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Science Fiction for March 2023

by Henry L Lazarus

Fantasy And Science fiction is filled with old tales revived and new and exciting ways to look at the world.

Max Gladstone returns to his world where craft workers fought and destroyed most of the gods.Tara Abernathy’s father has died defending his small village against raiders. So Tara hop a dragon and  walks two days though Dead Country (paper from Tordotcom). Along the way she is wounded and picks up an apprentice. Her old village who had chased her out with pitchforks, is desperately in need of a craftwoman to save them from the magically enhanced raiders. The area is littered with dark magic leftovers from the war against the gods. I hop this finds it’s way to an award nomination.
Lore lives in a city filled with death magic from a dead goddess. Most of the mages have to almost die to invoke the magic, but Lore can invoke the magic easily, In Dellaire  where poison works as a drug, Lore is a poison  runner. Then one day, Lore raises a horse from the dead and is captured and taken to the court of
The Foxglove King (hard from Orbit) He wants her to raise dead villagers to discover who is killing them, and he wants her to get close to his son to discover his treason. Hannah Whitten tells an exciting tale full of plots and contrivances. It’s lush with potential romance. The ending made me want more.

J. S. Dewes tells of people in a star system whose sun will die in three centuries. Technically they could evacuate their population to other stars, but a robot civilization is blocking them. Exploration ships, and no others can leave the system. Their soldiers can be brought back to life in a regrown body. Sergeant Adriene Valero has died ninety-six times, and had her body captured and used by the enemy for two weeks until it died of starvation and she could be reborn. Then she is assigned to a new unit with the latest technology that is looking for the architects of the robots. The battle suits require a brain implant called a Rubicon (paper from Tor). For reasons related to her large number of resurrections, and her capture by the robots, her Rubicon is given illegal artificial intelligence, Mission after mission she uses this device and her bravery to accomplish what is needed , as puzzle after puzzle is  exposed to the reader. I couldn’t put the tale down and loved the story until, literally the last page,  where I was disappointed by the final reveal. 

Mia Tsai has a wonderful love story about fae in our world. Elle is a descendant of the Chinese god of medicine whos younger brother had attempted to murder her and her brother. She hides under an assumed name writing magical glyphs. For Luc the problem is that his boss knows his real name and can use it magically to force him to do things he finds repugnant. Luc and Elle can only deal with the Bitter Medicine (hard from Tachyon Publications) that frustrates their lives by working together. Very intense. It left tears in my eyes. 

M. R. Carey starts a fun tale of multiverse empires at war. The tale starts with Hadiz Tambuwal who discovers the Infinity Gate (paper from Orbit) on a dying Earth. Unfortunately she knows nothing about the Pandominion, an empire of a thousand or so worlds, that doesn’t like intruders. So they send agents to kill her and Essien Nkanika, a rogue who had somehow become entangled with her.  Eventually Topaz Tourmaline Fivehills, an intelligent rabbit from the Pandominion gets involved because her best friend has been involved with an empire of machines that the Pandemonium calls Ansurrection that also controls a thousand or so Earths. Their war threatens the whole universe. Getting the characters together while barely surviving kill teams from Pandemonium is what this first exciting book comprises. Impossible-to-put-down, I was very disappointed to have to wait for what happened next. I’m holding my breath. 

Humanity lives on platforms over the planet Giant after leaving  a ruined Earth. One day, on the last station of one of the train lines,  a man has a nice meal and then disappears over the railing.  Malka Older’s The Mimicking of Known Successes (hard from Tordotcom) is the story of Investigator Mossa, working with an old friend and scholar Pleiti, look into other researchers that help keep Earth's life forms alive. Eventually there is a murder with a dead body that helps lead our Holmes and Watson to the high level of corruption. Fun. 

Julie Rowe has only a few vampires in our world. They are the result of a virus that only a few survived. Yes they’re immortal and need to drink blood, but sunlight is only an allergy, Alcohol is worse. Bazyli Breznik is punishing himself because of his Sinner's Secret ( paper from Independent Book Publishers Association) by living in his cab and taking drunks home, taking a pint of painful  blood for his trouble. Then one day he stops a kidnapping of a waitress, only to find she is an undercover cop trying to stop a human trafficking ring. Then the gang comes after him and his mob boss friend. What follows is a romp and lots of fun. 

Adrian Tchaikovsky borrows a little from C. S. Lewis for his imaginary world of Underhill. Harry Bodie’s grandmother wrote tales about Underhill  based on what her mother told her. Harry, who introduces children shows for BBC, doesn’t know that his great grandmother had escaped from that world. There are fanatics who are convinced that the world is quite real, and are willing to kidnap him to get there. Eventually Harry has to face reality And Put Away Childish Things (hard fromRebellion Publishing Ltd.)  Unfortunately his great grandmother ran from the world for a reason, and Harry has to face the nightmare. Fun. 

Keith R.A. DeCandido has a new police procedural set in a world of magic in the Phoenix Precinct (paper from eSpec Books)  Someone is attacking the new refugees from the nearby city of Barlin which was destroyed by fire. A murder makes it more important to calm the situation, especially since it turns out the the victim was killed by mistake, fun.

Django Wexler has a fun conclusion to his trilogy set in a world four centuries after a high-tech, magical empire ruled by the magically powerful chosen fell.  It is a world where magical plaguelings are constantly attacking human settlements. It is a world where Centarchs can throw energy through their hakens. Ashes of the Sun (paper) introduced two siblings. Gyre lost his eye and parents when the Twilight Order took his sister Maya to train as a Centarch. He’s been in rebellion ever since. Blood of the Chosen (paper) ends up with the two of them releasing the Emperor of Ruin (paper from Orbit). Ashok is a mad scientist Chosen who has used his life magic to turn himself into an unkillable plagueling and created plagueling soldiers to conquer their world. Maya had Gyre and their friends have to do the impossible to stop him. Lots of fun and very exciting. 

Dr. Eric Maikranz has a second tale of people who remember their past lives. Evan Michaels who died at the end of The Reincarnationist Papers (paper) has been reborn in Syria. When his memories return he makes his way to Zurich where his previous memories are sharpened. Unfortunately the Cognomina has an enemy, A woman with memories dating back to Roman times,  and who was cast out of the society, is working to reduce the population of Earth with war and disease. The Cognomina Codex (hard from Blackstone Publishing) tells of her attack on the society and how they fight to survive, Lots of fun and grist for conspiracy nuts. 

John Scalzi has a new mystery set on an Earth where people return alive naked to a safe place after murder or accidental death. Tony Valdez is a dispatcher, hired by Hospitals to murder people dying from surgeries gone bad so they return ready for a new attempt at the surgery. In the latest; The Dispatcher: Travel by Bullet(hard from Subterranean Press ) a corrupt dispatcher from the other books, Mason Schilling has almost died in a car accident. It turns out he’s involved in the maneuvers of a few crypto  billionaires, one of whom has committed suicide at a party. Before long the billionaires are sending goons after Tony who may have a missing cyber wallet from the suicide victim. Fun. 

The thirteenth tale set in a future where mages teleport starships to get around the lightspeed barrier, finds Prince-Chancellor Damien Montgomery back in the field to find the Nemesis of Mars (ebook from Faolan's Pen Publishing) who had attempted kidnapping the Queen of Mars. It helps that Mage-Commander Roslyn Chambers has an old acquaintance with information to trade. The bad guys have a mind controlling gas that turns loyal soldiers into enemies, and traitors working with them. Glynn Stewart tells one of the most exciting books in the series so far. Fun. 

Seanan McGuire has a new InCryptid tale following the adventures of the matriarch of the Price Family  who had gone Backpacking through Bedlam (paper from DAW) for fifty years to rescue her Husband Thomas. Even though both are physically young , they are given no time to recover because  the  evil Covenant of St. George has sent operatives to New York, and they are driving out the InCryptid  population while they go after the nest of Dragons. Alice, Thomas and their new adopted niece Sally have to save the Dragons and force the Covenant back to England. Fun.

Baen is printing Simon R. Green’s Ishmael Jones’s tales in trade.Dead Man Walking is an ultimate locked room murder mystery because Ishmael and Penny have to investigate a murder in an interrogation center where the victim is in deep security. It doesn’t help that ghosts are wandering the halls or that most of the staff has been sent home for security reasons,
Laurell K. Hamilton starts what might be the ending of her long running Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. In
Smolder (hard from ‎ Berkley) she is preparing for her wedding to Jean-Claude, her family who has never accepted her, is coming, and a vampire dragon attacks her and Jean-Claude in spirit. Richard is back. This is a must for followers of the series, even though it is only a start of the story.
Wen Spencer’s latest continues  the tale of Pittsburgh sent to the magical  world of  Elfhome. Originally the city would return to Earth like clockwork for one day every month bringing access to magic with it. Unfortunately there is another world at war with the elves, Onihida. A few books ago, Pittsburgh’s connection to Earth was cut, leaving the city without supplies. Now under attack by the Oni, all of the previous characters are facing danger and with this book a
Harbinger( hard from Baen) of the end. This is a must for fans of this fun series. I hope I don’t have to wait another seven years to find out what happens next. 

David Boop has a fun collection of tales set at High Noon on Proxima B (paper from Baen). David Weber has a collection of honorverse tales asking What Price Victory? (hard from Baen)

Baen has reprinted in paper Michael Mersault’s  galactic tale of The Deep Man ; and Tim Powers’s 3rd tale of Vickery and Castine dealing with Stolen Skies.              

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.