Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                   HOME
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Science Fiction for September 2021
by Henry L Lazarus

    We’re already through three quarters of a crazy year. Only Fantasy and Science Fiction tales have crazier ones.
In Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s world, vampires are a separate species and there are ten types. They are the heads of the drug cartels. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, knows about these Certain Dark Things (paper from Tor) but he is captivated by Atl from the moment she gets blood from him. Atl is in the city state of Mexico City to get documents to go south, even though vampires are illegal in the city. She is also being hunted by the truly evil  son of the head of the clan that killed her family. This is edge-of-your-seat excitement.
Marina J. Lostetter tells the tale of an android, Unit Four, who is decanted hurriedly when it’s mining station above Jupiter is attacked by aliens. Because of the radiation, its kind only live nine months so it’s born with all the abilities it needs, and within minutes it is on a ship attacking the aliens. Unfortunately it crashes its ship into the alien vessel and is captured. Activation Degradation (ebook from Harper Voyager) is an intense look at what it means to be human after Earth became uninhabitable. Very intense and highly recommended.
Lincoln Michel has a noir tale of a grubby future Earth ruined by greed. Smog fills the low levels of New York and the inhabitants are modified both by machine and by chemicals. Artifical insects can attack at any time.  Baseball has been resurrected by big Pharma to push the drugs that they use on the players.  Kobo is The Body Scout (paper from Orbit), a onetime star of the defunct Cyber league who scouts for future players and the scientists who might produce breakthrough drugs. Then his adopted brother, and big league baseball star, suddenly dies on national television. Murder? Koba starts investigating, despite goons after him to collect on his massive debt. Soon he runs into a girl who might be his niece and who is being hunted by the drug companies who might have killed her father. Dark and very violent. The tale is impossible to put down. I don’t want to live in that future.
Tor is reprinting Alex Pheby”s tale of the city of Mordew(hard) where its master is all powerful, able to create marvelous buildings for the very rich, while the poor starve in their hovels. This first third of a Dickinson like tale about Nathan Treeves, a thirteen-year-old boy whose parents tell him not to spark. His father is dying of bugs growing in his lungs sending Nathan off to find medicine. He quickly joins a small group of orphans living on the streets and helps them steal.  Alex Pheby paints a harsh world with a dead god, talking dogs, and soldiers with gills. Ghosts fill the streets and people who have mastery of magic are all powerful. Recomended, even though two more parts of this tale are still to come.
M. J. Kuhn starts a fun tale of treachery Among Thieves (ebook from Gallery / Saga Press). The mcguffin is a magical quill that controls the adepts (kenetics who move very quickly and use telekenesis, and sensors who can sense danger). They obey their masters and are sold to the rich and powerful. Owned by the powerful Guildmaster, it is on his private island only accessible to the public once a year. The thieves include: Ryia, a cat burgler with some of the adept abilities; Nash a smuggling sea captain; Tristan, a con man with a dark secret; Ivan, a master of disguise; and Evelyn, who was tossed out of the guards when Ryia took a finger from the prince she was guarding. How they come to work together and infiltrate the Guildmaster’s island is thrilling and impossible-to-put-down. I can’t wait for the rest of this pulse pounding tale.  
Niko Larson was an admiral in the Army of the Hive Mind for less than a day after brokering peace between three major galactic powers. She had her crew have retired and set up a restaurant on a station.  The Last Chance restaurant has been doing well enough to attract a galactic critic, and then disaster strikes. TwiceFar station is destroyed and Nico and friends find refuge on the bioship You Sexy Thing (hard from Tor) headed for a prison planet because the ship thinks they have tried to steal it.   Cat Rambo tells a whimsical fun tale, constantly putting his characters in deep trouble.  The end deliberately forces the tale into the first of a series. Interesting.
Naomi Hughes writes of a world drained of magic, which had its magical technology destroyed. Monsters that originally thrived from the magic, have become monsters.  Unicorns have the only magic and their riders fight the monsters. Jackson Harper (age 16) has refused to join a Unicorn Patrol because of things he had done to survive before bonding with a Unicorn. Then he runs into Moira Maldrigo, a girl who had been his friend when he was ten, until she moved away. Then Jackson somehow starts the broken magical machinery in a mine. Is magic coming back? Did the unicorns come from another that still has magic? Not all the questions are answered The Shadowed Flame (paper from the author) in this first part of a fun series.
Nathan Foster and his teenage nephew Ben are in The Family Business (hard from Baen) of finding wanted collaborators after the alien invaders were driven to Mars. Emmogene Anderson had been fourteen when the war ended and her forced involvement had ended her in jail. The invaders had wiped her memories and implanted her with a device she can’t control that can be used to kill people. When the implant is discovered, she is sent to a government lab, only to be broken out by an enhanced commando for the aliens, Antony Kreig, who is convinced he is in love with her. Mike Kupari tells a fun tale of Nathan and Ben, working with obnoxious Feds, hunting them  down. Emmogene attempts at escape leave a trail of bodies as Antony’s crew head for the border. Fun, but I dislike deus ex machina endings.
Cait Stevenson calls out all the historically inaccurate fantasy tropes of the middle ages. How to Slay a Dragon (hard from Tiller Press). He uses obscure, but fun, historical examples of the years between the formation of Islam to the fifteenth century. This is a must for would-be writers, and readers interested in a true look at a lost world.
For about two decades Kristen Britain has told tales of her Green Rider (paper) Karigan G'ladheon as she works to save her kingdom. In the seventh book she is still recovering from the torture of the previous tale, and has to deal with the Second Empire attack on Sacoridia. In the middle of the tale, for no apparent reason, the Elves name her Winterlight (hard from DAW). I always get excited to read a new addition to this fun series, because Kristen Britain gives standard fantasy tropes an intensity that draws a reader in and traps them in its solid prose. Highly recommended.
David Drake has a third tale of nobel knight Pal in a world where solid ground exists in a world where solid ground connects to voids. In The Serpent (hard from Baen) Pal has to rescue ladies in distress, deal with bullying nobility, and even serve as a agent for one side in a trial by combat.
Larry Correia’s latest monster hunting tale, Monster Hunter Bloodlines (hard from Baen) has a magical stone macguffin that can kill big bads. It’s stolen by Sonya, a half-shape shifter faster and stronger than your average young woman. After her is a monster that has to be be killed thirteen times before really dying, Catholic monster hunters desperate to stop a big bad in South America, and Owen and the rest of the Monster Hunter International. Pulse pounding fun for those who like strong men with lots of fire power.     
Jeff Wheeler’s third book about a knight nicknamed Ransom who has been fountain blessed to seen his enemies weaknesses, has finally married his love Claire, but his home life is soon ended as events draw him back to court. Lady's Ransom (ebook from 47North) borrows rom the tragic tale of Richard the Lionhearted as Ransom’s king, goes off to fight infendels . At home Ransom is one of the Lords set to look after the Kingdom, and ends of fighting an invasion while Claire is convinced he is having a love affair. Fun series.
Anthony Ryan sends Guyime, an ex-king hunting for demon infested swords to  the City of Songs (hard from Subterranean Press) where one of the swords may have killed the head of an aristocratic house. There’s also a missing artist and truly magical paintings. Guyime and the demon in his sword have to solve the mystery to locate the sword before it kills them. Dark and moody.
    Subterranean Press has Alastair Reynolds’ Belladonna Nights and Other Stories (hard).
    Tor has reprinted the late John M. Ford’s spy tale of The Scholars of Night as an Ebook. John was an exceptional writer who died much too young.
    Baen has reprinted in paper: Narry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Steven Barnes second Heorot tale of a young colony, Beowulf’s Children; Larry Correia's third in his fantasy series Destroyer of Worlds; Wil McCarthy’s tale of the far future of The Collapsium; and P. J. Butler’s tale of a valuable opera singer in a fantasy city In the Palace of Shadow and Joy. Tony Daniel anjd Christopher Ruocchio has a collection of World Breakers (trade from Baen) super tanks.
    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.