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Science Fiction for January 2017
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    Science Fiction and Fantasy have writers that are stars, the ones who dominate the awards and have many Hugo and Nebula awards.
Connie Willis is one of SF’s stars. Her latest takes place in the very near future in which most people are caught up in social media, none more than Briddey Flannigan. Her current love interest, Trent,  a man high up in the small  smartphone company she works for, suggests that she and he have EED surgery, that will connect their emotions. When she wakes up, all she hears is the voice of C. B. Schwartz, a tech expert with a lab deep in the basement of her company. Then there are more and more voices as she develops a talent for telepathy. C. B.  Has been a telepath since his teen years and only he can help her deal with this Crosstalk (hard from Del Rey). Of course things get more complicated as the reasons for Trent getting the EED come clear. Then there’s her nine-year-old niece turned telepath , and the surgeon who half-believes Trent’s connection. Lots of fun with a dash of romance. Definitely  on the award lists.
Katherine Arden’s tale of The Bear and the Nightingale (hard from Del Rey) is a tale of the fae set in 14th century Rus, which is still under tartar domination. The Bear is the Frost Demon’s brother, locked up so he can’t destroy the world. Vasilisa can see the household spirits in her world as could her grandmother, the wife of Ivan I of Rus. One of them teaches her to speak to horses and they teach her to ride. Then Ivan II has her father Pyotr marry Anna, one of his daughters who can see spirits and thinks them demons. When the local priest dies, his replacement Konstatin reacts to her fear with sermons that cause the locals to stop feeding the spirits. This opens the way for the bear. In the coldest winter in Rus history. Only Vasilisa with the help of a horse called Nightingale and the help of the Frost Demon can stop him from escaping his chains I suspect this tale will be on award nominations
Carrie Vaughn has a fun tale of teen-age twins of the Director of Mars Colony sent to Earth to the elite  Galileo Academy. These Martians Abroad (hard from Tor) are the first students from Mars, though other students are from various stations around the Solar System. They have to adjust to gravity three times stronger than they are used to, and somehow make friends. Then trouble comes on their various class trips, including one to the Lunar colony that almost kills Polly, a rules-breaking smart girl. Most of this is the usual adapt to college, but it’s still fun.
Barb Hendee, and  J.C. Hendee have a new series about a world with violent ghosts and The Dead Seekers (hard from Ace) who send them out of the world to their final destination. Tris Vishal, Baron's son, was still born but somehow came alive. He has the ability to touch ghosts and to push them into a magical hole. Mari Kaleja is a were-leopard whose parents were all murdered by ghosts. She traced Tris, thinking he was the source of the ghosts, looking for revenge. Heilman Tavakovich is an Apothecary who makes objects that can also touch ghosts. Together they have to fight ghosts at a border fort where refugees are slaughtered by the tyrant soldiers on the other side of the border.  They have to learn to trust each other and survive the deadly ghosts.. A good beginning.
A. M. Dellamonica concludes her trilogy about Sophia Hansa, a marine biologist from our world sent magically to a world of mainly water, Stormwreck. The natives are well aware of our technology, but dismiss it. Sophia, has found a place for herself as a forensic examiner. She has just brought the technology of fingerprint analysis and  has made several trips back and fourth to our Earth, with her digital camera capturing images of Stormwreck’s strange creatures and magical beings. People are attacking ships using illegal magical creatures called frighteners. They even sunk her sailing ship. The only way to capture them is to investigate The Nature of a Pirate (hard from Tor) , the pirate she had saved from execution. At the heart of the terror attacks is the question of slavery which several nations still practice using coercion magic. Other questions about Stormwreck and are Earth are answered and Sophie finally finds love. This is a fun trilogy.  
    Now for two series about powerful witches in a world with modern technology and all sort of magical creatures.
Agatha Blackmore was too powerful for the witches council to handle, but she comes from a powerful family. Accidently she created a bunch of green squirrels, and made a miniature, talking unicorn;  Fergus, who has become her familiar. She also turned her aunt briefly into a chicken. Witches usually don’t join the FBI, but Conjuring Quantico (ebook) which details her problems during her first year at the academy. She has marines trying to break into her lab, and a Director trying to steal secrets. But she makes friends like Cat, a were-puma. She even gets to work on a missing persons case. T S Paul then shows her in her third year as a Magical Probi( ebook) in the small  Magical Crimes Division and it’s only member Jack Dalton. This time she has three cases, the murder of a television chef by the Fae, a special magical necklace stolen from a locked museum, and werewolf terrorists in Las Vegas. Can’t wait for more.
N. E. Conneely’s five book tale of Michelle a witch working with local police departments to deal with problems like trolls set free from their reservation, and demons. Witch for Hire (ebook) introduces us to her and to Elron, a fifteen hundred year old elf who is mourning his dead wife and getting used modern society. A Witch's Path(ebook) has her facing a demon inhabiting Elron’s dead wife. Though she doesn’t actually fight the demon until A Witch's Trial (ebook) where she and Elron get help from an ancient demon killer. The clans have noticed her and the grandmother she never met wants her as the next head of that clan. A Witch's Concern (ebook) has her dealing with constant attacks from that clan, while her mother marries her father and joins another clan. Finally A Witch's Rite (ebook) sends her, Elron and some cops up into the mountains to investigate strange reports from hikers. They’re caught by someone making magical drugs who traps them in a maze of flowers with plenty of deadly traps. Elron and Michelle relationship has grown enough by then to give this tale enough of a final for the series.
James A. Hunter tells of Yancy Lazarus, a former marine in Viet Nam who did cold work for the Mages guild until they let the Fae take his girl friend. Known as the fixer now, he is a powerful mage, expert at fighting very powerful magical beings. Strange Magic (ebook) has him face demons called forth by another mage. He is framed by two gangs in California and has to fend off their attacks before facing down the mage behind his problems. In Cold Hearted (ebook) a weak mage unable to join the guild is given a ring with the spirit of an ancient vampire and uses his new abilities to attack the mages who refused him membership. Yancy touches the blood of a murdered mage and finds himself blocked from using magic.. Only working with an FBI agent Nicole Ferrero, and traveling to an alternate future filled with Zombies, can he find Sir Galahad and the Grail can he be cured. Lots of fun. The third adventure has him helping the old chief  Sasquatch and his daughter deal with Wendigo Rising(paper from Create space and ebook), and evil Sasquatch with a magical tiara that lets him control other Sasquatch. He and agent Ferrero and his other friends  have to find the fates in the fae world to learn how to stop the Wendigo. The series is lots of fun.
John Ringo continues his Monster Hunter Memoirs:Sinners about Chad Oliver Gardenier who fought monsters in New Orleans in the 80's This prequel to Larry Correia’s fun series shows a city beset with horrors because of the Voodoo practitioners who can actually work magic. Lot of fun, fascinating  incidents make it hard to put down.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its Annual election meeting  on January 6th  2017 The meeting starts  at  8 p.m.  at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus.    
    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 that suggests a simpler way to achieve fusion generation.