Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                    HOME
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Science Fiction for March 2022
by Henry L Lazarus
    March may come in like a lion, but it is also a major publishing time for Fantasy and Science fiction.
Sara A. Mueller tells of a world where powerful psychic talents cause madness.. The Emperor of Boren created mind blocks that give him control of the psychics. He, and those he favor have a drug that keeps them from growing older. Charm is not only his captive, but his mistress. In The Bone Orchard (hard from Tor) she grows bones and once together she grows the organs to make them live, filling them with her alternate personalities. Then someone murders the Emperor and Charm is ordered to find which son was responsible and to ensure they die. She has no authority, but only her wits to accomplish this. The new Emperor is a horrible leader, bankrupting the citizenry with new taxes and impressing those that can’t prove employment into the army. This is a very intense tale and hopefully will show up on award lists.
On fun sf trope is to bring a historical forward to show them our world.  Megan Edwards sets her tale in 1999 when a Nobel Prize winning Physicist invents a way to bring Julius Caesar moments before his assassination. Cassandra Fleury, grad student and former Las Vegas waitress, is added to the team because of her excellent Latin and her looks. When she manages to help Caesar escape from a kidnap attempt she ends up driving him to Vegas and, of course Caesars Palace. Megan Edwards tells a fun tale of what might have been Caesar’s final four days before he needed A Coin for the Ferryman (hard from   Imbrifex Books).
The Kaiju Preservation Society(hard from Tor) exists to prevent human destruction of huge monsters on another Earth. John Scalzi tells the tale of Jamie Gray who had fallen from an executive position at a food delivery company, to delivering food when a chance meeting gets him hired by the KPS and sent through the barrier to basically help the scientists studying the creatures. Of course there’s a madman determined to capture one of these strange creatures, but the true beauty of this tale is the biology of this alternate Earth. Impossible to read without a grin.
Diana Van Doren is a werecrow never accepted by her family’s murder. Her parents were thieves who had been kicked out of the murder for endangering the flock. Her father sets her a task to steal a magical knife For the Murder (ebook from City Owl Press). Enter Sasha Sokolov, a quarter angel whose family has been forced to work for a Queen of Hell exiled to Earth. He will get his freedom if he gets the knife. Gabrielle Ash tells a fun, exciting tale of romance and excitement. It’s a fun world I wouldn’t mind revisiting. I really liked the demon cat.
Michael Mersault tells of a corrupt human star empire. Technology from the alien Shapers, who visit every few years, have advanced human technology and made some families very rich. A small rebellion has started, and it is a perfect place to introduce The Deep Man (trade from Baen). Saef Sinclair-Maaru is a military genius and assigned theTanager, a century old frigate jwith an unusual AI named Loki. Rumors of a Rebel attack on two possible systems has the Tanager assigned to the least likely system to be attacked. Of course it isn’t. There are assassins every where, even aboard the Tanager and Saef has to weave a treacherous path. There’s a deadly surprise waiting him at Delta three, and nothing is as it seems. This is an exciting beginning to a promising series.
Jane Lindskold proves that little old ladies can have adventures too. Meg, Peg, and Teg are the only members of their book club who show up, and they are magically taken to another world where people have animal heads. The three young adults have summoned them for help with their problem, and a verse that comes with them leads to the Library of the Sapphire Wind (trade from Baen) It turns out that the parents of Xerak, Vereez, and Grunwald were responsible for the library’s destruction. The parents were attempting to steal a magical object that has broken into three parts. All three need to be returned. Lots of fun with a flying ship.
Starting two years after the events of A. K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name (paper), Csorwe, Shuthmili, and Tal Charossa offer their services in locating artifacts. The wizard Belthandros Sethennai who has absorbed part of the goddess of The Thousand Eyes (hard from Tor). The goddess had destroyed her snake people empire three thousand years before and that left thousands of ancient cities. In a world where binding to gods give magical powers, the problem is having one’s mind taken over by the god. This is a very intense ending to an exciting dualology.
In an alternate Jazz age there’s a part of New York where guns won’t fire and electricity won’t flow. But a year ago Westside Lights (hard from Harper Voyager). Gilda Carr, solver of small mysteries, has been living with her boy friend  Cherub Stevens on a stolen Yacht and enjoying the new illegal night life. She started looking for a missing seagull. Then she wakes up one morning to a massive murder scene on her deck. Soon she is accused of murder and chased by the police, convinced Cherub’s body was at the murder scene. One hairy escape leads to another until finally the mystery is solved.  This is a great mystery series.
 Charlie N. Holmberg tells of a quest for love. During the war between Moon and Sun, the Star Father (paper from 47North) Saiyon falls to Earth leaving endless night on the Earth. Found by  Aija, an artist who had left the capital because of war, the two fall in love. Eventually the Sun is restored and Aija can no longer touch him. So she goes on a quest across the world to find a way to become immortal so she can live with him. This is a deeply touching mythic tale that left tears in my eyes.
Tim Powers has another Vickery and Christine tale of ghosts and magic in LA, Ingrid Castine, agent for ONI,  is sent from London where she had been faking crop circles to hide the real ones.  The agency is looking for a conspiracy theorist Plowman and hope to catch Vickery with him. Then at the site of a faked UFO, real UFO’s show up in the Stolen Skies (hard from Baen).   Actually they aren’t UFO’s they’re really four dimensional beings trapped on Earth. They’ll freeze the Earth when they leave. Vickery is soon joined by Christine. They are chased by an ex-KGB agent and the partner Ingrid ditched to join Vickery. And there are two other agents from the same division of ONI that sent Ingrid in the first place. I do not understand the magical physics of this world, but the action is fun and our heroes have only four days to save Earth.
Thomas Price, grandfather of the Price family women in previous books, was thrown to a dying universe by the Crossroads fifty years before. Alice, his wife, has been using magical means to stay young, Spelunking Through Hell (trade from DAW) searching through various universes. Staying young involves literally being skinned alive, so her adventures are not for the faint-of-heart.  Seanan McGuire, of course, does let her find her love and face the impossible to return. This is a nice addition to the InCryptid series.
Sue Denver tells how her werewolf protector Sara Flores saves a student hacker who finds that Curiosity Kills (ebook from BooksGoSocial) when he breaks into a computer of a man who has been bribing state officials with an aim at controlling the state. He has plenty of goons and a willingness to kill. This is a well done exciting novelette.
Glynn Stewart images a world where demon’s cause disease.  Alsan, a Paladin, goes into a plague town to kill the demon before necessity requires Balefire (ebook from  Faolan's Pen Publishing) It takes all of his wits to survive. This would be an interesting world to visit for a longer tale.
Charles Stross’s latest Laundry Files novelette fills in what Bob Howard was doing in Japan before everything went to pieces. It seems there was magical being haunting a Japanese Amusement park. To save himself and Japan Bob has to Escape from Yokai Land (ebook from tordotcom).  Yokai land is horribly sweet and very Japanese. He would have been better off fighting dinosaurs.
In Arthur Mayor’s eighth superhuman tale Raven is in Perdition (ebook) in the second half of the same night. The Zombie gas has been released, other bad guys are after him, and he and his friends have only a slim chance of preventing chaos. Oh yes, his mother has discovered his hero identity. Oh my. The usual fun for those following the series.
    Baen has reprinted in paper Wil Mcarthy’s The Welstone about a future without death and Dan Kobolt’s fun tale of Domesticating Dragons. They’ve also reprinted Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon’s fun tale of Generation Warriors in trade.
    Tor has reprinted  Glen Cook’s the Black Company (ebook) as part of their essential series.     
    David Boop has a fun set of tales of a Gunfight at Europa Station (trade from Baen). Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a fifth volume of their A Liaden Universe Constellation. (Paper from Baen). Christopher Roucchio has collected a bunch of Sword and Planet (trade from Baen) tales.
    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.