Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                        HOME
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Science Fiction for November 2020
by Henry L Lazarus
    Fantasy and Science Fiction provide lots of fun reading for the coming holiday period.
E.E. Knight continues the very enjoyable tale of Ileth, Daughter of the Serpentine (ebook from ACE) a very poor girl at the Serpentine Academy who is now an apprentice and unable to afford the sash for her uniform. This is a world of intelligent dragons who are considered citizens of the Republic. While I didn’t read the first tale in this series, I was soon caught up in Ileth’s problems and friends, including some of the dragons. The Republic’s trade has been destroyed by pirates. She discovers this when Master Trasker assigns her a report on the local problems, and she finds filed battle plans to deal with the problem. Later Governor Raal of the North Provence has her pulled from her duties because he claims her as his daughter. The raid eventually happens and she loses some friends in the skirmish. I’m going to buy the first book and wait eagerly for the next tale.
Voyager has reissued Jo Spurrier’s fun tale of the The Blackbone Witches, A Curse of Ash and Embers which I hadn’t read and enjoyed enough to buy Daughter of Lies and Ruin the second book in the series. This tale of Elodie, a young girl who thought she was hired as a maid and ends up a witch’s apprentice is fun and absorbing. I’m eager for the next tale.
Mark de Jager tells the tale of an Infernal(hard from Solaris) person, Stratus, who wakes up paralyzed. He has no memory of his past and the vultures would have eaten him except for his accidental discovery by a passing caravan.  He’s almost solidly black, very strong and eventually discovers his sorcerous strength. He’s also amoral with no problem eating people. Eventually he makes his way to Krandin, a kingdom under attack by the Worm King who uses magical worms to raise the dead. In addition to recovering his memory and discovering what he is, Stratus has to fight the church warriors, the walking dead, and wizards. Very intense and more of the story will come in the promised sequel.  
Fourteen-year-old Caiden didn’t know he was a slave, only that the cattle his people were raising died, and the overseers promised his people a new world, except they are deliberately fed to giant lizards and he is the only survivor. He finds his way to an abandoned empty ship and somehow turns it on enough to create a protective field, when the overseers come looking for the Nophek Gloss (paper from Orbit) crystal he found in the head of one of the lizards. What he didn’t know that a battle was happening over head, until five spacers find their way to him and help him get the ship off planet. Essa Hansen tells a fun tale in a multiverse in which different universes, of all shapes and sizes,  have different physical properties. Caiden is soon aged six years and finds himself working with Threi, a man seeking revenge agains the leader of the overseers. This is a first novel with some awkwardness, but the tale glimmers with originality and and absorbing scenes. A sequel is coming and I can’t wait.
 Nadia Afifi writes of a post war future America divided between fundamentalist religious compounds and the city of Westport that has several stations in space. Amira Valdez escaped from one of the compounds as a teenager.  She is a newly graduated Psychologist adept at using a holomentic reader that can create holographic images of The Sentient (hard from Flametree Press) memories and dreams.  She is assigned to a high profile cloning experiment because the first two attempts, using women who had escaped from the religious compounds, had led to the deaths. Nadia finds that the third woman, Rozene, who had also escaped from the compounds had had her memory altered, and that was depressing her. Unfortunately there is far more going on. There’s a conspiracy between leaders of Westport who have a cosmic theology and leaders of the compounds. When Rozene is kidnapped, Nadia hunts to find her both in space and in the empty wilderness of America. Very exciting.
Patrick S. Tomlinson has a fun interesting beginning to what promises to be a fun series.  Tysson Abington, CEO of the Ageless Corporation based on the company owned planet of Lazarus, finds his company under attack by generically modified microbes on a mining camp and internal spies. Captain Susan Kamala’s ship the Ansari is patrolling the outskirts of a world being developed by the Ageless company and discovers it’s drones are being desroyed by a ship from the insectoid XIR. It’s been seventy years since the XIR-human war and the ZIR have a new weapon to test.  Nothing is In the Black (paper from TOR) because of unexpected and fun twists. Allies are made from enemies. I can’t wait for the next episode now that all the major characters are together.
Elizabeth Vail has a cute mystery set in the land of Naxos where gods are quite real. Iris Tharro is  a human agent of the Goddess of Justice. The murder victim is a girl transformed into a kestrel and laid on the altar in the Aestros windtamer’s temple. Andy Iriki, a demigod with mother issues, somehow ends up her partner. Iris can’t be involved in a case concerning the gods and this is clearly a case of  Gods & Lies (ebook from Serial Box) lot of light fun, and probably more cases to follow.
The Mentak Coalition is collection of planets ruled by pirates. Captain Felix Duval and the other two crew of the Temerarious patrol some remote systems when Philip Thales, a physicist in hiding, is kidnapped by a group of federation mercenaries led by Amina Azad. Thales has been working on a device to create artificial worm holes, and Duval’s leaders want him to steal the missing parts and help Thales build the device. There’s an engineer to be rescued and a experimental power system to be stolen. The problem is that Thales is also looking for revenge and doesn’t hesitate to kill those he perceives as his enemies. Amina Azad also keeps chasing them, somehow getting other ships and people to follow her. Tim Pratt tells a light tale that eventually leads to The Fractured Void (paper from Aconyte Books). The tale was fun, though a bit generic and I look forward to a sequel that sounds Lovecraftian.
In the eleventh episode about Alex Verus, a diviner who can use his visions of potential futures to dodge bullets, Benedict Jacka has his hero Forged (paper from Ace) to a magical device that allows him to force a future. He’s still on the run from the council, and his ex-lover Anne is still bonded to a Jin, making her very dangerous. Levistus is controlling the council through blackmail acquired by a magical computer. This time Alex has to do the impossible and steal that magical computer and also somehow deal with the Council death squads after him. There’s more to come, but things are getting desperate. Fun, as usual.
Neal Asher is one of the best super-science writers, filling his universe with A.I. rules, and characters with expanded mental computer access. The Human(hard from Skyhorse Publishing) is technically the third of the Rise of the Jain but really a culmination of the fifteen books of the Polity universe. Ancient Jain technology has infected  the Polity, and has destroyed previous civilizations including the Jain. Then Jain warship is released from a blister of space where time moved much slower. The tale is of continuous battle that Mr. Asher somehow keeps understandable and involving. Very exciting and a must for Neal Asher fans.
Kalayna Price concludes her series about P.I. Alex Craft who is also a grave witch, with a Grave War(ebook from Ace) that starts with someone blowing up the gates to  Faerie.  Then her father, The Governor, is murdered in front of her. Finally earthquakes start rocking Faerie. To survive, Alex has to take on new responsibilities and face an evil villain.  While this final episode is a bit generic, it provides a solid ending for fans of the series.
Christopher G. Nuttall concludes his Embers of War series with Debt of War(paper from 47North) with a Commonwealth Civil War that pits King versus Parliament and puts Admiral Kat Falcone and her ex-comrade on opposite sides. Unfortunately is soon becomes obvious to the reader that one of them is on the wrong side, especially when that sides decides on the war crime of destroying cities. This is a bit disquieting as all civil wars tend to be.
    Baen has reprinted T. C. McCarthy’s fun tale of a cyborg Tyger Burning in paper and and early tale from Wil McCarthy’s Collapsium series, The Welstone in trade. Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio have collected an anthology of Cosmic Corsairs (trade from Baen). Subterranean Press has a collection of  Joe R. Lansdale tales, Fishing for Dinosaurs and Other Stories in hardcover.
    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.