Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            HOME
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Science Fiction for July 2015
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    I love space operas. Some of the best borrow heavily from the classic Napoleonic war tales of C. S. Forester. Tactics are three dimensional and weapons are very different,.  The feel of British Officers facing the enemy with a full crew can be duplicated and provides lots of fun for the reader.
H. Paul Honsinger introduces us to Captain  Max Robichaux of the USS Cumberland . It’s his first command, and the previous captain overly insisted on rules and ran away from battle. To Honor You Call Us (paper from 47North) sends the Cumberland hunting for merchants suppling the rat-evolved Krag. The Krag want to destroy the human based Union for religious reasons. There are other neutral human empires in this universe, as well as other alien species. Mas has one major ally on ship, his physician Dr. Dr. Sahin who had worked with his family of  merchants in the sector while growing up and knows who to contact. One of the more interesting aliens are the Vaach who are more advanced than the other species but tend to stay out of other wars. By the end of the tale, morale is way up and the Cumberland has seen battle and won.
I really like the way H. Paul Honsinger takes time to show the crew in action, There’s a little eight-year-old midshipman, Park, who saves his crewmates by sealing a breached compartment during a battle. For Honor We Stand  (paper from 47North) has the Cumberland, especially with Max and Dr. Sahin working on their own, responsible for beginning a peace treaty with the neutral Allied Emerates and helps destroy a Krang attack on their unprotected war ships still powering up. Then he is assigned to a small group of ships protecting an envoy to a conference. Unfortunately the flag captain has never seen battle, and picks a route that can be easily ambushed. I’ve already pre-ordered the third tale, due out by the time you read this.
Blaze Ward has two star empires at war.  Jessica Keller is assigned command of a small flotilla headed by the Auberon (ebook from Amazon) to make trouble in the outskirt systems of their enemy. While the systems are lightly defended, they have to make enough noise to cause a stir in that empire. Luckily she has some smart people working for her. Edge of the seat excitement with some neat mischief ploys to bring a laugh. Add in politics and you have a wonderful S. K. Dunstall has a future based on a technology looted from an starship adrift. The lines allow FTL travel and also supply power to the ship across the void. A relatively few people have the psionic powers to shape the lanes and only fifty that can call themselves a level ten Linesman (paper from Ace). Almost all of those are investigating a strange ball of energy called a convergence. Ean Lambert is the only linesman who hears the songs of the lines and sings to them and he is considered crazy. Then the Emperor-of-the-Alliance’s daughter buys Ean’s contract to take him and another ten to a newly found starship whose defenses destroy any ship attempting to come close. The Gate Union, a growing political power wants that ship too, and has no qualms at kidnaping the princess to get it. Add in an eleventh line somehow generated by the ship that only Ean can hear, and a potential war. News ships add to the complication, especially when they are somehow dragged along on every jump. Fun, with a sequel coming.
Scott Jucha takes a slightly different approach to space war. It seems that Earth send out a number of colony ships before the human-caused apocalypse. New Terra had a harsh time of surviving but has returned to space. Alex Racine has invented a better way to collect water asteroids and is traversing, by himself, in a small ship, the outer edges of the planetary system when he spots a ship coming in from out of system. The ship is a Liner from another system colonized by humans, Méridiens. They are advanced over the New Terrans. Very peaceful, they had barely survived an attack by The Silver Ships (paper from  S.H. Jucha) The Rêveur survivors have been in hibernation for seventy-two years and the ship run by a A. I.. Alex helps revive the crew, make repairs and get the ship to New Terra where the problems of the impact of its technology have to be considered. The ship is repaired and enlists New Terrans to fill its crew while it returns home to discover what havoc that silver ships may have wrought. Enjoyable start to a fun series.
In the near future, James L. Cambias thinks that Helium 3 will be mined on the moon for energy. That invites a whole new form of piracy, hijacking the unmanned cargo vessels using drone space ships controlled via the internet from fancy hotel rooms. David Swartz practically invented type of theft and his Corsair (hard from Tor) drones have made him rich enough to retire. Then he gets talked into one more theft. Opposing him is Air Force Captain Elizabeth Santiago who had been his lover a decade ago. Add in Ann Rogers who is sailing on her own boat off the Florida coast and somehow gets sucked into the mess the second highjacking goes south, sending David on the run. Lots of fun.
Marshall Ryan Maresca returns to the city of Maradaine with its circles of mages. He’s starting a new series about to inspectors with characters who think like the characters in Elementary. Minox Welling is a brilliant detective with untrained mage abilities who keeps losing partners because of his reputation as a Jinx.Satrine Raine is a former intelligence agent who fakes her way as an inspector after her Inspector  husband is left in a coma. This case of A Murder of Mages (paper from DAW) who are killed ritually has a potential to start a war between different rings of mages leaving our two inspectors against a deadline. More cases are coming. Lots of fun with solid characters in  a well developed world.
Hope Schenk-de Michele, Paul Marquez with Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff intruduce us to Lucinda, the Devil’s Daughter (ebook for  Bird Street Books )  born of Eve. Lucinda has a pawn shop for magical items that tend to warp their owner; like a pen that corrupts lawyers. The devil uses these items for his nefarious schemes, all designed to destroy humanity. Lucinda pretends to help her father, but actually works against him. In this first tale she finally finds love and tries to stop her father’s most horrendous scheme since he succeeded with Hitler. Lots of fun.   
Jon Sprunk puts Horace, his wizard hero, through Storm and Steel (trade from Pyr), continuing his adaption to his new foreign land. Horace had been a smith who put to sea when his wife and children died. Somehow he became part of a western invasion of the desert Akeshian empire, and ennobled when his magical talent was discovered. In the first tale he saved his queen from the cult of the Sun God and helped chase the cultists out ofthe city state of Erugash. Since the empire is made of several city-states united  under the Sun God’s cult, it makes sense that three of the cities would send armies. At the same time a Horace is sent to put down a slave revolt, despite his sympathies for the cause. But there’s evil in the heart of Erugash and it doesn’t take much for Horace to be captured. All is lost by the end, but the next tale should set things right. Exciting.
According to John Birmingham, Dave was the wrong person to become a superhero. He never sends his alimony check, spending his bonuses from his job of Safety Engineer on a oilrig on prostitutes.  In Resistance: Dave vs. the Monsters (paper from Del Rey) he finds a lawyer and lazes with girls in a fancy Las Vegas suite until the monsters attack. A bureaucratic  government agency sends to capture russian spy  Karin Varatschevsky, who has picked up similar powers. Apparently killing the right demon gives a human superpowers.
In Ascendance: Dave vs. the Monsters (paper from  Del Rey) Dave has to learn to work with Karin who can somehow read his mind.  The problem is that the professor Compton who rubbed Dave the wrong way was captured and his brains absorbed by an empath demon. The Demons, with their medieval weapons may not be able to fight a human army, but Compton has war-gamed ways for them to destroy civilization. There's an exciting finish at Dave's ex-wife's home. More books are coming in this exciting series.
After death, according to an author with the pen name Better Hero Army,  people are either lost souls, ghosts or gargoyles who fight ghosts. Girlgoyle (ebook from Storyteller Press, LLC) is the tale of Tiffany Noboru murdered by the ghost Bones at age fourteen. She has to learn to fly with her new wings, light up her weapon with joy.  and work with a mentor to fight Bones. Bones has been around longer than any ghost, and has plans to attack the gargoyle city of Hollow Mountain. She still misses her parents and is the first gargoyle in a long time. Learning to fly is easy, landing is the hard part but her new friends and mentor help her adjust. There are also  wonderful pictures to illustrate this light, fun tale.
At a time when humanity's two empires are at war, a temporary peace sends five hundred refugees to one of the station. According to  Margaret Fortune, one of them.has a bomb inside her primed to go Nova (trade from Daw). The human bomb calls herself Lia Johansen and is convinced she is artificial. Her timer misfunctions, giving her time to learn why she had volunteered to die, and also to fall in love. Very intense and compelling.
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have been writing about the Liaden clan Korval since the first tale was printed in 1988. Korval, the Dragon in Exile (hard from Baen) has left Liad and settled on the lawless port world of Surebeak bringing law and calm to the gang-ridden world. However there are consequences. Old debts supposed to be erased can bring deadly Liadens bent on revenge, as do amateurs trying the protection racket, and others trying to return to the chaos that existed before Korval arrived. Add in the captured Agents of Change who have been brainwashed so throughly that they must be killed.  I don’t recommend starting the series with this tale, but some of the early tales are available in ebook form for free. I enjoy the series and look forward to the next tale.
Sixteen-year old Lady Samantha, the only heir to the powerful Duke of Haywood is told that she has to get married so, of course, she runs off, pretends to be male, and enters training to be a Paladin (hard from Perfect Analogy Publishing) Sally Slater sets her tale in a mediaeval world beset by demons and Paladins are there to protect the citizens. As Sam she is assigned to Tristan Lyons who takes her and another trainee, a half-demon boy Braeden. Tristan never seems to catch on that his small trainee is the heiress he had saved from demon attack a few years earlier. In fact he thinks nothing of trying to improve Sam’s manhood by sending her to a bordello. Lots of demon attacks later, some nasty secrets come out. There’s more to the story coming, and I’m looking forward to sequels.
J.R. Rain and Rod Kierkegaard Jr. have a new case for their vampire detective, Samatha Moon. A missing persons case sends her to New Orleans to face werewolves, vampires, and voodoo queens. Every one of the vampires remembers her from the 1860's  in spite of the fact that she’s only been a vampire for a decade. Then an attempt to rescue one of the victims, gets her caught in a spell that sends her to the past. In a south on the edge of the Civil War, it is her job to make peace between vampires and werewolves and find the vampire murdering woman at a music school. Moon Bayou (ebook from Curiosity Quills Press) Light fun, and the details are well researched.   This is only the first of Samatha Moon’s adventures in the Antbellum south.
    Baen has reprinted David B. Coe’s fun tale Spell Blind about a weremyst who used to be a cop chasing a serial killer in paper.
    Baen also has two collections in trade, the Years Best Military SF & Space Opera edited by David Afsharirad and new tales set in Multiverse: Exploring Poul Anderson’s Worlds which is edited by Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois.
    Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; Harper Collins Canada) won the Nebula Award from best novel. I haven’t read it.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on June 17th 2015 at 8 p.m. at the International House  on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus This is the annual Hugo Nominee Review Panel. There’s a lot of politics in the selection this time..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 non-formula unified field theory at henrylazarus.com/utf.html