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Science Fiction for July  2016
by Henry Leon Lazarus
    Everyone knows that war is Hell, even in Fantasy and Science Fiction, but it is sure fun to read about, as long as you’re not living through it.
Elliott Kay has a great ear for action scenes, putting the reader clearly inside the fight, creating pulse-pounding action impossible to put down. In a future with many settled planets, big corporations dominate everything including basic education. How much debt you depends on how well you do on the final test, and Tanner Malone, after being told his parents were moving to another planet, blows it. Tanner enlists in the Archangel navy, his home star system. Then when smugglers fight his small boarding, he discovers he has a talent for killing, something he doesn’t appreciate until in this Poor Man's Fight (paper from Skyscape) he is the only survivor of the Corvette sent to rescue a star liner from pirates. He pulls an impossible die hard attack  on the pirates and ends up with a medal of honor. Archangel decides to drop contracts with the big corporations and they react by sending a whole fleet to attack the system. In this Rich Man's War (paper from Skyscape), all the soldiers have to do the impossible for their out-gunned navy to survive. One of their planets are captured, despite the win It takes an attack on the corporate headquarters for this  Dead Man's Debt (paper from Amazon) to be satisfied. I gobbled up this series in three days and really like the way that all the plot puzzles are solved.
Karen Diem tells a tale of ordinary people who get super powers after suffering a coma that effects thousands Zita Garcia, has been working several odd jobs while she trains heavily for an Olympic sport that really doesn’t exist. It’s all part of a reaction from almost dying of cancer as a child. When the coma victims are all quarantined, she meets friends from the cancer ward. Then the area is attacked and she and her friends escape with new found powers. Her Super (ebook) powers include the ability to shape shift to animal form and to teleport. While she and her friends come under more attacks, they have to hide their abilities from the Feds who already know of other powered people. Lots of fun.
The ninth (and maybe the final tale) of the Napoleonic wars on an Earth with dragons, starts with  Temeraire and Capt. William Laurence fighting with the Russians to drive the French forces out of Russia. But it will take a League of Dragons (hard from Del Rey) to finally confront the Emperor and force him to resign. Nebula Award winner. Naomi Novik provides a rousing tale of air war with dragons, along with dragon politics for a fun tale set in a really great series.
The City of Illharek threw out its gods, and relied on magic. They don’t know that Tal’Shik and her followers want to destroy the city and have willing allies. Their conquered city Cardik has already fallen, and only those who escaped from the city , Snow, half-blood conjuror and  Veiko who can walk into the spirit world, have to work with legion scout Dekklis whose mother is one of the senators of the Republic and warn the city of its danger. Enemy (paper from 47th North by  K. Eason) is the second of what is becoming a solid tale. The mythology Godhood and the otherworld starts to make more sense and left me hungering the next tale.
Laurence Macnaughton imagines what a crystal shop would be like if it sold its crystals to real sorcerers. Dru Jasper’s mother was a sorcerer but Dru only had weak powers so she established The Crystal Connection to sell working crystals and other magical objects to real sorcerers. Rane, one of her clients can turn to metal to fight demons, and constantly blows up rings from the shop. It Happened One Doomsday ((trade from Pyr) that Grayson, a mechanic whose been dreaming of turning into a demon, walks into her shop and soon is literally turning into one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse. Things keep getting worse as the other horsemen and their evil cars keep chasing them, but Dru’s magical powers expand when she touches Grayson. What follows is a rollicking light adventure with sequels promised.
Sarah Kuhn haas a light fun tale of a woman with a Heroine Complex (paper from DAW). San Francisco was attacked by demons leaving some people with weak super powers. Since then the demons have been coming back by imprinting on objects like cupcakes and bring them to life. Aveda Jupiter has styled herself as San Francisco’s hero and, despite only small telekinetic abilities, has become the protector of the city. Evie Tanaka, raising her teen age sister, is her assistant and very content to stay out of the limelight. Then Avedo sprains her ankle and Evie has to use a glamour to replace her. But that brinks out Evie’s fire throwing ability, something she’s been suppressing since she burned her college library. It doesn’t help that the demons have changed tactics, and are using San Francisco’s chief  blogger, a woman who already hates Aveda Jupiter. Light fun with more tales promised.
Empires may make peace, but they still play power politics. In David Drake’s latest tale of Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy, Death’s Bright Day (hard from Baen puts them in the middle of a civil way in the Tarbell system of worlds loosely aligned with the Alliance. Cinnibar, itself, cannot intervene. The rebels are financed by one political element of the Alliance, and another politician wants Daniel and Adele to do the impossible without help from the Cinnabar Navy. The government of the Tarbell system has very few ships able  to stand up to a destroyer and a governor more interested in wine than in ruling.  As usual Mr. Drake has borrowed from history, pre-Roman, to provide an exciting adventure for the crew of the Princess Cecile.  This series is great fun.
Recovering addict,  Doctor Kimber Wellington,  takes a job in Sand City in the emergency ward of the Public hospitsl, the only hospital that would take him. One evening he finds a battered woman that the police refuse to help, and when told the hospitals would refuse treatment, takes her home. Reader is the daughter of the super-villain General Savage and she and her brother are fighting to to become his heir. What Kinber doesn’t know is that most cities have a superhero fighting a Supervillainess (ebook) and Sand City hasn’t had a superhero in fifty years. His father is a retired superhero and never told him. Soon Kimber applies for the job of superhero for Sand City and develops super strength, which he has to learn to use. Eventually he and reader have to work together to bring down her father.. Lizzy Ford tells a fun, cute tale and promises sequels.
Victor Milan returns to the world of Paradise where dinosaurs exist artificially with a feudal society. Karyl Bogomirsky mercenary leader and Rob Korrigan Dinosaur master have been hired by Providence town, home of a revolution of love and beauty. They raise an army and protect the town from a neighboring Duke and The Dinosaur Knights (hard from Tor) who follow him. Add in Princess Melodia escaping from charges of treason as told in the first tale.   But there’s a grey angel, one of the immortal beings created by the creators of the world, with other plans. Soon the fate of the empire rests in Karyl and Rob’s hands. The battle scenes here are first rate, but I found the sudden change in attitude of Providence a bit disconcerting. Still I’m waiting for the next book which might reveal more details of under-workings of this complicated planet.
Jon Skovron starts a series about two people orphaned at eight, who survive to eventually oppose an empire of small islands. The biomancers who can reshape people with a touch are allowed to destroy small villages to test their bio weapons. The only survivor of one of those massacres is renamed Bleak Hope and left, by a kindly Captain of a passing ship,  with the all-male Vinchen Order which trains fighter to protect the empire, but not the emperor. Hurlo, the grandteacher, flouts traditions and trains her at night. Eventually the rest of the order finds out, and she is forced to flee with a special sword. Working as a bodyguard for a ship’s captain eventually ends her on New Leven, Rixidenteron, son of a famous artist and a whore, finds help from a thief and part-time pirate, Sadie the goat, who renames him because of his red eyes which came from his mother’s addiction.  In their twenties they meet during a revolution in the underground of the heavily populated island. Hope & Red (paper from Orbit) form a bond that leads to him helping her chase the biomancer who had destroyed her small island. This is a fun beginning to what promises to be a great series.
Ciel Halligan is one a small family of adaptors who can mimic another person perfectly. As Linda Grimes puts it, when taking the place of an astronaut (who had a kidney stone which could take her off the flight) runs into assassins, assassins who follow her home and even attack her in an ice skating rink. Add in a positive pregnancy test that sends her boy friend fleeing. Everything is eventually All Fixed Up (hard from Tor) Giggling silly, like the other books inthe series.
Seanan McGuire likes to violate all of fantasy writing basic rules in her series about a superhero who can bring human shaped (toys especially) to life. Velveteen vs. the Seasons (ebook from  ISFiC Press) has her fulfilling her promise to work for Winter, Spring, and Autumn, all of which push her to her limits. Any fantasy series that includes Santa, and Trick and Treat as major characters is of course inherently silly.  Ms. McGuire somehow gets you to care about nonsense. I eagerly await each of Verveteen’s new adventures.
Fans of Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series will enjoy the short tale of how  Finnegan Lane, Unwanted (ebook from  Simon and Schuster) at his bank since his mother tried to rob it and kill most of the guards, gets his mojo back and helps one of the guard’s wife from an evil bookie.
    Baen books has several collections. Three Faces of Asprin (trade) has three novels by the late Robert Asperin; Bryan Thomas Schmidt edit a collection of new tales about Galactic Games (trade); John Ringo and David Poole have put together a collection of tales set in John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising (hard) series about a Zombie  apocalypse’ and David Afsharirad has collected the Years’s Best Military and Adventure SF for 2015 (trade). Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s latest Lliaden Universe novel, Dragon in Exile is now out in paper.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on, July 22nd  2016 at 8 p.m.  at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. It’s the 36th annual Hugo Review Panel which is always fun.  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 unified field theory at henrylazarus.com/utf.html that suggests a simpler way to achieve fusion generation.