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Science Fiction for November 2023
by Henry L Lazarus
Sequels, sequels, sequels, Fantasy and Science Fiction writers love their sequels.
Martha Wells’s Murderbot series has won both the Hugo and Nebula awards. The latest sends the independent secunit as part of a university to help a colony in System Collapse (hard from Tordotcom). The colonists had been fighting one another, one group had gone into hiding near the Terraforming device at one of the poles. Everything would have been fine except the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent ships hoping to grab what was left of the colony and indenture the surviving solonists. Murderbot eventually has to face several ecunits still under control, and help his humans and the colonists survive. Probably this will also be on the Hugo and Nebula lists.
Michael Mersault returns to the corrupt future star empire where citizens fight duels and demi-cits are second class. In The Deep Man(paper) Saef Sinclair-Maru captained a frigate into the space surrounding world in revolt,Delta Three, and managed to not only survive but win a small victory. The Admiralty, thinking Delta Three was easily conquered, sent troops to the surface, only to have the carrier destroyed and the mostly untrained troops trapped on the surface. Saef, with the help of The Silent Hand (hard from Baen, his very deadly cousin Inga, replaces the injured captain of the carrier Hightower and is sent with marines to rescue the trapped troops. There’s a horrible secret on the planet, a mutiny set on the imperial ships,including the Hightower. Saef cannot trust his officers and many of his crew. The ships of his superiors are under attack. Very exciting and impossible to put down. The world has been opened up nicely and the final book of the trilogy should be great. Highly recommended.
Luanne G. Smith starts a tale of witches on the Eastern side of the Great War. Petra Kurková has been hiding her witchery while hoping her husband has survived volunteering for war. Her camera acts as The Witch's Lens (paper from 47North) to photograph ghosts. Unfortunately her country’s troops are under attack by Zombies, and Petra finds herself drafted by Josef Svoboda who has put together a small group of witches that somehow had managed to avoid the draft. Behind the scenes there are powerful magicians, one of whom is responsible for the zombies and the huge storms affecting the Imperial troops. Petra,who is very powerful, has been hiding her abilities and now must reveal herself to save her team. Lots of fun and I look forward to the sequel.
In a world where demon possession burns out the human in less than a month,Mira Fuente found a way to become partners with her demon, feeding with demons who have possessed humans. It is also a world of werewolves , vampires and fae. When her old priest calls her back to Miami because of missing kids, She, and her partner,. Ty Williams, a agent of the Paranatural Task Force, have to face Personal Demons (ebook fromBell Bridge Books) amd family Mira hasn’t seen since she ran from home a decade before.L. R. Braden tells a fun tale and I’m eager for more.
K. J. Parker(Tom Holt) has a new tale about his lovable rogue. When members of his crew are kidnapped, Saevus Corax Captures the Castle (paper from Orbit) the castle itself isn’t important. There’s something inside worth forcing him to take the castle and to pay his old friend Stauracia to defend it. Along the way he travels deep into territory that eats outsiders, only to talk to a lost wife whom he thought dead. Lots of fun with a third one coming next month.Jim Butcher finally returns to his world of giant spires rising from a ground filled with monsters.
The Olympian Affair (hard from Ace) takes Captain Grimm, Commodore Alex Bayard, duelist and Matt’s best friend, Sir Benedict Lancaster, Sergeant Bridget Tagwynn who knows how to talk to cats, and masterspy and Duchess Abigail Hinton to a trading summit at Spire Olympia. Spire Aurora has a new weapon that is wiping out small colonies. At the same time there are plans to use a duel to lower Spire Albion’s prestige, There is nasty magic afoot and only our heroes and a few flying ships have a chance of stopping them. With talking cats, monsters of the deep, and, of course, love the melodrama glows with excitement. Lots of fun.
Constance Fay has a fun romance in a future where Human space is dominated by major families. Temperance Reed, who had been banished from a top ten family when her brother took control, is the captain of a small survey ship that is renamed Calamity (paper from Bramble) by the end of the tale. She is hired by one of the top five families to survey Herschel 2, a planet with a cult settlement, and a huge volcano. The volcano may be blocking scans that may reveal a mineral that promises a revolution in energy, and that everyone is looking for. She has to take on board Arcadio Escajeda, a security specialist and member of the aforementioned family that hired her. There’s enough difficulty in the survey because of volcanic tubes, a high water level just below the surface and the cult. But, as you might have guessed, there’s a James Bond type villain with a hidden lair under the volcano. With high danger, of course romance blossoms, but the excitement of fighting the villain is also fun. Sequels are planned.
Jason Cordova and Larry Correia start a second set of Monster Hunter Memoirs: Fever(hard from Baen) following half-aztec god,Chloe Mendoza and a new office of MHI in Los Angeles during the gas shortage of 1973 when I was in San Francisco. They have to deal with zombies on a Hollywood set, a werewolf, and a fairy Hag with horrible plans. This is unrelated to other books in the series and a great way to enter this fun series. `
Ankarette Tryneowy is the King’s poisoner at Kingfountain in her second adventure by Jeff Wheeler. Nanette, an heiress, may have been kidnapped, and her sister’s husband who wants her inheritance may have taken part in her loss. But there’s more to The Widow's Fate (paper from Oliver Heber Books), There's an evil man who can drain Ankarette’s Fountain powers, and an attempt the rescue the former Queen from her tower and maybe restart the civil war. Ankarette. She is helped to find Nanette by a former soldier from the wrong side of the civil war, working as a nightwatchman John Thursby. Lots of excitement and fun.
After the events of where Jude discovered The Flaws of Gravity (paper ), which I didn’t read, she moved to Montreal. Jude is Half-Faerie with the ability to manipulate gravity. Unfortunately that doesn’t get her a job. Then bodies of men she knew start popping up minus their hearts. There’s also a government organization hunting former members of the Consilium which had been destroyed in the first book. Her aunt, Mab of the fairies wants her protected as she is the only heir, and the father who had deserted her has shown up claiming to have been imprisoned in the land of fairy spirits. But the real monster is a A Trick of the Shade (paper from SC Smith) of an ancient Mab and the fairies who want to resurrect her. Lots of fun and I may eventually buy the first one.
Glynn Stewart has bumped Henry Wong to Rear Admiral and sent him with a small fleet three months from human space.The United Planets Alliance hopes that by helping the autocratic Londu who are under attack by unknown with technology that humanity can match, they can find a future ally. Raven's Flag (Faolan's Pen Publishing) finds that the Londu are facing not one alien but two, and has to face them on one of the Londu star systems. Did the Londu make enemies willing to commit genocide against. The next tale will find out as the Raven and the rest of the fleet gets to the Capital planet of the Landu in the next tale. Fun.
Travis Baldree returns to the world of Legends & Lattes (paper) with the tale of how the orc Viv got her magic sword. It is a tale of Bookshops & Bonedust (paper from TOR). VVivv was wounded working for Rackam's Ravens who had been fighting a necromancer. Viv bides her time helping a local bookseller, and befriends a baker. Then a magical book falls into her hands and she and her friends have to find a way to stop the necromancer who wants her book back. Lots of fun and filled with nice people trying to make their lives better.
Davinia Evans continues the tale of Siyon Velo who managed to even out the planes (alternated magical worlds) by taking responsibility for his own plane, whatever that means. Now the Notorious Sorcerer (paper) . Unfortunately that means that visitors from other planes can drop into The Burnished City, scaring everyone. To deal with this Simon has to learn how to use his magical abilities. But something, according to one of the crime bosses, the Shadow Baron (paper from Orbit), something is waking up in the depths under the city. This is as much fun as the first and will be finished with a third tale.
During the roaring twenties, huntsmen protect the unwary public from the uncanny monsters. Laura Anne Gilman continues the tale of Rosemary and Aaron Harker (siblings) who are sent. A rich benefactor of the Huntsman Society. His brother-in-law was attacked in his law office and now and now is deep in a coma. The Harkers believe the assignment is a test, but their Uncanny Vows( paper from Gallery / Saga Press). The uncanny monsters are quite real and unusual to North America. The Harkers and their supernatural hound Botherton face impossible odds. I’m a fan of Laura Anne Gilman and like all her work.
Katharine J. Adams starts a trilogy controlled by an immortal autocrat who is trying to find a cure for his wound. This is a world with a thin gauze between life and death. Thorn witches protect the barrier by par\trolling it from the death side. The only way top get to death is to be burned alive, but returning restores their body. When her sister doesn’t come back from death, and there are indications she still survives, Penny Albright must secretly burn herself to go into death to find her sister. There she finds a manor with a strange man, who promises to let her sister if Penny will spy on the autocrat for a month, returning each night. It’s a case of Tonight, I Burn (paper from Orbit). I was disappointed by the cliffhanger ending, but enjoyed it well enough to wait for the next installment. Kristen Britain has a short prequel to her Green Rider world in which Laren Mapstone is mentoring Tavin Bankside on his first run outside Sacor City. Brigands attack them and she is wounded. At a rider waystation, the queen's forester tells Tavin that the only way to save her is to find an unusual person, the Spirit of the Wood (hard from DAW). Along the way Lauren heals her soul and Tavin learns how to use his empathic gift as the brigands keep attacking. Wonderful. It left tears in my eyes.
Mercedes Lackey has a new Valdemar anthology, Anything With Nothing (paper from DAW) that includes a new tale by herself.
Baen has reprinted in paper the third time police tale byJacob Holo and David Weber The Janus File; the latest of the excellent Kencyrath series Deathless Gods by P.C. Hodgell; and Dave Bara’s fun sequel Trinity's Children.
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.