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Science Fiction for May 2017

    Fantasy and Science Fiction have classics;  like The Lord of the Rings, Dune, Alice in Wonderland. These are books that keep amazing generation after generation.
Frances Hardinge tells a tale set in the underground city of Caverna whose craftsmen produce magical wines that can make you forget, Cheeses that can explode, and deserts that can let you hear music, and perfumes that create trust.  Caravans cross the desert for small amounts, and the inhabitants never leave. Assassination attempts are so rampant that the five-century-old,  Grand Steward only lets half his brain sleep at a time, creating separate personalities for each half. Cheesemaster Grandible cut himself off from politics, but one day found a five year old girl who had broken into his cavern. Neverfell became his apprentice.  Seven years later she chases an escaped white rabbit through a crack into the main part of the city. That somehow brings her into the schemes floating around the city, mainly from the Childersins wine-making family. Most of the city have frozen faces and have to learn expressions from face masters, but Neverfell has A Face Like Glass (hard from Amulet Books) that reflects her emotions. As she bounces from the Childersin family to become a food taster for the Grand Steward, she keeps trying to find how she came to Caverna from the outside world. This is an amazing book.
In 2002 Robin Hobb introduced us to an Assassin's Apprentice (paper), FitzChivalry, the bastard son of a prince. It also introduced us to the Fool, one of the long-lived whitish colored people who can dream the future. Now we finally learn the Assassin's Fate (Hard from Del Rey) and also the fate of the Bingtown traders live ships and also of the dragons who made the trip up the Rain wild river. FitzChivalry’s daughter Bee has been captured by agents of the city of Clerres, the city of the white people that uses dreams to shape the future. FitzChivalry follows with the fool and other friends, eventually taking the mad ship Paragon across the sea. Ms. Hobb takes her time getting her protagonists to their fates, and old characters from previous books drop in. This is an excellent ending for a well loved series and sure to be an award nominee.
Ian McDonald concludes his tale of a Luna turned paradise controlled by five dragon families. Those born on the moon can never go to earth because the gravity would kill them. Luna:  New Moon (paper) the upstart Corta Family has it’s home destroyed and the survivors scattered through the various cities. Lucas Corta does the impossible. He finds a way to survive a few months on Earth to make allies. The tale starts with the literal fall of thirteen-year-old Robson while running the roof of the city. But before long cities are failing, under attack. Survival on the harsh mistress of the Lunar surface is difficult enough without killing machines. It’s a tale of Luna: Wolf Moon (hard from Tor) and contains many a tale of bare survival between the tense political confrontations.  Very exciting and sure to be an award nominee
Robyn Bennis crafts an excellent tale of airships driven by steam and cannons and muskets in a world at war. Women are only allowed to be associate officers and not in the chain of command on the Garnian airships. However Josette Dupre took command when her captain was killed and crash-landed her ship in a way that took out the enemies guns, making her a hero. Over General Fieren’s objections she is made captain and given a brand new airship, The Mistral. So he assigns his foppish cousin Lord Hinkal Bernat to serve under her and report on her inabilities. Not only do the airship trials present difficulties for Hinkal, but the Mistral soon fights a spy ship. Unfortunately the enemy has a surprise attack on an empty border of Garnia, Mistral is the only airship able to confront them with The Guns Above (hard from Tor) This is a fun tale of war heroism and survival. Its impossible to put down.
Kristen Britain has been writing about her Green Rider (paper) Karigan G'ladheon for six tales. The latest has her mourning her lost love from her trip two centuries to the future when Zachary Davriel Hillander, High King of Sacoridia also known as Firebrand (hard from DAW)  sends her on a mission First the castle has to fend up Aureas Slee, a frost elemental sent by Grandmother, the witch head of the group trying to restore the second Empire. After Karigan leaves, Zachary is kidnaped and replaced by the elemental. After the elemental is expelled, Zachery finds himself captured by the second empire group who at first don’t recognized him. Luckily Karigan’s quest puts her near enough to their camp to attempt a rescue, even though she is captured and tortured. This is an exciting addition to a fun series, though a bit over-priced for ebooks.
In the sixteenth book about Gin “the Spider” Blanco. This time a friend’s daughter is Snared (paper from Pocket) by a serial killer who may be part of Ashlands elite ruling Circle.. She has only days to find the killer before he finally murders is victim and her only hope is a servant of the Circle. As usual impossible to put down.
Nicole Lee heard voices and drowned them out with drink. Then she got abducted to a huge, ancient  starship, the Fyrantha. It turns out that with the right inhaled drug, she can receive instructions so the repair crew. As she explores the giant vessel, she finds a place where alien civilians are captured, males females and children and forced to fight other aliens to avoid starvation. Her heart goes out to the children, and she refuses to be a Pawn (hard from Tor by Timothy Zahn) and starts helping them. That gets her companions shot with arrows and herself threatened. This is the first of an interesting series that promises to get more interesting in later installments.
    Julie E. Czerneda has edited the Nebula Awards Showcase 2017 (trade from Pyr) with nominated tales from the 2015 ballot of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Nebula Award.
Hand Davis has edited the first volume of The Best of Gordon R. Dickson in trade. He was one of my favorite writers.
    The 2017 Hugo Award novel nominations: All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books); A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US); Death’s End by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus);  Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books); The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books); and Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books).
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on May 12th 2017.
The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus.  Katherine Kurtz whose been writing the Deryni novels since 1970 will speak. As usual guests are welcome.    
    Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local 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.