Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for May 2010
Fantasy and Science Fiction publishers come in
many sizes, ranging from the large with multiple releases every month released
to all the book stores, to the small (print-on-demand) publishers
with only a few titles a year and limited release. Before print-on-demand
technology was available, a friend of mine, George Scithers, published
a book every year or so, paying for hard cover printing up front. A legitimate
publisher, like Wolfsinger Publications, which is publishing my novel next
month, or a major one like Tor and Eos, pays an advance based on estimated
earnings and does the editing, layout, advertising, etc. Quality can be
as good, or better, in the small press output mainly because each editor
has a unique view to what they purchase. One of the Hugo nominees below
is from a small press.
By Henry Leon Lazarus
Gavriel Kay takes years to research his historical/fantasy tales. This
time Under Heaven (hard from Roc) borrows from the Tang dynasty
period of ancient China. Shen Tai used the two years mourning his father’s
death to bury the dead in a recent battlefield. Ghosts had kept other away,
but they accepted him. One side of that war rewarded him with massive wealth,
two hundred and fifty of the best horses. His empire set an assassin on
him. However, Tai, in setting up to go to the capital city, becomes a catalyst
for a revolt against the current emperor. Mr. Kay deliberately keeps his
focus on Tai, his drunken poet friend, and his sister sent across the border
as wife to a barbarian prince. The empire with its wonderful poetry and
music and memorable. This will be an award nominee.
Vaughn starts a new series, that would make for an excellent movie, about
a teenager in an alternate present in which Dragons came out of hiding
at the end of World War II and got the mostly uninhabited North as
their territory. Nobody even tries to listen to the Voices of Dragons
(paper from Harper Collins which I bought electronically) except
for Kay Wyatt who decides one day to cross the border, despite the fact
that her Father is the sheriff and mother the head of the local Federal
Bureau of Border Enforcement. There, luckily, she meets Artegal, a dragon
looking for human contact. The bad guy in this tale is an Air Force General,
with a new jet he thinks can fight dragons. As Artegel and Kay learn to
fly together, forces on both sides are leading to a dragon/human war. Wow!
Moorehawke’s father was more than a master carpenter, he was also the king’s
friend and Enobled for saving the King’s life. She had been raised with
the Kings two sons, both close as siblings to her. They return to the capital
city after five years, in which she has become a master apprentice, only
to find The Poison Throne (trade from Orbit). The King seems mad.
The eldest son and heir has run off and may be in revolt. The younger son,
who has been studying medicine, seems to have a new male friend who seems
a bit like to Wynter. The rare talking cats have been poisoned and no one
is allowed to talk to the castle’s ghosts. It would have been easier on
Wynter to hunt out the secrets if her father didn’t have heart problems.
Celine Kiernan has a wonderful start to a trilogy with a complicated medieval
background. Luckily the other books are already in print in England and
will soon appear here because I can’t wait.
Crane has a character with the first new mental power I’ve ever seen. Justine
Jones gets to play Mind Games( paper from Bantam Spectre) with her
hyperchrondia when she learns to transfer her fear to a bad guy picked
to be disillusioned. Her boss, who can read people’s personality, has been
locked into a restaurant by a man with a talent to manipulate buildings.
Midcity is under siege from a telekenic throwing bricks, and its dashing
police chief seems lost in the growing psionic crime wave. Lots of
Kinczyk is an arson investigator for the Detroit Fire Department. On the
side she helps the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers remove malignant ghosts
and demons because she can talk to them and literally absorb them if necessary.
She has a pet fire elemental, Sparky, who normally lives in her torque
but comes out to play at the worst times (and kills electric appliences).
Only she can see Sparky. But, as Laura Bickle tells it, she finds a weird
symbol in the Embers (paper from Pocket) in a number of arson
cases. Then her DAGR work leaves her with an undigested demon who talks
about the dragon coming to burn out Detroit. The suspect, an architect
who wants to raze the city and start anew, has her powers. Lots of fun.
I can’t wait for the sequel.
Tchaikovsky continues his tale of a war in a world where the people have
insect characteristics. Blood of the Mantis (trade from Pyr) is
about stopping a magical box from getting to the mosquito who has promised
the Emperor of the Wasp eternal life. In the mean time the Wasps have extended
their armies further south as the Collegium works to unite the lowlands
against this threat. I thought this would conclude the series, but alas
another book provides the exciting conclusion. I’m waiting eagerly.
Fox has a second tale retelling Cherokee legends. A few generations after
the last tale, some of the Galayi decide to unite with another tribe living
on the Gulf of Mexico. They don’t know about the dragon that steals women
and eats their souls. Aku’s twin sister is kidnaped and he and his father
have to face the Shadows in the Cave (hard from Tor) of the underworld
where tormented souls go when they are not ready to move on. Then there’s
the fight with the dragon who can only be killed in one way. Lots’s of
excitement. I found it interesting to compare with similar Celtic and Norse
Lee and Steve Miller continue the tale of Theo Waitley, a teenage girl
who didn’t fit in to her very safe home planet because of her burgeoning
talents of a potential pilot. The latest tale follows the Fledgling
(paper) through her years as Alingdin Piloting Academy on Eylot which
she doesn’t complete despite exceptions skills, because she becomes a nexus
of a riot. Actually the locals have decided that they don’t want foreigners
at their school. Then it’s on to her first ship assignments till she gets
the ship Saltation (hard from Baen) and learns about another ship
built with ancient technology. The final book in this trilogy will sort
out the new complications. Fun.
Douglas has a new series with a new background about one of Earth’s Star
Carriers. The bad aliens have been avoiding the change to transcendence
for eons. Earth and its colonies have been under attack by the Sh’darr
allies after refusing to back down from progress and this first tale recounts
the desperate attempts to stop the Earth Strike (paper from Eos)
from multiple armadas . This is a must for spacewar fans and light reading
for the rest of us. Since war brings innovation, it is obvious that the
Sh’darr would stimulate human development in ways the Sh’darr wouldn’t
want. But they’re aliens so who can figure their motivation.
late Kage Baker had another tale of the Company and their androids who
are Not Less Than Gods (hard from Tor) which tells the tale of Edward
Bell-Fairfax who becomes a Victorian age spy and assassin. This is the
tale of his first assignment with several classmates as they roam around
Europe, Russia, India, and the middle east with steam punk gadgets. Not
wholly satisfying, it needs a sequel to fill in the gaps in the Edward
who appears in the final Company tales. I’m not keeping it.
Collections this month include tales of The New
Space Opera 2 (edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathon Strahan, paper
from Eos) and Tales of the Otherworld (hard from Bantam) with short
looks at Kelly Armstrong’s side characters from her series.
Baen has reprinted in paper more classic tales
of Chruistopher Anvil’s War Games (paper), and Eric Flint and David
Freer’s fun Slow Train to Arcturus about the visit of a slower-than-light
starship to a non-human planet. Eos has reprinted Raymond E. Feist’s first
boon in his new trilogy Rides A Dead Legeon and Richard Kadrey’s
tale of a man come back from hell Sandman Slim in paper. Cory Doctorow’s
fun Little Brother, which was nominated for a Hugo last year has
been reprinted by Tor in a trade edition.
Hugo nominees this year include Boneshaker
by Cherie Priest (Tor);The City & The City by China Miéville
(Del Rey; Macmillan UK); Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America
by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor); Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
(Bantam Spectra); WWW:Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace; Penguin; Gollancz;
Analog); and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade).
I’ve only read the three..