Science Fiction for August 2012
by Henry Leon Lazarus
The relatively new genre paranormal romance continues
to grow in strength both in books, where it dominates Romance and provides
plenty of titles for fantasy; movies; and it’s showing up on television
as in Lost Girl on Syfy. I find it works best using the private detective
trope with the various werewolves and vampires making additional problems
for the detective.
J. C. Daniels (a pseudonym of romance writer Shiloh Walker) has such a detective, Kit Colbana who ran away at fifteen and has a soft spot for finding lost kids. She’s half Aneira a race of assassins with quicker reflexes, quicker healing, and the ability to fade. She’s also immune to the were virus and can hear the Blade Song (e-book) in her sword to call it to her. The nephew of the Alpha of the were-cat clan has gone missing – kidnaped or run-away no one knows. There’s a very male, were-leopard who insists on dogging along and a vampire who keeps invading her dreams. The insane alpha of the were-cats insists on nothing but success and plans to kill Kit on failure. Add in a nasty trip to the everglades wheree humans have decided to hunt the ultimate prey, newly turned were’s and young witches. Lots of fun with a sequel promised.
Graham Joyce tells Some Kind of a Fairy Tale (hard from Doubleday) taking place in the deepest part of England where everything is a fault. Tara, a fifteen year old girl traumatized by an abortion, disappears one day, and twenty years later reappears apparently the same age. For her six months had occurred in a strange place where the people lived communally and had open sex all the time. Their lake sang and they could work what seemed like magic. Returning home, she found her parents much older, her brother who had gone to college had taken up a career as a farier with four kids. Her old boy friend had gone nowhere in music and works odd gigs and as a back-up player. No one really believes her, including the psychiatrist she starts seeing. This is a pleasant little tale that stays local. I enjoyed it.
Shadow of Night (hard from Viking Adult) continues Deborah E. Harkness tale of a a mysterious book that was A Discovery of Witches (paper) which sent a witch who can’t control her powers and who teaches alchemy at Yale into confrontation with other witches and who found love with an ancient vampire Matthew. Thje current tale takes them back to 1590 where they interact with historical figures like Christopher Marlowe, Queen Elizabeth, and Sir Walter Raleigh while Diana learns to master her powers and find how the book with its secrets first lost its first three pages. This is highly literate paranormal romance. Like the first part, this is hard to put down and I read it with a smile on my face.
Edward M. Learner bases his near future thriller on the world running out of oil because of craziness in the Middle East. A couple of years from now an asteroid, Phoebe, comes close enough to Earth to be captured and it provides material enough to start manufacturing an Energy Satellite to beam solar power via microwaves to an Earth needing to be Energized(hard from Tor).. The bad guys figure a way to seize the installation and use it as a weapon and the good guys including a NASA engineer come up to inspect the satellite and his girl friend on the ground, an astronomer have to find out how to stop them. This is an edge-of-the-seat exciting tale filled with ideas about the future. If Shale oil doesn’t pan out, this could be our future.
Peter Grant, copper in the London Metropolitan Police and apprentice to one of the last remaining Wizard in London. As Ben Aaronovitch tells it, there are Whispers Underground (paper from Del Rey) after the artist son of a well-connected U. S. Senator is murdered in the Tubes. Before long Peter finds people with large eyes haunting the sewers and is shot at by a sten gun and then entombed in concrete when he chases one of them. Add in a meddling F. B. I. Agent and the usual River Spirits that always show up in these mysteries, and you have a fun fantasy/mystery romp. Love these.
Terry Brooks returns to Shannara with a new quest for Elfstones lost centuries before the rise of human civilization. A druid researching ancient manuscripts finds a lost diary telling how the stones were stolen. Then she is attacked. Eventually an expedition is organized and this first book takes them behind the Wards of Faerie (hard from Del Rey). The human Federation also attacks the Druid fortress of Paranor with powerful new weapons. Mr. Brooks nicely provides enough background for readers new to the series and I enjoyed this first episode enough to wait eagerly for the next.
It’s been half a decade since Wen Spencer told us about Tinker(paper), a young women living in a Pittsburgh that spends all but one a month in Elfhome (hard from Baen). In the first book Tinker was transformed into a full elfin princess and in the second the evil oni invaded and Tinker was forced to cut Pittsburgh off from Earth. Now the bad Oni are still there and they are kidnapping elfin children (under a hundred years old) for genetic experiments. They may be in league with one of the elfin clans. This is a very pleasant series and I hope I don’t have to wait another five years for the next book.
K. D. Mcentire continues her look at the Never, the place where souls who refuse the light go in San Francisco. Wendy, the Lightbringer (hard) and her ghost friend Piotr had enough problems with the White Lady. In the new book, her friend Eddie is in a coma and wondering around Never without the cord linking him to his body. Piotr gets poisoned by a walker and only the Committee who rule the dead can help. Wendy discovers that she is not the only Reaper (Hrd from Pyr). Her late mother had hidden her from them for reasons that soon become obvious as cousins and Grandparents arrive in San Francisco. However in training Wendy gets her light blocked and that makes her very sick, leading to a cliff hanger ending that I found disappointing.
Mark L. Van Name has a fun series about Jon, a man who doesn’t age because he is the only person linked to nan–machines and Lobo a very intelligent assault vehicle Together they rescue a group of kids from very rich pedophiles and then a very old friend asks him to look into why one of her compatriots managed to grow younger. All they get is a clue to why when the bad guys chase them, leading to a place from which there is No Going Back(hard from Baen). This is the sort of fun, action series that can go on for a very long time, and Mr. Van Name just sent it careening in a fun direction. I’m going along for the ride.
Doyce Testerman has a very odd tale about the unbelievable Hidden Things (trade from HarperCollins Voyager) most of us think don’t exist. Calliope is a singer turned detective working for her ex-lover Joshua White when he calls in the middle of the night The next day the cops tell her he’s dead, but there’s a recorded message in the office that has a time date after his death. Then very strange people start appearing, a harlequin with a painted face tells her he is her guide and a very fat man almost blows up from a joke. As she travels into America’s heart land she discovers strange things including dragons. I’m not sure the whole thing holds together. She does find Joshua’s murderer, but can she even attempt to return to her normal life?
James Enge has been writing about Merlin’s son Morlock Ambrosius without telling of the time he was raised by dwarves in the North of the wardlands guarded by the Guardians. When A Guile of Dragons (trade from Pyr) attacks the North, Earno one of three Summoners of the Guardians, and the one who exiled Merlin, picks the young Morlock as his guide and sends him to challenge the master of the Guile. But Morlock almost gets himself killed proving that the dragons don’t work well together. With Earno calling him traitor, Morlock has to use old friends and alleys to destroy to dragon threat. There are two more tales of the young Morlock coming.
Rob Reid knows enough about the music business for a good satire. It seems aliens won’t contact us because we aren’t advanced enough, but they sure love our music. Year Zero (hard from Del Rey) was in 1977 and all aliens went mad from the theme to Welcome Back Cotter. Now they’ve pirated thousands of songs and paying the fines would cost all the money in the universe, literally. Enter Nick Carter, associate lawyer in a very large firm specializing in copyright protection. Two almost human aliens have come to Earth because their reality tv show (based on The Osbournes ) is about to reveal that the barrier protecting our Solar System is down. Evil Union thugs who look like a parrot and a vacuum cleaner want to import something that will cause humanity to wipe itself out, ending the copyright problem permanently. Before long Nick is jaunting around the Universe trying to save Earth.
Richard Kadrey continues his tale of Sandman Slim, a man who had been sent alive to hell and then escaped to have his revenge. In the last book he went back to hell to stop his ex-enemy from causing a new war with heaven. Unfortunately that left him as the new Lucifer with all the demons under him trying to kill him. But the Devil Said Bang (trade from Harper voyager) and that calmed things down enough for him to return to Earth. But there’s a plot to destroy Earth reality (how could you tell in L. A.) involving a vengeful ghost, a magically powered eater of corpses and the usual suspects. Lots of violence and lots of shooting. I find it hard to believe that Mr. Kadrey can come up with a sequel that doesn’t repeat plot elements from the previous books.
David Weber is a very prolific writer with a small bookcase worth of books He cheats with later books in his series by filling them with committee meetings as a way of keeping the reader informed about what the good guys and bad guys. The fourth book in his War God series which has human intermediaries acting for good and evil gods, concerns a plot to stop the canal and tunnel that promise to bring new wealth to the province they are being built. Leeana makes a War Maid’s Choice (hard from Baen) to marry Bahzell, the hero of the previous books, that two of the good gods approve. Then in the last twenty percent of the book, Leeana helps defend her King who is trapped in a lightly armed hunting lodge, and Bahzell is with an army facing three devils who have killed other champions on other worlds. It’s worth the wait for the excitement.
Take a walk on The Wild Side (paper from Baen and edited by Mark L. Van Name) with tales about love.
Hank Reinhardt’s Book of Knives (trade from Baen) tells you everything you didn’t want to know about knife fighting.
Teen wolf fans will be glad to hear of On Fire (trade from Gallery Books and written by Nancy Holder). I like the televison series, but not enough to read a novel about the series.
Baen has reprinted Flandry’ Legacy (paper) with two novels and four novelettes; Michael Z. Williamson continues his weapon series with Rogue(paper); Robert Heinlein’s classic Assignment in Eternity collection (trade); and the first three exciting The Monster Hunters (hard) by Larry Coreia.
Balentine Books has a paperback edition of Justin Cronin’s massive tale of a near future effected by zombie like vampires, The Passage.. The sequel comes out next month.
Karen Marie Moning has a graphic novel set in her fever series, Fever Moon (hard from Del Rey and Adapted by David Livingston and illustrated by Al Rio and Cliff Richards).
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on July 20th at 8p.m. at International House on the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on August 10th at 8p.m. at International House on the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. Stephen H. Segal, editor of Philadelphia Weekly and winner of a Hugo for editing Weird 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 Female (Smashwords)