Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for February 2017
by Henry Leon Lazarus
Science Fiction and Fantasy can present very
unique backgrounds and stories because of the very different
personalities of the writers.
Becky Chambers, an author to
watch, likes tales about ordinary people (humans and aliens) in a
universe filled with strange beings. Her first introduced us to the
crew of a ship that punches worm holes through space and the
complications they faced on The Long Way to a Small, Angry
Planet (paper) Her second is about an artificial intelligence
downloaded to a human seeming body, and also about a girl, one of
many clones, who escapes from a factory at age ten and is then
raised by an artificial intelligence in an abandoned ship. How these
tales in A Closed and Common Orbit (hard from Harper Voyager) come
together with fascinating characters is wonderful. I hope this
second tale makes it to award nomination.
Seanan McGuire has an odd ghost
tale, Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day (ebook from Forge) about
Jenna who’s been dead for four decades and works at a suicide hot
line. Apparently the dead can look very much alive, and her landlady
has been dead for decades. They can give and take time from real
people, and witches hunt them out in their effort to remain young.
Someone has been trapping the ghosts of Manhattan. Jenna has to have
the help of her witch friend Brenda to return to her home in the
small town of Mill Hollow and face the witch imprisoning the ghosts
in mirrors. Lots of fun in an eerie way.
Dave Duncan tells a tale of an
alternate ancient, and very corrupt China with a Portal of
a Thousand Worlds (ebook from Open Road Integrated Media) that
only opens every millennia. It is always a time of great change with
Earthquakes and rebellion and usually a change of imperial dynasty.
There’s an interesting set of characters including one who has been
reincarnated for centuries; a man who is asked to impersonate the
emperor who was brain damaged as a child, numerous members of the
gray guild of assassins, and a few of the people who join the bamboo
revolution whose fighters are given addictive stimulants and believe
they cannot be hurt by guns. Neat.
iBen Aaronovitch has the sixth book
about magic in London and Constable Peter Grant who has become an
apprentice to the last wizard in the Metropolitan Police. The
Hanging Tree (paper from DAW) starts with the OD of a
young woman whose friends and she had somehow snuck into an empty,
highly secured apartment. Eventually it leads to the identity of the
Faceless man who had been responsible for the horrors limned in
previous books in the series. As usual this is a police procedural
with magic and loads of fun.
I devoured Jonathan Moeller’s
Cloak games series which takes place three centuries after the Elf
Queen was thrown out of her world and crossed the shadow lands to
Earth. Humans are the shock troops used against the troops of the
Archons who follow the dark lord as do some humans. Nadia Moran is
the latest of shadow thieves used by the very powerful elf Morvilind
who is curing her brother of Frost fever, the same fever which
killed her parents and to which she is naturally immune.
Morvilind had her trained and taught her illegal magic to accomplish
her impossible tasks. Thief Trap (paper) has her work with a
shadow mage, who calls himself Corvus to steal an object from a rich
man who is a dark cultist and uses dark magic. Frost Fever
(paper) has her stealing a jewel from the ambassador of the Frost
Giants. Rebel Fist (paper) traps Nadia in a local
mall when the rebels, now working with the dark, and a bunch of Orcs
attack. Shadow Jump (paper) starts with another thief
stealing her prize and she has to excape and then somehow reclaim it
from a thief who can teleport. And finally Shatter Stone
(ebook) sends her with friends into the Shadow lands to capture a
special stone. Lots of fun and I’m waiting eagerly for the next.
Michael-Scott Earle tells of a
floating city with potentia’s with magical cloaks that serve as
wings as required serving as the top police. Anelia Orba is a
fledging who just received her cloak when she is thrown into an
investigation of multiple murders and drugs new to the city. So in
serving as Wings of Justice (paper) she is soon hunted by
those who hate the Priestesses who rule the city. Raised as an
orphan, she knows the lower sides of the city and that allows her to
get deeper into the conspiracy than other pontentia’s even though
that puts her constantlly at risk. Very exciting and hard to put
down. I look forward to Anelia’s next case.
In a world of super-heroes and
super-villains Darius Brasher imagines a private detective and
registered hero, Truman Lord who has the ability to manipulate
water, including the water in a human body. He is brash and
egocentric and, yet, somehow grew on me. He works with Shadow, a
superstrong meta thief who can evade electronic
detection. Superhero Detective For Hire(ebook) starts
with blackmail of the head of a College which leads to a villain who
can put his memories on film. Then that character is murdered.
The Missing Exploding Girl (ebook) is about a meta teenage
girl who has been taken by the Pied Piper, a meta who can mind
control children. She explodes and then reforms and the Pied Piper
is using her as a terror device for is Pro-Meta group. In the next
he and Shadow are after Killshot (ebook) an assassin who
murdered his client. Finally Hunted (ebook) has him on the
run for murdering the most loved superhero who was thought to be
invulnerable. An anti-meta wealthy tycoon is behind the
attack. I can only hope for more cases.
Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes
series ended with the clan of people, who can walk from one
alternate Earth to another, setting a nuke in the White House of the
world closest to us in background, in 2003. That Earth has increased
its surveillance on everybody and improved its paratime
technology. The main character Miriam Bergeson had discovered
the clan when she found she could travel to one of their Earths.
Since 2003 she’s been bringing another Earth’s technology from 19th
to 21st century level, stealing it if necessary. The two other major
powers of that world have nukes and that world is on the edge of
Nuclear war. Empire Games (hard from Tor) introduces us to
Rita Douglas, Miriam’s daughter she gave to a childless couple.
Rita’s talent to walk the worlds is recessive, but her world can
activate that talent. Once activated she is sent out spy on a world
that turns out to be Miriam’s. This first book of the new
series sets up the story but makes no attempt at resolution. More to
The testimony that Captain Ronaldo
Aldo gives about his treason at The Fortress at the End of Time
(paper from TOR) starts with his duplicate’s arrival at an old space
ship serving as a base in case the alien enemy returns. The original
remained in the Solar System working as a pilot. Disliked by his
fellow officers, the main problem is one of boredom, and the troops
frequently suicide. A near planet is being terraformed and has a
population of retired soldiers and monks. The tale is sometimes
fascinating, and sometimes depressing with a taste of Catch 22 that
doesn/’t quite rise to satire.
Tor has a collection of L. E. Modesitt, Jr.’s Recluce
Tales in hard cover.
Baen has two collections of older stories in
paper: Mission:Tomorrow edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and
If This Goes Wrong... edited by Hank Davis. Baen has reprinted
Lois Mcmaster Bujold’s classic Borders of Infinity in trade
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on February 10th 2017
The meeting starts at 8 p.m. at the Rotunda
on the University of Pennsylvania Campus. Siobhan
Carroll, an English Professor at the University of Delaware who
specializes in Fantasy and Science Fiction of the romantic
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.