Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for April 2012
Global warming has always been painted as a disaster
in the waiting. Most of the deniers, claim that it wonít happen, rather
than suggest that global warming might have some good aspects. Science
Fiction and Fantasy readers know that change brings some people good and
by Henry Leon Lazarus
S. Buckell paints a world of Arctic Rising (hard from Tor) where
the disappearance of ice from the north pole has unlocked resources, bring
wealth to the area. Anika
Duncan pilots a dirigible for the United Nations Polar Guard which
keeps an eye on shipping in the Northwest Passage. Then a ship with radioactive
cargo fires grenades at her ship. Her copilot and friend dies in the hospital
after being rescued and then someone tries to run her over on the road
and when he misses, comes back with a gun determined to kill her. When
she told the authorities she had kept the data for the scatter camera that
had detected the radiation, they blew up her home. Most people would start
running then, but Anika isnít most people. This is an exciting thriller
that has Anika moving through the strange cultures that have risen in this
new world. I couldnít put it down.
kosmatka reminds us that if there are no monsters, people might just have
to make them. Genetic engineering has been outlawed in the Olympics except
for The Games (hard from Del Rey) where artificially created monsters
fight to prove which is the strongest. Silas Williams, the head of the
U.S. program and the designer of the winner of the last six games has had
the latest design created by a super computer. They donít know that the
super computer is sapient has bears a grudge against the way its designer
was treated. As the gladiator grows into something so dangerous, it kills
its trainer, Silas tries to warn his boss. But the head of the U.S.
Olympic committee is only interested in one thing, winning. This has a
number of interesting, three-dimensional characters and is a nice Frankenstein
Beckett concludes the fun Victorian romance that takes place on a world
with days of varying length because of the odd solar system. A new red
planet has disrupted the system as it did ten thousand years before, not
only throwing off daytime calculations, but bringing with it gray demons
who will use the magical gates already existing to destroy this world.
On the Earthly front there is a rebellion and that has created harsh rules.
So The Magicians and Mrs. Quint (paper) have to discover the true
secrets of The House on Darrow Street (paper) to confront The
Master of Heathcrest Hall (trade from Bantam Spectra) and somehow accomplish
the impossible. Mixing eighteenth century works with modern ideas (i.e.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) But what Mark Antony writing as Galen
Beckett has done is to create a work that Jane Austin might have written
if her ghost were brought to this century. I really enjoyed the trilogy,
even despite its length.
Katrina did much more than flood New Orleans. It also released the doors
to Old Orleans where ancient ghosts and spirits dwell. Drusilla Jaco was
the junior wizard sentinal to her uncle Gary when the hurricane struck
When she returned, he was missing and the undead pirate, Jean Lafitte is
using to open gates to return and get his revenge on her. The wizardís
council has sent an enforcer. Alex, to help her. He does have an FBI badge
and contact with the human authorities, but canít help her against the
Voodoo spirit that wants to return to haunt the beleaguered city. Royal
Street (paper from Tor) is a fun look at a disaster that Suzanne Johnson
had to have lived through. Call this the fantasy side of Treme (HBO). I
suspect that Drusilla will have more adventures in the recovering city.
Viguié looks at the intense side of evil witches. Samatha Ryan was
the only survivor of an evil covenís attempt to raise a demon. She was
twelve when adopted into a nice family and eventually became a Boston Detective,
hiding the witch parts of herself. Then a new coven in Salem leaves sacrificial
bodies all over the Boston area. So Samatha has to reconnect with the powerful
witch inside her and go undercover to stop The Thirteenth Sacrifice
(paper from Signet) and stop a new Coven from finally raising that demon.
This tale is extremely intense and unnerving, and not for those that
like cute, light urban fantasies. Iím glad a sequel is planned.
Milburn manages to capture teenage angst perfectly when she puts a White
Witch ( paper from Bell Bridge Books) on the run for her evil family
into a rural high school. Jax Person is just trying to be a normal girl.
Her family has become quite corrupt using the power their ancestors got
a century or so ago, and she doesnít want to go that way. She soon finds
a friend in a girl so caught up in Josh Weadon stuff that she wanted to
call their band Hostile 17. The boy she is interested in is part of a family
of witch hunters, but they mostly deal with errant. poltergeists.
As long Jax doesnít use her witch powers, sheíll stay hidden from her family.
Alas, a classmate is injured in an auto accident and the rescue needs the
powers. This is the first of a trilogy and Iím waiting for number two.
and Nebula winning Robert J. Sawyer takes a stab at a weird form of telepathy
as an improbable series of events cause twenty-one people to access other
peopleís memories as though their minds were connected by blue tooth. The
Triggers (hard from Ace) for the event include a presidential assassination
attempt, an electronic pulse bomb that destroys the white house, and a
memory experiment being done at the hospital. Mr. Sawyer has a lot of fun
with the possibilities of linked minds, like blackmail and blooming love.
Thereís also the problem of the person who has access to the Presidentís
mind, and what happens when one person is linked to another who is killed.
The ending, however, makes a left turn that I found dissatisfying.
Harrington has a lot fewer adventures as an admiral, than she had as a
captain of a starship. Not only that, but the Star Empire of Manticore
has, because of their twenty year war with Haven, developed war technology
far in advance of the Solarium Empire that rules most of Human space. As
a result, the problem her fleet has when a massive Solarium fleet attacks
is how to get them to surrender. Fans of the series will recognize that
A Rising Thunder (hard from Baen) is merely an immediate book and mostly
filled with conferences and other meetings. Fans of the series know well
enough to wait for a further book. Others should look up David Weberís
exiting earlier tales of this Horatio Hornblower of the far future.
Douglas concludes his tale of a Star Carrier trying to protect Earth by
attacking the enemy. By the third book, the America has gotten a fleet
of starships in support and their last raid got them the name of several
stars important an enemy determined to wipe out humanity. The star they
get to has a wormhole that sends the fleet through its Singularity (
paper from Harper Voyager) to the home planets of the enemy Ė an an enemy
living in the remnants of another galaxy that collided with the Milky Way.
This allows for a happy conclusion to a series, that is far more than the
Captain of the America has any right to expect. Still this is fun actioner.
E, Feist, when he was in college, joined a group so frustrated with Dungeons
and Dragons, that they invented their own world Midkemia (which is still
available to join on line). He thought it would be fun to set fantasy tales
in the history of that world and has made a career writing historical novels
in an imaginary world. His latest trilogy is the fifth and final rift war
and involves enemies working secretly. So we have A Kingdom Besieged
(paper) when the Empire of Kesh invades, for no obvious reason and
attacks Crydee. Thereís A Crown Imperiled (hard from Harper Voyager)
because of an ill King, an evil advisor and a Princess who must be taken
to safety. There is a peace convention that evil advisors are trying to
undermine. Finally Pugís wife Miranda and his friend Nakor had been murdered
by demons in an earlier tale. But a God has put their memories in
two demons and they find their way to Pug after becoming more and more
human. Whew. Mr. Feist manages to make all this excitement more understandable
than I can, and the final book will fill in the rest of the gaps. This
is a must for fans of the very long series.
War of Faith is over and secularism has won. But remnants of Christianity
still abide in Ken M acleodís police procedural. This is a world where
robots, mostly in non-humanoid form, have become intelligent because of
that war. A few of the humanoid ones have found security in a Creationist
park in New Zealand where one of the robotisists, a lay preacher, decided
to preach ultra-conservative Christian theology. But The Night Sessions
(trade from Pyr) have effect and a Scottish Inspector, Adam Fergusson,
has to deal first with the murder of a Priest and then another. Soon bombs
take out school children in a Geology exhibit and the only suspect is a
robot masquerading as a wounded war vet. But the worst is yet to come.
I kept reading this, only to find out that the ending is a bit depressing.
Baggott has a truly depressing post-apocolypse world in which the survivors
of the bombs are fused to people, like brothers and children holding on
to them; animals, like birds and other small creatures; or things. Our
heroine, Pressia, for example, has her right hand fused to a dollís head.
The only people kept Pure (hard from Grand Central Publishing) are
those who escaped to a huge Dome. Partridge escapes from that dome, convinced
that his mother, who never made it to the dome, is still alive. Soon Pressia
and her friends help keep him alive against the horrors of this strange
world, aiding in his quest. Partridgeís father kidnaps Pressiaís grandfather
to force her to work with him to regain his son and sends cyborgs with
built-in weapons after them. Alas, this is only book one with some revelations.
The world, though well limned, is so harsh, I donít know whether I can
continue with the next volume.
Fans of HBOís A Game of Thrones will be glad
to know that A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Volume One is
available in hard cover from Bantam. Daniel Abraham adapted the text and
Tommy Patterson did the artwork. The previous book of the series
A Clash of Kings is out in paper from Bantam Spectre.
Baen has reprinted Robert Buettnerís tale of a man
on the run because he was born on the wrong planet, Overkill; and
Poul Andersonís classic tales of Sir Dominic Flandry in paper. They
also have trade editions of Robert A. Heinleinís classic The Star Beast
which I read tons of time as a kid, and two Andre Norton tales in The
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting
on April 13th at 8p.m. at International House on the University of
Pennsylvania. Campus. Michael Dirda, a weekly book columnist for The Washington
Post, will speak. As usual guests are welcome.
r. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the
author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally