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Science Fiction for March 2019
    March brings some of the better Fantasy and Science fiction. It’s always a mixed batch awaiting April’s major publications.
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.  
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.
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.
Granada, the last emirate in Spain fell in 1492. Fatima, a concubine of the Sultan and the last slave, wants to protect her friend Hassan, whose maps warp reality. The Catholics negotiating the settlement, consider Hassan a sorcerer and want to kill him. Somehow with the help of a Jinn who usually takes the shape of a dog, the two escape and are pursued by a once noble nun, Luz and her soldiers. With the help of some friends, Hassan’s abilities, they cross the land to the Mediterranean Sea, steal a boat and eventually head to the ocean to find an imaginary land ruled by The Bird King (hard from Grove Press) where they hope to find safety even though the Spaniards follow them. G. Willow Wilson might look  at Muslim rule in Spain with rose-colored glasses, and its end a tragedy, but the tale is fun and the characters memorable.
Jenna Glass’s tale of  The Women's War (hard from Del Rey) is not a tale of hard women and battles, in fact the only battle is primarily fought off-screen by men. Her medieval desert world on one in which the gender war is heavily on the side of men, particularly in the nobility. Divorce is very easy and divorced women are sent to an Abby that is really a whore house. Then a magic spell is cast by three women of different generations that requires a women to desire pregnancy, before getting pregnant. Alysoon Rai-Brynna would have been the heir to one kingdom if her father hadn’t divorced her mother. She only tries to protect her children in the changes that the new magic creates. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Jinnell, might find herself wedded to a tyrant known for having his wives killed. When her father dies, her half-brother Delnamai becomes king and hates her and her family, especially since the new magic cost him a potential heir.  The women of the local Abby are exiled, because of the new magic, and luckily find a new well in the waste lands filled with rare feminine magical elements. At the same time in another kingdom, the earthquake associated with the magical change kills its king and leaves Princess Ellinsoltah forced to take the throne to protect herself from her first cousin.  I enjoyed this tale, glad that it didn’t paint all men as evil. I’m looking forward to see how the changes from the new magic effect human society.
The city of Titanshade (hard from DAW) sits on an ice desert and is warmed by volcanic vents. In a world of eight sapient species, its wealth comes from the now-dwindling oil, and it is hoping for monies from other kingdoms to build wind farms to survive. Then one of the Ambassadors is murdered horribly and a rough but honest cop, Carter, finds himself in the middle of a case related to corruption reaching to the highest level of society. Dan Stout tells a taut mystery set on a strange world. I’m looking forward for more cases.
Charlie N. Holmberg has an exciting beginning to a new series set in a desert city, built over a deserted city, who inhabitants worshiped occult beings. Sandis was captured by slavers and sold to Kazen who brands her to be able to summon Ireth, a fiery horse,  to inhabit her and kill his enemies in fire. Kazen has been killing other vessels to summon an especially powerful being, and Sandis escapes. She runs into Rone, a thief who has a magical amarinth that provides absolute protection against any violence, but only for one minute a day. His mother has been framed for one of his thefts and is sent to prison awaiting execution. Smoke and Summons (hard from 47North) leaves too much unsaid, but the next two books are due later this year.
Marshall Ryan Maresca has a new tale in which Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling deal with three cases that turn out to be related. The main one is A Parliament of Bodies (paper from DAW) in which a madman has placed, when everyone in Parliament is on vacation,  a killing, clockwork machine with eighteen people locked inside. Minox also has to deal with an inquiry into his being an uncircled mage working as an Inspector, a position that none of the circled mages would take. As usual characters from other Maradaine books are present, and there is a hint of a villainous organization that will show up in future books. I look forward to each new addition to the Maradaine city series.  
Antimony Price has been on the run from the Covenant of St. George since she was sent to infiltrate the cryptid-hating group.   In the last tale, she saved Sam, her were-monkey boyfriend by making a deal with the Crossroads for a future favor. In  Gravesend, Maine where she and her friends are renting a house, the favor is called. She has to kill a new found friend,  James Smith. James is working to destroy the Crosswords since it took his best friend.  That Ain't Witchcraft (paper from DAW) needed to fix the problem, but a spell to reset the Crossroads from the evil that infected it five centuries before. Lots of fun as usual.
Sarah Fine concludes her immortal dealers series. Ernestine “Ernie” Terwilliger survived stealing a deck of magical cards, learned to use them, and now the new Forger, Virginia is sending them on missions that indirectly cause terror attacks. An object found at the bottom of the sea by Ernie is being hunted by other dealers and Virginia’s newly created dealers. In the height of an attack, Ernie and her friends are wounded when the object explodes. There’s also the spirit of an older Forger who only wants to help and may be the solution to replacing Virginia. But The Warrior (paper from 47North) that Ernie has become will face more treachery from within. Fun, satisfying ending.
Larry Correia continues his tale of the Son of the Black Sword (paper) Ashok Vandal a former Protector assigned to protect Thera, a woman struck by a piece of meteor who speaks with the Voice of prophesy, though she doesn’t remember. She has been captured by the wizards of the House of Assassins (hard from Baen). While Ashok and followers quest deep into swampland to rescue her, she is trained in magic and finally sent on a trial that will either kill her or make her one of the wizard clan. The tale is full of great action scenes, but the wizard villains are all greedy and generic. Fun, and I’ll read the next tale for the action bits.
C. S. Ferguson starts a tale of Devils & Black Sheep (hard from WordFire Press) of the four crew members of the Crimson Star pirate fleet, now down to one ship. Trapped in a system with the jumpgates have been shut down because a major battle of a civil war was fought in orbit over the main planet.  One of the crew, AI robot Nicodemus who is their fighter, has been secretly informing on them to the authorities.  Their physician Tamora is a natural psychic at a time when a drug creating artificial psychics is at the heart of the civil war. Disparate to bribe their way out of the system, they rob another pirate of its cargo, one crate, that turns out to be very valuable. Lawman Neil Tesso is near retirement and wants to clean up the system before the core sends an Inquisitor, psychics known to kill thousands. I only hope that the rest of the story to tell what was in the crate. I eagerly wait the sequel.
I’ve been enjoying Jeff Wheeler’s Harbinger series, now on its penultimate tale. Sera Fitzempress is engaged to the heir of Kingsfountain, another world accessed through mirror gates and actually marries him only to find rebellion, losing him on her wedding day, escaping back to Comoros, she finds her father murdered, and as his heir has to lead the war against  Kingsfountain’s new leader through a Prism Cloud (paper from 47North). At the same time Cettie finds her real mother, and is kidnaped to Kingsfountain to a school of poison that her mother had graduated from. I eagerly await the conclusion of this fun series.
    Bell Bridge Books has reprinted Diana Pharaoh Francis’s fun  The Turning Tide in paper and ebook. It’s the third book in her Crosspointe series.  Baen has reprinted D. J. Butler’s Witchy Winter, the second of his magical 19th century America.
    Baen has the collection Man-Kzin Wars XV (created by Larry Niven) in trade.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on March 8th The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at The Rotunda on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. Josiah Bancroft, author of  The Books of Babel 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.