Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                               HOME
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Science Fiction for January 2022
by Henry L Lazarus
    Another year starting and Covid is only over in most of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
A. J. Hackwith has a nice trilogy about The Library of the Unwritten (paper) located in hell. Claire has been head of the unwritten wing for decades. She and her assistant, the former muse Brevity have to hunt Hero who has escaped from his unfinished book and had gone to Earth to convince his writer to finish her book. Meanwhile a soul arriving in heaven has a piece of the Devil’s Dictionary. The fallen angel Ramiel is soon in a race with the two librarians  to recover the missing book. Then treachery leads to the destruction of many of the books and a well of ink in the Arcane branch. Ramiel now working with the two librarians and Hero, have to deal with the The Archive of the Forgotten (paper) to discover the hidden secret of the libraries. Unfortunately this secret could lead to the destruction of all the libraries. Only if they somehow manage to separate from Hell, and that requires finding a doorway and The God of Lost Words (paper from Ace). This is a marvelous concept for the afterlife, Claire, Divinity, Ramiel, and of course Hero are interesting characters that echo with life. Highly recommended.
Terry Montlick has a fun tale about Professor Alice Sutton, Nobel prize winner and working on a theorem that will shake up Physics again. Alice is the Einstein of her time, and she is building something in a locked room in her lab, that has intelligent agencies all inflamed. She’s also a hillbilly ready and willing to use her shotgun as needed. Robert Goldstein is a first year grad student in Physics, and well over his head when Alice asks him to join her group. Alice's Universe (ebook) expands  when Robert’s sister suddenly arrives and somehow gets adopted by the group. This is a tale with a lot of real physics, a bit of magic from the hills, and even a small dash of time travel. Highly recommended.
Colin Alexander has a fun Medieval tale set on a world that constantly faces its sun. After settling human has regressed with knights in armor and cannons new on the scene. Aeryn Stonebreake, Princess of Shadows (paper from Alton Kremer) is the only heir to the high kingdom after she watches her mother and brother murdered in front of her. Luckily she is raised by a regent who lets her work with a sword master. The regent is concerned with getting her married so that her husband could be king and restore the divided land. Unfortunately things are taken out of his hands when Aeryn is almost old enough to rule, and she has to flee a forced marriage, and eventually find a place to survive. Lots of fun and highly recommended.     
After surviving castration for sleeping with his best friend’s sister, Aemilius Felix Boioannes the younger is sent to the capital city of the Echmen to work as a translator for the small Robur embassy. First he saves a Hus noblewoman who had almost been executed by mistake, then news comes in about an army that had destroyed the Robur Empire, leaving him without a job and a people. The Hus take him in because they had saved their princess, then the Echmen decided to capture all the Hus and put them to work building a massive wall. Thus begins K. J. Parker (Tom Holt)’s fun tale of A Practical Guide to Conquering the World (paper from Orbit) in which Felix uses the knowledge he had gotten from the Imperial Library and a bit of stage magic to first rescue the Hus, and then with the other tribes of Dejauzida, conquer the Echmen, and then... This is a lovely Swiftian farce that lightly satirizes religion and iron age empires, and leaves a tremendous grin. Highly recommened.  
Kate Elliott tells of an authoritarian magical world in which those with powers have to serve a decade of service  Fellian is a Lamplighter serving as Servant Mage (hard from Tor) by  cleaning at a lowly inn.  A small group of rebels free her, because her powers will help trapped miners. Then destruction caused by the birth of a baby will all five of the powers. Kings had been chosen from those will all five powers and the small group is in a race to rescue the baby before the current rulers kill it. This is an interesting introduction to this world.
Babylon Steel runs a brothel in Scalentine which has many portals that connect it to other worlds. According to Gaie Sebold, Babylon escaped from a world run by immortal avatars of Bad Gods (paper from Rebellion, Solaris). Her brothel is in trouble from a number of things including a con man, a religious group trying to close her down, and the Avatars hunting from a ring she stole. Luckily she has the chief of police ( a werewolf) on her side along with her close friends who work at the brothel. Lots of fun with a sequel already written.
Mercedes Lackey looks at the The Silver Bullets of Annie Oakley (hard from DAW). The sharpshooter is touring Europe when she is told about her untrained elemental master powers of air, and starts training in magic. Fun.
L. R. Braden starts a fun series in the world of  his  Magicsmith universe. Demon possession usually kills the bearer, but somehow Mira Fuentes has reached a truce with her demon and is mostly in control except when Demon Riding Shotgun (paper from Bell Bridge Books)  is necessary to survive.  Her demon survives by eating demons who possess people. Unfortunately there’s another, and more powerful demon who has found a way to survive in the human world. That demon has a plan to move the demon universe closer to the real one with a magic spell that involves killing many people. Only with the help of a burnt out cop, Ty Williams, mourning the loss of a partner, can Mira avoid the cops chasing her, and somehow save the world. Lots of fun and potential sequels.
Five years ago Michael Z. Williamson wrote a fun tale about a mixed group of soldiers sent back in time accidently 13,000 years, which is A Long Time Until Now (hard). Eventually they were rescued by time travelers from a few centuries. Other groups were also sent accidently back and they want the soldiers rescued to help them. But That was Now, This is Then (hard from Baen). Some of the first group can’t go so they get replaced by scientists. This is definitely a luxury trip compared to the first, with future technology. The ones they are rescuing, however, have had a long five years to adapt to the past and not all are willing to return. Then there’s a second group of sixth century Norsemen who require a second trip. The people from the future like the way our heroes worked with the rescued soldiers and want them for more expeditions, suggesting that sequels will come soon.
Fate's Ransom( paper from 47North)  is the fourth and final tale about an honorable knight undeserved by the kings he served. Jeff Wheeler adds a small amount of magic to the very real tale of a Knight who served the Plantagenet family through four kings, dying during the time of King John (or in this book King Jon)  It’s hard not to cry at the end.
    Subterranean Press has Holy Terror: Stories by Cherie Priest in hardcover. Robert E. Hampson and Sandra L.Medlock have a collection of stories about setting up a colony and The Founder Effect (paper from Baen) it creates. Gallery Books is reprinting  Michael Moorcock’s classic Elric of Melniboné series in hard cover.
    Baen has reprinted in paper Sharon Lee and Steve Miller latest liaden universe tale, Local Custom; and Marc Miller’s Agent of the Imperium.
    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.