Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                                   HOME
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Science Fiction for December 2019
    The more the world keeps changing, the more important it is to read Fantasy and Science Fiction to stretch the mind.  
Seventy years from now the Aldrin, named for the astronaut who proposed her, keeps a steady orbit between Earth and Mars. It takes a year and half to make a full loop, but  delivers goods at a minimal cost. Shuttles have to dock for cargo and passenger delivery. Captain Nicolau Aames, the first and only captain for over two decades, has been accused of mutiny against Earth’s space navy, possibly making the current orbit The Last Dance (hard from 47North) Aames is a polarizing figure. His crew loves him and will follow him anywhere. The problem is that economic forces are need for the Aldrin to ben enlarged, and that compromises safety. Inspector General Park Yerim, way over her head, has been assigned to find a solution that will settle the problem.  Martin L. Shoemaker lets crew members close to the captain tell Park their stories, while an admiral on board keeps causing problems as he tries to help add two environmental rings to the huge ship.  Aames had been involved in the disaster of the first Martian settlement and responsible for most of the crew’s survival. He sets high standards and dislikes those who refuse to even try to match them. This is the sort of tale I hope to find on award lists. There is a well-crafted future and impossible to put down.
Elizabeth Bear starts with a standard tale of a small salvage ship run by Halmey Dz and her partner Connla Kurucz and an AI named singer (who is going to be drafted into government service) who finds a ship from an unknown alien species locked in white space (used for ftl travel) that had been scuttled by a human built device. In this Ancestral Night (hard from Gallery / Saga Press), Halmey is infected with an alien parasite that gives her the ability to read gravity waves and eventually modify them. Pirates attack them when they begin to translate the ship out of white space, and they flee, barely surviving. Ms. Bear is concerned with the effects on society of implanted computers that can warp personalities, a civilization where leaders are drafted rather than elected, and the interaction with intelligent aliens. There’s also wonderful, huge, ancient alien artifacts. I was overwhelmed by this amazing tale and hope it finds numerous awards.
Jacqueline Carey tells a tale of a world that is Starless (hard from Tor) because they were exiled from the heavens, living as gods among the various lands. There is, of course. Khai was picked by the gods and  raised by the monks of the Fortress of the Winds to become the protector of Princess Zariya at age sixteen. Magical fruit allows the court  of the ageless  endless life, but that doesn’t stop the deadly  plots among the heirs who may never rule. Unfortunately an evil god is rising in the deep ocean and threatens the world. Chance throws Khai and  Zariya among prophecy seekers on a quest to save their world. This is a marvelously detailed world from one of my favorite writers, and has enough detail to easily have been lengthened to trilogy. Lots of fun.
P.S. Newman writes of L. A turned into a Nightmare City (ebook from BooksGoSocial) because dreams become real people and monsters called shades. Eden Maybrey is a private shade hunter working during curfew hours with a talking sword (Aunt Vy).  She’s hiding the fact that she is actually a shade created from a graphic novel by a teenager and illegally given papers to prove her human. Then a Sean Baptiste, a billionaire and ex-boy friend, dreams up a doppelgänger of himself who can shoot fire his fingers. The case keeps getting worse, as the doppelgänger targets Sean’s brother David, the boyfriend of Cecelia whose younger sister, Bella, dreamed up Eden. Not only that but the city was infected by a pit from hell dreamed up a year before. Soon she has to team up with a professional shade hunter,  Vaughn Taylor, and somehow save the girl who created her without giving away her secret. To add to the mix, she dreams up hell hounds and her lover from the graphic novel. Yes this is as much fun as it sounds. I’m eagerly waiting further adventures of Eden and Aunt Vy.
Sikander Singh North returns now, after eighteen years in the Aquilan Commonwealth Navy, he is captain of the destroyer Decisive. Pirates are causing problems in the province of Zerzura of the Terran Caliphate. The governor of the province is playing with succession, and is looking for help for both Aquilan and the Empire of Dremark (think England, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century.)  With Scornful Stars (hard from Tor) looking on, Sikander is caught in an impossible conundrum, when after successfully capturing some pirates, he learns that the governor, Marid Pasha, is heavily involved in the local Piracy.  As usual Richard Baker tells a fun tale and I  look forward to Sikander’s further adventures.  
Somehow the thought of Frosty the Snowman wandering through the Nevada desert is ridiculous. Alfred Wurr somehow pulls it off by making his Phantom Frost (paper from Wurreal Games) an unhuman who has escaped from a secret underground lab. Shivurr had been found in a cave filled with strange technology in 1973. He has lost his memory.  A decade later he escapes from the Bodhi Institute with the help of a new technician who promises he’ll find help in Las Vegas from a bulletin board sysop. Helped by some teenaged tourists who he rescues from bandits in the desert, he then has to rescue them from fire elementals attacking him.  Gradually his memory returns, giving enough background for games, the most fun was in the beginning where he has to hide his nature in 1983 America. Lots of fun.
Lola Dodge has a fun new series about Ivory ( ebook from INscribe Digital,) a member of a tribe that uses ice abilities to hunt in the Polar regions. She’s found her way to civilization, working as a flight attendant and hiding her abilities. Unfortunately her flight loses air-conditioning and a passenger who hates people with powers tries to kill her. That brings her to the attention of Jag, a Jaguar changer and member of New York’s Manhattan Ten.  Jag recruits her and soon she has to deal with someone who is killing people with powers.  This is a fun beginning of a series that is fun, but a bit heavy on the romance.
I’ve been following Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden universe with Clan Korval with its intelligent tree from its very beginning in 1988.  The villain of the series, the Department of the Interior, forced the clan to move from Liaden to the planet of Surebeak where the clan has been slowly growing. Twenty-two books later it’s time to start Accepting the Lance (hard from Baen). This final confrontation with the agents of Change is a must for fans of the series, but comes not with a bang but a whimper. Previous books have detailed the failure of the Department and that has hollowed it out. There are also far too many characters for me to keep track of. Fun but a bit disappointing.
    Baen books has put together the three novels and some short tales of the mercenary group Dead Six in Invisible Wars by Larry Correia in trade, reprinted the final Honor Harrington tale by Dqvid Webber Uncompromising Honor in paper.and the last Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Liaden tale Conflict of Honors.
    Collections by Baen this month include : The Best of Jerry Pournelle (trade and edited by John F. Carr);  Star Destroyers (paper edited by Tony Daniel and Christopher Ruocchio); silly tales Straight Outta Deadwood (trade edited by David Boop); Freehold Resistence with tales set in Michael Z. Williamson’s universe (trade); and the second volume of Target Rich Environment (trade) with more tales from Larry Correia.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on December 6th.The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at the Rotunda  on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. Audrey Schulman, a  Philip K. Dick Award winner will speak.  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 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