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Science Fiction for May  2016
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    The best fantasy and Science Fiction take place in worlds that are a little strange. Not too weird, but strange enough to stretch the readers mind.     
Robert Jackson Bennett tells of a world in which six divinities ruled the continent creating miracles for their worshipers. Eventually they conquered Saypur and enslaved the inhabitants. A hero found a way to kill the divinities, which destroyed all their miracles. Saypur conquered the ravaged continent, and now has to deal with its problems.  In Voortyashtan the main city sank when it’s divinity died, clogging the harbor.  General Turyin Mulaghesh, who lost her hand in the adventure in the City of Stairs (paper) is dragged out of retirement to investigate if a new super-conducting material mined near the city has any relationship to the divine. The first investigator disappeared and strange things are happening, including ritual murders.  The answers are all found in the City of Blades (paper from Broadway Books) a place for the souls of the dead warriors – dead warriors who want to return to destroy the world.  This is a tense solid book with real characters who stick to your mind. Impossible to put down. The first was nominated for a world fantasy award and the second deserves awards.
Lavie Tidhar is an Israeli so he tells his tale set in the  Central Station (paper from Tachyon Publications ) which goes between  Tel Aviv and space and the city and station are a diaspora of multiple nationalities living in peace. Most people have inplanted nodes that let them join the huge conversation. Robotniks, survivors of the last Israeli-arab wars, beg for spare parts and sometimes serve as priests.  Boris Chong returns from Mars because his father is dying.   Following him to the station is Carmel, born in the asteroid belt and turned into a vampire data-miner. Boris discovers that a close friend, Miriam,  who never left  had adopted one of the children he helped genetically modify before he left for other parts of the solar system. Her brother, Achimwene, a book dealer who never had a node, adopts Carmel and helps her find information on her condition. This a wonderful tale of simple interactions in a future strange and wonderful. I hope this finds an award.
Guy Gavriel Kay spices up history with a dash of magic and then changes the names so that he can modify history as needed. So that decades after the grand city of Sarantium (Constantinople) was conquered by the Asharians (Ottonmans), the council of twelve of Seressa (venice) are sending out spies Lenora Valeri, who was  disgraced by having a child out of wedlock, was picked by the council to spy on a neighboring city (Dubnrovnik)married to a Doctor sent there. On the ship going over, the doctor is killed by raiders (Uskoks) from Senjan (Senj)  including Danica Gradek who has to leave the raiders after killing one of them. Other Children of Earth and Sky (hard from NAL) includes the brother of Danica, Damaz, a trainee in the khalif’s army captured as a child; a merchant Marin Djivo; and a Painter, Pero Villani sent to  Sarantium to paint the Khalif. There’s also a hundred men from Senjan sent to fight the Asharians. In our world the Ottomans would eventually break the fortresses in Prague and continue on to Vienna. The four major characters’s lives intertwine. And there is the ghost of a Grandfathers who talks to both Danica and Damaz, and eventually saves Danica’s life. This is a beautiful tale from a master story-teller and I expect award nominations.
An Ageless (paper from Inkshares) person is chased for those trying to duplicate her abilities Alessandra was born in Italy in 1938 and taken by a Nazi laboratory on Sardonica. After being rescued by the allies, she escapes when she lands in America. Chased by the CIA by an agent and his nephew, she is aided through her long teenage growth period and by her quick healing.  Paul Inman tells an intense tale that ranges from the nightmare of a Nazi lab, to the free world of 2028 with scenes flickering back and forth in time to tell a solid tale of a woman always on the run, and the agents obsessed with finding her. Excellent
The fourth volume of Lady Trent’s memoirs tells of her expedition In the Labyrinth of Drakes (hard from Tor) in the Arabian desert of her world. Marie Brennan’s wonderful world is in its Victorian Age and does not tolerate a woman naturalist studying dragons easily. She and her co-researcher Thomas Wilkeer are hired by the Royal Scirling Army to investigate dragon breeding, and end up with a discovery of an ancient dragon breeding ground.  The two are kidnapped, attacked, and even poisonsed, before she finds love with an old friend. This is a great seeries.
In a recently destroyed village three people meet. Other times each would be an Enemy (paper from 47North) of each other, but they have to work together to survive. Veiko can talk to ghosts. Thrown out his people’s tribe, he intended to sell his furs to the village. Snowdenaelikk, half-blood conjuror and smuggler, came to meet a contact in the village.  Legion scout Dekklis is part of a troop investigating the destruction of the village.. Her republic has denounced all Gods and is being menaced by a tribe led by a God who is trying to re-embody herself. Since God magic is much more powerful than sorcery, stopping her will take everything our three heroes can give. K. Eason tells an exciting tale.I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Verity Price didn’t know that the all-star dance reality tv show. Dance or Die, really meant its title. She had won second place in an earlier season. Then she had retired from dancing to go back to her family’s full time job of rescuing cryptids and had even gotten married, when the call came.  Seanan McGuire’s fourth tale about the part-time dancer,  Chaos Choreography(paper from DAW) has contestants and producers trying call on a snake god by ritually slaughtering the losing dancers. The talking mice are just as much fun, as is Verity’s dimension-hopping grandmother who looks like her sister. Perfect fun.
In a world of super-heroes and villains, Corpies (trade from Chaos Choreography) have lesser powers and work from corporations by cleaning up super battles and rescuing civilians. Titan had left the superhero scene when he was outed as gay. Now that his sons are training to be heroes (see his fun Super Powereds series for details) he feels it is time to go back into the field, and the only group willing to hire him as a hero advisor. Age has taken none of his phenomenal strength and agility, but the scandal still cripples him and only his willingness to work with a weaker team, bringing out their strengths, enables him to rise to real heroics. Drew Hayes has a lot of fun creating a world with real super powered people and takes the time to show the details. Great!
Four people wake in an abandoned Freighter wrecked on an empty moon in a poorly explored solar sysetm. Three of them are newly graduated trainees sent to the Grand Dutchess’s flagship. The other is labeled Admiral (hard from ROC) but he is too young to be an Admiral. Survival comes first, and then finding a way to get off the planet that turns out to have deadly non-human inhabitants. Aside from the puzzle of who the Admiral is, Sean Danker keeps upping the challenges to the in a gripping tale impossible to put down.
Sylvain Neuvel uses found documents (interviews, diary entries, and reports) to tell of the recovery of an alien robot whose pieces were hidden five thousand years ago. At first the American Military of the Sleeping Giants (hard from Del Rey). Then a helicopter pilot and a linguist are bonded to the double controls (one for the legs and one for the head and arms) It’s a little hard to keep secret when an accident in a secret lab causes destruction at the Denver Airport. The idea might be improbable, but Mr. Neuvel keeps the background as solidly real as he can. Lots of fun.
Naomi Lane tells of a young teen sent To Play the Lady (ebook) Jenna and her brother are the first commoners set to court, she to be one of the queens Ladies, and he as an aspiring knight. Magical talents are usually found in the nobility, but Jenna is a mind mage, though she can only talk to horses when she arrives, and she has a magical sword and bow from her people’s magic. When her abilities allow her to stop an assassination attempt and prevent a war. This allows her To Serve the King (ebook) as a knight trainee. But people are using her merchant father to further their ends, drawing her in. I was fascinated by the tale and willing to wait for more.
Simon Forester comes from a Naval family in the Commonwealth where Women dominate. Because his mother and sister have solid naval careers, and he’d be bored with the normal male pursuit as estate manager, he takes the tests to join the Academy, but panics enough to hack the computers for the answers. This gets him kicked out, but his aunt, noting his hacking talents with his built-in  neuroware, suggests he joint the merchant guild as a ordinary space-man on a freighter, Shooting the Rift( trade from Baen) That would have been ok, except that the League of Democracies suspect a spy and through a bunch of merchant crews into custody. Alex Stewart would have had a more exciting tale, exciting tale, except the time in prison last too long. Still I’m willing to try the sequel because the action scenes were worth the wait.
1934 was a golden age of baseball and every small town fielded a semi-pro team. Harry Turtledove imagines an magical alternate earth where vampires knock on windows at night, zombies are used for free labor, and wizards haul cargo on flying carpets. Jack Spivey plays for his home town in Arkansas and picks up odd jobs on the side when he runs afoul of the local gangster. At the same time he has an opportunity to join a touring team called The House of Daniel(hard from Tor) when their out-fielder was hurt. The book is mostly about the games and a travel guide to the towns they go through on their bus. They win a big tournament in Denver and then have to survive a zombie revolt, and one team uses a conjure man to jinx them. This is a must for baseball fans and a fun look at America during the Depression.
    The Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award for distinguished original science fiction paperback published for the first time during 2015 in the United States was Apex by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot Books). The Winner of the Philip K. Dick Special Citation was Archangel by Marguerite Reed (Arche Press).
    Baen has reprinted Robert Asprin and Linda Evans’s Tales of the Time Scouts (trade), two novels about Jack the Ripper and time travelers. They have also reprinted David B. Coe’s tale of an ex-cop, PI and were-myste concerned with His Father’s eyes (paper)
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on, May 13th  2016 at 8 p.m.  at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. Short story writer  E. Lilly Yu will speak. She has been nominated for a Hugo Award. 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 fusion generation.

    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on, May 13th  2016 at 8 p.m.  at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus.  E. Lilly Yu, who has been nominated for a Hugo for a short story will speak. 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 fusion generation.