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Science Fiction for June 2017
    Artificial intelligence has been a part of Science Fiction and Fantasy since the invention of the computer, or even earlier if you count Frankenstein’s monster. Lately some Distinguished Celebrities have cautioned us that future A. I.’s will kill us in our sleep.
E. William Brown looks at a realistic far future with programable bots, androids who frequently are used as slaves, and enhanced humans. Actual A. I.’s are rare and usually quite mad. Teenage Alice Long is a Perilous Waif (paper from Amazon) who was dropped by federation marines on a very peaceful planet of only women who eat only vegetables. They’re starving her enhancements, even though she goes out hunting the local fauna. When they threaten to remove her enhancements, she knows it’s time to run and crosses a few hundred miles of wilderness to the nearest spaceport. She helps a crew member of the trading ship Square Deal, and manages to get hired as ship girl. Finally her enhancements get enough nourishment and she proves it when the ship is attacked by a gang ship. That gets her trained in security, The problem is that the Captain knows the location of a famous lost ship destroyed in the last war. Treachery proves her new skill needed, and a connection to the hulk controls actually gives Alice her background. Very exciting tale and difficult to put down.
 K.B. Spangler has a nice mystery series about OACET Agent Rachel Peng. The agency consists of people who had a quantum-organic computer placed in their brain to connect them top all the computer streams around them. Alas only three hundred and fifty of the five hundred victims survived the first few years. Rachel lost her eyes from staring at the sun, but the chip lets her see emotions, and through walls. The fourth tale Brute Force (paper from  A Girl and Her Fed Books) starts with a kidnaping of an agent and her daughter for political reasons.  In this exciting tale, Rachel and her friends have to not only locate the victims, but also tread carefully to keep their agency from negative press. I really like the series and hope for new tales soon.
Linda Nagata looks at the near future of drone technology coming in many forms like snakes, and insects, and birds. They are intelligent enough to accomplish tasks with minimal control. True Brighton, a retired army veteran, works for Requisite Operations. A routine hostage rescue in the ungoverned part of the middle east leads to attack by Shaw Walker, a man with the tattoo The Last Good Man (ebook from Mythic Island Press LLC) who True and her boss thought long dead. Shaw had been there when True’s son Diego, a soldier in Shaw’s unit, had laterally been crucified by the bad guys. Finding what happened to her son becomes very important. The technology described here feels very real and turns what would be a normal thriller into something impossible to put down.
Iskra tells the peddler at age six, after her father and village died of starvation, that she wants to learn magic and become a Susurrus (ebook from Metaphorosis Books). In the world that B. Morris Allen describes magic stays local with each area having unique magics. Iskra is a bit different in that she can learn and use local magic elsewhere. He drops her off in Alusia where magic is born after birth and before the afterbirth. In a effort to save the peddler from disease she loses a baby, but gains rapid healing. In Kalnar she learns the magic of unbroken promises and some gets the magician killed who forced her into a bad promise, When Kalnar gives up torturing her to Ethrin where she learns to draw wind, and gets caught in a promise that destroys her ship. In Tharr she finds a connection with the connection the Tharrians make with animals. Until that land is invaded by soldiers tied to a loyalty oath. Her soldiers conquer that land and then she goes looking for magic to help her new land, leaving a ruler to help. Unfortunately that starts a pattern that goes on for decades. Iska, the sorceress,  hunts for magic and then returns as  Empress for a bit. Eventually she is trapped in a desert looking for a magic that may not exist. This is a dark tale with a wonderful moral about life’s purpose  that resonates.
In the Vanguard (hard from Ace) of the land rush following the discovery of a faster-than-light drive, brings a lack of interstellar law. Neither the  original colonies , nor Earth want to enforce any regulations the new colonists expect. Jack Campbell starts his tale on the new colony world of Glenlyon which finds itself threatened by another colony that had bought discarded destroyers to get tribute from weaker worlds. Robert Geary, former fleet officer is asked to help defend his new home and manages to capture the first ship. That’s when Scatha decides to settle their own city. Glenlyon hires ex-marine  Mele Darcy to drive them away. At the same time another ship is using orbital bombs on other colonies. Carmen Ochoa, an ex-Earth bureaucrat , and Lochan Nakamura, a failed politician have decided it is necessary to set up an alliance of these new colonies to protect themselves. Sequels will follow this fun first book.
Kat Falcone faces Desperate Fire (paper from 47North) in the fourth installment of Christopher G. Nuttall’s Angel in the Whirlwind tetrology. The War with the Theocracy is starting to turn Kit is a Commodore whose fleet is sent to recover the planet Hebrides as a first step to defeating the Theocracy. But the enemy poisons the planet with dirty bombs leading to a refuge problem for the commonwealth, and a drastic change of plans; a direct on Ahura Mazda for which the navy isn’t ready. There’s a hard fought battle, both on the ground and in space and Kit faces loss of loved ones. This is very exciting and a must for those who love space navy tales.
Mars Xi suffered through surgery after surgery to make her a human psionic weapon who can destroy ships with her mind. Rescued from a dying ship by a small hauler, she makes friends with the small crew and leaves them when a bounty hunter comes after her. Eventually the crew of that ship is captured by MEPHISTO, the group who made her and want her back. Blackmailing her with her friends lives is worth it, even if she destroys a fleet of ship protecting the prisoners. This tale of Killing Gravity (ebook from Tor) by  Corey J. White is fun and exciting and promises fun sequels.     
Simon R. Green’s tales of   Eddie Drood, aka Shaman Bond are always fun and silly. Eddie is still dying from poison from Dr. DOA (paper) who is Edward Drood from another reality  Eddie and Molly Metcalf have to track down his killer from the world he lived in to the Drood mansion under attack, to Siberia on dragon back, and finally to the moon where centuries before the Droods had created a Moonbreaker (hard from ACE) device. I always enjoy these and I’m glad there’s another sequel planned.
Sharon Lee and Steve Mills fun tales set in the Liaden universe are more like episodes in a continuing tale, like a television series, then self-contained stories. Theo Waitely and her crew of the self-aware ship Bechimo have been hiding at the Gathering Edge (hard from Baen) at a point where flotsam is falling out of another universe. First is a ship with a tree like the one that guides Clan Korval and no other passengers. The second is a wreck from a major battle in the with two soldiers who have been in stasis for centuries. With more junk falling out of the other universe it is time for the Bechimo to head for civilized ports. At Minot station. One of Theo’s previous captain and friend has gotten himself in trouble with a thieving crewmate and is in deep legal trouble, which takes some finesse to get him out safely. Fans will be very happy with this episode.
Sean Danker continues his tale about the Admiral with a kidnaping from a carriage going from one space station to another. The Admiral is on a date with Salmagard, the woman he met in the first tale. There’s another couple along. The problem is that this is a Free Space (paper from Ace) devoid of law. Someone is paying for captured women as prostitutes. The brothel owner doesn’t want the Admiral (who goes unrecognized) and the other gentleman who is a pilot so the kidnappers drag them all over Red Yonder trying to get paid. Eventually they end up as possible sacrifices for a religious ritual. Luckily their women quickly escape and chase after them, causing all sorts of chaos on their way. Fun.
When Julie Hall’s new baby, Carson, turns into a wolf-cub on the new moon, its time to find the father who was never informed of Julie’s pregnancy. In Graybull Wisconsin she finds Carson’s grandparents who are part of a pack of werewolves. This means that Julie has recessive genes for being a werewolf, making her a Dark Moon Wolf (paper from The Wild Rose Press, Inc) and her ex has been murdered in Las Vegas. With the help of a close friend Sheila who turns out to be a witch, and another werewolf, Eliza and a few other werewolves they start hunting the murderers, something pretty hard to do with a four-month old infant. Fun and exciting with lots of diaper changes.
John Scalzi sets his tale on an Earth in which victims of violent death are returned naked to their beds with all trauma for the last day removed. The Dispatcher ( hard from Subterranean Press) of the tale, Tony Valdez, kills people after surgeries go wrong, almost fatal traffic accidents, and other near fatal events. His friend, another dispatcher, has been kidnaped and the police want his help in finding his friend. The trail leads through powerful gangs and a man whose elderly wife has just died. At one point he gets tossed down a elevator shaft to his death as a way leaving a building secretly. Yes, he wakes up naked in his bed after dying.  Light fun.
I’m always amazed at how empty Sarah A. Hoyt’s future earth is. In the latest tale Darkship Revenge (trade from Baen) Athena and Kit are on the darkship Cathouse by themselves when her baby arrives. Then Kit gets kidnaped and Athena and to go rescue him with new baby in hand. The mules (sterile genetically engineered men) who were sent away on the Je Revians centuries before, have returned and sent young clones infected with a disease deadly to normal humans. Only attacking that ship which has a cure on board, can save Earth. Fun.
I really like most of Seanan McGuire’s work and she is very prolific. But her tale of identical twin girls, Jack and Jill, who walk down magical steps to the land of the Moors didn’t work as well for me.  Down Among the Sticks and Bones (hard from Tor) Jill becomes the protégé of the Master, a vampire who rules a small village, and Jack becomes the apprentice of the Doctor who can raise the dead like Dr. Frankenstein. All goes well for five years and then a series of events sets the two girls running. The ending is too abrupt for my taste, but I think sequels are planned.
    Baen has reprinted Eric James Stone’s fun  tale of an Unforgettable detective in paper.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on June 9th 2017. Bob Walters and Tess Kissinger author’s of  Discovering Dinosaurs  will speak. The meeting starts  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 fusion generation.