Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for June 2011
By Henry Leon Lazarus
In the real world there is little violence especially
if you live in a first world country like the U. S. Fiction, however, is
filled with violence. Murder, rape, and break-ins are far more common than
in reality. Science fiction and Fantasy raise the ante on violence, with
war and strange weapons. Itís definitely fun to read, but I wouldnít want
to live through it.
Wakes by James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham & Ty Franck) is a book
that I think should be nominated next year for the Hugo (see below for
this yearís nominees) Set at a time when humanity is spread throughout
the solar system, and Earth, Mars, and the belters (who mine the Asteroid
Belt) live in uneasy alliance. No one wants a war, but flair-ups are common.
At its heart the villains of this tale are truly evil. They practice mass
murder for science. One of our characters, Miller, is a burnt-out cop who
has been asked to find a rich girl hiding from her extremely rich parents.
When things go really bad, and he loses his job on Ceres, he follows his
leads on the girl into the heart of danger. Holden is an officer on the
Canterbury, an ice-hauler, who commands the shuttle sent to investigate
an SOS. When the Canterbury is torpedoed with nukes, he and his five crew
members have to find a safe place to survive. Soon a war breaks out because
Mars is blamed. But what happens on the colony inside Eros is horrifying
and makes war seem calm. Over and over Miller and Holden, who eventually
get together, are placed in impossible situations and barely survive. The
background is so well limned that you can hear the bulkheads creak and
feel the extra weight as the engines fire. Great.
love tales of super heroes. In After the Golden Age (hard from Tor
which I bought from my kindle app) Carrie Vaughn tells the tale of Celia
West, born without superpowers despite being the child of Captain Olympus
and Spark. When their secret identities are broken, she is kidnaped so
often, she actually gets used to it. But the cities greatest villain is
on trial for income tax fraud. Celiaís abilities as a forensic CPA brings
her into the trial as a witness, but also reveals that she ran away to
join the villain as a teenager; which costs her her job. But other villains
are out there, and the mayor is determined to stop the crime-fighting vigilantes
and bring order to the streets. So Celia has to rise to the occasion and
use her skills to find the real villains without superpowers. I couldnít
put it down.
Larry Correiaís new universe, superpowers started showing up in the nineteenth
century. They may call it Hard Magic (trade from Baen) but most
people who are affected have only one psionic ability; teleportation; manipulating
gravity, gadget building, telepathy, healing, etc. This led to a really
horrendous world war I which ended with the discovery of death rays. Jake
Sullivan, who can play with gravity, is an ex-con used by the FBI to help
catch super villains. But he is dragged into a fight between the Grimnoir
knights who are trying to save our world and ĎThe Chairmaní, the real ruler
of Japan, who is trying to conquer it. Intense action scenes follow in
this fun universe that easily could have a comic book adaption. Itís also
impossible to put down. It has a solid ending, despite two sequels promised.
Lee Martinez has an odd view of magic and the universe. Our universe has
holes in it because the Fenris wolf is trying to escape from Chasing
the Moon (hard from Orbit). Diana finds out the hard way when looking
for a cheap apartment. Once she closes the door, it disappears and the
only way to get out is to open the closet which has Vom the Hungering who
apologies that he will eat her if she opens his closet. She manages to
escape, actually making friends with Vom. With one foot in an alternate
reality, she has the ability to manipulate magically our universe and to
see the strangeness kept from most of us. She makes friends with the other
people in the apartment, especially the landlord who resets our universe
occasionally by fixing the furnace. But the Fenris wolf is due to escape
our universe soon, and if he does, heíll destroy it
Morden concludes his tale of Samuil Petrovitch, a genius who starts this
tale by inventing a perpetual motion device. But in the free zone, that
is still recovering from the outzone attack, things are never so complicated.
But the number of his Degrees of Freedom (paper from Orbit) are
reduced when the body of an ancient terrorist is found with an atomic bomb
that somehow never went off. His also has the problem that his wife, Maddy,
has separated from him, and his artificial intelligence, Michael, is buried
under tons of rock and the CIA would readily nuke it, if he tries to dig
up the computer holding him. Then someone steals the bomb, breaking Samuilís
arm in the process. Of course he manages to save the day, work out the
plots, and even yell at the American President while blocking his attempts
to start a nuclear holocaust. Fun ending to an exciting series.
Starr is a suspense writer who decided to add werewolves to his latest
tale, but keeps the fantastic to a minimum to avoid confusing his regular
readers. Simon Burns becomes a house husband after losing his job at a
Manhattan Ad Agency. He runs into, of all things, a group of single fathers
who seem strangely bonded. Then after being given a strange beer by the
leader of The Pack(hard from Ace) he awaken up nude in the middle
of New Jersey near the house where his former boss is murdered the same
night by a wolf. At the same time he develops a hunger for meat and much
greater stamina. For urban fantasy readers the real tale starts near the
end, but the characters are fun.
Steele tells of an expedition to the unusual world of Hex( hart
from Ace). Hex is a Dyson sphere, surrounding a star, composed of habitats
in a hexagonal pattern. The settlers on Coyote (this is the eighth tale
about the human settlement there) has been offered space there and is given
very little information about this living world. As a result adventures
happen and a mother and son are reconciled. The main point here is show
of a fantastic engineering concept. I enjoyed it.
World (paper from Ace by Alastair Reynolds) suffered a major disaster
five thousand years ago, breaking the world into zones with varying levels
of technology. As Alastair Reynolds tells us the story starts in
Spearpoint, a giant tower of a city starts with a high technology of Angels.
The Angels adapted Quillon to survive at the lower levels. Heís been in
hiding, working as a pathologist on a level that allows electronics since
his mission went sour,. He learns he is in danger from Angels trying to
discover how his adaption has been so successful. Friends help him escape
down through the steam level, through the horse powered level and out on
the main world which has varying zones, including one that doesnít allow
life at all. Raiders have been trying to wipe out the swarm, a group living
in dirigibles and moving always to avoid deadly zone changes. Then thereís
the woman and child who may have the ability to manipulate the zones. The
tale is non-stop action, and impossible to put down. But I found the whole
concept of zones of technology confusing.
Sprunk continues the tale of Caim, an assassin who can use shadows because
of a talent he inherited from his mother, a full fae. Caim has decided
to go north following a Shadowís Lure (trade from Pyr) to the country
where his father had died and he had barely escaped. His aunt, with full
shadow powers, opposes him and his attempts to help the rebels to her harsh
autocracy. Not only that, but his ghost helper has somehow gotten lost,
and he is mauled by a bear before ever arriving. Not only that, but the
girl he left behind, Josey, now empress, is under attack by a church that
hates her policies (stopping an endless religious war) and magical assassins.
This is the second book of a series and Iím still enjoying the heavy action.
Shan concludes his tale of a City of Snakes (hard from Grand Central
Publishing) about ten years after the first Cardinal, who had the ability
to create people using Aztec magic. Capek, the new Cardinal, who was made
immortal, has major problems controlling the city, and then is kidnaped.
Al Jeery has been imitating Paucer Wami, one of those created by the first
cardinal who killed for fun. Al only kills those who need killing, but
now he is chasing down Capek, and trying to stop the Aztec priests who
intend to conquer the city and then the world. Iíve enjoyed this series,
which is a bit weird, but donít think Iím keeping the series for my collection.
Brustís latest tale of Vlad Taltos in his Dragaera fantasy series is really
three tales about a piece of jewelry, a silver Tiassa (hard from
Tor which I bought for my Kindle App) with sapphire eyes that may have
been made by the gods. Early in Vladís career he uses it as part
of a scam against a government tax. Then his enemies use it to make the
empress reveal his location and his wife and another friend figure out
the plot. Finally The Phoenix Guard captain, Khaavren, gets involved when
Vlad is found floating in the river practically dead. He also is searching
for the silver Tiassa. Fun addition to a very long series.
Francesca Marinelli, a vampire who hates the taste of blood and
can tolerate more sunlight than most vampires has become more aggressive
in hunting evil since having a solid relationship with a vampire slayer
(rogue vampires only), and found an old friend Triton, who turns into a
dolphin once a month. She has a friendís wedding to help plan, and something
called the void that is sapping the energies of all the local vampires
but her. With two wizards to help hunt down the evil wizard who created
the void, and making sure all the tables and chairs are delivered for the
various pre-parties, she has her hands so full, she lacks to the time to
go surfing, but does manage to get to her bridge club, and also give her
famous ghost tours of St Augustin. I love this series.
Deadliest Bite (paper from Orbit) is the late Jennifer Rardinís final
tale of Jaz Parks, government assassin with a vampire partner, has her
literally going to hell. It starts with a visit from someone trying to
slay Vayl because the manís fatherís ghost told him to. Then they have
to rescue the ghost from a part of hell where he was trapped. Then itís
off to the gates of hell to remove a ghost trapped in Jazís head. Lots
of fights and fun, and oh yes, Jaz says sheíll retire at the end of this
tale. A good ending to a series.
Ringo dearly loves his war. The premise of Live Free or Die (paper)
in which aliens have opened up a gate to the rest of the galactic culture,
and Earth can only survive by creating trade has been overshadowed by bad
aliens who have decided they have to wipe out humanity through The Hot
Gate (hard from Baen). The best parts come before the massive battle.
Dana Parker finds herself in charge of a group of South American engineers
whose culture gets in the way of actually working and who resent working
for a woman. This bit of American gung-ho, is fun (at least for us from
the good old US of A). Thereís also an AI with psychological problems.
The space battle, when it comes, is up to Mr. Ringoís high standards, but
still feels wedged into the plot.
Jenna Black tells it, anybody of Dark Descent (paper from pocket)
can kill an immortal descendent of the Gods and steal their immortality.
Nikki Glass didnít know she was the descendent of Artemis until a client
(far older than he looked) decided to suicide by having her run him over.
That put Nikki between two groups of feuding immortals with the bad guys
thinking might makes right. If she can get her new talents working, she
can find the missing lover of her new boss, a woman trapped under ground
for a decade. A fun beginning to a light adventure series.
Baen has reprinted two classic collections
in paper. Robert Heinleinís The Green Hills of Earth/ The Menace
from Earth (a collection and a novel in one) and a collection of Christopher
Anvil tales, Rx for Chaos. The have also reprinted two weak Liaden
(from Sharon Lee and Steve Miller) tales in an omnibus called Korvalís
The Hugo nominations for awards for this year are:
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra);
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen); The Dervish House
by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr); Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit); and
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit). My own favorite
is the last, but I doubt it has a chance.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting
on June 10th, 2011 at 8 pm atInternational House on the University
of Pennsylvania. Campus. Arika Okrent, a local author and author of
In the Land of Invented Languages, a non-fiction look at invented
languages, will speak. Guests are welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author
of A Cycle of Gods from Wolfsinger Publications which can be bought