Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         HOME
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Science Fiction for July 2013
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    When I first discovered Science Fiction and Fantasy, there were many distributers sending books to drug stores and super markets. In the eighties books were sold in super stores like Borders and Barns and Noble. The buyers of those stores determined which tale would have shelf space. Internet publishing is beginning to dominate the market today. There are many small publishers. Endividual writers have books available, some of them excellent.I like to report on well-written tales that I enjoyed and hope the readers of this column will too.
I found Sara King by a lucky fluke. She writes the type of books I would nominate for awards and I can only hope that others find her exciting adventures. Her Legend of Zero series has thousands of alien species in the galaxy ruled for over a million turns (years) by a Congress determined to keep the peace but a bit corrupt. Theyíve discovered Earth and as usual took a draft of children between the age of five and twelve. Their food matures them physically early but not mentally, ending up with children in adult bodies.. Forging Zero (book from Parasite Publications which I bought electronically) introduces us to Joe Dobbs, age 16 who was captured after freeing a number of draftees including his brother. Theyíre all numbered except for him because he was expected to be culled. Their training planet has a heavier planet than Earth and lots of spores in the air that make it difficult to breath. Their commanders likes to eat recruits who donít measure up and take others as slaves, and most of their training takes place in tunnels which bring out Joeís claustrophobia. Add in an ancient prophecy that foresees the fall of Congress and aliens who can predict the future and who say that Joe Dobb is the individual to watch for. Zero Recall (which I also bought) takes place firty turns later. Zero has been a stellar warrior., but let go because he isnít needed because itís peace time. So he goes to Earth to locate his drug lord Brother only to get his brother captured and excuted. A new war against the Dhasha has prompted his recall even though he wants to dive into a bottle. Instead he is given a multi-species patrol with Jreet, a huge snake that can go invisible, a Huouyt who can take on other species forms, and a flying creature they call Flea. It turns out the war was created by the only free, extremely smart Geugi who is plotting to help the rest of his species locked up for over a million years. This one is full of surprises and plot twists. Both books are impossible to put down and highly recommended. Iíve been buying her ealier books which are just as much fun.
Django Wexler is a war gamer who also loves to get details from reenactors antd it shows in his detailed war scenes. Religious fanatics threw out the Prince of Kandahar and expelled the and the colonial Garrison of the Empire of Vordanai (think British colonial troops during the age of empire.). Then , from across the sea, they receive a regiment of untrained troops under the command of a strange colonel who decides he can take an army five times his size. Marcus, the senior Captain of the dejected colonial troops who had barely escaped with their lives, doesnít know what to do with this Colonel. He gives quick promotions to some of the troops to provide sergeants for the raw recruits, including Winter, whom he doesnít realize is actually a woman in disguise. Then Colonel Janus, with the help of the few competent colonial troops and the barely trained new soldiers starts winning. What Marcus and Winter donít know is that Colonel Janusís real intensions involve collecting  a magical object called The Thousand Names (hard from Roc)and at the end his toops will not only have to face muskets and canons, mutiny, and desertion, but also deadly magic. I gulped this long tale in two days and am eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Wen Spencer tells us of Nikki Delany who obsessive-compulsively has to write. A friend in college helped her condense her jottings into a successful horror/ thriller tale with an advance on a second just as her mother tries to get her locked up. That gets her to Japan. Then an exact description of a blender murder, posted to her blog,  gets her accused of the crime. But more and more of her new novel starts coming true including one of the Eight Million Gods (hard from Baen) showing up when she  rescues a katana stolen from a burnt shrine. Things get weirder from then one, getting her friends into danger. Thereís an evil plot and only she and the scardy cat guy can stop it. Think of a fantasy version of Romancing The Stone set in Japan with lots of murderous Gods. Lots of fun.
Jeff Carlson has  deadly neanderthals attacking a ruined America. . Imagine a solar pulse that can Interrupt (paper from 47North) human thought. According to astronomer Marcus Wolfsinger, these pulses are common to G type stars, occurring every twenty five thousand years or so. Emily Flint is the biologist who realizes that the only people who can survive are those with neanderthal genes many of them with autistic traits.  Drew Haldane is the army pilot who helps get them to an underground bunker after they barely survive the chaos. Add in a paranoid China convinced that the pulse is an attack and are ready to respond. The people turned Neanderthal by the pulse are very violent and prone to attack protected normal humans. This is a heart pounding thriller about surviving a disaster a bit more likely than  Zombies.
iIn Vera Nazarianís intense medieval fantasy, death takes a holiday because he wants his Cobweb Bride (trade from Norilana Books) If only people walked around undead, it wouldnít be so bad, but animals canít be slaughtered. So we have a battle in which a Duke dies, unfairly he thinks, killed by a man he had already killed. The Emperorís only child is assassinated at the wrong time and decides to spare her assassin, taking him on a quest to Deathís Keep. Across the empire other women also traverse the northern wilderness, opposed by the Dukeís son, the black knight, because the Duke wants to stay undead. Percy comes from a poor family but she has common sense and is helped by horse and cart that can find paths unknown to others. Death, however is not looking for a young woman. This is the first of a trilogy and I eagerly await the next part.
James S.A. Coreyís first tale ab out an ancient alien molecule that gets loose from a research lab and dissolves the colony on Eos, Leviathan Wakes (paper) was nominated for a Hugo. The remnants of Eos ended up on Venus and there it has built a giant ring orbiting Venus. The ring, Abaddon's Gate (trade from Orbit which I bought electronically) in an entrance to a strange mini-universe with very limited.speeds, as the Belter discovered when he tried to go through its center. In the normal course of events slow exploration would have occured, but when exploratory vessels from Earth, Mars, and the Belt confederation arrive they face sabotage. The daughter of the previous villain is determined to right her fatherís fall by blaming our hero, James Holder. His only survival sends him into the mini-universe, followed by the fleet. At the heart of this mini-universe is an alien space station that not, only creates the speed limists but drops them when threatened. Apparently it can also wipe out our solar system if provoked and there are some who want to attack it with a huge laser. Very exciting, even if the situation is too much of a set up. .
Four women in their twenties in New Zealand are enjoying their life learning sword work fighting, judo, and other active sports. They  lack romance. In their lives so one of them finds a magical spell to find their soul mates. The magic sends them to  Gar'nyse where they meet monsters and are helped by members of the kingdomís Gryphon Gruards who fly and talk telepathically to actual Gryphons. Think Charmed meets Narnia. This first tale is of The Arrival (a free Kindle ebook from  Little Leo Reads) Nicole MacDonald transcends the light romance and and fun adventure with a tale that is oddly compelling. The second two books in the trilogy are already available.
Star Trek fans  will injoy Alan Dean Fosterís novelization of Into Darkness (trade) which I hope has eliminated some of the logic flaws in the movie,  the Star Trek Craft Book (trade and edited by Angie Pendersen) and Star Trek Cross Stitch (trade and edited by John Lohnen). All are from Gallery Books.
    Baen has in paper a bunch of John Grimes tales in Ride the Star Winds; David Webberís fun but a bit too long, War Maidsís Choice;and Wen Spencerís fun Elfhome. Theyís also reprinted the first Man-Kzin Wars Anthology in trade to celebrate thge 25th anniversary of the series.
     IDW Publishing introduces us to Zombies vs. Robots Diplomacy (paper) with original tales. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (hard from Orbit which I havenít read) is the 2012 Nebula Award Winner.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on June 19th at 8 p.m.at  International House  on  the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. Horror This is the Annual Hugo Review Pane. 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)