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Science Fiction for January  2016
by Henry Leon Lazarus
    When I run out of books, I look from the suggestions for science fiction and fantasy that Amazon gives me. Every so often I find an author good enough that I buy all of his previous books. Glynn Stewart had a fun and engrossing first tale, so I read the sequel and then all his previous tales. They were all great.
In the future the speed-of-light limit is exceeded with magic. Mages literally teleport starships. There a numerous settled planets spread over many solar systems all theoretically ruled by the Mage King of Mars. Damien Montgomery was one of the rare mages with the ability to see magical energy, and since the events of Starship's Mage (ebook) where he got in trouble by upgrading a freighter’s jump amplifier to a general magical amplifier which allowed his ship to survive multiple pirate attacks. He’s been trained by the Mage King, himself, and is now ready to work with experienced Hand of Mars (ebook)to deal with a corrupt governor on. Unfortunately the governor is working with a corrupt fleet captain and    Alaura Stealey is murdered, forcing Damien to work with the rebels and somehow get a message home to send for help. Lot’s of fun and I am eagerly awaiting Damian’s next adventure.
In a fantasy world two great mages, one of magic and one of chaos faced each other and both died.  A thousand years later their replacements, the  Children of Prophecy (ebook from Faolan's Pen Publishing Inc) have to fight. Tal was lucky to be recognized at an early age as a Mage, and then adopted by the current Hawk Car’reen and trained well.  Brea is a life mage and the King’s heir whose love for Tal may make the difference and Stet’sar is a thief who uses small magics until the people he loves are murdered by aristocrats. Eventually these two great men come face to face with battlemagi facing a huge swarm of evil with the fate of the world at stake. Fun.
The Space Carrier Avalon (ebook from  Faolan's Pen Publishing Inc) was the first carrier and is due a final tour before being retired.  In the twenty years since peace came between the Federation and the Commonwealth it’s been sitting at dock with corrupt officers selling off its fighters. Luckily Commander Kyle Roberts has brought top-of-the-line fighters to replace the junk. The corruption reaches very high. Then when the cruise starts they find that the Commonwealth has been encouraging piracy to weaken the Federation before invasion. Finally a weakened ship, hurt by a major disaster that takes out half it’s crew, has to fight against overwhelming odds to save a star system that the Federation swore to protect on the deck of the Avalon twenty years before. Breathtaking excitement that doesn’t stop.
Finally we have a tale of Eric Tarverro, a swordsmith who will never get his master of the smith guild because he is half-Aeraid. Raised by his Grandfather when his parents died in a fire,. An assassin hires him to make blades and then tries to kill him to cover tracks. The guild of assassins always kill those who kill their own, which sets Eric running. Luckily he discovers family in a City in the Sky (ebook from Faolan's Pen Publishing Inc) where his grandmother turns out to be the last survivor of one of the major families, making him, despite him being half-human, one of the nobility. Working as a guard on one of the flying ships is a way for a noble to get blooded, a tour which should have been safe if not for the assassin’s brother, another assassin, attacking him, and the people who fight with dragons planning an attack on his city. Just as much excitement and the others.
I’ve been following Christopher Nuttall’s Schooled in Magic series about a young woman from our world who finds herself learning magic and providing  information she remembers from Earth. The 8th episode It’s time for Princess Alassa's Wedding Hells (ebook from Twilight Times Books) Gunpowder and the printing press havecreated political/economic changes and the nobility, especially King Randor, is trying to use force to keep calm. Between the craziness of a royal wedding and visions of the French Revolution running in her head, Emily can only try to protect her friends. Over the four years that Emily has been on this world , she has become stronger and more confident. I really look forward to her 5th year in school.    
Ilona Andrews suggests that aliens, including werewolves and vampires from the rest of the galaxy do visit Earth in very special inns that also keep the secret. Dina DeMille is the child of inn keepers and she knows how to the use the magic of her inn, Gertrude Hunt to not only to alter rooms on a whim, but also to protect her guests. The Gertrude Hunt had almost died before Dina brought it back to life, and her inn has only one guest. That’s why she can’t turn down an arbitration between three warring parties, a war that has. been going on for years. The three parties; Space Vampires,  the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the Merchants of Baha-char all have reasons for not signing a peace treaty and are very willing to attack each other and the inn. There’s even a poisoner after her. Sweep in Peace (paper from Nyla) is the second of a fun series and I’m eager for more.
Sasha who was introduced as a gang leader in How Dark The World Becomes (paper) has married the guardian to a Varoki heiress to the greatest fortune on the planet and provides security. Bad times have gotten the Varoki upset at the other of the six intelligent species living on their planet. Come the Revolution (trade from Baen) nuts rile the populace and Sasha finds himself as part of a small commune holding off the army the revolution has put together. It’s an exciting tale. Frank Chadwick uses language similar to what is coming out of current university madness and it put me a bit on edge. Fun.
Eric James Stone tells a fun, Unforgetable (trade from Baen), spy tale about Nat Morgan who is so totally forgettable that even computers forget him after a minute. His mother even had to keep notes to remind herself of his existence. He works for the CIA  and has to constantly remind his handler who he is. A nasty Iranian is creating a quantum computer with the power to control the future. Nat and a female spy, Yelena, who somehow remembers him, work with a defecting, Iranian quantum- physicist have to stop the computer. Nat’s talents are used very creatively. This is a fun, exciting tale that is impossible to put down.
Rena Rocford tells of a secret society of people who can manifest as unicorns, trolls, and other mythological creatures. Allyson is a typical teenager who doesn’t know Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon (paper from  Curiosity Quills Press).. She and her friend Beth are shopping at the mall when they get attacked by three people Beth calls trolls and Allyson breaths fire on them. It turns out the Beth is half-troll, raised by unicorns and someone is kidnaping unicorns, including a close friend of theirs. Soon Beth and Allyson are tracking a truck filled with sedated kidnaped victims, including Alyson’s aunt. They are using her aunt’s sports-car and don’t know how to get the top down, which is a problem in winter. The trail takes them from Albuquerque to an abandoned naval ship in San Francisco Bay. Along the way Allyson learns to shift to full Dragon, and face her missing father who she has never met. Fun and exciting with plenty of room for sequels.
In 2003  Barb Hendee and J. C. Hendee wrote a simple tale of a half-elf; a half-vampire, Dhampir(paper); and an intelligent dog who scam small villages with threats of vampire attacks and then they meet the real thing. It sold well. Fourteen books later they face the evil god, Beloved, The Night Voice (hard from  Penguin Group) in a far off desert, along with the friends they’ve picked up along the way. They retrieve the orbs they’ve hidden and make their way to an exciting and world-shaking fight where  Magiere has to fight her nature and legions of the dead along with other monsters while most of the others face the angry god trying to waken after a thousand years of sleep. Worth the wait.
Brendan Dubois has an exciting tale of a war against the alien creepers who wiped out Earth’s major cities. The U. S. . Government still works and they draft at twelve. Seargant Randy Knox has survived several major battles against the Creepers. Theoretically the war is over since the a suicide mission against the Creeper orbital station, but many Creepers are still around. attacking civilians It’s a Dark Victory (trade from Baen). With computers blasted from space, steam technology still works. . Randy gets an assignment to escort a civilian bureaucrat to Concord, the latest capital. But two teenagers his age are added to his group and then Creepers attack his train killing the messenger. Except the attack may not be from real Creepers. There’s a lot of secrets hidden by politics, especially with an election coming up, and Randy’s burdon is worth killing over. This is a fun exciting tale, but the ending comes up too suddenly and seems too convenient.  
Sophia Hanson was sent to our world so her mother could get a divorce. So this Daughter of No Nation (hard from Tor) returns to Stormwrack, an ocean-covered world with little land, that may be our future to work with her father ( a judge) and hopefully get her mother out jail. This second tail is far more of a tour, But Sophia uses her scientific background to help create a forensic solution to many of her father’s cases and deal with the enmity between his island of Sylvanna, and a near island of Haversham. She is horrified to find that Sylvanna allows slavery.  I enjoyed this second tale by A, M. Dellamonica, especially the robot turtles that Haversham uses to carry seeds of dangerous plants.
Michael R. Underwood has started a series of novelettes about the story worlds that surround Earth and can only be reached by spaceships crewed by Genrenauts. Leah is a new hire, and her first case is The Shootout Solution (ebook form Tor) which sends her to Western world where the wrong gunslinger is facing the villain. The team has to put the story straight in spite of gender bending problems. Funny
    The Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 (paper from Pyr) is edited this year by Greg Bear. Always a good buy. Hank Davis has put together an anthology of the Worst Contact (trade from Baen) possible with alien species.
    Baen has reprinted the final Zombie attack and rebuilding of society; Strands of Sorrow by John Ringo in paper and the classic Vorkosigan tale Barrayarm, that won a Hugo for Lois McMaster Bujold, in trade.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on, January 15th  2016 at 8 p.m. at the Rotunda on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus.  Bernie Mojzes and A. C. Wise, of Unlikely Story magazine will speak.. As usual Guests are Welcome.
    Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local 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 where six formulas define our universe.