Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                            Home
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Science Fiction for February 2021
by Henry L Lazarus
    Science Fiction and Fantasy can take you to anywhere and anywhen. Great for imagining yourself away from the turmoil of present events and cold.
Sylvain Neuvel proves that the space race was the result of alien interference in A History of What Comes Next (hard from Tor) which looks at how Sarah and her daughter Mi’a (the 100th in the line of Kibsi that stretch back to the iron age) first help rescue German rocket scientists for the Americans at the end of WWII. Then they go to Moscow to help Russia develop rockets. They are chased by men they call trackers, asocial killers who are hunting for a stolen machine. Their alien biology makes them stronger, smarter, and faster than humans and each child is an exact copy of their parent. Mi’a and Sarah’s story ends with Sputnic and a nasty encounter with the trackers that left me wanting more. Excellent.
During the second Galactic empire, bureaucrat Jonathon Bland volunteered to be an Agent of the Imperium (trade from Baen). Using the same technology that allows transfer of skills, Jonathon’s wafer can take over the wearer’s body up to thirty days. He is the decider agent called up in an emergency. In the four centuries that Marc Miller’s fun tale covers, he wipes out an infected world, and helps plan an Imperial assassination. One of his ex-carriers suffered mental collapse, leaving Jonathon in control for twenty years. Apparently there is a game based on the tale, but that didn’t matter. This is a fascinating read and very enjoyable.
Fans of   Outlander and Netflix’s Barbarians will really love  H. B. Ashman’s Echoes of Germania (paper from Timeless Papers) which sends a young woman from today back to a decade before the Battle of Teutoburg Forest.  Arminius, the future general of that war and Marius, a famous Roman General who are in the middle of a campaign against a German revolt when engineering student Amalia Weber is sent back in time by a witch. Amelia has been trained by her bronze medal winning father in Judo and somehow took Latin in high school well enough to keep her alive (and not raped) until she can prove herself with Judo and bridge-building ability. Ms. Ashman captures the grit and bloodiness of that period and ends this portion of Amelia’s tale with an exciting Chariot race. I look forward to more of the tale.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr. has spread his fantasy series about the world of Recluse over centuries of its history. Fairhaven eventually will be destroyed in The Order War (paper). At the time of Fairhaven Rising (hard from Tor) however it’s filled with the hopes of Chaos and Order mages working together, and it’s just a small, but growing town. Taelya, a chaos mage, is an undercaptain in the Royal Guards when Fairhaven is asked to provide troops in a war between two nation states. They’ve been fighting over a river, and politics has led one leader to demand help from his weaker neighbor. The problem to these leaders is the dangerous potential of Fairhaven. It may not have many troops, but it has too many mages for their comfort. Taelya and her friends soon find themself buried in political trickery that will take all their talents and magical abilities. This is a bit slow, but very enjoyable. I love this series.
Greg Bear finds Reynard, almost a man, drifting on a hulk of a fishing boat destroyed by the Spanish Armada. Rescued by one of the Armada ships, also lost, the ships finds its way to The Unfinished Land (hard from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). There god-like crafters are dying, and monsters abound. The Spanish, though weakened by the time-eating vampires, are aiding witches in conquering the island. Reynard, with the help of his new friends must make his way to the center of the Island to find his destiny. I was a bit disappointed with Reynard’s destiny, but the wonders of the trip were worth the read.
Beth C. Greenberg drops Cupid out of Mount Olympus into modern times in an adult body where he is shepherded by his best friend Pan. Pan had avoided returning because he hated his goat legs there. Unfortunately Cupid is there because he misused his First Quiver (ebook from Isotopia Publishing) and after losing his virginity and having all the women moon over him, he is shot with one of his arrows and has to deal with love. Silly and funny.
Angie Fox continues her fun tale of a MASH surgeon in the war between the Old and New gods.  Things are quieter during the truce, and Petra Robichaud has been treating a pregnant Medusa Then Marc sneaks into her camp. Marc, a were-dragon, surgeon, and Petra’s old flame had been drafted by the other side and reported dead before Petra was drafted. Now he wants Petra to sneak into the other side’s MASH to talk to the ghost of his research head. It turns out that the other side has developed a disease with a total death rate for non-immortals. In  The Transylvania Twist (ebook from Moose Island Books) Petra starts working with Marc trying to find an anesthesia drug for gods and demi-gods. But that, and the seer’s predictions only make things worse. One more book to go in this fun romance, and I can’t wait. 
Rafael (paper from Berkley), king of the wererats, is one of Anita Blake’s lovers. He has to fight a duel to the death against Hector who may be his son. Unfortunately an enemy vampire of Anita’s is providing Hector with extra energy complicating the duel, and making the duel a challenge against the vampire leader, Jean-Claude.  As usual Laurell K. Hamilton tells a fun tale.
A decade ago David Weber wrote a fun tale of alien invasion and Earth coming Out of the Dark (paper) with the help of vampires. Now with the help of Chris Kennedy he continues the tale Into the Light (hard from Tor). Some of the vampires take the Shongairi ships, which travel six times the speed of light, to the Shongairi home world. That’s a journey of forty years. Meanwhile humanity, with the help of the  Galactic Hegemony database, first recovers from the distruction and nuclear winter. Then engineers discover that the Hegemony is very risk averse and hasn’t improved their technology for millennia. Fortunately there are a lot of improvements. Then a ship is sent to a world with 1920's technology to get allies. Lots of fun, and I suspect that sequels are planned.
    Subterranean Press has The Best of Elizabeth Hand and The Best of Walter Jon Williams, two excellent authors, in hard cover. Baen has The Best of Jerry Pournelle edited by John F. Carr in paper. They also have reprinted Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden universe tale, Accepting the Lance, and Wil McCarthy’s tale of past memory Antediluvian both in paper.
    Metaphorosis best of 2020 is available as an ebook from Metaphorosis Publishing.
    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.