Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for February 2011
By Henry Leon Lazarus
Fantasy and Science fiction may have started with Jules
Verne and Mary Shelley, but it grew strong roots in the pulp fiction of
the twenties and thirties. Like scripted televison, it is usually has solid,
although flawed, characters punching through obstacles and, of course,
saving the day. Sometimes, however, literature shows through the bravado
of the action plot.
Kent has been invoking both Tolstoy and Bram Stoker by adding vampires
seamlessly to Russian history. His first tale told of Twelve (paper)
vampires sent to aid the guerrilla warfare against Napoleonís invasion.
Aleksai learned of their nature and one by one, killed them. It is
Thirteen Years Later (hard from Pyr). History tells us that Tsar
Alexander I, a healthy forty-six year-old, will die of a cold. His family
maintains that he faked his death and lived on as a monk. When his brother
Nicholas takes the throne, a Decembrist rebellion by Army officers, who
want more of what they saw in Paris when chasing Napoleon home, is brutally
put down. Mr. Kent adds a pact with Dracula and Peter the Great, and a
member of the British Royal Society experimenting on vampires to discover
their weaknesses. Aleksai and his son Demtri are are the heart of this
exciting look at Russia in transition. These are must-have books and I
canít recommend them high enough. Three more books are planned in the series
which finishes with the Russian Revolution.
Raylene Pendle, born a flapper, earns her blood by stealing lost secrets
both embarrassing and of value for blackmail. When a blind vampire, who
claims to have lost his sight in a government lab, asks her to retrieve
secret files that may indicate how to cure him. But the Bloodshot (trade
from Spectra by Cherie Priest) files are supposed to be in a highly protected
secure area, except they were stolen by an ex Navy Seal/Drag Queen. Soon
Raylene and Adrian are being chased by CIA agents in black SUVís. Plus,
someone has restarted the research project and they want the files and
are willing to kill to get them. Very exciting action that practically
demands a sequel. This was a wow!
have been waiting for five years for Steve Cash to finish his tale of The
Meq (paper). We first met Zianno or simply Z) in 1881 when he survived
the train wreck which killed his parents. He was really twelve He thought
he weird when he didnít age, but he was really a member of an ancient race
of people who never age until they meet their destined partner, and then
with a special ceremony during a solar eclipse, begin aging. In 1945 in
Nagasaki, he is protected from the atomic bomb by his enemy Fleur-du-mal.
All he and the other Meq know is that the five magical stones they carry
must be renewed in a ceremony called The Remembering (trade from
Del Rey) but the information is hidden in Eastern Germany where the Nazis
had hidden ancient stones that hint at the answer. So Z is present during
the Soviet invasion of Hungary and near enough to the grassy knoll in Dallas
to see JFKís real assassin. Eventually he hadmeets some Neanderthal Meg
who point the final clues so that all goes well and the stones are renewed
for the next seventy thousand years. This is a wonderful series with a
Williams has taken a slightly shorter time to conclude his massive, albeit
fascinating, cautionary tale that proves that mad Autarchs
should let sleeping Gods lie. It seems that Southmarch (paper),
a capital city on the edge of the Fairy kingdom, has in its hidden depths
the place where the last war between gods took place. One dying god locked
the others into sleep. For the last few generations the Xians have been
slowly conquering the world and their current Autarch thinks that if he
can get to the site of that final battle deep under the castle, a place
of mystery for the half-sized funderlings, he can awaken one of those gods
and bring him under his command. It is all a Shadowplay (paper)
for the royal family as the King Olin, captured years before, is brought
by the Autarch to be part of the ritual to raise the god. When Southmarch
is has a revolution, his twin heirs go off in different directions. Treachery
forces Princess Briony out of the castle to wander with a group of traveling
players, eventually to reach the southern kingdom of Syan where the heir,
Eneas falls for her and brings soldiers with him to help her home. It is
also a time of Shadowrise (paper which I bought for my Kindle app)
in the twilight of fairy lands when Prince Barrick has a quest guided by
a mad raven to reach the ancient court of the Fairies with a magical mirror.
But all roads lead back to the home castle where the fairies, humans, funderlings
all must find their Shadowheart (hard from DAW which I bought for
my kindle app) and stop the Xians from performing their ritual. Of
course the ritual is impossible to stop and the god risen is uncontrollable.
The world is doomed, but for the courage of the littlest fighter and a
child still ten after fifty years. Wow, this is easily Tad Williams best.
McAuley proves that conspiracy theories work much better in an American
Empire that stretches across alternate versions of America. Cowboy Angels
(Pyr) opened this new frontier starting in a version of America they call
Real. Then they overturned governments, Nazi. Communist, and dictatorships
in between to restore democracy and freedom. Then President Carter is elected
and ends the action. Adam Stone retires, leading hunter trips on a world
without humans. Then his best friend, thought dead for three years, turns
up trapped in a version of America, where the Cuban Missile crisis turned
nuclear, after killing numerous doppelgängers of a female mathematician.
The macguffin is a device that can reset a turing gate (used to travel
between alternate Americas) so that it sends someone to another time. The
bad guys want to change events so that Carter is never elected. So Stone
goes from hunting his friend to running across America with him and his
daughter, to being tortured by the bad guys, to nabbing an atomic bomb
set to blow up Carter in our past. Very exciting and impossible to put
down. I read it in a day.
Kim Harrisonís ninth tale of the witch Rachel Morgan and her partnerís
Jenks (a pixie) and Ivy (a living vampire), itís time for a road trip,.
Trent, the elf magnate, has a quest that requires him to cross country
in a car (the modern equivalent of a steed), and security reasons block
Rachael from flying to the meeting in San Francisco which is supposed to
clear her of the charge of doing black magic. But under the St. Louis Arch
is a Pale Demon(hard from Eos) who can walk in the Sun and who loves
to eat souls. So from fighting off other elves to saving her friends from
being killed, to proving to the demons that she is really one of them,
Rachael has her hands full. This series is always light fun and much better
than the generic paranormal romance.
V. Snyder tackles the generation ship genre with aplomb. Inside Out
(trade from Harlequin Teen which I bought for my Kindel app) introduces
us to Trella, a seventeen-year old scrub who has explored all the ducts
of the cubic starship. Most of the history of the ship has been lost when
one of the controlling families seized power and erased most of the history.
The lower two decks are massively crowded with maintenance workers and
the upper with administration, all controlled by the Trava family who easily
recycle their enemies. Trella and Riley, her upper boy friend, are at the
heart of a revolution. Freedom from the Trava family leads to committee
rule and refusal of the lowers to work. Add outsiders coming from the Outside
In (trade from Harlequin Teen ) on a ship light-years from any planet
and you have another fun and exciting adventure.
best part of John Ringoís tale of an asteroid converted to a Citadel
(hard from Baen) to fight galactic fleets coming through the new gate
to our solar system, is the young recruits who have to adapt to life in
the citidel. Dana Parker is a naval engineer/ pilot who has to find her
legs in the very confusing work environment. Butch Allen has been hired
as a wielder in the harsh environment of Space. Of course the Rangoran
Empire decides to attack the solar system after taking down a star empire
that had been humanityís friends, even though embargo would have been effective,
but not as much fun. This is a must for space war fans, though there is
nothing very original. I couldnít put it down.
her third adventure Genevieve Scaian, known as the hound to the magical
community of Boston because of her magical ability to smell out missing
things and whose day job is being a bike messenger, has to deal with a
weakening of her powers, and a demon come to recover her missing trinket.
The demon caused a famous darkness at noon on May 19th 1780, which in reality
may have been caused by a massive Canadian forest fire, and wants her powers
back. As Margaret Ronald tells it, Evie is tricked into going back to 1780
on a Soul Hunt (paper from Harper Voyager) to retrieve the object
and then has to save Boston from the consequences of her actions. Fun and
I hope we get more adventures
a case of werewolf politics in Linda Robertsonís third tale of a witch
who harbors werewolves during their moon time. Her boyfriend, the Domn
Lup because he can transform any time and retains his human thoughts, has
come to the attention of the Werewolf leadership. Decades ago Persephoneís
mother performed a ritual that made Johnny what he is and erased all previous
memories. Seph has to perform an Arcane Circle (paper from Pocket)
to find the secrets hidden in Johnnyís past. Fun.
second book of K. J. Taylorís tale of a land where Griffinís partner with
humans and are the only ones with magic, continues as Aaron and his Griffin
Skandor, flee the city where Aaron was killed and reborn without a heart.
They make The Griffinís Flight (paper from Ace) across to the enslaved
north where Aaron faces his heritage and meets his Goddess. The final tale,
nest month, will tell of the Northern uprising and Aaronís final fate.
Iím still reading.
Last month I mentioned The Buntline Special
by Mike Reynolds. The correct author is Mike Resnick. I guess the snow
got to me.
Baen has reprinted two of Sharon Lee and Steve
Millerís fun Liden universe tales in The Agent Gambit (trade) along
with John Ringo and Tom Kratmanís tale of the Posleen, The Tuloriad
The Science Fiction Society will have its
next meeting on February 11th, 2011 at 8 pm at the International House
on the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. Jim Freund, the host of
the Pacifica Radio show Hour of the Wolf . 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