Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for April 2016
In Fantasy and Science Fiction, the true value of
any long tale lies in its final chapter. Great final tales resonate
with an emotional ending that gives the reader catharses. I hate
series that the author can’t seem to finish his tale.
by Henry Leon Lazarus
Brian Staveley has a solid trilogy set in
a world in which gods created mortals from undying Csestriim. The
effect of these gods can be removed if people with part of the
god residing inside them. One of the Csestriim, Ran Il Tornja, set
up the Annurian empire centuries before and now, as its general , is
defending the empire against a barbarian invasion. However his main
object is really the two people housing Ciena, goddess of Pleasure,
and Meshkent. The god of Pain. Ciena has be embodied in a young
woman Trieste locked up in an Annur dungeon high up in a tower.
Meshkent is embodied in Long Fist, the leader of the barbarian army.
Caught in the middle are the three children of the assassinated
emperor of Annur. To protect humanity Adare, now Empress, Kaden the
one-time monk, and now-blinded Valyn who once fought on the huge
Kestrels must discover what is actually happening and protect The
Last Mortal Bound (hard from TOR) This is a tale filled with
pulse-pounding energy with an impossible-to put-down ending.
K.C. Finn adds shades to a list of
supernatural beings. Shades have power over the elements, live for
centuries, and can breed with humans. Lily Coltrane’s mother
never told her that her father was a shade, so her first year at the
college at Piketon in England brings some surprises. Outside the
college is the Theatre Imaginique where very strange acts are
performed once a month. The owner, Lemarick Novel, is centuries old
and a shade. He is the one to realize Lily’s background, train her,
and to protect her against anti-shade humans and the shades working
with them, including Lily’s father. He also gives her The
Book Of Shade (paper from Starstorm) whose pages show only
what is needed. This is a fascinating first book in a series.
Zombies have been rising and killing
people since the ancient Egyptians but they don’t make new zombies.
Only The Reburialists (paper from Ace) can destroy them.
Things have gotten worse since Brynner Carson’s mother stole the
heart of a four-thousand-year-old Egyptian princess, Ra-Ame and woke
her from her slumber. The knives she also stole have made Brynner
one of the best agents at the Bureau of Special Investigations.
Grace Roberts is a translator brought in to help, and taken with
Brynner to visit the Aunt and Uncle who raised him after his father
died hunting his Mother. Ra-Ame wants not only her heart, but
also Brynner’s and then, as Grace gets involved, Grace’s too. Bureau
headquarters in Seattle and Las Vegas come under attack as J. C.
Nelson raises the tension. The tale is impossible to put down. I
also started buying Mr. Nelson’s previous works.
Moving freight can be boring, but not in
the hands of Nathan Lowell who tells a simple tale of Ishmael
Horatio Wang. His mother taught University level classics until a
flitter accident left Ishmael an orphan who has to leave the company
planet in three months. He gets a job as a Quarter Share
(paper) cook’s helper and starts learning about the ship, and taking
tests to advance to a higher rank. He makes good friends like Pip,
who understands trading. He soon makes Half Share
(paper) working in environmental, but after the ship is almost
destroyed from a puzzling accident, he is moved to systems as a
Full Share (paper) His wise captain maneuvers him to apply to
the Academy that graduates merchant ship officers. His first tour as
a Double Share (paper) first mate has him on a ship with a Captain
who won’t leave his cabin, and with a bully and sexual predator
first mate running the ship. After a couple of ports the CEO of the
firm that owns the ship, and others, has enough excuse to remove
both the captain and first mate, leaving a happy ship. Seven years
later, when Ishmael is first mate, his ship finds another freighter
so sloppy that carbon Monoxide killed the crew. After serving as
Salvage captain to get the ship back into port, he is offered the
master’s exam and, after passing, is given the worst ship is the
fleet for his Captain’s Share (paper), The Agamemnon. Of course he
turns the ship around. The CEO dies suddenly and leaves a codicil in
his will that his daughter, his only heir, can only inherit if she
works a year at quarter share. With insurance money coming in from
the salvaged ship, the company helps Ishmael buy a small ship to
give him Owner’s Share (paper from Amazon) with all the headaches
and joys of ownership. They not only have to earn a profit, but also
deal with reporters interested in his new riches from the insurance
and also the daughter. This fun tale has not war, and very little
violence. This is a really fun series that I couldn’t put down. This
is award level writing.
After giving up his final ship, Ishmael
heads back to the Academy where he meets his old friend Pip,
and decides to buy the ship he help salvage to go into the dark
areas of the galaxy. In Ashes Born (ebook) details the fun
of meeting old friends, together with the problems of buying the
abandoned ship. I’m hooked.
Allen Steele considers what would happen
if a rich SF author from the golden age, Nathan Arkwright
(hard from TOR) left all his money to a foundation to send human
eggs and sperm to a distant star where an artificial uterus and
robot teachers would plant humans on another world. Several
generations get involved with the grand push that sends the star
ship to a world twenty-two light years. The foundation first rides
high on the research results needed to create the starship. But
after it is launched, it falls on hard times while it monitors
transmissions from voyage with little ability to affect disaster.
Then an asterid aimed at Earth brings back the need for their
expertise. Mr. Steele concentrates mainly on the engineering aspects
for building and launching this interesting experiment, and I think
that the biologic problems are potentially more difficult.
Also the future described is very straight forward. I enjoyed the
tale, but suspect that the next century will bring far more
Seanan McGuire, whose books can’t be
categorized, has very odd, eerie mystery. Eleanor West's Home for
Wayward Children was created for children who, like Alice in
Wonderland, somehow found doors to strange worlds and will do
anything to return. Every Heart a Doorway (hard from Tor)
begins with Nancy being sent there after living in the land of
Death. Then, the day after arriving, her new roommate is murdered
and her hands cut off. The serial killer has a logic to the murders
that matches the strange background and is, of course, caught. This
is a creepy, yet hard-to-put-down tale.
I’ve been enjoying Benedict Jacka’s tales
of Alex Verus, a mage who uses his ability to see multiple futures
to survive attacks against other mages. In the latest, Alex is Burned
(Paper from Ace) out of his house by a fire mage, and the Light
Council has literally condemned him to death, with only a week to
get protection for his friends and associates. Everything points to
the next tale in which motives will be revealed. I can’t wait.
Patricia Briggs notes that living in a
world with Fae, werewolves, and vampires might have a traffic jam
caused by a troll throwing cars off a major bridge. The problem is a
Fire Touched (hard from Ace) human boy who lived for
centuries in the magical, living Underhill who wants him back. Mercy
Thompson and her werewolf husband Adam along with the rest of his
pack are the only ones able to protect the boy from vary dangerous
Fae. This is the ninth tale of auto-mechanic/coyote Mercy and just
as much fun as the rest.
David Weber, working this time with
Joelle Presby continues his tale of conflict between two multi-world
empires. Centuries before portals had opened up other Earths. One
culture used steam engines and guns, and links their world with
talented telepaths. The other has dragons and magic, developed
enough to allow computers. At a world they both call Hell’s Gate
(paper and recently reprinted) where diplomacy failed because of
treachery and war began that led to the magic users crossing five
worlds before they were stopped. The steam empire needs to run
a Road to Hell (hard from Baen) from Portal to Portal
to out-maneuver the magic users. At the same time political
prisoners, a husband and wife, and transported go the heart of the
Magic empire protected by the officer who saved them and them they
have to testify at his court marshal. The Emperor, his
daughter-heir, and his new son-in-law are under attack from local
enemies. It’s easy to get lost in this morass of characters and
worlds, but somehow the authors keep the plot ticking. There’s at
least another book coming and I can’t wait.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on, March 8th 2016 at 8 p.m. at International
House on the University of Pennsylvania Campus. 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).Check out his unified field theory at
henrylazarus.com/utf.html that suggests a simpler way to achieve