Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                                                HOME
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Science Fiction for June 2020
by Henry L Lazarus
    Fantasy and Science Fiction evoke strange worlds of the past and future.
In a small colony on the planet Hella (hard from DAW), thirteen-year-old Kyle has an emotional syndrome that was corrected by implant but he still has problems connecting emotionally to others. When what might be the last starship from Earth, because of a economic collapse, he creates video’s describing the harsh planet he loves. Extra oxygen and lower gravity and a large axial tilt have created a world with huge dinosaurs, deadly storms and enough seasonal differences to warrant a winter migration. The problem isn’t the harsh world, or the new colonists, but a corrupt politician looking for power. Kyle somehow finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy as his family is either killed by sabotage or locked up. He has two friends from the new starship including "Chigger" Dingillian from Jumping Off the Planet (paper) and an artificial intelligence HARLIE in addition to his ability to see to the heart of a problem. David Gerrold tells a fun tale. The  planet is fascinating.  
Jim Keen tells an exciting  tale of a cop, a kid, and The Paradise Factory (ebook from BooksGoSocial) built into the Brooklyn Bridge. In 2055 the world has gotten much colder, millions are jobless due to AI improvements, and cheap flying cars have eliminated most bridges. Alice Yu is a marine veteran of the war on Mars still dealing with her nightmares as a probationary cop on the NYPD. Her partner’s been kidnapped and she’s convinced that she’ll be fired unless she rescues him. Even her AI jacket (who wanted to be in a spacesuit) doesn’t give her much of a chance. Red has been given a chance to deliver a letter on the other side of the bridge, and is being chased by other kids so anxious for the job that they’re willing to kill.  The illegal factory on the bridge and it’s owner presents challenges that only the two working together can survive. Wow! I already ordered the sequel.  
Seventy thousand years ago twelve Haillar  women did something fighting in a war that somehow allowed them to survive like a Phoenix (ebook from BooksGoSocial) and regrow an avatar body after death. They become the twelve queens of the Dominion. Twenty thousand years ago the Scourge wars began with appearance of the slavers. A few centuries from now the exoplanet surveyor Endeavour arrives in the Kepler 452 system searching from worlds to colonize. The find Aldeea, a Haillar frontier world, and think they have found a mediaeval world because of the absence of radio. Unfortunately the world in on the edge of a Scourge attack. Fortunately the Queen of Chaos is visiting and she has a soft spot for aliens. T. S. Alexander starts a fun series. I’ve already bought Human (ebook) and am waiting eagerly for Flame (ebook) that will be out this summer.
The Vine Witch (paper) Elena Boureanu has come to Paris with her mortal fiancé  to meet his mother and renew her license, but the license is blocked until she helps recover Yvette Lenoir who escaped from prison with her. Yvette is desperately trying to find all about her blocked magic. Unfortunately a warlock is after her and the book her mother, The Glamourist (hard from 49north), left her. What follows is a tale that hums with joy and happiness with a magical cat that purrs out of the page.
Katherine Addison imagines Sherlock Holmes as  The Angel of the Crows (hard from Tor). Crow is an angel, the only one in London not attached to a building or nameless, and definitely not fallen. Dr. Doyle, its roommate, is recovering from being wounded in Afghanistan by a fallen angel. Because of this Dr. Doyle has an unfortunate problem of occasionally turning into a hell hound. Moriarty is a member of a Hound of vampires, and Jack the Ripper is killing prostitutes.  Into this Ms. Addison modifies many of the classic tales, allowing Dr. Doyle to solve some, like the Hound of the Baskervilles. Lots of fun in a weird London.
I bought the first two of S. A. Chakraborty’s fun tales of Djinns and other magical creatures in the Arab world of  eighteenth century and was glad to get the third and final part as a review copy/  The tale follows con woman Nahri with healing abilities from being half-djinn as she awakens the  ancient Djinn Dara and he takes her to The City of Brass (paper) where rare healing power is important. Mellenium before Suleiman had trapped the Djinn into mortal bodies. Darayavahoush had had his body destroyed and turned into a slave (think genii ). In Daevabad he is freed and has the full power of a fire spirit. But Politics can turn deadly and Nahri is caught in the middle of them in this The Kingdom of Copper (paper). Eventually she and her friend Ali find themselves magically transported to  Cairo escaping the city in rebellion with Suleiman’s seal in his heart.  Across the The Empire of Gold (hard from  Harper Voyager) have lost their magical powers throwing their hidden cities into chaos. Ali, who had water elemental anscestors will have to face his remote great-great father a magical crocodile. Nahri has to stop the woman she believes to be her mother from destroying the city with ifrit blood magic. Dara has to come to terms with his centuries old guilt. This is a solid ending to a fun series.
Doug Engstrom has a dark tale of a Corporate Gunslinger (paper from Harper Voyager) in a future where insurance cases can be settled by gun fights and debt slavery is a reality. Kira Clark is barely keeping ahead of her school debt, when she decides to train to fight duel for an insurance company. It’s not a profession for those seeking a long life, especially when one faces another professional. This is a dark future and a gritty tale.
It’s been five years since  Kim Harrison had a new tale of the Hollows of Cincinnati where witches, elves, and demons are real. For Rachel Mariana Morgan, American Demon (hard from ACE),  it’s only been six months since she rebuilt the ever-after and saved the demons. She and Trent are almost living together. Her living vampire partner Ivy  is back with I. S.  But the pixie Jenks is still helping her. The case starts with an energy being that causes one lover to try to kill the other. But it’s more complicated and a problem of elven politics. It turns out that she and Trent are the intended victims.  Lots of fun.
The second book in Jeff Wheeler’s Grave Kingdom trilogy contiues the tale of warrior chosen by the Phoenix to oppose the eternal Dragons, two humans who found a way to become immortal. It is a world where magic brings out The Killing Fog (paper) and the phoenix sword impelled Bingmei to revive the ancient emperor Echion who for thousands of years has ruled a version of China until overthrown. After resting in an ancient city under a glacier, it is time for him to try again to create an eternal empire.  Bingmei and her people are trapped in The Buried World (paper from 47 North) and the Phoenix urges her to cross the boundary to the grave world and death to save her world from the emperor. I’m waiting eagerly to find out how this ends.
    Someone at Baen Books loves the old SF of the sixties and seventies that I grew up with.
The late James H. Schmitz started The Witches of Karres (paper) with a novelette in 1949. Eric Flint and David Freer tell of the time when the Leewit, a five-year-old in the original, is full into her powers as a teenager and The Shaman of Karres (hard from Baen). She and Captain Pausert take the Venture into a war zone to somehow stop one side from winning a centuries old war, because the prognosticators of Karres predict the result will be horrible. It takes them several adventures to get there.  At the same time, Goth who is now old enough to have feelings for Captain Pausert, makes her own way to the embattled planet. The usual light fun ensues with difficulties eased by the psionic powers of the witches.
The Janissaries series by the late Jerry Pournelle set the war game action on the Planet of Tran where aliens have dumped earth cultures every six centuries in order to grow an opiate crop that only grows when Tran comes closest to smallest star in the system, causing heavy global warming and disruption. In the fourth book, almost finished before Jerry Pournell’s death and finished by his son Philip and David Weber, it’s been fourteen years since the troupe of mercenaries led by Rick Galloway were taken from Earth.  The main battle in Mamelukes (hard from Baen)  is an attack on a Venice like city by oared galleons and opposed by soldiers, including Gurkas’ with modern Earth  weapons The mcguffin is three crates of educational material from Earth sent with a teacher and two assistants. Lots of fun. I suspect that Jerry Pournelle left notes so that others can continue the series.
I found The Histories of Herodotus in my quest to discover more about the appearance of Judaism. Herodotus published his work by reading it aloud about the same time that Ezra the Scribe read the Torah in Jerusalem for the first time. The ancient world is so alien to modern eyes that it might as way have been modern fantasy. It’s a world where human sacrifice and cannibalism are normal and where decision makers consult oracles on major decisions. While the main thrust is about Xerxes, king of the Persians and his attack on Athens (300 Spartans) but he starts it a century or so before and fills in details of many of the known cultures of the time. There’s no overlap with the Bible because Herodotus knows very little of the Syrians in Palestine, but it is essential to understand the world at the time of the return to Zion.
    Baen has reprinted in paper an early Liaden tale by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Carpe Diem, Brad R. Torgersen’s A Star Wheeled Sky which won a Dragon Award, Martin L. Shoemaker’a Today I Am Carey about an intelligent robot,  and Larry Correia’s second in the Forgotten Warrior series House of Assassins in paper.  They also have the Man-Kzin Wars XV and Voices of the Fall edited by John Ringo and Gary Poole  collections in paper.  The legal sf tales of Overruled edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio is in trade. They have also reprinted Larry Niven, Jerry Prurnelle, and Steve Barnes tale of Beowulf’s Children in trade.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on June 12th, if the closure is over.  The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at the Rotunda 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.