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Science Fiction for April 2018

    Fantasy and Science Fiction frequently come in series. There’s nothing better than ending them on a high note.
Drew Hayes writes of a an Earth with Supers, people with special abilities. There are also powereds who can’t control their abilities. An experimental process has allowed five powereds to have enough control to enter the hero certification program, a four year college degree from which only ten will graduate to become the heros who fight evil supers. In Super Powereds: Year 4 (ebook) the fifteen remaining seniors face harsh  testing after testing while powerful heroes on the run, try to prove the corruption that led to one hero’s murder. Of course there’s a massive fight at the end worthy of any comic book movie. This is partially a college tale, partially a tale of athletic abilities, and of course a tale of powerful superheroes in the making. Over th four book all the characters grow and form an indelible memory. Highly recommended.
Tessa Gratton adds magic to a Shakespeare tragedy, giving some of the characters the ability to work magic by talking to trees. But it’s not the King that’s the center of the tale, it’s the The Queens of Innis Lear (hard from Tor) and their husbands and lovers that for the center. Yes Lear demands profession of love, and disinherits Elia (Cordelia in the play). Then he is rejected by the other daughters and ends up lost in a storm aided only by his Fool. This tale is far more complex and introducing Husbands and lovers, witches and queens. The trees of the island want only one Queen and get what they want. I expect and award nomination for this tale.
Sophie is a dressmaker with the ability to sew working charms into her dresses. It has brought her to the attention of a nobility worried about a Turn (paper from Orbit) to revolution. It doesn’t help that her brother Kristos is heavily involved with the growing revolution and that the leader of the revolution blackmails her into putting curses on clothes for the Queen. But luckily there’s a handsome noble willing to help as the uprising begins. Rowenna Miller has a nice fantasy romance. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Medieval war has bloody, Chivalrous, and heroic. Leo Carew sets his tale of  The Wolf (paper from Orbit) at war in an  alternate England with two types of humans. The Anakim of the north are giants, whose men have bone armor, and who live triple human life span. The Southerners send a huge army led by a commoner, Bellamus, whose trick leads to routing the Anakim army and the death of its King. Roper, a young prince, finds himself and his country not only beset with foreign troops, but by those conspiring for his throne. Somehow he has to land on his feet, destroy the human army, and regain his throne. Lots of bloody fun.  
Cass Morris’s version of the Roman (Aven) Republic with magical powers, take place after the death of a dictator and the politics of returning rule to the Senate and Consuls who have to face election. Iberian tribes have begun a revolt, threatening Aven colonies on what will become Spain.  Sempronius Tarren is an ambitious politician hiding his Shadow abilities what would disqualify him for office. He proposes sending Aven Legions to Iberia to put down the revolt. Latona of the Vitelliae, who held in her abilities in Fire and Spirit under the dictatorial rule, now finds herself losing control From Unseen Fire (hard from DAW) in the emotionally charged political campaign. Never fully trained, she needs the training that the Priestess of Juno withholds. Even though marries, she is attracted to  Sempronius. This is light look at an interesting world and I’m eager to read more.
In the latest RNC tale, Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy are secondary characters. Instead David Drake introduces us to Roy Olfetrie who had to quit the academy when his father committed suicide when his fraud was discovered. After hard times, Roy joins Daniel’s crew as third officer only to be shanghaied and sold into slavery when that ship was captured by pirates. Luckily they put him in charge of the main computer. Roy is prepared to return Though Hell Should Bar the Way (hard from Baen). He also rescues a kidnaped heiress from the Admiral’s harem. Add in some space battles and it’s a fun, exciting read.
D. J. Butler returns to his lush nineteenth century America, Witchy Eye (paper)  with an American Empire established by William Penn and based in Philadelphia. It’s a Witchy Winter (hard from Baen) as Sara and friends ride to the kingdom of Cahokia knowing that she is the heir. Unfortunately That choice is up to the Serpent Goddess, a real goddess. Nathaniel, her twin brother, has his own travails until his witchy ear is released. But an indian, Ma’iingan, has come to rescue him so that he can cure his new baby.  There are other claimants to the throne; Beastmen attacking human settlements; a New Orleans rich in Vodoo nmagic,;and even a few zombies. There’s more coming is this exciting series.
In 2065,  there are colonies on Mars and privately owned tiny spacecraft are exploring the solar system. Then an ancient spaceship is discovered America and Europe send one expedition, the Chinese send another, and the Califate sends a missile. Chris Holt, the Astronomer who discovered the object is on the mission and discovers a way to communicate with it s ancient control computer, before the missile destroys the ship. That gets plans for fusion drive and a moon of Saturn. Thus we then have a combined Mission to Methone (hard from Baen) with Americans, Europeans, and Chinese. India  sends a separate ship and isn’t willing to cooperate. This is a future with India and China ready for Nuclear war. This is a darker future that most uses of this standard trope. Most intelligent species wipe themselves out, or are helped on their way by Alien Destroyer who are opposed by the Makers. Fun.
Emma Newman has another look Before Mars (paper from Ace). Decades after the expedition described in Planetfall (paper)  Anna Kubrin, Geologist and Painter arrives on the small base on Mars, selected because her paintings of Mars have created a stir.  She realizes something is off at the base when she finds a note only she could have written and a boot print where no astronaut had gone before. This is a deep, depressing and moody tale, where secrets are better not revealed.  Anna not only has to discover why the base has so many problems, but also why she doesn’t miss her young daughter she left behind on Earth.
In S. J. Morden’s future, the corporation responsible for building the Martian base, discovers that robots are simply not cost effective. Since the XO company has a subsidiary running prisons, the obvious solution is so send a few lifers, like Frank Kittridge , who had murdered his son’s dealer, with just enough training, on a One Way (paper from Orbit) trip to Mars to build the base. The first half of the tale is fascinating look at the training and setting up the base. The second half where one by one the inmates are killed is more standard. Still the tale is fun and a sequel is promised.
Phillipa Bornikova has a third tale of Linnet Ellery, a lawyer working for a prestigious vampire firm.In  Publish and Perish (paper from Tor), Linnet finds whey females are never turned into vampires. It has to do with her extreme luck in avoiding harm from Werewolves, vampires, and Fay. They usually accidently kill themselves. It has to do with the case she takes of Parasitologist whose university won’t let him publish and a parasite that releases a disease deadly to werewolves and vampires. I don’t won’t to give more away, but this is a fun series. And yes, Linnet meets the only female vampire.
David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope continue their tale of Manticore centuries before Honor Harrington.  The Manticore barely fought off an attack in the previous tale, and now it’s a matter of A Call to Vengeance(hard from Baen) by tracking down the mercenary admiral who led the attacking fleet. Unfortunately the agent for the company who hired Admiral Gensonne, also wants him dead and all traces erased. As a result the star kingdom makes new friends and future enemies with planets who appear in the later books. There’s also a problem with royal inheritance that has to be resolved. This is fun with some exciting space battles.  
Subterranean Press has a novelette by Connie Willis about a blogger meeting various publishers in New York. I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land (hard) finds him with a canceled  appointment finding a used book store whose upper floors contain all the lost books (in
English). Fun.
    Baen has volume 2 of the late Poul Anderson’s The Complete Psychotechnic League.in Trade. These tales were written in the 50's and are still fun. There are fun new  tales of Star Destroyers (Trade, edited by Tony Daniel and Christopher Ruocchio) We Spencer’s Project Elfhome, Michael Z. Williamson’s Angeleyes,  and Larry Correia and John Ringo’s Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners have been reprinted in paper
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on April 6th.  The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at International House  on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus.  Author Michael R. Underwood  of the Geekomancy books 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 a simpler way to achieve fusion generation.