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Science Fiction for June 2019

    Armageddon is always twenty years in the future in Fantasy and Science Fiction. In the aftermath of a horrible event, heros have to survive in a world without technology. Today the disaster is frequently the unlikely effects Climate Change or Zombie attack. When I was growing up, it was world war III. Reading the papers and comparing the world to the pre-Nazi era in Germany, I think we are closer than ever to a disastrous war-to-end-all-wars.  
History tells us that the Nazi’s didn’t develop a nuclear bomb. Robert Buettner posits that they might have but the results were buried in rubble. In a Mountain Lake, deep in the Rockies, he sends a terrorist known as the Asp, to recover the plans to a bomb lost there since the end of World War II. The secrets were sent by an aging Nazi who thought that a fanatical Islamic cult was My Enemy’s Enemy (hard from Baen). Peter West was a rising physicist in Germany before Hitler. He and his Jewish wife Rachael (she in hiding) end up working in the secret plant deep in the salt mines of Salzburg to develop a simplified Uranium bomb and a jet big enough to carry to the bomb to the US. What’s amazing about the tale is the details that prove that Germany could indeed have created an atomic bomb. Very Scary.
Teagan Frost, not her real name, is the The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind (paper from Orbit). Her parents had done independent genetic research, leaving her with a telekinetic ability and a lot of reachers wanting to cut her up. She’s been working with a secret government group in LA where she hopes eventually to open a restaurant. Then someone is murdered using her abilities, framing her. With only her co-workers and a close friend to help, and chased by the police and feds, she has to somehow catch the serial killer and prove her innocense, or else she’ll be locked up for study for the rest of her life. Lots a fun, though a bit dark when looking through the eyes of the killer. I look forward to the sequel.
Bill Lace has a taut thriller set in a future in which Uranus is being mined for He3. Amma Janko is the manager of Belvedere station. Her tween son Dag is having psychological problems from being raised in space and Phoebe typical teenage angst. Then her pilot husband is lost in a deep dive into Uranus, and she decides it is time to take a sabbatical to Earth, joining a tanker on its two month journey. Then things start going wrong. The company doesn’t want to authorized funds for the trip.  Her son somehow is talked into a bungee jump in space when they join another ship. They have to deal with a hitchhiker, and then things really go crazy when they get a distress call. More than anything else, Celestial (ebook) is a tale of a mother trying to save her children in a well-lived future that feels very real. Excellent.
In the 30th century they thought that all time travel changes were erased. Dr. Raibert Kamiski and is AI partner Philosophus are traveling forward from ancient Rome in their time machine Kleio when they’re hit by a time quake from a knot in time that will wipe out fifteen alternate universes in 1300 years. Returning to what they think is their present, they find an alternate version of their time absolutely against any change that would erase them. Their only hope is Professor Benjamin Schröder in 2018 who somehow has a memory of both timelines. David Weber and Jacob Holo have created a romp through time to solve The Gordian Protocol (hard from Baen) while evading other time travelers trying to stop them. And yes, it involves Hitler. Great fun and hard to put down.
In 1986, fifteen-year-old Nick Hayes is being treated for Leukemia. He is a math genius and loves playing Dungeon and Dragons with his friends. There’s a sociopath at his school that he knows to avoid, and a whole drug dealing culture that he knows to avoid. Then an adult shows up and claims to be Nick at forty. To save a future girl friend, a new friend to Nick, he has to steal a new Motorola chip from the factory one of his friend’s father runs. Does in have anything to do with the One Word Kill (hard from 47North) charm he won in the game?  All he really knows that he might survive cancer treatment if he follows the advice of his future self.  Mark Lawrence tells a taut tale, and somehow promises sequels. I expect this to find itself on some award lists.
In our near future, alien plans are found, in an ice core in space, for gates to other solar systems. In the far future, the plans are in parts and hidden in chips installed in the ruling Keepers. In one system, with two inhabitable planets,  Icarion has built a Velocity Weapon (paper from Orbit). Sergeant Sanda Greeve barely survived the first attack in an escape pod, after losing her leg. She wakes up in an empty space ship run by an AI called Bero. Over two centuries have passed since the war destroyed both planets in the system and their only hope is to use Bero’s mass driver to travel at .8 C to the next system. After the war, and before the destruction, Biran, her brother and a new Keeper,  is appointed the Keeper voice and works to find his sister and any other survivors. Megan E. O'Keefe has a fun beginning to a fun series with lots of  mysteries revealed, only to uncover new mysteries. Lots of fun and I look forward to the next volume.
A few decades from now medicine can literally resurrect the dead, unless their head is cut off, but even average care is too expensive for average people. Resurrection technology has led to pit fights to the death. Horace “The Hammer” Harkness has died twenty-seven times in his long career, and needs a final fight to pay for the new heart he needs. He’s borrowed heavily from the Russian Mob and could pay them off and get a new heart with his winnings. However there’s the son of a friend who need genetic modification to fix his bones, and that is why The Hammer Falls (paper from Bear Paw Publishing). Horace decides to cut off the head of the mob leader and takes off running. The mob immediately goes off trying to kill everyone near him. Travis Heermann leaves The Hammer an out, kill the real head of the mob, and the mob collapses into dueling factions. The tale is a romp about a killer with a heart of gold and a real heart ready to conk out any moment. Lots of fun.
P. C. Hodgell started her writing career in 1982 with a tale of Jame Knorth coming out of  of the haunted lands to do a God Stalk (paper which I’ve read several times) in the city of Tai-Tastigon, because her people believe their three-faced god is unique and they have been fighting Perimal Darkling across multiple worlds, with present being the last. In that one she discovered that the gods of the city were getting their magical power from the Kencyrath temple. Flash forward that Jame has to return to the city because the gods are By Demons Possessed (trade from Baen) when they eat people’s souls. All of her old friends are in trouble, and the gods who haven’t become demons are dying. Some of her friends became gods and then demons. Neat series. I gulp down each new episode.
Sherwood Smith wrote a number of juveniles three decades ago. A group of teenagers somehow broke the magics of Norsunder and eliminated Norsunder’s ability to move armies through rifts. A few years later, the young rulers are settling down, and those with magical ability can visit the friends they made using magical transfer tokens. One of the  Norsunder leaders left A Sword Named Truth (hard from DAW). When he retrieves the sword, the various young heroes must join into an alience to thwart Norsunder’s plans, Even if that means transferring to a world on the opposite of the star in the Sartorias-deles system. This is a bit slow, but I’m still waiting for the next tale in the trilogy.
C.S. Ferguson gets his Crimson Star pirates back together with their intelligent starship,  and with the help of new crewmen, out of the Heracles system. Thieves & Beggars (hard from WordFire Press) pulls all the irons out of the fire that Devils and Black Sheep (paper) left, even answering what was in the valuable box that everyone was hunting. .I can only hope that the  enlarged crew have more adventures in them. This is a fun universe.
    Larry Correia and Kacy Ezell had a collection of Noir Fatale (hard from Baen) tales about dangerous women.
    WordFire Press has reprinted a classic Mike Resnick tale, Walpurgis III (ebook) written when Mr. Resnick was at his best. Baen has reprinted David Drake’s RCN tale Though Hell Should Bar the Way in paper and Elizabeth Moon’s final book of The Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy,  Oath of Gold, in trade. My copy is the whole trilogy which I’ve read several times.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on June 14th. Mark Wolverton, author of Burning the Sky about US nuclear tests in space, 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 fusion generation requires less energy because only one frequency is needed rather than a full spectrum.  It also explains dark matter, the proliferation of subatomic particles, and the limit of light speed for matter.