Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for February 2018
Adding fantasy, and sometimes Science Fiction to
real history provides a special way to look at known events.
David Mack takes a look at the The
Midnight Front (paper from Tor) of World War II. Cade Martin
had a special talent for Magick, though he had been kept from it.
When the war began, his parents took him from his studies in Oxford,
only to have a uboat torpedo his ship and magical vortex try to
swamp his lifeboat, Soon he is apprenticed to a British demonologist
Adair. Chaining demons gives an operator special powers and Cade has
only months to master them so Adair and his apprentices can face the
demonologist Kein working for the Nazis. The tale wonders through
the horrors to the war like the holocaust where blood is used to
gather power, the Normandy invasion, where a demon traps waits for
the allies, and the fire bombing of Dresden for the final
confrontation. Kein wants to end science and bring humanity back to
a simpler time and wants war’s true horrors to disgust humanity.
This is an exciting beginning to a fun series. I recommend it
Tom Miller sets his wonderful
The Philosopher's Flight (hard from Simon &
Schuster) in an alternate America where drawing sigils on sand
can magically allow a person to teleport, fly, send messages, and
create poison gas clouds. The latter has been outlawed by all the
nations involved in the great war (a version of our World War I).
Women make the best sigilists and they are being killed rescuing the
wounded. There are also the Trenchers, who like the KKK hate
everyone, especially women sigilists. The are politically strong,
eager to murder women and to pass laws prohibiting Practical
Philosophy. Robert Weekes has been his mother’s assistent rescuing
people in Montana when America enters the war. He wants to join the
US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service, a corps that has
never had a male member. So he goes to Rutgers for a year of
education in Practical Philosophy where he suffers reverse
discrimination, finds a girl friend, and enters the America’s cup
competition hoping to prove himself. The tale is impossible to put
down. It’s a solid coming-of-age tale in a world made believable. I
hope it garners some awards.
Girton is a club-foot assassin’s
apprentice to Merela Barn who bought him out of slavery. They have
been summoned to Castle Maniyadoc by Queen Adran to do qhat is
forbidden to assaqssins, protect her son Prince Aydor, the only
heir. In this Age of Assassins (paper) The Queen has history
with Merela. Girton is in disguise as noble hostage new to the
squires, while his master becomes a jester. The two discover
potential plots and counter plot revolving around Three potential
future kings, including one who becomes a friend, Rufra. The Queen
is also slowly poisoning the King. Five years later Girton returns
with his poisoned master. Three kings vie for the local throne
including his friend Rufra. There’s a traitor in Rufra’s
camp and Griton needs the Blood of Assassins (ebook from
Orbit) no protect his friend. Unfortunately, has sorcerer powers
that threaten to kill the land around him if unleashed, and if
discovered he will be killed. RJ Barker is an exciting writer and
one destined for awards.
Alastair Reynolds returns to the
Glitter Band, Ten thousand city-state habitats that orbit the planet
Yellowstone, Tom Dreyfus, The Prefect (paper) who
solved an earlier case is dealing with a disease that could
become a disaster. Except for the police, a citizens have
brain implants that allow for a pure democracy. People are dying
when their implants overheat and the number is increasing.
Unfortunately this Elysium Fire (paper from Orbit)
isn’t a disease, but the work of an insane individual with special
access to the voting computers because his family set up the system.
I felt disappointed without a sane explanation for the villain, but
this is still an excellent tale that will probably find itself on
some award nominations.
Kylara Vatta returns from her Cold
Welcome (paper) on her home world of Slotter Key to face new
problems. She had discovered that the supposed unhabitable continent
of Miksland was actually being mined for two centuries. To keep it a
secret, elements of the Slotter Key armed forces have drugged the
survivors and put them into quarantine for a fake disease. Three of
the soldiers escaped and found their way to Ky alerting to her
danger. Soon she is accused to murder, and lost her citizenship
because she’d been away too long, Her great aunt Grace, the Rector
in charge of Slotter Key’s military is poisoned and luckily gets the
specialized care necessary to survive. That send Ky and her friends
Into the Fire (hard from Del Rey) first to rescue the other
survivors and get their story out. Then finding herself in a place
of command, she has to save the President and other elected
officials from an attack on the Capitol city. I don’t like red tape
which made it more difficult to read the first half, but the second
half was all action and lots of fun. Elizabeth Moon shows her
military background well in this tale.
Andrew Vaillencourt sets is
fun tale of a retired cyborg who is technically “defunct military Ordnance
(paper from Amazon). Roland Tankowicz was the only survivor of the
Golem project which produced unstoppable warriors. Unfortunately
corrupt brass had a way of turning their brains off when the
job required. The rest of the group suicided, but Don Ribiero,
one of his designers fixes that. Roland works as a fixer in a crime
ridden neighborhood of future Boston. Then Don’s daughter,
Lucia, asks for his help after her father was kidnaped. Lucia
was enhanced for speed, and the two of them have to evade bounty
hunters to rescue Don and destroy his kidnapers. I’ve started the
first sequel and it’s just as much fun.
The second half of Adam Burch’s
fractured worlds solves a lot of the mystery of how Earth was
disconnected from the space that allows quick movement from star to
star. Edmon Leontes left the world of Tao a decade before to
become a physician on a freighter with a small crew. Their
communication’s officer, Ari is being hunted by several groups. The
trail to saving her leads to an artificial intelligence with its own
space station, to Miral that was the center of Human civilization
after the loss of Earth, and is now a ruin, and finally to a very
changed solar system run by artificial intelligence. Finally, in the
Roar of the Storm (paper from 47North), he has to face the
emperor of Tao who has started conquering other worlds. Exciting.
John Gwynne writes of A Time
of Dread (hard from Orbit) a century after a portal opened
sending Kadoshim demons to conquer the world. The winged Ben-Elim
followed with their giant allies riding bears. The Kadoshim went
into hiding when Asroth, their leader was frozen in starstone metal.
The Ben-Elim have been conquering human tribes to gain soldiers to
fight the hidden Kadoshim who they fear will return. Bleda,
the only surviving child of the leader of one of the horse clans has
been trained for war while living in the Ben-Elim capital as a
hostage. Rive is a training to be a White-Wing soldier but her
temper has caused her to fail her tests. Drem is the son of a
trapper who finds starstone in an Elk trap and whose father, Olin
had left one of the allies of the Ben-Elim when Drem was young. Olin
forges the metal into a sword of starmetal. But evil is rising. This
is a very exciting beginning to a solid trilogy.
Jordanna Max Brodsky completes her
Olympus Bound (hard from Orbit) trilogy with a bang that
sends the our heroes to confront the evil Saturn in tunnels below
the Vatican in our present. Then with all the surviving Greek Gods
open a gate to another world from Mount Olympus. At that point, the
true manipulating God is revealed, and he has to be faced in New
York. The gate to another world is opened by playing the cables of
the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m trying not to give too much away here. The
whole series, especially the affair of Selene (once Artemis) and her
human lover Classics Professor Theodore Schultz is a lot of fun.
T.S. Nichols looks at an
alternated present in which it is possible to retrieve memories from
someone dead only a few days. The technology has been around for two
decades and usually used by family members. Cole has taken fifteen
memories to solved murders. The press calls him The Memory
Detective (ebook from Random House LLC) and he’s an expert in
recall, So when some bodies arrive stripped of memory and other ways
to identify the people. What he doesn’t know is that there is an
illegal company paying people to live a good life and create
memories. Their memories are harvested and sold and the bodies
dumped. Cole follows one of their clients only to learn that the
company is very dangerous. I wasn’t happy with the ending, but
presumably there will be sequels.
After the war described in the
Angel in the Whirlwind trilogy, With the intrersteller economy on
the rebound, the interstellar cruise liner Supreme is launched with
it’s owner and family on board. The Supreme boasts the height of
luxury for it’s first class passengers and enough firepower to maybe
fight off one pirate. Her captain is ex-military an Her crew
well trained. Unfortunately in trying to avoid three pirates,
they fall into The Hyperspace Trap (paper from 47North )
that has captured human and alien craft for centuries.
Christopher G. Nuttall tells an exciting tale of people rising to
the occasion, and dealing with madness, not only outside the vessel,
but also inside. The ending promises a sequel and I can’t wait for
With Of Gods and Men
(ebook from Orbit) Stephen Aryan tells a tale of Vargus, an
immortal man, and Lanny, a boyish man who sometimes speaks
with the voice of the Maker. Together they roam the kingdoms,
sometimes facing ancient monsters and sometimes just finding work.
It’s a very pleasant read that I wish were longer.
Baen Books has reprinted Daved Weber’s Honorverse
tale Shadow of Victory in paper and a collection of
Susan R. Matthews’ tales of Fleet Insurgent (trade)
characters.. They also have humorous horror tales in The Cackle
of Cthulhu (trade) edited by Alex Shvartsman.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on Februry 9th The meeting starts at 8
p.m. at the Rotunda on the University of Pennsylvania
Campus .Ian Randal Strock, editor of Fantastic Books will speak. As
usual guests are welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a retired 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