Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for July 2014
by Henry Leon Lazarus
The new world of Science Fiction and Fantasy
publishing includes not only established publishers, but also
self-published ebooks and small publishing houses that couldn’t have
survived even a decade ago. While there is an overwhelming amount of
unreadable junk in the pile, even from established publishers, there
are true gems available that I find simply amazing.
Anthony Ryan started by self-publishing.
Good reviews and a friend got him to Ace Books where his amazing
fantasy world has become more available to the public. Like
the Game of Thrones, Mr. Rayn posits a mediaeval world with
rare, minor-magic talents, usually in the form of talents like
telekenesis and pyrokenesis referred to as the Dark and thought
evil. One continent has a combined realm that believes that souls go
to the great beyond, and is willing to murder those that of other
beliefs. Vaelin Al Sorna, son of the Battle Lord has the talent of Blood
Song (paper) that points him to the best path. At ten his
father gives him to the sixth order, an order devoted to war. There
he grows up faces several assassination attempts and eventually
leads Realm troops in a disastrous war against the Alpiran Empire
that dominates another continent. Five years later he is released
from the Emperor’s prison and the new king of the Realm makes him
the Tower Lord (hard) Unfortunately the Volarian Empire,
with a slave-based economy decides to use treachery and the weakness
of the new king to invade seeking slaves.. Add in the fact that
three souls have returned from the Great Beyond, using the shells of
people on the edge of death and they are willing to do anything for
someone they call the Ally. Pulse-pounding and impossible to put
down, I can’t wait for the conclusion.
Django Wexler envisions a Napoleonic Era
world in which magical abilities come from binding to a demon. The
first tale introduced our heroes in a far colony where the military
genius Janus has to not only win against overwhelming odds but also
find The Thousand Names (paper) of demons. Coming home with
Colonol Janus, Captain Marcus and Lieutenant Winter find
themselves thrown into a French style revolution. The King is dying
and the future Queen has a deep secret. She has been bound to a
demon that restores her no matter how bad the wound. The Last Duke,
head of spies and torture for the kingdom wants to rule from The
Shadow Throne (hard from ROC). So Princess Rasinia has been
sneaking out of the palace and working with a revolutionary cabal.
They are helped by a mindless fool cursed with huge charisma who can
repeat anything told to him. I really loved the attack on the Vendre
(like the Bastille) and the council of deputies who would rather
argue than actually act. Lots of fun with more to come.
LJ Cohen has a far future tale of
four teenagers whose parents work on a station far away from
civilization. A Derelict ( paper from Interrobang Books
which I bought electronically) starship left over from the last war
sits next to the base for extra storage. Rosalen Maldonado may be an
engineering genius able to fix anything on the base and most of the
ship, but she doesn’t realize that her father and an ex-senator have
smuggled guns and stashed them on the ship. Caught up in the
fascination of trying to repair the ship’s AI with another friend
Jem Durbin, son of two of the Physicians on base, she is surprised
when the ship suddenly takes off. On board also is Jem’s brother
Barre whose musical talent doesn’t impress his parents, and
Micah Rotherwood, son of the Senator and budding plant biologist.
They not only have to get the AI under control (it takes music) but
also deal with Ro’s father who is determined to get his smuggled
guns to his buyer and doesn’t mind if the kids die. This is
well-designed future that feels quite real and impossible to put
down. I gulped it down in a day and looked for other books by this
Pierre Ouellette sets his noir thriller
in the near future after America’s economy has collapsed. But there
are still the very rich who want to stay young no matter what it
costs. The Forever Man (ebook form Alibi) is the result of a
very-rich, old man willing to pay to create the genetic
engineering necessary, and ruthless enough to kill any that learn
the secret. Contract cop Lane Anslow gets involved when his genius
brother, the lead researcher in the project, somehow survives the
attempt on his life and ask Lane for help. The trail sends Lane
through gated communities filled with people who look half their
age, and into the entourage of a populist politician preaching hate.
Very exciting and hard to put down.
Once Upon a Time (tv) visited
Neverland last season it was ok. Lisa Jensen’s take on the
pirate Alias Hook (hard from Thomas Dunne Books) is
different with Hook cursed to never die. It’s been centuries since
he sailed there cursed by a Voodoo Priestess. His original crew is
long dead, replaced by former lost boys who are soon killed by the
current lost boys. Then an adult woman, Stella Parrish,
arrives confounding Pan and confusing the Indians and the Mermaids.
This a lushly written tale of love and redemption set against the
classic J.M. .Barrie’s play and novel.
Joe Abercrombie has a fun tale of a
Prince Yarvi born with birth defect, an unformed hand. When his
father and brother are murdered, the prince, in training to become
an advisor, finds himself Half a King (hard from Bantam
Spectra). His uncle has other plans. Yarvi barely survives the
attempt on his life and ends up a galley slave on an old ship, where
he meets new friends who eventually help him get revenge when they
escape. This is a strong tale of survival against all odds, of
finding friends in odd places, and of discovering that even an
innate weakness can be overcome. I gulped in down in a day.
Frank, also known as Frankenstein’s
monster (apparently from the castle not the creator) is in trouble.
He’s been fighting monsters in the U.S. Monster Control Bureau since
Benjamin Franklin recruited him but his contract calls for no other
versions of him created. In Larry Correia’s sixth tale of Monster
hunting his Monster Hunter Nemesis (hard from Baen) is a
boss with dreams of power who never realizes where the souls of
monsters like him come from. Soon he’s on the run from his own
agency and the President is convinced he is a potential assassin.
Lots of the usual romp, and heavy action ensue. I love this series.
An ancient, classic trope in science
fiction is having a ship go into Rescue Mode (hard from
Baen) after being hit by a meteor. Ben Bova and Les Johnson do that
to a NASA expedition to Mars with a crew of eight, mixed men and
women. There’s the excitement of survival and the politics of
funding a second expedition to keep the excitement going. Both
writers are very familiar with space engineering that makes the tale
feel realistic, though I think the time for Government funded space
exploration has passed. There’s plenty of room here for a sequel.
Wilmar Luna continues his fun comic book
style adventure of the The Silver Ninja: Indoctrination
(paper from Createspace) in which Cindy Ames has to wear the suit
again after her husband’s extremely dangerous work is taken by the
Government. But retrieving the hard drives are made worse by when
she and her sister Jadie face Alexis, CIA assassin with her own
Saphire suit. But the real villain is the CEO of Zhu Feng
Medical which has invented a mind control drug to use on New York
City. Soon Cindy and Jadie are saving lives when bombs go off all
over the city, and fighting Alexis who has been convinced they
murdered her family. The neatest toy is a motorcycle that uses
nano-technology to turn into a small plane. Just don’t try to think
about the physics of the various fights. Lots of fun. I suspect more
adventures are coming.
R. S. J. Gregory twists the classic
trope that exposure to special meteorites can give super powers.
Britney was crippled in the car crash that killed her mother. Then
on a School trip to Washington, she and the rest of her group were
kidnapped, and supposedly died. But instead they are experimented
on. The exposure to the meteorites not only cures Britney’s
paralysis, but gives her and her surviving classmates super powers.
After they breakout and go home to Chicago they figure out how their
super powers work. All of them are fast and nearly invulnerable.
Britney can also fly. One of her friends is a telepath, another can
create electric bolts. Soon they decide to have costumes and start
saving people while looking for the person who experimented on them
and murdered their teacher and some of the other students. Cosmic
Girl: Rising Up (paper from Amazon Digital Services which I
bought electronically) is fun. I especially liked the scene where
she has to avoid jets while carrying Beth to New York City to
investigate leads. I’m eagerly waiting the sequel.
Emily, who was brought from our world to
a fantasy world because she was a daughter of Destiny (her actual
mother’s name) and because she had magical potential. She killed the
Necromancer who brought her in the first tale when he attacked her
school, but she also made friends with Alassa, an heir to
Zangaria. As Christopher Nuttall tells it, Emily needs Lessons
in Etiquette (ebook from Twilight Times Books which I bought)
as she goes on tour with Alassa who is visiting potential
husbands. Being declared the heir in her home castle is too
much for someone who will do anything for power. As usually for Mr.
Nuttall, this provides for an exciting ending.
Joel D. Babbitt starts his tale of Razz,
a winged, clanless person who is adopted by a Clan Lord
(paper from Warhorse) who claims him as his bastard son. The real
reason is so that he can take the real son’s place in a duel to the
death with another Clan Lord. It’s s short, fun tale that allowed
Razz to survive and go on to other adventures.
William H. Patterson, Jr. has the second half of
his biography of Robert A. Heinlein The Man Who Learned Better
(hard from Tor). It is massive.
Baen has reprinted in trade two of Sara A. Hoyt’s
early books as Night Shifters in trade as well as the
sequel written years later, Noah’s Boy in paper. Also
the Hugo nominated Warbound by Larry Correia, and John
Ringo’s zombie war tale Under a Graveyard Sky in paper.
There’s also a trade edition of Mercedes Lackey’s tale of The
Fire Rose written in the 90's.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on, July 11th 2014 at 8 p.m. at International house on
the University of Pennsylvania. Campus Keith DeCandido, known for
his star trek novels as well as his Dragon Precinct tales, will
speak. As usual Guests are Welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the
author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally