blood in desperation to save him. Her Healing Factor kills the pathogen, but then it starts on Kao as well, and he dies anyway.
  • Fantastic Racism: Terrans have a mostly-deserved bad reputation for being rabid xenophobes. Extraterrestrials can only even visit Terra on a limited basis, and certainly aren't allowed to live here legally, resulting in underground communities of aliens and "breeds". As a result, no one likes us much, either.
    • And then, there's how Rogan misdiagnoses the Orgemich patient's peritonitis as indigestion, on the grounds that her species are "gluttons; suns only know what she ate." (The big gal only survives thanks to Cherijo's skill and her own Spare Body Parts.)
  • Fantasy Contraception:
    • Before consummating her romance with Kao Torin in Stardoc, Cherijo administers a contraceptive injection to herself, which Kao later informs her was superfluous because Jorenian males can naturally suppress their half of the process.
    • In Shockball, Cherijo miscarries her and Duncan's first child because her Healing Factor mistakes the fetus for a threat. She has her tubes tied to keep this from happening again. In the Earn Your Happy Ending to that book, Dr. Squilyp turns out to have saved Merel with a Uterine Replicator.
  • Fictional Sport: Shockball seems to be something resembling American Football, with the contact rules and attitude to fouls of street-fighting. Oh, and the ball will give you a nasty electric shock if you hold it too long.
  • Fish People: Duncan disguises himself as one to rescue Cherijo. They end up having sex.
  • Flatline Plotline: Cherijo instigates one in order to break up with Xonea in Beyond Varallan. Justified in that she's basically unkillable.
  • Gay Aesop: Plague of Memory contains an in-universe one: the Jorenians are scandalized when one of their number Chooses a same-sex alien partner. Cherijo's displeased narration refers back to her misadventure in Rebel Ice, commenting that the sex-segregated tribes on the ice half-expected both men and women to turn to each other for companionship while apart.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Jorenians are pretty much an entire race of these.
  • Half-Human Hybrid/Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: Oh, so many of them.
  • Healing Factor: Cherijo and later Duncan heals unusually quickly thanks to her father's experimentation. And it gets faster as time progresses.
  • Hide Your Otherness: Jory Rask is half-Jorenian, half-human. As a professional shockball player, she hid her more obvious Jorenian features, all-white eyes and an extra finger on each hand, with sunglasses and gloves.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • Earthlings have a well-deserved reputation for hating nonhumans; alien immigrants and Half Human Hybrids like Jory Rask are forced to live in hiding on the fringes of society. The plot of Rebel Ice is set off by humans of the League taking revenge on the Jorenians for past humiliations by destroying a ClanShip, killing thousands of innocents.
    • Joseph Grey Veil takes it to an extreme, having 1) engineered Earth's No Transhumanism Allowed law to eliminate possible competition which renders Cherijo legally non-sentient, 2) anally raped his male clones to infect them with the previously eradicated disease syphilis For Science!, and 3) created Cherijo as an Opposite-Sex Clone bride for himself, and then extorting her to bear his child in exchange for his help with lifesaving surgery on her husband Duncan (he's stopped before he can follow through).
  • Hypocrite: Justified with Joseph Grey Veil, who was one of the proponents of the laws banning genetic experimentation and human cloning that make Cherijo legally non-sentient, while being her creator. He did this as a way of eliminating any possible competition for himself.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Shockball has an amusing scene of the omniglot Duncan and Cherijo arguing over names for their baby, with Cherijo shooting down his alien-derived suggestions because she can't pronounce them ("It has to have vowels"), and Duncan saying what the various Anglophone names she suggests mean in alien languages ("Dianthe" sounds too much like one species' word for "dirty water," and "Daniel" like another's for the imperative form of "to jump around screaming," specifically). He also comments that the reason he likes her name is because it doesn't mean anything in any of the however-many languages he knows (it's actually an acronym).
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: A central conflict of the series through Rebel Ice stems from the fact that Cherijo, as a genetically engineered clone, is legally nonsentient and the property of her creator Dr. Joseph Grey Veil according to Terran law (a law which Joseph himself lobbied for). The citizens of Kevarzangia Two, whom Cherijo had saved from an epidemic, uniformly disagreed with the decision but the judge was unwilling to overrule Terran law. Kao Torin's clan took a more direct approach and simply staged an armed assault on the courthouse after the verdict; the Jorenian government broke off all diplomatic ties with the League afterward. Joseph dies helping her escape at the climax of Shockball, and in Rebel Ice the Jorenians acquire sufficient leverage to force the League to drop their grievance and arbitrate an end to the war with the Hsktskt in the process.
  • Interspecies Romance: Between Kao and Cherijo in Stardoc. There's also Ilona/Dhreen in Eternity Row, and Qonja/Hawk in Plague of Memory.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: Duncan's eyes have no set color.
  • Mister Seahorse: This is how Thgill's species in Blade Dancer reproduce. Also comes up in Stardoc, when someone naïvely presumes the same of both humans and Jorenians.
  • Named After First Installment: A ten volume book series where the first book is just called Stardoc. It's about doctors in space and can be described as a fusion of Medical Drama and Space Opera.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Played straight more than once.
  • Omniglot: Duncan can learn alien languages telepathically by making physical contact with the alien in question.
  • One-Word Title:
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: Cherijo is one of Dr. Joseph Grey Veil. This was ostensibly for the purpose of Wife Husbandry, but it turned out that it was due to the Jxin meddling.
  • Pair the Spares: The "real" Jarn marries Kao in the alternate timeline.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The Jorenian tradition of ClanKill, where a Jorenian takes revenge by disabling their enemy and then eviscerating them with their claws while they're still alive.
  • Planet Terra
  • Portmantitle:
    • Afterburn
    • Shockball
  • Red Skies Crossover: Shockball and Plague of Memory reference the events of the Spin-Off Blade Dancer by name-dropping respectively Jory Rask (the viewpoint character of Blade Dancer) and the new HouseClan formed by her and her Love Interest Jakol Varena. This is the only mention any of the spinoffs get in the main series.
  • Ret-Gone: Cherijo and Duncan go back in time to retcon the meddling of the Jxin. They end up creating an alternate timeline in which the only real evidence of their existence is the fact that...well, they're there. And so, somehow, is Marel.
  • Romantic False Lead: Kao and arguably Xonea (although it was pretty clear from the outset that the latter was a matter of convenience and going nowhere) for Cherijo. One could stretch a point and call Jarn one for Duncan.
  • Screw Yourself: Grey Veil fancied himself too good for anyone except his Opposite-Sex Clone. He's also implied to have anally raped one of his male clones to infect the latter with syphilis, which had previously been eradicated. All in the name of science, of course.
  • Sexual Extortion: In Shockball, Duncan loses a kidney to a knife wound while playing for a shockball team that's really a glorified street gang, and was born without the other. Joseph Grey Veil extorts her to bear his child in exchange for help saving Duncan's life. She thinks he means IVF, but he means to rape her. Fortunately, before getting any further than explanation, he's interrupted by the shockballers breaking into the lab to rob it and get Cherijo and Duncan back.
  • Single-Target Law: Inverted: Cherijo's genetic father Dr. Joseph Grey Veil engineered the passage of an Earth law banning genetic engineering research and declaring any human results to be legally nonsentient. This was meant to eliminate potential competition to his own research; he himself had the clout to invoke Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! if caught.
  • Veganopia: Jorenians are, for the most part, vegetarians (despite being a pastoralist culture whose ancestors were predators). Zigzagged in that they're portrayed as both an entire race of Cultured Warriors and/or Warrior Poets and as a Superior Species (by default).
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Dr. Joseph Grey Veil, and how.
  • Wife Husbandry: Turned out to be exactly why Grey Veil created Cherijo in the first place. (Maybe.)
  • Yandere. Ktarka, so much. Xonea is Flanderized into this in later books.