Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                            HOME
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Science Fiction for October 2022
by Henry L Lazarus
    One of the joys of reading science fiction and fantasy is finding something truly original.
Ula Frost is a famous, reclusive  painter known for painting alternate versions of her subjects. Pepper Rafferty had figured out since she was a teenager that Ula was her mother. But happy with the two mothers, Veterinarians, who raised her. She is a forensic anthropologist, happily married. Then Ula’s agent announces Ula’s disappearance. Somehow that sends her to Poland searching for Ula. The key, according to Aimee Pokwatka, is the painting
Self-Portrait with Nothing (hard from Tordotcom) located in a local post office. Things then get very strange. This is an intensely interesting tale and I hope it finds itself on some award listing.  
After first contact with alien civilization a few decades from now, three humans have found themselves on Station Eternity (paper from ACE), a growing, living creature. Adrian, Earth’s Ambasssador; Xan Morgan, a soldier literally abducted by aliens made of stone, and Mallory who had sought sanctuary on the station for an unusual problem. Mallory constantly found herself at murder scenes which she then solved. Even though she earned a living writing novels based on these cases, she thought of heerself as causing the murders by being present. Now, unfortunately, a shuttle full of people was heading towards the station, and she knew there would be a murder. Unfortunaely the murder causes the station to attack the shuttle, t killing all but a dozen passengers, all of whom have some relation to Mallory or Xan. Somehow she has to solve an impossible murder involving a hive mind of wasps, the stony Geniss who mature into spaceships, and other aliens before the station tears itself apart. Wow! I hope this finds some awards.
Ray Nayler tells a near future tale of first contact with Octupi. Dr. Ha Nguye who wrote a speculative book about such a possibility has to work with Evrim, the only android ever created and legally the only one that can ever exist. This is a world of AI computers. Heavy fishing, by intelligent boats staffed with slaves, have changed the oceans enough to create conditions for the octopi to reach higher intelligence levels. DIANIMA has bought Con Dao Archipelago Archipelago, The Mountain in the Sea (hard from MCD),  to protect them, leaving Ha and Evrim the space for communication. However they know they will be killed if they try to leave. Fascinating.
A thousand years before the Ministers conquered part of the human realm, a huge human ship was built to discover the secret of Immortality. Abandoned and orbiting a star soon to explode, it has been rediscovered and needs The Immortality Thief (hard from  Rebellion Publishing Ltd). Sean Wren, a man with a gift for languages, has a bomb placed in his head and forced to the ship to find the missing data about the imnmortality process. Taran Hunt tells an exciting tale, filling the ship with monsters. Sean’s group is vying a group of Ministers and soldiers from the Republic. There are twists, enemies have to workJames J. Butcher together, nd the pulse pounding action never lets up. Fun.
The mcguffin of James J. Butcher’s fun tale of a world, where witches policed by an Auditor of the  Department of Unorthodox Affairs, and monsters are quite real, is a Dead Man's Hand (hard from Ace). Grimshaw Griswald Grimsby flunked out of the Auditor program and earns a minimum wage by doing magic at at Chucky Cheese type restaurant. Then the witch who flunked him, Mansgraf, is murdered and scratched by her body is the words “kill Grimsby”. Mayflower, a huge man and Mansgraf’s partner before he retired visits Grimsby at wotk before the Auditors do. Somehow, instead of killing our hero, the two start working together to find the murderer and the missing hand. Grimsby, of course, has to get over his fears and find the hero within, while facing both magical and witch monsters. This is a lot of fun and an interesting magical world, especially Wudge. I look forward to Grimsby and Mayflower’s next case.
Colin Alexander has another tale of Leif the Lucky, who fought in the time of troubles in our near future, and returned from an expedition to the stars in Starman's Saga (paper) and discovered he didn’t fit. His second trip takes him to the planet Heaven, which is hot as hell, to deliver colonists and supplies to the colony left by the last ship. Unfortunately, picking colonists from a group people  who desperately need to leave Earth, doesn’t provide the best candidates for colonizing a new world. As a result there’s Murder Under Another Sun (paper from Alton Kremer).  Leif has to turn private eye to solve the murder. Unfortunately the main suspect is the only one with ideas that can allow the colony to survive. I really like the idea of a colony not composed of the best and the brightest. Highly recommended.
Laura Anne Gilman tells of siblings  Rosemary and Aaron Harker who hunt monsters in 1913.  The suspicious death of a distant relative in a small town in upper New York state, to discover a trail of murders Uncanny Times (paper from Gallery / Saga Press) is the first of a series. It takes all of Rosemary and Aaron’s skill and that of their hellhound’s  to confront the monster who is very different from what they expected.
Luanne G. Smith continues her tale of Edwina Blackwood, a witch in Victorian England who has a rare poweer of turning into a Raven. In The Raven Spell (paper), she and her sister Mary earned a living finding pretty objects on the beach that they cleaned up and sold in their shop.Mary had a habit of stealing memories from people she found dying. Unfortunately detective Ian Cameron suervives and the process of discovering the would-be murdeerer leads to Mary’s death. The Raven Song (paper from 47North) starts magical arson of her shop, forcing her and Ian to flee to the North of England and the home of Sir Henry Elvanfoot, a famous wizard. It;s midsummer and the Fae are making their annual visit to Earth and a human with the help of a demon will stop at nothing to use her transfornmation ability to let him turn himself into a wizard. Nothing is as it seems is this fun victorian and magical tale.
Andrzej Sapkowski concludes his historical adventure that at times reminded me of the Three Musketeers. It takes place during the horrors of the Hussite wars in Czechoslovakia between 1419 and 1434. Light Perpetual (hard from Orbit)  concludes Reynevan’s adventures as he finds his lover and then loses her again against the backdrop of major battles. Constantly Reynevan finds himself in peril and somehow gets rescued. Magic is constantly in the background, both from monsters that haunt the countryside, to the magical cures sometimes uses on his patients. The constant references of, what was to me was a very obscure war against the very corrupt Church of the time, made my eyes glaze over. When the tale works, it’s very good. I skimmed the rest.
Glynn Stewart’s fifth tale of Henry Wong and Sylvia Todorovich, Commodore and Ambassador respectively, starts with the Remnant Faction (ebook from  Faolan's Pen Publishing) of the insectoid Kenmiri. Most of the Kenmiri acccept that with their Queen’s deaths they are a dying species. Some want revenge, and Henry Wong’s ship has to stand by helplessly when they destroy an inhabited planet. Most of the tale is about his small fleet surviving a trek to meet up with a hastily assembled armada for a final battle. Glynn Stewart is one of the best military sf writer today, and this is a solid addition to his huge collection.
    Dan Koboldt continues his tale of the Build-A-Dragon company and Genetic engineer Noah Parker who has been rehired as Director of Design. Because of the fiasco of the events of the first tale, the company is working on a military contract. They are considering Deploying Dragons (hard from Baen). Unfortunately Build-A-Dragon has a competitor and there is a competition. He also gets to meet Summer’s father. Nothing unusual happens, but it’s a fun readable series.
    Subterranean Press has a collection by Jack McDevitt Return to Glory(hard)    .
     Baen has reprinted Larry Correia and Kacey Ezell’s collection of tales about  No Game for Knights for Kindle, and  Christopher Ruocchio’s collection of Sword & Planet tales
     A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine ( hard from Tor) won the 2022 Hugo Award.
    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.