Book Review: 'Drakon' by Stirling
“Drakon” by S. M. Stirling is an alternate history series finale, though it can be read as a stand alone book as well. This book gives you a look at the world several centuries after “Stone Dogs” by Stirling as well as an interesting extrapolation of what would happen if a Draka super-human was dumped on Earth.
Strengths of the Book Drakon by Stirling
This Stirling book rivals “Lilith’s Brood” by Octavia Butler in giving you insight into the mind of a post-human character. You understand her thoughts, her moods, her background, and her relationships.
The plot foreshadowing in this book is not nearly as bad as “Stone Dogs”.
The explanations of the technologies introduced are reasonable and well-thought out.
The plot twists and turns are not out of nowhere; the progression is logical, unlike some alternate history books.
Forget nuero-leashes, drugging people a la “Brave New World” and pain-inducing implants. If you want a slave race, you do it by genetically engineering the population into being servile. Add in some improvements like removing genetic diseases, and you could roll something out like that today if you didn’t tell them it would make their kids more apt to obey a super-being’s orders.
The pheromone controls are mentioned in “Stone Dogs”, but the explanation of how they work and their effect on people is better fleshed out. And unlike many science fiction novels, there isn’t a pert hand waving explanation but a thorough one, through altering of the scent receptors in the brain of the “servus” slave race as well as the master race.
Drakon is not nearly as bad on the invented words problem as some of the other Stirling novels. Molehole instead of wormhole and life partner instead of spouse are used, but it is no where nearly as bad as faber for fabricator, compuplague for computer virus and the host of other made up words that littered “Stone Dogs”.
Weaknesses of the Book
Adding cat-like eyes to a character for night vision and feline traits has been a staple of science fiction for years, including TV series like “Dark Angel”. A genetically engineered character is expected to have a lot of enhancements, and this one has tons. However, some traits strain disbelief even for a book with time travel and inter-dimensional travel, such as having a spare heart. The book becomes a trope in and of itself when the Drakon is chasing its enemy, becoming as inhuman as possible while all the animal traits come into play.
The Samothrace operative and his world are scantily outlined compared to the Drakon, though that is of somewhat greater interest.
Observations About Drakon
For a bisexual character, it is rather prudish to only focus on lesbian sex for the main character. There is one mention of the Draka’s dead husband, with only brief mentions of a relationship with a male human the Draka domesticated. That the seduced male is homosexual is an interesting twist, mostly used to say that we’re all bisexual and can be manipulated both ways. There is, in addition, one rape scene by the female super-human of a young human thugg.
Another Draka novel, another pregnancy by rape/embryo implantation. In a timeline with money and desperate people, why should we believe the Draka couldn’t hire a surrogate mother or find a willing employee to do it for the money?
The idea of the Draka having engineered their DNA so that implantation into a host is a relaxing, pleasant experience that rewires the brooder’s brain to adore the baby and forget/ignore the rape implantation is a stretch of dubious consent / rape porn. If this idea is triggering for you, don’t read the novel or the prior one in the Draka Domination series.