Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for January 2011
Science Fiction and Fantasy are the literature about
people adapting to major change. I was amazed to meet at Philcon 2010 (where
I bought 4 books) an author of books about fraudulent science absolutely
convinced the global warming that would bring a rise of the ocean of one
meter over the next century would cause the death of billions and threaten
his new grandchild. Humanity has been around for a hundred and forty or
so thousand years and has weathered far worse. Oh well. Obviously he only
read non-fiction and was out of place at a Science fiction convention.
By Henry Leon Lazarus
canít get much stranger than the city Tim Akers describes floating over
an ancient, flooded titan city. When humanity conquered the area, three
brothers became their living gods. But Morgan, the warrior was murdered
by his brother Amon, the engineer who was then executed by the remaining
brother Alexander. Worshipers of Amon wear his chains and are under strict
control while they keep the city working. Eva Forge is the last paladin
of the dying Morgan cult. When guarding the Fratriarch of her cult on a
mission to the library of Anon, she is attacked by coldmen, revived corpses
with strange machinery where their organs should be. Her leader is captured
when she is driven off. So she hunts through the city seeking clues and
fending off attacks, while her cult is declared apostate, most cult members
murdered, and the leaders caged awaiting trial. There are secrets to be
uncovered. The worst found deep in the lake under the city. I would hop
that The Horns of Ruin (trade from Pyr) gets some award nominations.
big zap is a way for the U. S. Government to totally shut down the internet.
Walter Jon Williams imagines what would happen if a foreign government
got a hold of the passwords to routers all over the world to close down
areas of the Internet. Deep State (paper from Orbit) is the
story of Dagmar Shaw, game designer and creator of games that can be played
with live action as well as on the internet. She comes to Turkey, under
control of a ruling Junta of generals who overthrew the civilian government,
to run a game that adds to the excitement of the latest James Bond film.
When the game is over our government recruits her to run a flash mob style
revolution to restore the civilians to power. What she doesnít know is
that CIA agents leaked to pass words to the Zap and the Turkish rulers
have no reason not to use it to stop the revolution. Politically I would
be very much in favor of the Army kicking out the current Islamist rulers
of Turkey, but I liked the book so much, when I found there was a prequel,
is not a Game (paper) I bought it for my Kindle app. .
McKinley, author of two classic Newbery medal winners, has the first half
of another potential winner. In a human kingdom closely allied
to the flying pagasi, intelligent horse-like, flying creatures with their
own culture and small hands at the tip of their wings, there is a princess
Sylviianel, fourth child of the king and the last to be bonded to a member
of the royal Pegasus (hard from G. P. Putnam which I bought at philcon)
family. Bonding is a magical way to get across thoughts, since humans and
pegasi found it difficult to communicate without a magician trained translator.
However But Sylvi and Ebon find they can understand each other easily and
soon become close friends. On her sixteenth birthday Ebon invites Sylvi
to visit the magical caves in his country, the center of Pegasi culture
to which no human has ever gone. We readers, alas, have to wait a year
to find out the import of the bad news given at the end of this totally
enjoyable start to something wonderful.
Shinn has a tale of another interesting society that believes in luck (picked
randomly in small coins in their temples) For most people the five elements
only express personality traits. But for the five primes, who represent
five families, there is actual power of their element. Zoe Aderlay has
been in exile with her father, a Kingís advisor fallen into disfavor, until
his death. Then an advisor to the King shows up on her doorstep saying
that she has been picked to be the Kingís fifth wife. At the capital city
she flees, living among the poor and earning a living as a shop girl, until
she finds by accident that she has the primeís powers and is the heir to
her motherís Lalindar family with the power of blood and water. When
she is ordered to live in the palace, she discovers Troubled Waters
(hard from Ace which I bought at philcon) between the aging King, his disagreeably
wives, and relations with a neighboring kingdom. I enjoyed this enough
to hope Ms. Shinn considers a sequel.
London Metropolitan Police have their own Wizard. Peter Grant is a young
officer assigned to guard a crime scene when he meets a ghost, a non-living
witness to the murder. That brings him to the attention of Chief Inspector
Thomas Nightingale, who has been the only wizard on the force for a long
time and has decided to take an apprentice. Soon Peter is helping to chase
a vengeful ghost using the rough plot of Punch and Judy to murder innocents.
Eventually, as Ben Aaronovitch tells it, There is a Midnight Riot (paper
from Del Rey).Peter is also helping to sort out the territorial claims
of the river spirits. This is a lot of fun, a magical police procedural
with solid British humor. Iím looking forward to the sequel.
Smith retells the Prisoner of Zenda in modern times with a female protagonist.
and Steel (hard from DAW)ís cover suggests sword play and there is
indeed one scene that feels out-of-place since our heroine has been captured
by modern goons with guns. Aurelia Murray takes time off from grad school
to trace her grandparents roots. Dobrenica is an Eastern European country
shaking off Soviet rule and returning to its feudal roots. It is a place
where guns frequently misfire and has a legend of a blessing that would
take the country out of the world. Aurelia looks exactly like the princess
kidnaped to avoid a royal wedding. So Aurelia has to pretend to be her,
and eventually is captured because of it. There are so many untied
threads here that I was glad to find that there will be a sequel.
Jamieson continues the tale of Steven de Selby, a slacker who worked as
a pomp, helping people towards their death. An attempted takeover by a
major employee of Mortmax that involved killing all the pomps, has moved
him up in the ranks. He is now the regional death of Australia one of thirteen
in the world and practically unkillable. Itís a hard job Managing Death
from Orbit). He does have several problems including a former employee
trying to kill him because he succeeded in bringing back his girlfriend
from the afterlife and the ex-employee didnít. Thereís also the yearly
held this time in Australia, and in increase in stirrer (they take over
dead bodies) activity because their god is approaching and it is literally
the end of the world if it arrives. Lots of fun and Iím eagerly awaiting
the conclusion to this fun trilogy.
S. Taylor and Les Johnson are two NASA engineers (and writers) who want
desperately for the US to go Back to the Moon (hard from Baen) the
plot they cook up to illustrate how it would be done, has Chinese astronauts
trapped on the Moon after a crash. A private company taking very rich tourists
to Moon orbit finds them and NASA, which had been preparing a new mission,
hurriedly rushes a rescue party to the Moon. The technology is well limned
and is easily the best reason for reading this fun tale.
and J. C. Hendee have been mixing tolkeinesque fantasy with vampires for
eight books. The Truth of Beasts (hard from Roc) sends researcher
Wynn and her two companions Chane (a vampire) and Ore-locks (an estranged
dwarf), along with her fey wolf, Shade on a quest to find one of the missing
orbs deep in the heart of a demolished dwarf stronghold. They are hunted
by the wraith Sauíilahk who thinks that the orb of spirit they are seeking
will restore his missing body. Solid writing keeps this long series very
readable and I intend to keep reading.
Shan returns to the city ruled by a mob figure, The Cardinal. It takes
place at the same time as his previous tale about the Cardinalís invented,
though quite real, people Procession of the Dead (paper). Hellís Horizon
(trade from Grand Central Publishing) tells of Al Jerry who had content
to be one of the Cardinalís guards, until someone murders his lover
and the Cardinal insists that he investigate the murder or be fired. Along
the way he discovers his relationship to the famed assassin of the city,
and the relationship of a group of Aztec priests to the Cardinal and the
future of the city. I only hope the next book in the series tells us what
happens after the Cardinalís death.
Duane mixes a heavy dose of science and magic in her sixth sequel to the
excellent So You want to be a Wizard which has Kit and Nita finally
old enough to be effected by sex (a little) Imagine being a parent of these
kids who donít go just around the block for their fun, but thousands of
light-years away. This time a magical bottle on the Red Planet opens a
gate to the return of A Wizard of Mars (hard from Harcourt which
I bought at Philcon) killed eons ago who has been reincarnated at Kit and
wants Kitís body to recover the soul of Mars. At home Nitaís sister is
spending too much time on another planet, worrying her father who insists
Nita handle the problem, and Kitís older sister is home from college and
is convinced that Kit is a mutant (ala x-men) A bit dryer than usual, but
if a new book appears, itís on my buy list.
R. Green tells us how John Taylor (who has the gift of finding anything)
has a Hard Dayís Knight (hard from Ace) when someone gives him the real
excalibur. Between fighting off ex-knights trying to steal it, traveling
to London, and to an alternate Camelot with an evil Merlin, andsaving the
world in the Nightside, he and Suzie Shooter have their hands full in this
the 11th book in the light fun series. The previous book, The Good, the
Bad, and the Uncanny has been reprinted in paper. Both are full of giggles.
Rebaine had practically conquered the ancient nation of Imphallion before
wedding his hostage and settling down. In The Conquerorís Shadow
(paper) another warlord was determined Corvisís plans to conquer, and Corvis
came out of retirement to stop him. Now heís a trader in a city conquered
by a neighbor of Imphallion, when word comes of someone imitating
Corvis in his famous armor. Which means that Corvis has to excape from
his enemies and deal with the evil magician who has convinced both his
brother-in-law who still hates him, and his daughter, now hunting her father.
The villain is monochromatic and very powerful that it almost stopped me
from finishing the book. Thereís a reason why the villain besmirching The
Warlordís Legacy ( hard from Spectra by Ari Marmell) that makes the
read worthwhile. Lots of fun in a very satisfactory magical background.
Resnick has the silliest version of the gunfight at the OK Corral that
I have ever read. It seems that Indian shamans have kept the US from crossing
the Mississippi. So they sent Thomas Edison and his engineer Ned Buntline
to figure out how to stop them in Tombstone. Then the government hires
Wyatt Earp and his brothers. That brings in Doc Holliday and a whole bunch
of other western legends. Geronimo turns Bat Masterson into a giant vampire
bat (only at night) and another Indian shaman resurrects a fast gun to
oppose them. Only Doc and The Buntline Special (trade from Pyr)
can survive the gunfight and save the day. What a giggle.
kept want to stop K. J. Taylorís tale of two outcasts, but the charming
characters kept me reading and now Iím waiting eagerly for next part. Arren
is a second generation northern darkcoat is a place where so many of his
countrymen were enslaved that darkcoat is synonymous with slave. Because
he bonded to one of the intelligent eagle/lion hybrids, he was treated
as a member of the nobility, until, because he had risen so high, he was
fooled by being sent to capture a wild griffin, and in the process his
own griffin is slain. The Dark Griffin (paper from Ace) has no name
because his mother was killed while he was young. In fact he barely talks
the griffin language. After being trapped he is put in the Arena where
he is used to kill criminals. Arrenís loss of his bond mate starts him
on a spiral path downward, which eventually lands him in that same arena
facing the griffin he captured. In the next tale they head north to seek
Canavan returns to the world of her black magicians trilogy for a new series
with the next generation. There is a nasty new drug in the city and someone
has killed Ceryís family using illegal magic. Black Magician Soneaís son,
Lorkin has volunteered to go to as assistant to the new Ambassador and
to help in The Ambassador's Mission (hard from orbit which I bought
for my Kindle app) to discover missing pieces of history in Sachaka. Everybodyís
in trouble at the end of this first book of the trilogy and Iíll get around
eventually to read the next two books.
Baen has reprinted Sarah A. Hoytís fun tale of Darkship
Thieves (paper); three of Esther Friesnerís fun collections in one
volume, Chicks Ahoy (paper); and more of classic Sir Dominic
Flandry (trade) by the late Poul Anderson. Eos has reprinted Mario
Acevedoís fun tale of a Werewolf Smackdown (paper) staring vampire
detective Felix Gomez. Bantam Spectre has reprinted Kim Stanley Robinsonís
tale of Galileoís Dream in trade. Harper has reprinted the last
tale of Rachael Morgan, a witch with pixie and vampire friend, Black
Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison, in paper.
Del Rey has a hard cover of classic Robert
E. Howard historical tales in Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures
and the final group of Elric: Swords and Roses by Michael Moorcock
The Science Fiction Society will have its
next meeting on January 28th, 2011 at 8 pm at the International House on
the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. Ty Drago an internet magazine editor
and author of a book I still remember from seven years ago will speak.
Guests are welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the
author of A Cycle of Gods from Wolfsinger Publications which can be bought