Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for February 2019
There’s something about first novels in a trilogy
in Fantasy and Science Fiction. Done right, they are tales with
interesting characters and backgrounds, forcing the reader to
eagerly await more adventures. Alas they rarely provide a decent
Howard Andrew Jones starts his
trilogy with For the Killing of Kings (hard from St.
Martin's Press). It promises to be the best sword and sorcery
in a long while. The world is fractured into realms with pieces of
solidity between. Seven years before a peace treaty ended the
war between Darassus and Naor because of a magical sword destined to
kill the King of the Naor. Asrahn, the head of the Squire academy
and a hero of the previous war, discovers that the magical sword has
been switched, and is murdered. The fifth year squire, Elenai, is
suspected of the knowing about the fake sword and only Asrahn’s
friend, Kyrkenall can save her. Together they head out into the
shifting lands, with only a slight clue of where the real sword
might be found, hunted by squires led by members of the Cabal.
Unfortunately the Naor have decided it is time to invade. I really
liked how Elenai learned to use her magical abilities, while seeing
the humanity in the heroes she had idolized.
Brad R. Torgersen tells of future
humans who fled Earth and found a home in the planets of the
Waywork, fifty-six worlds connected by a faster-than-light gate
created by aliens who left no trace behind. They are fighting for
dominance under A Star-Wheeled Sky (hard from Baen).
Then, a fifty-seventh world appears. One starstate has slowly been
conquering the others, but this might prove a hope for the
Constellar starstate. So a combined expedition is hurridly put
together with three civilian ships headed by the son of their
owner, Wyodreth Antagean. Heading the military forces is Admiral
Zuri mikton who had been heading for retirement. Insisting on coming
along is Lady Garsina Oswight. Following them with battleships is
the Kosmarch Golsubril Vex of the Nautilan starstate. What follows
is ship to ship battles, and a surprise at the Earth like planet in
the new system. There are many questions left to answer in future
David Drake’s second tale of Pal,
now one of the Champions, faces The Storm (hard from Baen)
of problems as he searches for his friend and mentor Master Guntram
lost in a cyst of the wastelands. This Arthurian -like tale is set
in a world with stable hamlets surrounded by wastelands not fully in
our reality and filled with monsters, and ancient technology that
provides the magic. The Knights or Champions fight with lightsabers
and force shields and need special dogs to see into the waste. Pal’s
consort May wants Pal to insure that her nephew gets into the
Champions, but the boy has discovered gambling and drinking and
isn’t training. I like this better than the first despite it’s
Syavusa is an ancient tidal-locked
planet with still working machines that has been settled by numerous
intelligent species and remains lawless. Arkad’s World (hard
from Baen) has only one fourteen-year human orphan until three
strangers arrive looking for a crashed human ship, the Rosetta, that
contains human treasures sent off for safety before the Elmisthorn
conquering of Earth. James L. Cambias tells of the Quest for
the Rosetta across a world in continuous daylight, filled with fun
alien species, each with their own societies. The journey is fun,
filled with odd characters, and his fellow humans are also strange.
I wasn’t as happy with the somewhat predictable ending with an odd
Jim C. Hines has a second
adventure of the janitors trying to save humanity. The Krakau
released a zombie plague on Earth and then used the cured humans as
soldiers. Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos and her fellow maintenance
workers survived the resurgence of plague on the EMS Pufferfish and
discovered the Krakau perfidy. Now, with a Prodryan spy and
lawyer on board they have to somehow get to Earth and find a feral
human who might have a natural cure. In Terminal Uprising(hard
from DAW) they have to survive their shuttles destruction by
missile, meet with actual human survivors of the plague, and
then invade a hidden Krakau lab. A bit more serious than the first
but still fun.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr. writes usually
about people with powerful magic trying to improve their world.
Endgames (hard from Tor) is about Charyn, Rex of Solidar who has
political power to deal with a new industrial uprising, a
religious fight against corruption, and numerous assassination
asttempts. While he does have some help from Imagers, he mainly has
to work out the problems himself while new to the job after his
father’s assassination. There’s also wooing his future wife through
letters and chance meetings. This is a quiet tale with little
action, but I enjoyed it.
DAW has Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti:
The Complete Trilogy (hard) novelettes together. The first,
which won both Hugo and Nebula awards, tells of the only young Himba
woman leaving Earth to attend the Oomza University on another
planet. On the way the jelly like Medusae attack the ship and kill
all the passengers. Binti has an ancient artifact, an edan, that she
found in the desert that protects her and allows her to talk to the
Medusae. The Medusae intended to attack the University to retrieve a
stolen stinger. Binti convinces them that peace is better and
arranges for the return of the stinger and for one of the medusae to
stay. Her year at the university allows her to deal with the trauma
of the attack, and to learn more about her edan. The second and
third parts is about her return home with her Medusae friend to
learn more about her hidden background, only to see the war between
the Khoush (other humans) and the Medusae start up, destroying her
village. Her only hope is somehow to find a way to make peace. The
odd, future African background, along with its strange science that
lets mathematics make currents gives a very odd and interesting
flavor to the tale.
R. S. Belcher continues his tale
of the Brotherhood of the Wheel (paper) about the truckers
and bikers who protected our roads from monsters. One biker gang
that earns money hunting monsters is split by one member who would
rather deal in drugs, and has a magical device to call
monsters. Luckily there are werewolf biker chicks to help
fight the rogue. There’s also an immortal serial killer clown.
This King of the Road (hard from Tor) loves to lay out dead
limbs in ritual positions to collect magical energy.
Kim Wilkins is a writer to watch.
Her tales of five princesses are complicated by following too many
characters, but each is a fascinating woman worth their own tale.
In Sisters of the Fire (hard from Del Rey) Ash has
been wandering the waste with another undermagician, one who can
take the shape of animals and is searching for a dragon. Ash wants
merely to kill the dragon she saw in her dreams attacking a major
city. Bluebell, the warrior is searching for the sister with a
magical sword designed to kill her. Willow, who has the sword, has
fallen in with a pirate leader who want to her. Ivy, a duchess with
two sons is slowly poisoning her husband to rule in her children’s
name. All the while Rose’s daughter, Rowen, has been
kidnaped into an alternate magical realm with a singing tree where
she might become queen. Rose has to follow into this strange land.
It all culminates in Ivy’s port city under attack by both raiders
and a dragon. Fun, but with more coming.
Helen Harper tells of Manchester
England enveloped by magic and most of its citizens refugees.
Shrill Dusk (ebook) has a magical apocalypse in the
background, that was described in another of Helen Harper tales, but
this one is about the survivors. Charlotte (Charlie) is a gifted
poker player who also earn regular wages cleaning the local police
station. She’s taken over the debts of a friend and owes loan shark
Maxmillian Stone lots of money. Then magic hits and she finds she
has magical powers, her roommate turns into a bunyip, and a werewolf
comes visiting. As the authorities urge everyone to leave the city,
Max Stone decides that it is a perfect time for someone to take over
those who remain, and its up to Charlie and her friends to stop him.
L8ight fun on the silly side.
Baen has reprinted Gordon R. Dickson’s The
Magnificent Wilf and Elizabeth Moon’s second part of The Deed of
Paksenarrion, Divided Allegiance in trade. They
have reprinted David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas pope’s A
Call to Vengeance , and Catherine Asaro’s tale of The
Bronze Skies in paper. They have a collection about Space
Pioneers (paper edited by Hank Davis and Christopher
Ruocchio), and a collection of Tim Powers tales, Down and out in
Tor has reprinted three books set in L. E.
Modesitt, Jr.’s Recluse series in paper: The Magic of Recluse
(the first); The Towers of Sunset; and The Magic
Engineer. I’ve read all three twice.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on February8th The meeting starts at 8
p.m. at International house on the University of
Pennsylvania Campus. Katherine Locke, author of The Girl with
the Red Balloon 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 fusion generation requires
less energy because only one frequency is needed rather than a full
spectrum. It also explains dark matter, the proliferation of
subatomic particles, and the limit of light speed for matter.