Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for July 2017
I have the best time reading Fantasy and Science
Fiction when I get I book I simply can’t put down.
In a world of superpowers, Felix
has an unusual power. Anything he owns, he can modify, but only if
he has enough points. Since he has few points, he works as a fast
food manager. A super villain has captured the city and allowed
slavery, as Felix discovers when he tries to buy bismuth to turn to
gold and ends up with three, almost-tortured-to-death super women.
Turning down their powers earns him enough points to heal them. That
gets him looking for Super Sales on Super Heroes (ebook from
William D. Arand). Felix is basically a nice guy but he keeps buying
slaves for points and pawn shops to turn used goods into new.
That brings him to the notice of the league of super heroes, who
hate slavery despite Felix not abusing his slaves (he even gives
some of them new powers as he gets points.) Impossible to put down.
David Mealing starts the first
book of what promises to be a tremendous trilogy in a world of three
types of magic. Erris is a full binder, able to tap ley lines of
energy to give herself extra talents like speed and strength or
healing. She is also a superb taction and has risen to general
in charge of the defense of the colony of New Sarresant. Arak'Jur is
guardian for a tribe in a wilderness filled with horrible monsters.
Killing one of the monsters gives the guardian its powrs and
abilities. Together with the Shaman of the tribe who predicts
monster attacks, he defends his tribe. The third type of magic
involves interaction with beings called kaas who can change emotions
of those around them. Sarine, who we meet invisibly sketching the
nobles of New Sarresant, has all three abilities There have
been a number of cycles in which two of each type of magic ascent to
a higher plane to fight to determine the path for the next cycle,
and Reyne d’Agarre is using revolution to increase his abilities. At
the same time Sarresant’s enemy empire Gand has sent a new
army to attack the city. At stake is the Soul of the World(
paper from Orbit). There’s an exciting ending to this first book,
but it leaves many questions.
Murder mysteries are rare in
mediaeval fantasy because life is too cheap. Rem, who may have been
an aristocrat is a newcomer to Yenara. He ends up in the dungeon
after a bar brawl and talks himself into a job as watchman. Torval,
the dwarf who is showing him the ropes, ends up finding his dead
partner on The Fifth Ward: First Watch (paper from Orbit) for
Rem. Dale Lucas tells a rambunctious tale that sends the two
watchmen into the worst parts of Yanara, fighting orcs and dealing
with elves. The case is far bigger that either expected and leads to
villainy that is actually illegal in the city. I can’t wait for the
Michael F. Haspil mixes Lethal
Weapon with True Blood for an exciting police procedural after the
vampires have revealed themselves .Alex is a three-thousand-year-old
Mummy who was once a pharaoh and who looks quite human as long
as he gets enough sun. and frequently works both day and night.
Marcus is a two-thousand-year-old vampire who was once a roman
governor and only works the Graveyard shift (hard from Tor).
The case starts with anti-vampire terrorists killing a rich vampire.
Tainted artificial blood is causing a killing rage in vampires. Then
it turns out that there are people torturing young women to death to
create fear filled blood and then selling their meat to werewolf
packs. Of course things get worse as the vampire behind the tainted
artificial blood has an evil plan. Lot’s of bloody fun and I suspect
sequels to come
Charles Stross’s Laundry
Files tales were created as an odd mix about a Len Deighton type
low-ranked agent fights Lovecraftian monsters. The Seventh case,
The Delirium Brief (hard from Tor) brings a villain
from a previous tale, Reverend Schiller who was possessed by the
sleeper in the Pyramid on another world. This time he wants to use
his parasites to take over the top politicians and media persons to
control England. The Laundry has come to public attention because of
the Elf invasion in The Nightmare Stacks (paper) was too
public. Even with Bob Howard having to give an interview on the BBC,
the PM (as incompetent as the present real one) closes down the
Laundry on the advice of the Reverend and only by bringing in old
adversaries, does the remnants of the Laundry have a chance of
stopping him. Fans will be overwhelmed. Others should find The
Atrocity Archives (paper) to start this fun series.
The Witch Who Came in from the
Cold (hard from Serial Box) was originally sold on
Amazon as a linked serial. Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra
Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick attempt to capture
the mixture of spy and magic that make the Laundry files so
readable. In the winter of 1970 Prague, the CIA and the KGB fight
from opposing sides, while the sorcerers of the Fire fight the
sorcerers of the Ice with sorcerers on both sides of the Cold War.
At the heart of the sorcerous fight is control of elementals found
in human hosts around the world. Gabriel Pritchard followed a spy
into the wrong meeting, interrupted a major sorcery and ended up
with a elemental stuffed into his head. On the Spy side there’s a
defecting Russian scientist who, it turns out, is a host. At the
same time the Golem of Prague has been set free and is trying to
murder Gabe. Fun, but the spy parts are routine and the magical
parts are too dark.
Kalayna Price has a new tale of
grave witch Alex Craft. A necromancer is killing people and putting
their souls into dead bodies, promising a Grave Ransom (paper
from ACE) to the animated corpses if they will rob and steal for
him. Alex is soon set up as bait for someone with powerful magic
that she can barely defeat, even with the help of her friends. This
is the first Alex Craft tale I’ve read and I had no problems keeping
track. The rest of the series is on my want list.
Carrie Vaughn tells of a small
groups of settlements on the California Coast after civilization
fell with a whimper. The coastal road has birth control
implants in alll women and expects them to earn a banner before
having a child. Enid and her partner Thomas are sent to investigate
a rare murder. The victim was very asocial and thought to be
Bannerless (paper from Mariner Books) but he wasn’t.
This is a good look at the problems of small town psychology and how
personal interactions can easily lead to major problems. Excellent.
Edward Willett tells of a city
shaped like a spaceship out of fifties sf. Its five hundred years
old and under it is a trash heap of the Middens. Two of the The
Cityborn (hard from Daw)are a bit special Danyl was kidnaped
from a special ward and another like him murdered. He was raised in
the Middens as part of a plan to free the city from its captain and
first officer. Alania, raised in luxury was out of the nursery when
Danyl was taken and is being moved to the first officer’s quarters
on her twentieth birthday when she survives an assassination attempt
by falling down a garbage chute to the Middens. Luck brings the two
together, but the first officer will stop at nothing to capture
them. So they run across a poison-filled, decayed area with no idea
of why they are important. Exciting.
In a conquered land Voada Paorach
is the wife of the local native leader. The Mundoa have ruled most
of Albann (think England under the Romans) for a century. The
Mundoan Emperor sends a general to conquer the rest of the Island
finally but the Cateni have those among them who can draw magic from
the spirits of older magic users, Draoi.. Voada would have done
nothing about the spirit that visits her until her husband dies, and
the Mundoan leader sends her children into slavery and leaves her
for dead. In A Fading Sun (paper from DAW),
Stephen Leigh tells how Voada, led by the spirit, crosses into
Cateni land to train how to use the spirit powers, and then how she
leads a rebellion to free her people. And how her anger and one of
the ancient spirits she uses, pushes her beyond her limits.
Sarah Gailey has a fun tale of an
alternate Grants term in America in which hippo’s were introduced to
the Louisiana Bayou area for food. Winslow Houndstooth and his crew
have been hired to remove feral hippos from a lagoon where Mr.
Travers, Winslow archenemy has set up gambling river boats.
After they set bombs off Winslow and crew have to navigate a
River of Teeth (ebook from Tor). This is definitely the Wild
West with Hippos and as much fun as it sounds.
Marie Brennan continues her tale
of Ree, an Archeron called in the first book to solve a problem and
ends up helping revolution. There’s Lightning in the Blood
(ebook from Tor) and bandits in the hills when she meets some
wandering Korenat, recovering from an attack. So she joins the
forces hunting the bandits and is led to them by a magical
L. E. Modesitt Jr has a quiet tale
of treachery in his world of magical imagers. Charyn is the current
heir to the Rex when the family is attacked again and again,
followed by threats. He is a studious young man who luckily has been
provided Imager guardians so that he survives the attack that kills
his father. The Kingdom has plenty of problems, including pirates on
the high seas and not enough money to build enough ships. But the
main problem is finding who is paying for these murders, some of
whom are part of the castles staff, and making the villain pay the Assassin's
Price (hard from Tor) for his treachery. -
Tad Williams starts a trilogy in
Osten Ard, the same world he started his career with in 1988. It’s
been three decades since the events of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn
(paper) and the main character from that period are grandparents.
Simon, now high king rules a quiet kingdom. His son died leaving two
children, Morgan who is almost adult and his young sister Lilia. .
The immortal Queen of the Norns has awakened and is plotting to
destroy all the mortals. She sends a a small expedition to capture a
live dragon for its blood with a half-blood Norn Nezeru. They are
joined by a mortal guide Jarnulf who sends a message to the kingdom
about The Witchwood Crown (hard from DAW) Morgan is sent on
an expedition with a sick Sithi (non-mortal) messanger who had been
ambushed on her way to the kingdom. There’s a lot more coming in
this long trilogy the Last King of Osten Ard and it promises to be
Andrew Neil Gray; and J.S.
Herbison tell of space ship hackers Saga and her husband Michel who
are hired to break into the moth-balled Martian Queen still in orbit
between Earth and Mars. They didn’t expect that the ship was The
Ghost Line (ebook from Tor) and quite dangerous, something the
person who hired them already knew. It’s an interesting tale, but I
didn’t buy the reasons for the ghosts.
The Nebula Award for Best Novel went to All
the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders ( Tor)
Baen has reprinted David Drake’s Starliner
in trade, a collection of tales set in John Ringo’s zombie universe,
Black Tide Rising (paper and edited by John Ringo and Gary
Poole), and has volume three of The Year’s Best Military &
Adventure SF (trade and edited by David Afsharirad)
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on July 14th 2017. A panel of members who have read
the Hugo Nominations for this year will discuss the tales. The
meeting starts at 8 p.m. at International House on
the University of Pennsylvania Campus. .As usual guests are
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