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Science Fiction for April 2013
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    One of the fun part of Fantasy and Science Fiction is the discovery of secrets. The type of secrets that effect lives and can really change things if discovered. Think of this type of tale as similar to a mystery with a lot more moving parts.
Hugh Howey tells how survivors of a cataclysmic destruction live in a hundred and forty-nine story silo deep in the Earth who have the Wool (hard from Simon and Schuster) pulled over their eyes for generations. Only criminals leave the silo to clean the camera screens and they die. First the sheriff’s wife discovers their might be a lie in that and is sent out as a cleaner, and then, three years later the Sheriff follows. So a new Sheriff is picked. Juliette is a mechanic deep in the lower floors, and she is picked by the mayor over the objections of the powerful IT department head. The mayor is poisoned on the way back and Juliette, after only a week on the job is sent out as a cleaner. That sets off a revolt inside. The silo feels very real, and extremely oppressive. The tale is impossible to put down and may be up for an award.
Peter Clines has blown away  the haunted apartment building concept. The Kavach Apartment building is a bit weird, as new tenant Nate Tucker discovers upon moving in. It had a great location in Hollywood, great views, and no parking. It also had seven legged cockroaches that never ate anything, odd sizes for every apartment and other odd elements. Room 14 (paper from Permuted Press) for instance was padlocked shut. Nate gets interested in the building and soon has other tenants, working with him to find out why the elevator never worked and why no power lines enter the building. The other tenants, an artist who likes to sun bathe nude on the roof, a retired publisher who know more about guns and picking locks than you’d expect, a carpenter and his wife, and Veek, a computer hacker soon find tunnels under the building that go down thousands of feet. The final surprise is mind-blowing and will cost several of the tenants their lives. Wow!
Tanya Huff has a very interesting world where technology is at the Napoleonic era and the growing Empire decides to attack Aydori, a small country ruled by werewolves and their women mages. Insane soothsayers have predicted that six mages could break the empire and five of them are captured. The sixth, Marian Maylon has no idea of her potential because she has not been able to specialize beyond one of the six paths. But the magical tangle of gold that keeps the other women contained has no power over her. It seems only right to try to rescue her fellow mages. Joined by Thomas, a young werewolf who has seen many of his kin and friends killed by The Silvered (hard from Daw which I got from the library) Imperial weapons. The dark and dangerous walk to and across much of the Empire to the Capital city has her discovering just how powerful she is, and also discovers the consequence by almost going blind. The final  confrontation proves that interpreting real predictions frequently prove their lack of worth. I really enjoyed this tale which is complete. However I enjoyed the world enough to hope for another tale.
Robin Hobb has a silvery magical metal at the heart of magic in the final book of her Rain Wilds Chronicles. In which the stunted dragons have found their way to the lost city of Kelsingra which had wells of the silver that is found in the Blood of Dragons (hard from Harper Voyager)  that provided all the magic.  Here is the tale of the excitement of getting the dragons across the river to bathe in the city baths to change into full strength dragons. Here also is the hard work of cleaning out the well and finding the seam of silver that the dragons need for full health. Finally we have the conflict between The Duke of Chalced who has sent his minions after dragon parts to recover his health and will stop at nothing to get it. This is a must read for fans of  Robin Hobb which answers all the questions of how magic works in her strange world.S
Douglas R. Brown tells us that there is a tribe of werewolves on an island off of Costa Rica. Bernard Henderson captures on and kills the rest before setting up first a fight club for werewolves and then selling the monsters chipped to stay in wolf form, as pets. What he’s actually doing is taking homeless men to be turned and then Tamed (ebook form Rhemalda Publishing). Things start falling apart when an EMT, Christine Alt is attacked by a pet gone mad and swallows enough blood to turn. She is helped by Aiden, a killer of rogue werewolves who doesn’t realize he is killing people, and hunted by the people from the Werehouse trying to keep the secret. Very exciting.
Mark Alpert looks at the opposite of the ideas the late Martin Caidin created in Cyborg which became The Six Million Dollar Man And also at the modern view of artificial limbs.  In the near future Jim Pierce builds replacement limbs for soldiers, limbs that are a bit better than the ones that came natural. He uses computer chips hooked to the brain to motivate them. Then his hacker, and estranged daughter, Layla, gets information from China. Chinese are willing to attack Jim in their attempt to find her. It seems that the Chinese have been experimenting with computer chips that turn human beings into modules of a computer and that computer plus hookups has become self-aware and wants the Extinction of humanity (hard from Thomas Donne books which I got from the library). After incorporating its maker and learning the techniques to create other modules, it starts growing turning leaders People’s republic into its modules. Soon Layla and her father are on the run, using every trick they can to not only survive, but also to stop this monster. This is an edge-of-the seat thriller, impossible to put down.
C. Robert Cargill has a modern tale of the fae lifted from fairy tales. The fae need a sacrifice once a year and prefer to take a human child and turn them fae by eating their food. Ewan would have lived his short eight years The changeling survived because he caused Ewan’s human mother to commit suicide. Colby Steven’s was eight when he met a Djinn in the woods and wished to see everything supernatural. The two boys meet in the Hill country just before Ewan’s scheduled sacrifice. When he learns of the sacrifice, Colby asks Yasser the Djinn to turn him into a wizard so he could save his friend. These things of Dreams and Shadows (hard from Harper Voyager) fourteen years later when Ewan’s lost love arrives from the Hill country and the changeling seeks his revenge. This tale is a very dark view of the world of the fae but is a fascinating look at what the creatures of ancient myth might look in our real world.
Ian Douglas continues his star carrier series twenty years after the last trilogy ended in a truce between humanity and other alien species. Something new is coming and the Sh'daar group wants to destroy humanity before it has to face this new enemy  from Deep Space (paper from HarperCollins Publishers) . At the same time the European heads of the Confederation want control of the United States of North America and Alexander Koenig, the former Navy commander, now President of the USNA has to find a way for his nation to survive. As usualy exciting space warfare dominates the tale. This however is a set up for the next book which will have humanity and alien species facing a far-advanced  technologic species. Fun and I can wait for what happens next.
I’ve been enjoying Laura Resnick’s tales of actress Esther Diamond, an actress with no supernatural powers whose various jobs put her into danger from the supernatural. She works with Manhattan's resident mage, Dr. Maximillian Zadok who, because of alchemic potion that no one has been able to duplicate looks only seventy but is 350 years old. Probably the worst place for a secular Jew to work is at a huge department store Christmas display. The one at Fenster & Co takes up a whole floor and has a singing tree and a Karaoke bear that attack her at the same time that Detective Lopez, Esther's former almost-boyfriend is investigating heists of Fenster’s trucks. It doesn’t help that other seasonal employees are disappearing with no explanation. So it’s a case of Polterheist (paper from DAW that I bought electronically) with demons and gothic witches. I find this series addicting and impossible to read without a giggle or three.
    Ellen Datlow and Terri Wilding have collected Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells (trade from Tor) filled with all new steam punk tales from major authors.S
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on April 12th at 8 p.m.at International House  on  the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. Gordon Van Gelder, editor and publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction  will speak  . As usual guests are welcome.
    Nebula nomineers include: Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW; Gollancz ’13); Ironskin, Tina Connolly (Tor); The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK); The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc); and Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor). and  2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK). I’ve only read one of them
    Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally Female (Smashwords)