Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                           HOME
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Science Fiction for May 2022
by Henry L Lazarus
    Vast changes are sweeping the world today and Fantasy and Science Fiction can help make sense of them
The fall of Constantinople is considered the end of the middle ages. In Guy Gavriel Kay’s  alternate history (with a dash of magic) the fall of  Sarantium is just as important to the three religions that worship the Sun, the two moons, and the stars.  Five years after the fall Five years after the fall a small ship lands the captain and his ex-slave partner near another city with the aim of killing its Kalif. All the Seas of the World (hard from  Berkley) takes a lyrical look at that world and the implications of the assassination attempt. I’m certain that this will be up for a Hugo.
Seanan McGuire returns to her world of hidden alchemists to tall Melanie (a sickly girl always on the edge of death) who is linked to the winter queen, and her true love Harry linked to the summer king. The previous King of summer had ruled for three centuries, but his sudden death left a bunch of potential replacements vying for the throne. The two face a quest across modern America to arrive at the Labyrinth were they will be tested,. Seasonal Fears (hard from Tor) falls into the same world as the excellent Middlegame (hard)
Jonathan Maberry tells the tale of Kagen the Damned (hard from St. Martin's Griffin), a noble sworn to protect the heirs of the Silver empire. It is an empire with no enemies who have outlawed magic. Then the witchking sends his armies into the heart of all the Imperial cities, and conquers the empire in one night. Kagen, an expert with double blades drifts through his  conquered world, occasionally murdering enemy soldiers, but mostly burying himself in wine. Then a master thief comes along and needs his help to rob a magical tower for an object that might help in the war. This is a solid tale of sword and sorcery that kept me rapt with excitement. Recommended.  
Rhett C. Bruno and Jaime Castle start a fun series about an ex-outlaw revived after his death to serve heaven and put down monsters. James Crowley work as  Black Badge is never ending even though he is Cold as Hell (hard from Blackstone Publishing). Three indians, one of who has joined with a demon, are attacking banks around the wild west belonging to the man who cheated them. James may be hard to destroy, but people around him are not safe. This is difficult to put down and I’m eager for the next tale.
A. R. Witham tells a very satisfying fantasy about a fourteen-year-old boy with an eidetic memory, is brought to the land of Keymark. Jack Swift had been in foster care since his archeologist father was lost in a cave in, but like to absorb medical texts. His older self would become a doctor, which is who the trol who captures him needs, but he gets the time wrong. The Legend of Black Jack (ebook from Nepenthe House) thrusts Jack into an adventure with pirates, and zombies, and many other monsters.  This is very enjoyable.
In Jeff Macfee’s fun PI tale Nine Tenths (ebook form JAB Books) many superheroes buy the augments that give them power, usually financing them. Gayle Harwood owns a small repo firm for those augments and all his half of the profits are going into supporting his daughter’s cancer treatments. Then his corrupt ex-bos who he had bought the company from, was phased out of existence by someone using Dr. Dimension’s phasing ring. The government freezes his bank account and the only way is to find the missing ring that his rc-npdd might have sold on the side fifteen years ago. The tale twists standard PI tropes nicely for an enjoyable read. The prison visit is something else. I can only hope more adventures in this world are planned. Great!    
Malcolm Fletcher is a radar scientist in the 20's kidnapped by the Phiiprans to help them win a war fought over a mine of material essential to their society. According to  Alex Usher, Malcolm Of Earth (paper from Amazon) doesn’t really fit into their social media based civilization. He soon discovers that the aliens have shot a gamma ray burst at Earth that will destroy all its life in a century. Even after solving their problem, his attempt at saving Earth ends in his punishment. This is a light fun super science tale that I enjoyed.
Helen Harper has a new series about Mairi Wallace,  a mute, orphaned  woman nicknamed Hummingbird (ebook from HarperFire). Mages rule her city of Glasgow and she has been told that there are no female mages. After mages ruin the clothing shop by not paying for goods she is helped by women who tell her a secret about herself that changes everything she knows about her world. Soon she’s on a quest for revenge by getting a job on the staff of the mages to learn everything she can to exact revenge. Of course there’s a person who keeps helping her who she finds sexy. Fun.
It took me two tries to get through Derek Künsken’s The House of Styx (hard from Solaris) because of a woke subplot. The pain tale is simply amazing. Colonists floating in the harsh Venusian atmosphere discover a wormhole to another start system burried at the surface. They have to hide their efforts from a corrupt colony government and an overreaching bank. The environment and crazy colonists are masterfully described. There’s a lot more in this series to come. It should prove interesting.
Eric Lewis’s second tale about the hidden fighters The Heron Kings (hard) takes place a century later. An emperor with dreams of glory decides to invade the kingdom and what isn’t The Heron Kings' Flight (hard from Flame Tree Press) but instead the king, who has no army, flees. The only hope the Heron Kings have is local assistance and a super explosive alchemical weapon that reminded me of nitroglycerine. This is extremely topical because of the war in the Ukraine, and filled with similar war horrors. The evil Phynagoras is very non-pc and the fight is fun.
Jackson Ford’s fourth tale of Teagan Frost, a woman whose parents manipulated her genes to give her telekenetic powers finds her talent blown out by the events of the previous book. A Sh*tload of Crazy Powers (paper from Orbit), hiding her loss of power, she is assigned to protect a senator at a conference of arm’s dealers/ Of course terrorists attack, and of course Teagan’s come back out of control. There’s a subplot of one of Teagon’s partners hunting down Teagan’s powered siblings. I really enjoy this series and didn’t mind  buying books two and three after really enjoying The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind (paper).
Heather Walter concludes her sleeping beauty lesbianism love tale a century after the events of Malice (paper) , Princess Aurora is still asleep from the pricking of the sewing needle, Briar is under Alyce’s Misrule (hard from Del Rey) having collected a lot of imps, gnomes, and other dark fae. Then a man is rescued from sunken ship, and eventually kisses the princess awake to Alycee’s jealousy. There’s also a major war with the elf king. Nice ending but not the expected one.  
Subterranean Press creates expensive printings of Lois McMaster Bujold’s fun Penric series. This time two men, The Assassins of Thasalon (hard) have discovered a loophole in the inability to use  demons like Desdemona to murder. The demons are immediately snuffed out. However using an untrained sorcerer and a newly formed demon, as assassins. After Penric thwarts an attack on his brother-in-law, one of the gods send him and a saint to deal the men. Cedonia is on the edge of civil war after the death of its emperor. This is the first novel length tale in the series and provides the usual fun.
Glynn Stewart ‘s fifth tale of Kira Demirci, who had to run after her home world set assassins after her as a condition of making peace with their enemy, comes after she added a new star carrier, Huntress (ebook from  Faolan's Pen Publishing), to her growing mercenary fleet. The world  Samuels, with a very pacific population, hires her company because another world has blockaded them. She has the fire power to easily end the blockade, and maybe enough charm convince   the fully democratic Samuels to build their own force. Unfortunately she and her ships are heading into more dangerous territory than she thought. This is a nice episode in a great series. I suspect the next one will be far more exciting.
Christopher Rowe has an odd novelette set thirty years after an AI , Athena Parthenus, tried to conquer the American Southwest using mind control and nano-technology. Marcia, who fought in that war, is asked to help guide a small army group to where one of the colossus robots are being excavated. What she finds in These Prisoning Hills (ebook from tordotcom) brings the nightmare of her war years rolling back. Interesting background.
    Nebula award nominations for best novel include: The Unbroken, C.L. Clark (Orbit US; Orbit UK); A Master of Djinn, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom; Orbit UK); Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga); A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK); and Plague Birds, Jason Sanford (Apex)
    The Hugo award nominations include: A Desolation Called Peace, by Arkady Martine (Tor); The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers (Harper Voyager / Hodder & Stoughton); Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki (Tor); A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom / Orbit UK); Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir (Ballantine / Del Rey); and She Who Became the Sun, by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor / Mantle)
    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.