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Science Fiction for April and May 2018
    Mystery and Science Fiction and Fantasy fit well together. A murder mystery set in the strange backgrounds adds real atmosphere.
K. R. Richardson introduces us to the corporate owned and very corrupt planet of Gattis. The planet was terraformed by three genetically adapted peoples; red, yellow and blue. The Blue run the world and the Ohba and Drihleen have become second class, denied an education and hope and they are ready for revolt. Eric Matheson is anew cop, an off-worlder with only two weeks on the job. He and his Training Officer discover a gambling den with all sixteen people there murdered. He is assigned to help J. P. Dillal who is recovering from experimental cybernetic enhancement surgery. He is the new Chief Investigating Forensic Officer and is half Ohba and Drihleen. Driven to solve the case, Dillal’s might kill him if he pushes himself too hard. The Corporation just wants to find someone, anyone to blame and is willing to use troops to put down any riot. Blood Orbit (trade from Pyr) sends the two deep into the darkest parts of the Capitol city, Angra Dastrelas and to a labor camp on the other side of Gattis searching for the truth. I hope this wins some awards.
Drew Hayes writes of a an Earth with Supers, people with special abilities. There are also powereds who can’t control their abilities. An experimental process has allowed five powereds to have enough control to enter the hero certification program, a four year college degree from which only ten will graduate to become the heroes who fight evil supers. In Super Powereds: Year 4 (ebook) the fifteen remaining seniors face harsh  testing after testing while powerful heros on the run, try to prove the corruption that led to one hero’s murder. Of course there’s a massive fight at the end worthy of any comic book movie. This is partially a college tale, partially a tale of athletic abilities, and of course a tale of powerful superheroes in the making. Over the four book all the characters grow and form an indelible memory. Highly recommended.
Tessa Gratton adds magic to a Shakespeare tragedy, giving some of the characters the ability to work magic by talking to trees. But it’s not the King that’s the center of the tale, it’s the The Queens of Innis Lear (hard from Tor) and their husbands and lovers that for the center. Yes Lear demands profession of love, and disinherits Elia (Cordelia in the play). Then he is rejected by the other daughters and ends up lost in a storm aided only by his Fool. This tale is far more complex and introducing Husbands and lovers, witches and queens. The trees of the island want only one Queen and get what they want. I expect and award nomination for this tale.
John Scalzi has a fun sports murder mystery. People, called Hadens, who have suffered a polio like plague connect to the world with robot bodies called threeps . In the sport Hilketa,  one of the defending players is designated a goat and the opposing team has tear the threep’s head off and then run Head On (hard from Tor) to score a goal with it. When one of the players dies a real death, FBI agents Chris Shane and Leslie Vann have to deal with the case which soon includes a suicide of a major league representatives. The league which is trying to go international has a problem with Russian business men and money problems from a change in law.  Chris has one threep burned in an arson fire and another run over as they get closer to the person responsible. Fun.
Sophie is a dressmaker with the ability to sew working charms into her dresses. It has brought her to the attention of a nobility worried about a Torn (paper from Orbit) revolution. It doesn’t help that her brother Kristos is heavily involved with the growing revolution and that the leader of the revolution blackmails her into putting curses on clothes for the Queen. But luckily there’s a handsome noble willing to help as the uprising begins. Rowenna Miller has a nice fantasy romance. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
There’s the classic tale of a mob boss who hires a hard-drinking noir detective to find his missing daughter. In R. S. Belcher’s The Night Dahlia (trade from Tor), the mob boss is an Elf Lord, and the detective Laytham Ballard, is a notorious wizard. With all sorts of demons and monsters to stop him, including the half-human knight he’s supposed to work with, Laytham returns to the dark side of LA, especially the porn industry, filled with old friends and enemies. Not only that but his case is tied to a still unsolved serial murder case which he had worked on as a magical cop. Unbelievably there’s actually a happy ending. Fun.
Josette Dupre, captain of the airship Mistral, has attained hero status because of her exploits in Robyn Bennis’s first two tales. A meeting with the King allows her to suggest that troops be sent to recover hometown of Durum now occupied by an enemy winning the long war. So the Mistral has to fight By Fire Above (hard from Tor) under a new first Lieutenant while Josette along with Lord Bernat go into the town to raise a rebellion. Lots of fun and a great series. I can’t wait for more.
Cass Morris’s version of the Roman (Aven) Republic with magical powers, take place after the death of a dictator and the politics of returning rule to the Senate and Consuls who have to face election. Iberian tribes have begun a revolt, threatening Aven colonies on what will become Spain.  Sempronius Tarren is an ambitious politician hiding his Shadow abilities what would disqualify him for office. He proposes sending Aven Legions to Iberia to put down the revolt. Latona of the Vitelliae, who held in her abilities in Fire and Spirit under the dictatorial rule, now finds herself losing control From Unseen Fire (hard from DAW) in the emotionally charged political campaign. Never fully trained, she needs the training that the Priestess of Juno withholds. Even though marries, she is attracted to  Sempronius. This is light look at an interesting world and I’m eager to read more.
In the latest RNC tale, Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy are secondary characters. Instead David Drake introduces us to Roy Olfetrie who had to quit the academy when his father committed suicide when his fraud was discovered. After hard times, Roy joins Daniel’s crew as third officer only to be shanghaied and sold into slavery when that ship was captured by pirates. Luckily they put him in charge of the main computer. Roy is prepared to return Though Hell Should Bar the Way (hard from Baen). He also rescues a kidnaped heiress from the Admiral’s harem. Add in some space battles and it’s a fun, exciting read.
It’s Typhoon Time (paper from WordFire Press) as Ron S. Friedman sends a Russian nuclear submarine through a wormhole to 1938.  Eric Sobol, a billionaire like George Soros, has hired the boomer in an effort to stop the Holocaust. One of his aids is secretly there to help the Nazi’s and manages to steal a nuke. It helps that the sub can launch communication satellites and that one of the men stealing the nuke gets the clap. Our heroes race from Washington to Munich while the sub faces Uboats and German destroyers. Lots of fun, even though Einstein suggests that they may of just created an alternate time line instead of changing their past.
K. C. Archer borrows from  Harry Potter but with millennials in her School for Psychics (trade from Simon and Schuster). Whitfield Institute is part Quantico and part training in ESP for people with powerful abilities. Teddy Cannon had been using her lie detecting abilities at Poker until the casinos banned her. She is recruited for the school when she gets in trouble with massive gambling debts. She doesn’t know the background of her real parents who died when she was young. At the school she makes friends, and increases her abilities.  People are hunting her and her friends that has something to do with her real parents. This is only the first year and promises to be an exciting series.
I think of some books as palette cleaners. They’re light, and impossible to read without a smile.   Lizzie Brown was a normal preschool teacher until, on turning 30, her grandmother showed up on her Harley to tell Lizzie she was The Accidental Demon Slayer (paper but free on Kindle ). Not only that but a demon is hunting her. Her new powers give her the ability to talk to her dog, and she starts working with biker witches, and Dimitri Kallinikos a were-griffin. Eight books later, after marrying Dimitri, the question is: What to Expect When Your Demon Slayer is Expecting (ebook from Season Publishing and Moose Island Books) It turns out there is an evil creature trying to steal both herself and her twin daughters. To fight the creature, after her powers have been taken,  involves going into a special place where imagination is real. Eventually I’ll read the other books in the series.
D. J. Butler returns to his lush nineteenth century America, Witchy Eye (paper)  with an American Empire established by William Penn and based in Philadelphia. It’s a Witchy Winter (hard from Baen) as Sara and friends ride to the kingdom of Cahokia knowing that she is the heir. Unfortunately That choice is up to the Serpent Goddess, a real goddess. Nathaniel, her twin brother, has his own travails until his witchy ear is released. But an indian, Ma’iingan, has come to rescue him so that he can cure his new baby.  There are other claimants to the throne; Beastmen attacking human settlements; a New Orleans rich in Vodoo nmagic,;and even a few zombies. There’s more coming is this exciting series.
The void witch, Mars Xi, is back. She can destroy starships and block bullets with her mind. In Killing Gravity(paper) she found a group of friends who rescued her in their salvage ship when her ship was destroyed.  MEPHISTO came after her and in the process one of her friends, Mookie, was captured. The only way to rescue her is to go into a Void Black Shadow (paper from Tor) and let herself be captured by the empire and sent to a prison world outside of explored space; The Homan Sphere where millions populate the inside.  Doing the impossible is only possible because the Empire wants to recruit her. According to Corey J. White that’s a very bad idea. Fun, but I couldn’t believe the bad guys would be so stupid.
Drago Appleroot, a three-foot tall gnome, makes a good living in the city of Fairhaven as a bounty hunter. Then a fight between goblins and elves over A Fistful of Elven Gold (trade from Baen) ends with the death of most of his competitors. Helping the city watch as bait, ends with him caught in the middle. Alas there’s nothing else to do but go up river and somehow sort things out about a missing elf queen, and an active gold mine. Alex Stewart has a fun, but routine tale. I suspect that sequels are coming.
    Baen has reprinted The Span of Empire by Eric Flint and David Carrico; Charles E. Gannon’s fifth Caine Riordan tale Caine’s Mutiny in paper. They also have reprinted the late Gordon R. Dickson’s Sleepwalker’s World in trade. He used to be one of my favorite authors.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on May 11th.  The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at International House  on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. Author Naomi Novik , who’s Temeraire series about dragons in the Napoleonic war will speak.  The series has been nominated for a Hugo.  As usual guests are welcome.
    Dr. 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 a simpler way to achieve fusion generation.