Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                        HOME
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Science Fiction for September 2019

    Excellent Fantasy and Science Fiction can bring a strange world to life so well that the reader can smell the odors and feel the background.
RJ Barker sets his tale of epic sea adventure on The Bone Ships (paper from Orbit) built literally from the bones of huge arakeesians (sea dragons). The Hundred Isles have been at war with the Gaunt Islanders for centuries, but the  arakeesians have been hunted out and it is getting harder to build the great ships needed to prosecute the raids. Joron Twinner was the son of a fisherman who managed to kill a noble in a duel and was assigned to a black ship to serve, as all the crew, till death. Somehow finding himself Captain, he took the ship to a quiet cove and proceeded to try to drink himself to death. That’s where Lucky Meas found him, took his Captaincy. An Arakeesian has been spotted. Its bones will keep the war going. Maes along with captains of two Gaunt Islander ships plan to protect the creature until it was in deep water and then kill it. Mr. Barker brings his strange world to life letting the reader smell the salty sea air, and feel the thrill of combat. Very intense. This maybe the first of a trilogy, but it has enough of an satisfactory ending. Highly recommended.
Cyborgs are usually fun, heroic characters with superpowers. Human nature, being what it is, can use the technology for evil. The Chinese had sliced part of Maung’s brain to create a superhacker, and then forced this dream warrior from Burma use his talents on the intelligent weapons of the near future and kill thousands of Americans. After the war he escaped with his son, but his wife was killed by the Chinese. The war occurred because the alien Sommen blockaded the outer solar system causing a fight for resources, and ended when they suddenly withdrew. Fearful of being detected, Maung gets a new identity as a prison guard on an asteroid., with deep secrets. This Tyger Burning (trade from Baen) bright is forced to reveal his secret when the Chinese attack the ship carrying him to the asteroid, and only his talents can defeat this enemy. The Chinese cyborgs he is fighting, have been stripped of free will in a horrifying way because of what he has become.  T. C. McCarthy tells an exciting tale, in a complex and dark universe. Sequels are promised about the eventual war with the Sommen. I can’t wait.
D.M. Wozniak writes of a medieval world where some with the right talent can use crystals to access The Indivisible and the Void (paper from Amazon). Democryos, head master  of the Void school, finds his young wife, a former student, has run away. Ignoring his responsibilities to the king, who needs more voiders for his war, he follows his wife, bringing with him the member of the King’s harem who had been offered to him for solace. Following in a hot air balloon, he crashes near a village of religious fanatics who almost kill him. Surviving that he and companions almost die at an illegal drug plantation. The trail leads to bay where he discovers the origin of the void stones and how they really work. The stones might give him incredible powers while he touches it, it is his moral compass that really matters. This is a fascinating quest tale that leaves an ending open enough for a solid sequel. I can’t wait.
J.A. Sutherland’s Dark Runs series is a lark about  Mason Guthrie, who was sent to Juvie Jail for literally fixing things in his habitat, and  Rosa Fuentes a hacker sent to the same facility with an implanted artificially intelligent assistant. In Running Start (paper) they learn to trust each other’s abilities, steal a billion dollars, and then get caught. The deal was they do a job and keep a small amount of the money. Running Scared (paper from  Darkspace Press) send the two of them, who have never been off Earth before, out to the Asteroid Belt where a Pirate has information. Despite Rosa’s ability to literally hack a space ship, so long as the software isn’t updated. Nothing, of course, goes right. Even waiting on Mars for the data to be collected has them fighting gangsters. This is a great giggle of a tale and luckily more adventures are coming.
Troy Carrol Bucher starts a very exciting tale of two teenagers who are literally descended from the Gods who fell to Earth. The  Draegoran test and then train them to use crystals to in their swords to eat souls. The okulu’tans of Esharii tribesmen, not only can do the same, but also can wander through alternate futures. Riam was raised by his grandfather, not know of his father and uncle who were knights of the Draegoran clans. Then his uncle finds him and collects him to be trained. Unfortunately the Esharii attack and manage to kidnap the girl collected with him. The wolf clan of the  Draegorans want to rule the area, and try to capture Riam who can disbond someone’s sword. Lies of Descent (hard from DAW) is an excellent beginning to a promising series.
Charlie N. Holmberg concludes her trilogy about Sandis, a woman kidnaped and enslaved because of her rare ability to host a monstrous Numan, and Rone, a thief with a device that can a man immortal for a solid minute once a day. It is a time of Siege and Sacrifice (hard from 49North). Sandis’s exmaster Kazen, has unleashed the most powerful Numan, Kolosos to get his revenge on the church that forbids raising Numen. Kolosos is unstoppable, and unfortunately has his own agenda that might destroy the world. Somehow Rone gets trapped in the world of the Numen and Sandis has to work with Ireth, the fire horse Numan she is bonded to, and with other ex-slaves. The only way to survive is to discover the history of the Numen and how their powers work. Lots of fun and an exciting ending.
Nineteenth century America was harsh and brutal. D. J. Butler’s seven kingdoms is much harsher with beastkind, walking dead, and all sorts of magics and gods. Sarah has made her way to the Witchy Kingdom (hard from Baen) where the Serpent throne sits in the city built in the huge mounds in Ohio, Cohokia. Unfortunately it is under siege by imperial forces, beastmen, and the necromancer Robert Hooke. While her brother Nathaniel hunts for their captured sister Margarida, she has to ascend to the Serpent Throne through a magical ritual which is unknown to the living, but her dead father might have a clue. This is an interesting look at religion, if all religious were provable and provided magic to their believers. More to come.
October Daye’s thirteenth adventure finds the fae knight and hero drawn to the Duchy of Ships where her magic and the Luidaeg’s magic will transform the selkies into the murdered fae whose skins they use to transform into seals. It’s been centuries since The Unkindest Tide (hard from DAW) was demanded by sea witch. As in any Seanan McGuire tale, nothing goes easily, as October has to rescue a teenager caught between two claimants to a fae kingdom, which requires her to temporarily become a mermaid,  and then solve a Selkie murder. Luckily her fiancee, the king of cats is along to help. The usual fun.  
     Baen has a number of collections and reprints this month. A workshop of scientists, science fiction writers, and futurists inspired Stellaris: People of the Stars (trade and edited by Les Johnson and Robert E. Hampson) which includes stories and articles.  Tom Kratman has opened his Terra Nova (trade) for short stories by other writers. Michael Z. Williamson has a collection of his shorter works in Tide of Battle (paper). Eric Flint has Worlds 2 (paper) with more short stories. Kevin J Anderson and Sarah S. Hoyt have a tale of Lewis and Clark in Uncharted (paper) magical America. Finally the late Gordon R. Dickson’s  classic Hour of the Horde is out in trade.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on September 20th. Betsy Wollheim, the President, co-Publisher and co-Editor-in-Chief of DAW books and daughter of Donald A. Wollheim, the founder. The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at International House  on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. As usual guests are welcome.  Philcon this year will be on November 8th-10th at the  Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.
    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 fusion generation requires less energy because only one frequency is needed rather than a full spectrum.  It also explains dark matter, the proliferation of subatomic particles, and the limit of light speed for matter.