Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                       HOME
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Science Fiction for March -April 2019
    Fantasy and Science Fiction explore strange worlds and odd cultures.
In Arkady Martine’s  A Memory Called Empire (hard from Tor) the independent mining station, Lsel Station, sends Mahit Dzmare at the request of the Teixcalaanli Empire as its new ambassador. The station has technology to transfer memories that the Empire lacks, creating an individual with a combined personality.  Mahit is given the sabotaged memories of the current ambassador, arriving at the Capital planet, only to discover the ambassador murdered. The aging current Emperor, has been enticed with the Lsel station technology with the hope of immortality. A number of officials have decided that transfer of power is better with a rebellion. Mahit is caught in the middle with numerous attempts on her life and only a few friends to somehow help her station. This fascinating look at a foreign human culture through the eyes of a member of a student of that culture is fascinating and I hope this book finds a nomination to an award.  
The planet Junction (trade from Flame Tree Press) has wormhole gates from many different planets linked long enough so that the area around the gate duplicates the world it is connected to. Hidden from most human eyes, in the jungles of New Guinea, there is a gate to Junction that’s been around long enough that people have settled habitable areas close to the gate. Daisuke Matsumori is a Japanese survival host known for wrestling alligators. Biologist Anne Houlihan told the world about the gate after one of the Nun people  showed her the gate. The  Indonesian and American governments have set up a forward base and a plane is brought through the hole for an air survey. A few hours in, the engine seizes up forcing the pilot to glide the plane in. Daniel M. Bensen has a wonderful time designing the biozones the group have to traverse to return to their base, all filled with deadly traps that have to be understood to survive. Lots of fun.  
The desolate Scar was created because of the war between the empire with its powerful mages, and the Revolution with its huge machines. The empire was winning until the heir was revealed as a nul. Many mages quit the army, becoming powerful Vagrants working for whoever would hire them. One of them, Sal the Cacophony, has a magical gun and a list of mages to kill. She has been captured by the Revolution, sentenced to death, and is telling her tale to the Governor. The Governor wants to know what happened to Low Sergeant Cavric who had been seen with her on her quest to stop some mages from calling up a major demon, destroying cities on their way. Seven Blades in Black (paper from Orbit) is extremely violent and absorbing at the same time.  Luck is all that keeps Sal alive as she fights shapeshifters, demon callers, and other powerful mages.  Sam Sykes has an enthralling tale impossible to put down.
Fergus Ferguson calls himself a Finder (hard from DAW) but he is acting for a Repo man for a stolen starship from  Arum Gilger, who is in the process of trying to take control of the colony of Cernee. Fergus knows he’s in trouble when the cable car he is on, traveling between habitats in the system is blown up and he barely survives. It doesn’t help that the five major players in the system are already nearly at war before Gilger makes his move. There are Aslig ships monitoring the system, aliens that refuse contact with the rest of civilization. They have a habbit of either modifying people, or dicing them up.  Suzanne Palmer tells a fun tale of a man whose plans are always crazy, but somehow work out. Lots of fun. I hope Fergus has more adventures coming.  
Mike Chen has a fun, time-travel tale that I gulped down.. Kin Stewart, agent of the Temporal Corruption Bureau in 2142, finds himself trapped in 1996. Eighteen years later, when he is found, he has a wife and fourteen-year-old daughter. Here and Now and Then (hard from Mira) he is placed on desk duty, rediscovers his fiancee, Penny, who doesn’t know about time travel (a government) for whom only two weeks have passed. Kin discovers that his 21st century wife dies of brain cancer, and that throws his daughter down a horrible path. So he decides to illegally contact her via email which works for a bit, and then goes horribly awry. I like the fact that 2142 is a very nice place to live, but I still have tears in my eyes from the happy ending
The world of Deception Well was settled from survivors of a berserker starship attack on their home world, and they are convinced that the lack of signals from other human settled worlds is because of these robot ships killing all intelligent life. The Urban, a survivor of an exploration expedition,  returns having conquered one of these starships. Soon sixty volunteers join him on his voyage from the Edges(trade from Mythic Island Press LLC) of human civilization back to the beginnings. Linda Nagata paints a neat future in which people can easily be uploaded, and duplicated if needed.  New bodies can easily be printed in a few hours. This is a universe in which humanity cannot violate the speed of light, so the voyage will take centuries. There’s time to modify the starship Dragon for human comfort, and time to investigate a interstellar planet, which unfortunately has something deadly on board to infect the Dragon and it’s crew.  It also is becoming obvious to the crew that reaching technological heights was probably responsible for the destruction of other human worlds. I can’t wait for the next volume.
Today I am Carey (trade from Baen) is the tale of a caretaker android who uniquely becomes sentient. Originally bought to care for  Mildred, a woman dying of Alzheimer’s syndrome, he can change his body to imitate absent family members that he copies using its empathy net.  After Mildred’s death, the family and company realizes he has become self-aware. Over the next eighty years he cares for members of the family while attempts to copy his sapience fail.  In the process he goes to weddings, is there for births, and is there for their dying too.  Martin L. Shoemaker tells a wonderful tale of an android who never quite becomes human, but somehow is more human because of it. Wonderful.
Alex Craft is drawn into a murder mystery in Faery.  Two dead bodies of a gnome and a fae who might have killed each other. On closer look, it was obvious the Gnome had been murdered elsewhere.  The problem of Grave Destiny (paper from Ace) in solving the case is the politics of the Fae and the kings and queens of the six realms. Kalayna Price provides mystery lovers a great tale set in a world with magic.
The Bright Sparks are back with Moon Tracks (hard from Baen) in which Dr. Keegan Bright has set up a race around the moon with many teams from Earth. The Sparks are the youngest team and lack backing, and their vehicle is half made from left-over lunar parts. The four member team puts up with a lot of adversity and learns life lessons. Fun.  
    Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman have put together The Unicorn Anthology (trade from  Tachyon Publications) filled with fun tales from major authors. John Ringo and Gary Poole have selected  more stories from John Ringo’s zombie virus series, Voices of the Fall (hard from Baen). Alan Dean Foster gives The Taste of Different Dimensions (trade from WordFire Press LLC ) in this collection of his tales, including one original.  Swords, Sorcery, & Self-Rescuing Damsels (edited by Lee French and Sarah Craft) is an ebook from Clockwork Dragon with twenty tales of different authors.
    Baen has reprinted the classic silly Hoka! Hoka! Hoka! By the late Poul Anderson and the late  Gordon R. Dickson in trade.
    The novels selected as finalists for the Nebula Awards are: The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor); The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK);
Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK);  Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan); Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing); and Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga).
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on April 12th Tom Purdom, a hugo nominated author, will speak. The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at The Rotunda on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. 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.