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Science Fiction for February 2023

by Henry L Lazarus


It takes someone willing to stretch his mind to read some Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Scotto Moore imagines an artificial multiverse that looks like a building with a hundred thousand floors. The elevators open into universes that appear completely separated. The corporation that created the building has left, and only one of the muses who created the building has repainted, happily creating rides for the amusement park
Wild Massive (hard fromTordotcom). Carissa is the last of the psionic Brights wiped out by the Association, She’s been living in one of the elevators (that not only go up and down but can teleport between floors), Then a shape-shifting, magic-using Shai-manak drops onto her elevator. The Shai-manak are at war with the mostly human Association. What follows is a trip into an insanity that somehow has internal sense. Carissa somehow gets caught up with another Shai-manak, Rindasy who has a bomb that can wipe out a floor, and and Tabitha, a budding muse who can see bits of the future a bit at a time. Wow! Highly recommended if you don’t mind your mind blown.
There are a billion habitats in the solar system of the tenth millennium, James L. Cambias tells of scavengers to a habitat near Jupiter that suddenly went dark fifteen years before. It’s been sold for junk and the ship, the four scavengers are on, soon stabilizes it, setting it in motion for its destruction a decade in the future. The four, a genetic sex slave rescued years before who is looking to earn enough money to undo her subservient commands, a cyborg whose body had almost died when the habitat went dark, and is looking for missing memories, and two others hoping to collect hand-made items that the habitat specialized in, and intelligent raven and a dinosaur.
The Scarab Mission(ebook from Baen) scavengers are soon joined by  pirates from a close habitat  looking to collect valuable metals. The problem is that something murdered all the inhabitants of Safdaghar snd might be still on board. This is a very tense tale of survival on the abandoned space colony and is impossible to put down. 

There are certain werewolf tales that appeal to me. Z. W. Taylor tells a tale of an abused woman on the run to a cabin in Alaska who receives The Bite(paper from W by Wattpad Books) from renegade werewolves. Helped by a vampire and a werewolf from a local pack, she has to survive three full moons to complete her change. Most people don’t survive. Charlotte has to prepare for the change and learn about werewolf culture while hoping to survive each month. I can’t wait for sequels. 

Alex Thornbury tells of a world sundered into a magic side and a non magical side by a powerful mage. On the non-magical side a blight is destroying all life. The last surviving city, Terren, has The Bridge to Magic(paper from Shadow Lore Publishing) which hopeless people cross knowing they likely will turn to dust. The blight is believed to be caused by magic and those infected are treated with a mixture of blood and salt. As the blight approaches, people try desperate measures to save themselves. Teenage Elika has lived on the street with her pack of orphans stealing food and other necessities since her parents crossed the bridge. One day she stabs  the bridge and amazingly it bleeds, proving she is heavily infected by magic. As her world dies around her, she desperately tries to remove the magic inside her. This is a solid and dark look at the chaos of desperate people. The magical side of the world will be explored in the sequel. Highly recommended. 

It's hard to read about a collapsing empire while seeing the same signs of corruption in present America. Richard Swan tells of the Empire of the Wolf which at first seems unconquerable. Sir Konrad Vonvalt, a Justice of the Empire with the magical abilities to talk to the dead, and to force truth with The Emperor’s voice. All magical abilities come from a horrible afterlife that is poorly understood.  Konrad is providing The Justice of Kings (paper), accompanied by his clerk,Helena Sedanka, who is telling the tale. She is a former street orphan who has been trained by Konrad when he recognized her potential.  When we first meet them they are accompanied by a  priest, Patria Bartholomew Claver, who is extremely annoyed when Konrad only fines the village of Rill who are practicing an ancient and illegal religion. Later, when they are in Vale solving the murder of a local Lady, Claver persuades other local aristocrats to destroy Rill and murder its inhabitants, Which sets off a battle. Claver has more influence with the church. When Konrad and Helena go to the capital city, Sova, they have to deal not only with the corruption of The Tyranny of Faith (hard from Orbit) but also a  demon sucking Konrad’s energy and can kill him, but also the kidnapping of the Emperor’s grandson. Helena learns more magic to be able to save her master. The final book in this excellent trilogy should conclude the tale, Highly recommended. 

Susan McCauley shows us a sixth century world where some have magic and some don’t. Twelve -year-old Pip has been hiding his new abilities so he won’t be taken from his family. Then King Mordred decides to sell his serfs as slaves to pay for his war against King Arthur. Pip is lucky when he shows his abilities trying to protect his mother and sister, that Merlin is passing through and makes him Merlin's Apprentice(hard from Celtic Sea Publishing). There’s s war brewing and Pip’s ability to visualize where his sister has been taken, which luckily is near King Mordred, turns out to be very useful. Lots of fun. 

Jeff Wheeler completes his The Dawning of Muirwood trilogy with The Betrayed (paper from 47North) which sends Eilean and Hoel through the mirror gate searching for the stolen book. It’s a world led by  a corrupted version of King Arthur (King Andrew),. The magic guides Eilean through increasing difficulties to reach a happy ending for the series. 

Jason Cordova has edited a fun collection of Chicks in Tank Tops(paper) about future women in the military, and Sean Patrick Hazlett has a collection of tales about Weird World War IV(paper), the war after nuclear war, the war afterArmageddon. Both from Baen.  

Henry Lazarus is a retired Dentist and the author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally Female (Smashwords).Check out his unified field theory at henrylazarus.com/utf.html that suggests fusion generation requires less energy.