Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for May 2022
Vast changes are sweeping the world today and
Fantasy and Science Fiction can help make sense of them
by Henry L Lazarus
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.
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
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.