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Science Fiction for March 2013
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    Some  Fantasy and Science fiction tales deal with the sense of wonder. The fun of discovery, mixed with the lure of new horizons. In both fantasy and science fiction explorers seek out new worlds and discover new ways of doing this. In the real world only those working on the edge of what is known can experience this. But readers can vicariously enjoy the same feeling by relating to characters of the fantastic.
David Walton sets his vision of a flat Earth during the period between Henry VIII and Elizabeth. Stephen Parris is physician to the sickly boy, Edward VI. Christopher Sinclain is an alchemist hunting for the Quintessence (hard from Tor) of being that would allow the dead to be given life. When a ship returns from an expedition to the edge of the Earth, its crew slowly turned to sand and carrying magical creatures that can walk through walls. Edwardís death, Stephens outing as a dissectioner, enables a new expedition to the Island of Horizon on the edge of the world where strange creatures, including intelligent, telepathic non-human being who can turn invisible, and immune to guns, and who killed the previous expedition members. Along with Stephen, his daughter Catherine, and Christopher, who become Captain, the ship is filled with Protestants escaping the Catholic rule of Queen Mary. The historical attitudes are exactly, even though the strange science belongs more to alchemy than to the physics and chemestry that shape our world. Neat book that some may nominate for an award.
Liesel Schwarz has an odd version of the early twentieth century in which a semi-magical spark allows steam engines of all sorts that only require the addition of water. It is an age of dirigibles and dying magic. Vampires are guarded by Alchemists and long living warlocks guard the single oracle who provides the magic of light and dark. Elle Chance is an aviatrix piloting her own dirigible when she takes a commission to take a box from Paris to London, not knowing that it is a major part of A Conspiracy of Alchemists (hard from Del Rey). She also doesnít know that her engineer father has been kidnaped to build a horrific machine, that she is a potential oracle and the  missing element of the fiendish plan. So with the help of an English Lord who is also a member of the council of Warlocks, and an unfinished heavier-than-air flying machine, she faces air pirates, and numerous attempts on her life to rescue her father not knowing that she is heading deep into enemy territory. The plot may have been pure pulp, but I really enjoyed the background and am looking forward to the sequel later this year.
Gene Doucette has a neat tale about a man born with the ability to see a seconds into the future. Corrigan Bain actually can see generalities about the future well enough to act as a Fixer (paper from The writers coffee Shop Publishing House) and save people from deadly mistakes. FBI agent Maggie Trent had worked with him once before on a bank robbery that would have gone horribly wrong. When a group of physicists working on the theory behind his abilities start getting murdered, she finds him again and discovers an impossible murderer. I donít want to give this away, but this edge-of-your-seat thriller manages to put the concept in understandable terms, though it will warp the readerís head. Wow!
According to Dana Cameron, Zoe Miller archeologist and werewolf gets into Seven Kinds of Hell (trade from Amazon Publishing) when she brings home an undocumented figurine on the last day of her job at a museum. It seems that it is part of a set linked to ancient Greek magic. An evil man convinced that the figurines can make him a werewolf (you have to be born one) kidnaps Zoeís cousin so she will hunt for other figurines. There are fangborn ( werewolves, weresnakes whose fangs can deliver poison or medicine, and oracles) helping her. Thereís a three-hundre-year-old fangborn U. S. Senator hoping that the trail will lead to Pandoraís Box. Zoe goes from London to Paris, and from Vienna to ancient Greek temples in the Aegean Sea. Along the way she learns to use her beastly powers and survive attack after attack. I really enjoyed this tale and canít wait for the sequel.
In a world scarred from previous magical wars, Christopher Nuttall tells the tale of Elaine, orphan and  a weak magician, who works in the Great library. Then a curse dumps all  knowledge of the library into her head, making her a Bookworm (ebook from Elsewhen Press which I bought). She  is afraid that the inquisition will have her killed because of her illegal knowledge. Her attempts to discover what was done to her lead her by train to the Kingdom of Ida where she runs into Inquisitor Dread investigating the same course though he doesnít know its full extent,  a court magician who explodes when asked the wrong questions, and a prince of Ida who throws her into his dungeon. Back in the capital the Grand Sorcerer has died and powerful magicians are vying for the position. Elaine, when she escapes back to the capitol city, lets her best friend/room mate, talk her into going to a Ball. There she meets a young man and actually goes on a date for the first time. The conclusion is exciting as her father is revealed and attempts to take over the city.  She has to save her city by using the knowledge the curse gave her.. I really liked this so much I bought his previous tale. This takes place in Sherlock Holmes London with magic. Most magicians only have one of the eleven talents. Five people have had master level abilities. Two are dead, and one, Jack, is determined to use his powers and allies to create a revolt of the poor. Master Thomas, leader of the magicians and already in his eighties needs an heir and the only candidate is a woman, Lady Gwendolyn Crichton whose mother deplores her magical abilities as ruining her for marriage. As Jack starts a killing spree and starts importing rifles for his revolution, Gwendolyn has to learn how to use her magical talents as potentially The Royal Sorceress (ebook) In the end with the poor in control of London, Master Thomasís solution to regaining control is so horrible that switching sides might be an option. Again I was impressed with the solid page-turning ending.
Two clans meet because of Necesssityís Child (hard from Baen), actually two children In the latest Lladen tale by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Syl Vor of clan Korval and Kezzi of the kindred (gypsies) meet at the school set up by the Bosses of Shurebeak where Clan Korval, and its tree have found refuge. Over-coming suspicions that would normally keep them apart, they discover the common elements of their clan based life and bring the adults in their lives together. Thereís also a plot by the Department of the Interior that had cause Korvalís banishment that Syl vor and Kezzi are in the right place to stop. With a stronger ending, this would have been a major tale.
Frank Chadwick knows How Dark the World Becomes (trade from Baen) when on the edge of a major war. Sasha Naradnyo is a loan shark on Crack City whose parents had been lured across the galaxy with the promise of good jobs. They died when he was seven and survival meant becoming a gangster. Unfortunately his boss, Koyla, who grew up on the streets with him, has decided that Sasha is extra baggage. Thatís when his girl friend sells him out and he has to kill the man sent to murder  him. Then a woman comes to him to arrange transportation for her and two aliens (there are seven special in the galactic Cottohaz) The Varoki  turn out to be children, the only heirs of an extremely rich family. They had survived the assassination of their parents and other Varoki are after them. Good time to leave Crack City and acting as security for the kids seem a good ideaq. What Sasha doesnít know is that ancient hatreds are causing the Cottohaz to crack apart. Not only are killers after him, but they are willing to blow up passenger liners to stop him and that part of his trip sends him across a war zone. Very exciting. I suspect sequels are coming.
Matt Adams wonders what would happened if a super villain actually ran the world. Colonel Chaos was a super villain until he reformed when he met Miss Lightspeed, who captured him and then his heart. Together they saved the world many times and then had a son. Chris Fairborn. Then Miss Lightspeed is killed and Colonel Chaos becomes obsessed with resurrecting her. Chris returns home after a bomb destroys his home town and is immediately blamed and locked up in an insane asylum for super heroes. I, Crimsonstreak (paper from Candlemark & Gleam) is his tale  when he escapes three years later and discovers his father is ruling the world, his mother is somehow alive, and a version of him is not only alive but heir. Working with the butler of a batman type hero and the heroís son, he has to fight the heroís conscripted by the government and problems that even his super speed canít solve. Lots of fun, especially for those who enjoy their comics with words.
It is now spring in the second tale of the Demi-monde saga. In an alternate 2018 world, an artificial computer world was set up in the ABBA quantum computer. Inside the dupes seem quite real. Some of them have been modeled on the worst villains from history. In the first tale the Presidentís daughter, Norma Williams was persuaded to enter that world and a young black woman, Ella Thompson was sent in after her. Aaliz Heydrich has been sent to the real world using Normaís body, tapping Norma in Demi-monde. But now is the time for The Shadow Wars (trade from William Morrow) With the FourthRight armies on the edge of Venice and the Coven, a miracle is needed and Rod Rees creates that miracle by changing Ella into the original Lilith, creator of civilization who had an army of vampires. The tale is designed to be outrageous. But it is impossible to put down. I canít wait for part three, summer.
G. T. Almasi continues his tale of a bionic heroine in the eighties. In this alternate history Hitler died in 1942, stopping the invasion of Russia and allowing the Nazis to conquer Europe and England and enslave the Jews. Hammer of Angles (paper from Del Rey). Politics has allowed  Alix Nico, a young woman with lots of bionic parts, to work with the German underground to start the rebellion. Lots of violence and, oh yes, she gets to rescue her father who had been captured before the first tale. Great series, and everything you would want in a tale of the bionic woman versus the Gestapo.
One of my favorite books is Jumper by Steven Gould about the problems of a young man, Davy who learned to teleport and eventually ran into trouble with government agencies. In the sequel, Reflex, he gets captured and saved by his wife, Millie. Itís sixteen years later and Davy, Millie and their daughter, nicknamed Cent are living off the grid in Canada and helping out refugee problems around the world. When Cent learns how to teleport, she has an Impulse (hard from Tor which I bought electronically) that is time for her to go to a real school. So she and her parents buy a home in a small town and create documentation that will allow her to learn to fit in in a high school environment while hiding her talent. Thereís the usual highschool problems and a girl, Caffeine, who is blackmailing freshmen into carrying drugs into the school. That eventually turns ugly enough to get Cent captured. By really bad guys.  I was in seventh heaven to buy this and it met all my expectations. Iíve already read it twice.
Harry Aderton looks at the war that caused  Heavenís Night (hard from Aderton Prime LLC) that was started by  Lucifer. Two other archangels have joined him, but the other seven archangels including Sariel ignore the corruption of the lower nine spheres into circles of Hell. Then Sarielís soul mate Raquel is killed after somehow doing the impossible and creating a son. The quest to find Raquelís son and locate her immortal soul sends him into the depths of the corrupted Astral Plane and forces him to face the his worst aspects before he becomes the epicenter of the fight against that corruption. This is an exciting blending of the background hinted in Dante and, considering the odd background, seems realistic, especially for believers.
The second two parts of Trey Garisonís exciting version of the 20's with Nazis has our heroes facing Hitlerís Death Head Legion (ebook from Harper Voyager) while they search for the spear that can turn people into vampires. The trail leads to Draculaís fortress where our heroes  are captured. Shadowís may Fall (ebook) if they donít escape and somehow destroy the zombies created by the spear. Lots of fun and impossible not to whistle Raiders of the Lost Arc while reading..
    Roc has put together the first Three tales of Garrett for Hire (trade) by Glen Cook. These tales of murder in a fantasy world are impossible to put down Iíd rather have a new tale, but these are a nice introduction for people unfamiliar with the series. Baen has two Andre Norton tales in The Iron Breed (trade).
    Baen has the unlucky Man-Kzin Wars XIII (paper created by Larry Niven)
    Baen has reprinted my favorite Robert Heinlein tale, Sixth Column in paper as well as Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey The Ship who Searched; and David Webberís Honor Harrington tale, A Rising Thunder in trade.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on March 8th at 8 p.m.at the Rotunda  on  the University of Pennsylvania. Campus.  Jay Smith the creator and executive producer for the Parsec Award-winning audio drama series "HG World" bout a zombie uprising will speak  . As usual guests are welcome.
    Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally Female (Smashwords)