Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                                HOME
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 finish.
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 tales.
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 episodic nature.
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 twist. Fun.
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 Pergatory (paper)
    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.