Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for August 2020
by Henry L Lazarus
In Science Fiction and Fantasy not only are the
characters created by the writer, but also the society they live in.
Linden A. Lewis has an amazing
first novel that hopefully will find its way to an award nomination.
After a century long war in which the artificial intelligences quit
is disgust, Earth and Mars have combined into the Geans, and are
served by a mute sisterhood who both bless the soldiers and serve as
their prostitutes. Opposing them are the rich Icarii of Venus and
Mercury whose discovery of a metal on Mercury allows anti-gravity.
Our heroine is The First Sister (hard from Skybound Book) of
the space ship Juno which had been captured from the Icarii. She was
supposed to leave with the last captain, but somehow has to restore
her ranks as the sister minstering to the Captain. Lito val Lucius
is an Icarian specialized soldier wounded when the Gaens took Ceres.
His old partner has turned traitor and he and a new partner have a
mission to work they way into Ceres and kill his old partner with
whom he had been linked with a brain implant. They also have to kill
the mother of the sisterhood. Nothing that either character has been
told is correct. There are so many twists here that the tale
just blew me away. Sequels are promised, but the current tale
stands enough on its own. Excellent.
Marie Brennan tells of a universe
of post-apocalyptic worlds, slowly disappearing like Driftwood
(paper from Tachyon Publications) into a central core of final
destruction. One constant of this group of worlds is a guide called
Last. He may have finally disappeared, so a group of people who knew
him gather together to tell their tales. This is a fascinating
universe and I suspect this group of tales will find its way to be
nominated for something.
Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs is a
genius who only survived because the musketeer Jean-Claude stopped
the midwife from killing her because of her deformed hand. Curtis
Craddock sets the action on a broken world with floating islands and
continents Nobility is defined by having one of the defined magical
talents, like shape shifting or mirror walking, and at the beginning
of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (paper) Isabelle is
chosen to wed the second son of the king of one of the two known
continents but this is all a plot by an ancient sorcerer and
stopping him reveals Isabelle’s rare magical right arm. Then The
celebration of the King of Isabelle’s home continent’s
birthday, reveals a plot to overthrow him with a disease that
removes magic. Isabelle and Jean-Claud have to navigate through a An
Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (paper) to save the kingdom.
As a result there is a discovery of a third continent that may
contain the vault of the savior. Granted captaincy of an expedition
to this The Last Uncharted Sky (hard from Tor), Isabelle has
to not only deal with treachery, her mental health as a consequence
of what happened in the previous book, but also stop the man who
wants access to the vault to destroy the world. Very exciting and an
interesting and well defined unusual world. I can only hope for more
tales set in this interesting universe.
I can only hope that terrorists
don’t read Ben Bova and Doug Beason’s exciting tale of a Space
Station Down (hard from Tor) because they show a plausible way
for terrorist to get aboard the ISS. The only survivor, Kimberly
Hasid-Robinson, is at first disconnected from NASA support and
watches as her astronaut friends are murdered so the station can be
set to de-orbit as a potential bomb. The technical details feel
accurate and make for an edge-of-your-seat thriller. Good way
to take your mind off current events.
Micaiah Johnson tells of a future
earth ruined by corporations. Travel to 372 alterate earths is
possible only for people whose doppelganger has died. Most of Cara’s
alternate selves died young in the harsh reality of the Ashlands.
Then Adam Bosch, inventor of the technology, hired her and others
like her to collect data on the other worlds,. That gives her a job
and a temporary visa. She has a deep secret, family ties to
the Ashland and is trying to get citizenship In the socialist walled
Wiley city. Then reports of her alternate on Earth 175 dying, lets
the corporation send her, almost killing her in the process. Her
alternate is actually alive. Earth 175, however, reveals a secret
about Adam Bosch, something worth stopping him. The Space
Between Worlds (hard from Del Rey) is a tense thriller that
kept me up late finishing it. I hope this gets nominated for an
Sucker Punch (hard from
Berkley) is Laurell K. Hamilton’s twenty-seventh tale of Anita
Blake, Vampire Hunter. Ms Hamilton practically invented the genre of
vampires and werewolves in an alternate world where they are part of
the landscape. After the first ten, the tales added enough sex to
edge into porn. This tale has no sex, but there is a lot of
relationship talk that wasn’t necessary. Anita has been called to a
small Michigan town where another U. S. Martial has a problem with a
warrant of execution against a wereleopard thought to have killed
his uncle. The guy is locked in jail, but the Marshal thinks that
the execution would be murder, especially if the young man was
framed for the murder. The uncle was very rich, with relatives eager
for their share of the fortune. Of course the judge who issued the
writ, will only extend the writ for a few hours. Anita’s friends and
friend-enemies somehow make it to add their comments. This is a
minor addition to a fun long-running series and a must for fans of
Modern Earths with magic can
create horrible murder weapons. A musical super-star is murdered at
her ranch by a spell of death and decay that attacks like a disease
and contaminates the area it infects. Nell Ingram is one of the
agents of PsyLED sent to investigate and has an ability to
work with nature to make things grow. Faith Hunter’s tale of Spells
for the Dead (paper from ACE) is a solid police procedural in
which the PsyLED agents not only have to discover who was
responsible, but also the motive and the real intended victim. They
also have to discover how to stop and eventually contain the
contamination. Lots of fun.
Jon Hayes is merely Bystander
27 (paper from Angry Robot) when his pregnant wife is killed
during a fight between Captain Light and the Jade Shade. He
can’t let well enough alone, slowly realizing how inane his world’s
logic is. Villains somehow have access to super science to commit
stupid crimes. Damage is cleaned up the next day. He even visits the
Jade Shade, only to discover an empty space instead of a jail.
Stealing weapons from minor villains, he plans to confront Captian
Light at the ceremony honoring him to help discover why his world is
so caught up in super hero battles. While the solution is a bit odd,
Rik Hoskin tells an exciting and centered tale of a Navy Seal
veteran using all his skills to probe the impossible. Lots of fun.
According to Michael Swanwick, the
late Gardner Dozois, one time editor of Asimov’s have been working
on a tale of a low tech society living next to City Under the
Stars (paper from Macmillan), city whose inhabitants have
reached the ultimate and dissapeared. Hanson is a coal shoveler
whose has gotten too old for his job and murders his foreman. A
series of events gets him inside the locked city with the ability to
open it. Tortured to reveal what secrets he knows, he eventually
leads an expedition inside the strange city. I can see why it took
so long to write, but there is an awkward feel to this strange tale,
but this is the last writing of the brilliant Gardner Dozois and is
well worth a read.
In the second half of Anthony
Ryan’s tale of Vaelin Al Sorna who has gotten himself caught in a
fantasy version of the Chinese Mongol invasian, Vaelin has to battle
the The Black Song (hard from ACE) within him, a spirit that
gives him advance warning of sword blows, but sometimes turns him
into a berserker unable to distinguish between friend and foe.
His alternate with the same power has turned himself into a god,
sacking cities and, with magic, turning most of his foes into
wariors who worship him. Since the new emperor of China has been
pushed out of the continent into the nearby islands, the exciting
battles at the end are fought at sea. Very exciting.
I almost didn’t include Karen
Osborne’s exciting tale about the Architects of Memory (hard
from TOR) because the two heroines end up is such a horrible
position. But this is the first of an exciting series. So that more
is coming. This is a tale of a future where indentured people are
treated like slaves and huge corporations barely interupt their war
in the face of an alien invasion that destroyed many colonies.
Twenty-five is a small scavenger ship working in a battlefield where
a weapon was discovered that forced the aliens away. Ash
Jackson had been an indentured miner and is hiding the fact that she
is dying of a disease caused by mining. Now she is hoping that
getting citizenship will allow her to be treated. The aliens are
truly weird and different than anything I’ve seen before. The twists
come fast and nothing is as expected. I wish the tale had paused at
a happier note, because I hate waiting to see ihow Ash and her
captain Kate survive.
Steven Brust has spent most of his
career writing about the world of the Dragaeran Empire. Most
of these are about the adventures of a assassin, Vlad Taltos whose
life is short compared to that of the Dragaeran’s who can live for
thousands of years. As a lark he created a series of prequels based
roughly on Dumas’s tales of the Three Musketeers (all five books)
and set before the lose of the magical orb, caused the empire to
lose most of it’s magic. His latest The Baron of Magister Valley
(hard from Tor) is based on another Dumas work about an falsely
imprisoned Noble who manages an impossible escape and finds a way to
get his revenge. It mainly is set in the interregnum period between
the loss of the orb and its recovery. Like the others the
style, is purposely awkward, but I find it funny and the series
Carrie Vaughn has a second short
tale of The Heirs of Locksley (paper from Tor), the children
of Robin Hood. The tale takes place during the second crowning of
thirteen-year-old King Henry III and somehow involves Mary, the
eldest, winning an archery contest and saving her betrothed’s life.
John, the second child, sneaks into the King’s chamber to teach the
boy how to climb a tree and somehow uncovers a plot. Light fun.
Arcane America surmises
that Haley’s comet in 1759 brought with it a return of magic. Before
that Ben Franklin had become The Caller of Lightning (hard
from Baen) because of the special metal in the key which was also
found in the Liberty Bell. Peter J. Wacks and Eytan Kollin have fun
with Ben Franklin’s investigation into magic in both Philadelphia
and London. He encounters magical societies, but also an immortal
man who has spurred these societies over the ages, and a plot to use
the Bell when the comet was directly over head, to create more
immortals. Light fun.
Outland Entertainment has an anthology from
Neverland's Library edited by Roger Bellini, Tim
Marquitz, & Rebecca Lovatt in trade. Baen books has
an anthology Give Me Libertycon (trade and edited by
Christopher Woods and T. K. F. Weisskopf) with new tales by
baen authors who are celebrating the Chattanooga convention.
Paper reprints from Baen include Charles E.
Gannon’s Marque of Caine, the fifth of that fun series;
David Drake’s RCN tale, To Clear Away the Shadows; and D. J.
Butler’s Witchy Kingdom.
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.