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Science Fiction for July 2018
    Fantasy and Science Fiction can imagine worlds with odd premises about the universe. For instance, suppose souls really survive after death.
It’s 1938 and the British are deeply enmeshed in the Spanish Civil War. Lenin rules the USSR after his death, Stalin has come to Spain as a way of confronting him. And England has spies working after their death in Summerland (hard from Tor). Rachael White is running a simple operation in Spain working with a Russian defector, when he tells her of a highly placed Communist mole in Summerland. The science of after-life technology involved ecto-tanks and other horrible weapons reshaped the world after the horrors of the World War. Hannu Rajaniemi has created a unique world in which the dead interact with the living using ecto-phones, mechanical dolls, and living mediums paid for their time. Even the Prime Minister and the Queen of England are already dead but still in power. Peter Bloom, the hidden communist, is very high-placed in the Summerland part of the Secret Service and Rachael is shunted in Finance to keep her quiet. Imagine a Graham Greene spy tale with half the spies already dead. Very neat.
The first three books in  Craig DeLancey’s pulse-pounding space opera Evolution Commandos (paper from 47 North) are together in one volume. They are impossible to put down and filled with exciting action in an alien-filled galaxy that humans have just joined. Amir Tarkos is the only human in the Harmonizer Corps that keep peace in the Galactic Alliance. His commander, Bria, a bear-like Sussurat is terse and mission obsessed. Five thousand years before, the Ulltrians had almost destroyed galactic civilization. Thought destroyed, they had hid out on an extra-solar planet called World Hammer. Tarkos and Bria’s mission involves first finding a human archeologist in the Ulltrian home planet, Well of Furies, which involves also recovering a book in the middle of a hurricane, that sends them to World Hammer to face one of the Ulltrians and recover information of their plans for an Ice Sky Storm attack on the Neelee home planet. It doesn’t help that they are imprisoned for treason and have to escape. Wow.
Silasta is a City of Lies (hard from Tor) believing itself safe and fortunate while the people on the surrounding estates share none of the bounty. They are so safe that they think nothing of sending their army off to protect their mines. Like his Uncle, a close advisor to the Chancellor who secretly protects him from poisons, Jovan protects the Tain, the heir. Returning early to the city, they arrive only to have the Chancellor and his uncle die of poison. Then an army of embittered servants attacks the city raising a siege. They act as a professional army with the knowledge of how to build siege engines and hate the Silastans for their sacrilege ignorance of the local nature deities.  Jovan and his sister  Kalina who suffers from asthma must brave everything to discover the real treacheries, like the traitor who poisoned the Chancellor and remains hidden. Sam Hawke tells a fun tale.
Glynn Stewart is one of the newer authors I really like. Vice Admiral Isaac Gallant led a rebellion against his mother who had become dictator of the Confederacy. Easily putting the rebellion down, the conspirators were all sent seven hundred light years away on a one-way Exile (paper from Faolan's Pen Publishing). The planet they find is perfect, in fact too perfect because it was terraformed by alien robots, some of whom consider it sacred. With limited fighting ships they have to fight for their right to survive. Fun.
Ruthanna Emrys continues the tale of Aphra Marsh, born in  Innsmouth where the people of the sea, who eventually transform into ageless sea beings, lived. Raised in a camp far from the sea where the the government relocated her, she and her brother are the only survivors. Her hunt for others of her race leads her to Brooklyn where a young man and his mother have retained the traits of the sea people The problem is that he’s been lured by the Outer ones, insect-like creatures who are very technologically advanced. Only a few are on Earth and they like to capture minds of volunteers and send them to the stars. It’s 1949 and the threat of nuclear war has put them in two camps; and the ones for active interference have forced those who just want to observe. Aphra, her friends, some of her ancient grandfathers, and the FBI agents who worked with her before become enmeshed in the politics of these strange creatures with their Deep Roots (hard from Tor).  I found the background with multiple magic systems a  bit confusing, but still interesting.
Jason Denzel continues his tale of a world split into reality and a world of mist where fey creatures live. Pomella AnDone, the first commoner to become a Mystic (paper) has become known as Hummingbird because of the fey birds familiars that help her in her quest to free the unclaimed from the slavers who collect them. It is time for the Crow Tallin, a time when the mystic world comes closest to reality and a time when all the High Mystics come to Kelt Apar, Pomella’s home, to help people deal with the confluence and to prevent the last Mystic Dragon (hard from Tor), responsible for the separation. Pomella has to deal with a young woman with psychic ties to the dragon, and with protecting her mentor, a retired high mystic, from his disapproval of the High Mystics actions. Fun. They’ll be a third tale coming to finish the story.
David D. Levine concludes his wonderful series about Nineteenth century England in a solar system filled with air in which Englishmen sail the solar currents to both Mars and Venus. Arabella The Traitor of Mars (hard from Tor) starts with Arabella and her husband being feted at the heroes who helped stop Napoleon from conquering the system with iron clad ships built on Venus. Unfortunately the Prince Regent of England along with the Honorable Mars Company have decided that it is England’s best interest to conquer Mars and its natives. Arabella, who as born and raised on Mars and who had close Martian Native friends. Along with her husband Captain Singh, and Robert Fulton, who had discovered that hydrogen provided enough lift to allow iron clad sky ship, Arabella helps found a city on Mars to build ships only to have it destroyed by the English. Retreating to Phobos, protected by currents that make it difficult to work through, She and her friends have an impossible task to defeat the second English Fleet. I really enjoyed this series.
Kevin L. O'Brien has a number of stories about Her Majesty's Monster Hunter (ebook),  Sir Differel Van Helsing starting at age 12 when her father is murdered and the aunt left in charge of her turns out to be a traitor.  Aided by Dracula she fights monsters all over England and is director of the Caerleon order.  Volume one has fun tales of her adolescence. Volume 2 tells of her adventures as an adult.
     N. K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky (paper from Orbit) won the Nebula Award for Best Novel.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on July 20th. A panel of members will evaluate the Hugo award finalists.  This is always fun and important for those eligible to vote.  The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at International House  on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. As usual guests are welcome.
    Dr. Henry Lazarus is a retired 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.