Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for May 2020
by Henry L Lazarus
No matter how horrible the current situation is,
Fantasy and Science writers can come up with horrible potential
problems that can make our current one seem mild.
John Scalzi tells of a future
Interdependency of multiple worlds connected by a flow that allows
faster-than-light travel between the hub world and the end world
(the only livable world). It’s The Collapsing Empire (paper)
because the flow, according to flow physicist Marce Claremont’s
father, is ceasing. Systems die when their connection to the
Interdependency is cut. Cardenia Wu-Patrick was totally
unready to handle The Consuming Fire (paper) because her
half-brother was supposed to become The Last Emperox (hard
from Macmillan). As Emperox Grayland II she has the help of memory
versions of her predecessors to help. If the situation wasn’t dire
enough Nadashe Nohamapetan, who was originally supposed to marry
Cardenia’s half-brother, will kill anyone who opposes her to get
control for her selfish reasons. Plots within plots, deaths
that are merely kidnaping and a very corrupt nobility lead proves
that even disaster for billions can be fun if you’re watching the
Nancy Kress’s future settled eight
worlds are linked by ten naturally occurring gates. Three of the
eight worlds are controlled by the autocratic Peregoy family; three
by the libertarian Landry family. The discovery of The Eleventh
Gate (Hard from Baen) sets up a war in which one family is
willing to use biologic weapons. Phillip Anderson has been on a
quest, and even undergoes surgery, to deepen his meditation, not
realizing that his really deep meditations shut down the gates.
There’s too many interesting ideas here to coalesce into one
theme. I can only hope that sequels are coming. Interesting.
Nick Martell tells of The
Kingdom of Liars (hard from Gallery Books) whose capital city
Hollows is under siege by lesser nobles and has a small rebellion
going on inside. Michael Kingman is introduced on trial for
murdering the king. His father, despite the history of the family of
protecting the kingdom since its founding, was executed for killing
one of the king’s sobs. Michael has been convinced his father was
framed for a decade, and desperate to prove it. This is a world in
which magical talents remove memories, and Michael has lost
memories, despite not knowing what his magical talent is. The tale
mostly tells us how, Michael, a knave and con man searches for hints
in what had happened when his father was found with the gun that
shot the prince. This is a very exciting and impossible-to-put-down.
I hope it gets nominated for awards.
Matt a former drone pilot with
nightmares about killing people, has replaced his arms and legs with
artificial limbs that are also weapons with Automatic Reload
(paper from TOR). In an age where computers have taken most jobs,
Mat is hired to rescue kidnap victims and other jobs. He obsessively
maintains his limbs and plans his jobs to avoid civilian death. He
takes a high pay job with other cyborgs guarding a package delivery
for IAC, the most evil corporation on Earth. Unfortunately in an
attack on the package, it opens revealing Silvia, a woman modified
biologically to be a high powered assassin. To avoid her being
brainwashed by IAC, Mat and Silvia go on the run and eventually have
to rescue Silvia’s mother and sister who have been kidnaped by IAC
to force Silvia to surrender. Ferrett Steinmetz keeps the action
fast and furious. This tale of two mismatched people is
pulse-pounding and impossible to put down.
There is nothing sillier than Shakespeare
for Squirrels (hard from William Morrow) in which Pocket, the
jester from King Lear, is shipwrecked on an island where Midsummers
Night Dream is happening. This is
Christopher Moore’s third tale about Pocket (I didn’t read the
others) and it is a hoot. Apparently fairies are squirrels by day,
Puck has been murdered, and Oberon and Titania are still separated.
There’s a royal wedding between Duke Thesius and the Queen of the
Amazons. This is a giggling hoot.
Martha Wells’s fifth adventure of
murderbot, a self-aware SecUnit that hacked its own
governor module has it protecting the daughter of his client and no
longer pretending to be human. There’s a Network Effect
(hard from Tor) need to defend against humans who may be aliens and
who have captured it and its client. They defiantly have captured a
self-intelligent ship who murderbot calls ART. Trapped in the solar
system of a forgotten colony, It has to restore ART’s memories,
rescue ART’s crew, which involves splitting its mind into two parts.
Lots of fun as usual.
In the board Game, T.I.M.E
Stories, four players go back in time into local bodies to complete
a mission to fix the time line, that can be repeated as often as
necessary to finish. Christophe Lambert’s The Heiden File
(paper from Angry Robot) fills out the details with the story of
Tess Haiden recruited from 2014 to 2468 to work with three others
for various missions. She turns out to be important to protecting
the base from its destruction. The end result is a fun tale that is
very accessibly despite its tie-in to the game. Oh yes the game
sounds like fun too.
Jeffrey Ford has an odd tale of a
librarian conked on the head by crook robbing the coffee shop he was
buying at. In sleep he starts having Out of Body (ebook for
Tor) experiences. Luckily he is mentored by a woman whose been
exploring the night as a sort of ghost for years. Unfortunately they
find a vampire hiding in their small town and also some vampire
hunters trying to kill the century-old being. The tale is eerie.
In an alternate 1922, Manhattan
has been divided into eastside where technology still works, and
westside which is falling into ruin. There’s a fence between them.
Gilda Carr, when she isn’t getting drunk, spends her time in small
mysteries. This time the religious family of Westside Saints
(hard from Harper Voyager) has lost a relic, the preserved little
finger of a saint. Then that family’s old father, and
preacher, who had been dead for thirty years, and Gilda’s
mother, who had died when she was nine, appear. The family has a
ceremony to bring back more dead, but the preacher and Gilda’s
mother have not been brought back from the dead. The truth is even
more fantastic. This is the second of a neat series that I only read
this one. Lots of fun.
Rysa Walker returns to her Chronus
background with a tale set when CHRONOS was sending historians to
the past. Tyson Reyes (2304) has been integrating himself into
the Klu Klux Klan in the early sixties when other time travelers
kill Martin Luther King, Jr. two years early disrupting time.
Madison Grace (2136) discovers a CHRONOS medallion in her
Grandfather’s house and learns that because her grandmother had been
a time traveler from her future, she has inherited the genes
necessary to travel through time. Not only that but she and some
friends were responsible for discovering time travel. Eventually
Madi and Tyson have to work together to restore the time line. Now,
Then, and Everywhen (paper from 47 North) is the first of a
trilogy. Lots of fun.
R. Z. Held tells the tale of
Genevieve who had been infected by that nanites that turn Pax Romana
soldiers super. Most people die, but somehow she had a Clean
Install (ebook from Rhiannon Held). That provided an excuse to
send to a Pax Romana planet with a disabling virus to install.
The Amsterdam Institute is there to find a cure to the nanites for
retired soldiers as well as for civilians like her infected by the
virus. Instead of sabotage, she finds herself working to help the
Institute, especially civilians infected accidently. More is coming
and I’m interested.
Marko Kloos continues his The
Palladium Wars series which starts five years after the planet
Gretia, tried to conquer the system, lost and is under a
slowly loosening occupation. Things are starting to go Ballistic
(hard from 47North) as rebels steal nuclear missiles. Most the tale
is about interesting people going on with their interesting lives. I
really enjoy the story so far, and am very eager to find out what’s
According to Christopher G.
Nuttall no one is willing to pay the Debt of Honor (paper
from 47North) except for Admiral Kat Falcone who helped win the war
against the Theocracy. At the Commonwealth capital, politicians are
unwilling to keep the high war taxes to help the worlds devastated
by the war. Impeaching the King is being considered. And
someone is supplying the last Theocracy battle fleet and encouraging
disruptive attacks on unprotected planets. This is a sequel
trilogy that will put Kat and her friends in the middle of a civil
Baen has reprinted in trade the second three
Penric tales by Louis McMaster Bujold, Penric’s travels.
There is only one more so far.
The 2020 Hugo nominations for Best Novel include:
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders; Gideon
the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir; The Light Brigade by Kameron
Hurley; A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine; Middlegame
by Seanan McGuire; and The Ten Thousand Doors of January
by Alix E. Harrow.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on May 8th, if the closure is over. The meeting
starts at 8 p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at
39th and Locust Walk on the University of Pennsylvania
Campus. 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.