Reviewed: 2010-11-23 - (Review Updated: 2010-11-23)
Let me preface this by saying that I'm a huge fan of Al Steiner's works. His novels are among the very best that the site has to offer, and back when I saw this new story being posted I was ecstatic. This was particularly true since I enjoy the supernatural genre.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed when I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters of this story. There just wasn't enough of a 'hook' at the beginning of the story to draw me in as there had been with the rest of Al's stories. After a few more similar attempts I finally decided that this was one of the duds that any author is entitled to, and let the story drop from my awareness.
Earlier this year, I had an urge to go back and read Aftermath, which is perhaps my favorite story on SOL over a long weekend. When I finished it, I wanted more, so I grudgingly made another attempt at this story. This time, however, I managed to get far enough into the story to get pulled in. As a result, I consider 'A Correct Destiny' to be one of Al's better stories.
The story is not without its flaws, and it's easy to find a starting point since the primary sin is in the pacing, especially near the beginning. The exposition is extremely heavy-handed, with large sections of several chapters consisting primarily of such exposition. Some of the points of logic, while explained, seemed to be a stretch to swallow.
Large chunks of the mythology were spoken about but left frustratingly unexplored, which I can only hope will be followed up on in the later stories that Al has spoken about. An example is the origin of the race, which was spoken enough about to define the illogic of a species like the Cognate to have evolved. At the end of the story it is essentially left as a dangling plot thread which, as any follower of 'Lost' can tell you, is irritating. It would be better, at least in this reviewer's mind, for the issues to have been left unopened and undiscussed.
The good points are harder to find a starting point for, since there are many. It's easy to tell that the background to this universe has been painstakingly crafted. The Cognate society is well-thought out, and he has turned the vampire myth upside down. The science sounded realistic enough not to break suspension of disbelief. It was easy to empathize with the characters, particularly the main characters that were so well developed. I particularly enjoyed seeing things from the vampire's point of view without the tired clichés such as the 'romantic vampire' (Twilight) or the 'damned and lonely repentant vampire' (Angel). These vampires were creatures of their own right with a conscience, morality, and viewpoint that widely varied from the human society they hide within.
In all, this is an extremely good story worthy of bearing Al Steiner's name. Even if the beginning is a bit difficult to work through, it is worth following through to the end.
Al Steiner takes the mythos of the Vampire into a whole new direction in this superbly crafted tale. Unlike any other vampire tale, this one has a quasi-science view.
While spinning a whole new myth, Steiner sprinkles a number of hot interludes through the story but this isn't your typical stroke tale.