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Science Fiction for June 2018
    As the current television season comes to an end, many of my favorite Fantasy and Science fiction shows are nor surviving. Unfortunately many of their replacements are horror. This means that the current cycle with lots of genre selection is coming to an end, sigh.
After disease ended the Orc invasion of human lands, the lot lands were left empty, defended by small gangs called hoofs manned by half-orcs who ride giant hogs called barbarians. Jackal hopes to win leadership of one of the hoofs, The Grey Bastards (paper from Crown Publishing by Jonathon French), from its founder Claymaster who had been one of the heroes of the Orc invasion but now was making mistakes because of his age. It doesn’t help that Jackal and his two friends Oats and Fletching were involved with killing a human noble assigned to the castle that helps guard the land. Then a half-orc wizard arrives who fascinates Claymaster. Jackal loses his bid for leadership and is cast out. Helped by a previous member, he finds that there is a deep secret about the hoofs, and that the orcs are returning. Jonathan French tells a fascinating tale of a wasteland filled with humans, orcs, elves, and centaurs who go made during certain moons. There’s plenty of openings for sequels and I can’t wait for them.
One of the partners of a small investment firm is kidnaped. Assigned to find him is Rune Saint John, the only survivor of the fallen Sun court on the converted island of Nantucket which serves as New Atlantis. The Last Sun (trade from Pyr) works for Lord Tower. With his human companion and bodyguard, Rune must traverse the islands worst magically infected parts, he has to face riptide vampires and human recarnates and illegal magic, problems that will drain all of his sigils and force him to tap into his inherited abilities.  K. D. Edwards tells a very exciting tale and introduces a background where cell phones and magic co-exist. Impossible-to-put-down.
Miles Singer hid his healing ability and his Witchmark (paper from Tor) and had the government pay for his medical education, which found him serving in the war between Aeland and Laneer. Working as a Psychiatrist for patients with PTSD, his healing talent shows a blot on some of the souls, a blot that makes them want to kill their friends and family. Aeland, according to C. L. Polk,  owes it’s good weather to the magic of weather mages and other mages are bound to provide the energy the weather mages need, and treated as lower class, subject to lots of abuse. Then an investigative reporter shows up at his hospital fatally poisoned, He is accompanied by a Mr. Hunter who is far more than what he seems. Then Miles’ sister, a weather mage, works her way into his life, and his father forces him to bond to her. Aeland has deep secrets and is in great danger from Laneer magic. Fun. I look forward to reading more about Miles.
G. T. Almasi has a neat tale of bionically enhanced super spies in the 80's on an Earth where Hitler was assassinated early in the war and Germany controls all of Europe. This time the high administrator Jakob Fredericks has fled to Europe with the powered clone Talon of Scorpio (ebook from Hydra) . Unfortunately his arrival, because of the information he carries,  sets up a civil war between the Gestapo and the regular German army. Alix Nico and her partner Brando sent to recapture Fredericks find themselfs caught in a whirlpool of war that includes surviving a tactical nuke. Very exciting.
Jeff Wheeler sets his latest series two centuries after his Muirwood tales (which I bought after reading this one) to give it a Regency England feel. The poor live in cramped cities mostly paying off their deeds of debt. The rich live on floating palaces – but bad investment can send the palace hurtling to the ground. Two preteens who will eventually become close friends are at the heart. Cettie Pratt starts off in an orphanage where the Landlady doesn’t feed them, forcing them to go out to steel food. Luckily she finds her Daddy Warbucks in a retired vice-admiral Fitzroy who is a potential candidate for Prime Minister. Sera Fitzempress is the only daughter of the Prince Regent. His selection after the Emperor has a stroke, leads to a break between the Prince and his wife, with Sara caught between the. Fitzroy’s mines produce valuable silver and worthless quick silver until Cettie notices the relationship between the movement of quick silver and storms and Fitzroy realizes that this Storm Glass (paper from 47North) is something the empire needs. I’m eagerly waiting book 2.
Rose Marshall is the ghost of  Sparrow Hill Road (paper from DAW). She is a hitcher ghost becoming almost alive when someone lends her a coat.  She was run off the road in 1952, when she was sixteen. Bobby Cross who made a deal with the devil to keep driving forever as long as he killed enough is constantly chasing her. According to Seanan McGuire she can smell death and save some of her rides and show those who can’t, send them to ‘home’. In her various adventures she is captured by a witch determined to kill her for the death of the witch’s beau. She has to deal with college students playing parapsychologist who evoke more than they can handle, and numerous other adventures. Lots of fun with a sequel coming in a few months.
 In the Wild Card universe, Croyd Crenson or the Sleeper usually acts as a joker because he has different talents every time he wakes up. In Low Chicago ( Hard from Tor and edited by
George R. R. Martin) he is at a winner-take-all poker game with a buy in of a million at the Palmer Hotel in Chicago when a fight starts and Croyd uses his new talent of time travel to throw the players all over time (they all arrive nude); two to the period when the comet killed the dinosaurs, another to the riots at the Democratic convention in 1968, and another to the Chicago World’s fair. Unfortunately that causes a timequake in the present and Croyd and Nighthawk have to find them and bring them home before time is changed too radically. Each tale is a lot of fun. I’ve been hooked on this series since they first appeared in 87 and hope that the potential tv series actually appears.
Kelley Armstrong has a short tale of Rough Justice (hard from Subterranean Press) that with a little rewriting could easily have been just a mystery. Olivia Taylor-Jones is a detective and a member of the Fae who has joined the wild hunt. On her first ride, she questions whether their victim is guilty. So she convinces her lawyer and boy friend, Gabriel to take a case of a woman, Heather Nanson,  who had shot and killed her husband by accident. Text messages seem to imply that she had lured her husband to his death. The Hunt’s victim was a car salesman who blamed the Nanson’s for leaving an auto accident in which his wife might have lived if 911 had been called earlier.  I suspect there will be more Olivia Gabriel mysteries.
Simon R. Green’s two major series , Secret Histories and Nightside, come to an exciting Night Fall (Hard from Ace). Nightside, where everything is possible and for sale in the heart of London, expands capturing one of Eddie Drood’s favorite taverns. The authority which governs Nightside sends their walker, John Taylor, to investigate. When Eddie armors up to kill a living house that ate the tavern, John Taylor goes to the Drood Hall to remind the family of the ancient Pacts. A Drood assassin is set after John Taylor and his murder incites a full war between Nightside and the Droods. The Droods want to bring order to the order less Nightside. Soon all the characters mentioned in previous tales in the series are fighting for their lives. Whole sections of Nightside are cleaned out, and the gods of God Street flee in terror. This is much darker than the usually silliness of both series, but a good solid ending.
There’s a prison Outbreak (ebook from Tor) of shades (think vampires) from a prison bus. That sets the final chase of the ancient shade, Hector by Alex McKenna of the Bureau of Preternatural Investigation and Hector’s sister Lindy. At his heart Hector wants to become the King of the shades, something that hadn’t existed since the death of his father thirteen hundred years ago. Melissa F. Olson has a fun tale of traps by both side until the inevitable confrontation occurs. This is a nice conclusion to a fun trilogy.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr is in the middle of his first trilogy set in the world of Recluse where mages manipulate order or chaos.  The Mongrel Mage (paper) Beltar hopes to settle in Elparta which he helped to survive when he was conscripted in the previous book to fight off an invasion.  He’s using his mage abilities to work  with a coppersmith, Jorhan, to create a strong bronze that hasn’t been seen in a thousand years. He and Jorhan become Outcasts of Order (hard from Tor) when a rich trader has the city council give him the monopoly for the metal, and when another black mage covets the healer, Jessyla,  Beltar is courting and tries to remove him. In Spindlar he works as a mage healer. Unfortunately the council there is too traditional and blocks Jorhan’s access to copper and tin. In addition another family who has a 7 year-old daughter with potential to become a white mage, That gets them also exiled from Elparta and distrusted in Spindlar.  As usual for Mr. Modesitt, Beltar is a hard worker and honest dealer. There are far more scenes of cleaning up areas than of fighting. It’s more about dealing with people than winning wars. I like all of his books and these are no exception.
    Baen books has reprinted John Ringo’s first exciting tale of Earth being recruited to fight aliens on other worlds, A Hymn before Battle (trade), and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Siege (paper).
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on June 8th.   Wes Shank, whose museum in Phoenixville includes the silicon Blob, 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 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.