They say true creativity is putting two ideas together for the first time. In the case of On Virgin Moors, the idea was to put Space Opera and Soap Opera together. Soap Opera won out, although there’s a nice Sci-Fi plot hidden in there somewhere.
The format of the story is a series of chapters like daily TV episodes, each from the point of view of one of the half-dozen main characters. Interspersed with the present story are quick flashbacks of incidents that brought that character to this point in his or her life. These tidbits are key in the creation of complex, fascinating personalities, but they slow down the action.
The element of Soap Opera that stands out is that the importance of social conflict is paramount, eclipsing a plot with a reasonable chain of events and characterization that includes a normal cross-section of society. The Sci-Fi plotline is interesting and believable, but we see very little of it. The whole plot thread about creating a queen is very weak, and the woman given the job, who acts like a fourteen-year-old wannabe prom queen, doesn’t help any.
The main conflict of the story is rather too obvious political infighting, which loses its charm rapidly. The idea that any organization would choose to send such an incompatible, antisocial and unmatched group of people to colonize a planet is hard to fathom. Suspension of disbelief is stock in trade for Sci-Fi, but the one place the writer can’t get too creative is characterization.
Although these characters are beautifully detailed in their personalities, as a group they don’t ring true. If characters don’t act like we expect real people to, we find it hard to become attached to them emotionally. In this book it seems like everyone hates everyone else, and, quite frankly, they have good reason to.
One strength of the writing is the amount of creative energy that has been put into it. Every setting and every character, important or not, gets a few lines of detailed description. Again, a good technique when used in moderation, but overuse slows down the story.
And the ending? After well over 900 pages, a few plot strands are tied up, but in general, the story doesn’t finish. Of course not. It’s a serial. Stay tuned for next season.
Recommended for Soap Opera fans.(3 / 5)
This review was originally posted on Reedsy Discovery.