Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for March 2010
I like my fantasy and science fiction to be strange.
Not for me the generic orcs and wizards that J. R. R. Tolkein invented.
Been there, read that. I love original ideas and backgrounds.
By Henry Leon Lazarus
Tchaikovsky imagines a world originally dominated by giant insects in which
humans have adapted by taking on insect characteristics, adapting to their
environment through genetic adaption and psionic talents. So that you have
telepathic ant cities of warriors, industrious beetles, and flying people
modeled after flies, dragonflies, moths, wasps, and butterflies. Five centuries
before the industrious beetles invented technology which has overturned
the world order. The heart of this industriousness in the lowlands where
weapon manufacture supplies wars all over the planet. The wasps have united
into an Empire in Black and Gold (trade from Pyr) and have decided
to bring the world under their domination. The city states of the lowlands
are oblivious to their danger, despite the continuous railing by Stenwald
Maker, a rich man who has established a spy network to help safeguard his
home region. Four college students, Salme Dien dragonfly whose commonwealt
had already suffered under wasp attack, Stenwald’s ward Tynesia a spider
kin strong in sword; Stenwald’s niece Cheerwell Maker a beetle who hasn’t
mastered her art, and Torho, a mixed race artificer. Sent to the manufacturing
city of Helleron, they are attacked by wasp soldiers and barely escape
from their dirigible with a stolen airplane. Wasps capture two of them
in Helleron and the rest, along with Stenwald, have to break them out of
a wasp imperial prison in one of the wasp captured cities. The action never
lets up as the deadly Wasp plan to capture the lowlands has to be foiled.
This is the first part of a trilogy which the sequels are arriving in the
next two months. With sword fights in three dimensions (since some of the
people fly), flying machines of all sorts, and schemes from an empire
modeled from the worst of human history, this is real fun. Wow!
loved Elizabeth Moon’s first books, The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy,
which I read twice and is still in print in omnibus volume from Baen. Oath
of Fealty (hard from Del Rey) starts almost from the ending of the
first series and tells how Keiri Phelan adapts to being the King of the
Elf/ human land of Lyonya, Jasndelir Arcolin finds his way as the new head
of Duke Phelan’s mercenary company, and Dorrin Verakai has to return to
her family, that rejected her when she wouldn’t take up their evil ways,
and clean them out as their new Duke. The fun tale is complete but leaves
plenty of hooks for the two volumes to follow. All fans of the first trilogy
will be very happy at this new edition.
Doctorow’s tale of Makers (hard from Tor which I downloaded for
free) and shakers takes place during the coming second depression, a place
of abandoned strip malls and shanty towns. The tale starts with an imbedded
reporter Suzanne Church in a company-financed, entrepreneurial startup.
Her blogs on Perry Gibbons and Lester Banks introduce them to the world
and things go well enough for competitors to copy the result until the
company folds. Perry and Lester then build a ride commemorating their history
with the ability of riders to add and subtract to the mix. 3-D printers
allow the ride to be copied and eventually and evil executive at Disney
gets involved when some copywriten items appear in the ever popular rides.
This is a tale of crazy genius mixed with a hatred of corporations. It’s
a variation of the prototypical American story with impossible to forget
characters. I expect this to be nominated for awards.
Shepherd’s latest series promises as much depth as The Deed of Paksenarrion.
The Elf-like Serrin live longer than humans and have a different look on
life. Centuries before they conquered two human provinces, and tried to
maintain the peace by creating human trading partners. Indirectly they
have made Petrodor (trade from Pyr) quite wealthy. Sasha
(paper), a member of the royal family who was exiled from Lenayin for leading
a sort of revolution, has followed her sword master Kessligh, to the city
in the hope of convincing the Merchant Princes not to get involved with
a war pushed by the religious hierarchy to regain those lost provinces.
Between them and the Serrin living in the city, the stability that keeps
peace in the city is broken. The result is a civil war like Beirut
faced in the 80's, though with arrows, and swords not guns. Caught in the
middle are two of Sasha’s sisters, married into different merchant families.
There are two more books in this tetrology. If Mr. Shepherd keeps the high
level of writing, this series will prove to be a real keeper.
Englehart, who writes action movies scripts, finally has a sequel to his
80's tale of an ex-Vietnam soldier turned DJ who was involved with a magickal
plot and became The Point Man (paper) in stopping a demon. Max August
has learned to magically stop aging and stays hidden When Dr, Pamela
Blackwell discovered a cure for puffer fish poison, she didn’t realized
she had discovered a cure for zombis until the bad guys go after her. Then
Max, acting as a James Bond type with magick instead of gadgets, has save
her as The Long Man (trade from Tor) and stop an evil plot using
zombis to conquer a small South American country as a first step to conquering
the world. The tale is full of death-defying feats, and impossible to survive
adventures. There’s enough of a hook for the sequel. Fun.
sea serpents in Robin Hobb’s previous live ship tales made it up the Rain
Wilds river to cocoon into dragons. But, alas they didn’t develop properly,
either too old or not in their cocoon long enough. The Bingtowner traders
are supporting them because of their agreement with the dragon Tintaglia
who saved them in the last war, but she has disappeared and the traders
are tired of the expense. So when the dragons decide to migrate to a lost
city from their ancestral memory, the traders decide it is expedient to
provide hunters and a Dragon Keeper (hard from Eos) for each dragon.
We are introduced to several of the dragon keepers, a live ship captain,
and a woman whose hobby is dragon lore and the expedition starts out. Alas,
it will take two more books before the ending comes in sight. Robin Hobb
is an excellent writer and I feel sure this beginning will eventually lead
to an ending worth the tale.
thought vampire detectives were overcooked until Mario Acevedo came along
with his Felix Gomex tales. This time the leader of the werewolves of Charleston
died (maybe murdered) and Felix has found himself in the middle of a Werewolf
Smackdown (trade from Eos) that takes all of his vampire talents to
unravel the plots and counter-plots between the two potential replacements
for leadership of the local clan. Usual fun.
Estep starts a new series about a deadly assassin in a present with vampires
(many of them hookers as they get off on both blood and sex) and people
with elemental powers. Gin has a standard contract to kill a blabby accountant
when she discovers was double-crossed with an assassin after her so she
can be take the blame for the accountant’s death. Surviving that she finds
her mentor ripped apart by a woman with air talents. Ashland is a very
corrupt city essentially ruled by a vicious woman with strong fire ability.
There’s a clean cop mixed in the middle and on the run from the bad cops.
The bad guys don’t know about Spider’s Bite (paper from Pocket),
her abilities with stone and ice. Gin (Spider) is one of deadliest fictional
females I’ve seen since Modesty Blaise and prefers her knives to her magical
abilities. I couldn’t put this one down and am eagerly awaiting the next.
Morgan’s demon abilities have been discovered by the Coven of Ethical and
Moral standards who had her shunned before. Now they want her locked up
in Alcatraz, preferably lobotomized . They have no hesitation of using
a demon summons to draw her out of a moving car (which she was driving).
With only a ghost and an ex-boyfriend thief to help her, Rachael needs
to get out of this Black Magic Sanction (hard from Eos by Kim Harrison)
before the coven catches her, kills her friends, burns down the church
she lives in, or worse. This is the eighth book in a complicated series
that still is so much fun that I put every episode to the top of the pile.
Drood, also known as Shamus Bond is back in his third adventure. Alexander
King, agent extra-ordinaire, is The Spy who Haunted Me (hard from
Ace which I bought electronically). He has secrets he wants to leave to
the best replacement he can find and so six agents, including Eddie, are
sent to uncover the world’s most dangerous secrets like the Loch Ness monster.
Simon R. Green has tied this tale to his Night side tales by bringing in
Walker, a fixture in that series. The other agents include Alexander king’s
nephew, a deadly CIA spook Honey Lake with an unlimited credit card, the
Blue Fairy from a previous book, and Lethal Harmony who uses her sexuality
as her main asset. Each new deadly puzzle gets another of the agents killed
as they teleport from Siberia, to Scotland, to New Mexico, etc.; Lots of
silly fun with some nice twists.
Paperback reprints include: The first two novels
of P.C. Hodgell’s The God Stalker Chronicles (Baen) which 20 years
later I still hold my original copies; John Ringo and Julie Chchrane’s
Honor of the Clan (Baen) a new addition to the Aldenata series;
Lois McMaster Bujold’s conclusion to her Sharing Knife tetrology, Horizon
(Eos); and Dennis Danver’s Wilderness (Eos) a fun tale of werewolves
written before this stuff became generic.
Collections this month include: Neil Gaiman’s Fragile
Things (paper from Harper). Full Moon City (trade from Gallery
Books and edited by Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg) with new
tales about urban werewolves; Muse and Reverie tales from Charles
De Lint’s strange city of Newford (hard from TOR); and new tales of Warriors
(hard from Tor and edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
written by some of the best writers in the field.
Classic Reprints include Andre norton’s Search
for the Star Stones (paper from Baen) with two novels; David Drake’s
The Complete Hammer’s Slammers, volume 2 (trade from Baen); more
of Pou Anderson’s spy of the future, Captain Flandry (trade from
Baen); and Isaac Asimov’s classic time travel tale, The End of Eternity
(hard from Tor) which has been optioned for the movies a number of times.
On the odd front there is a guide on How to Defeat
your own Clone(trade by Bantam books) by Kyle Kurpinski and Terry D.
Johnson which is a primer on the upcoming revolution in personal biology.