Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Science Fiction for September 2012
by Henry Leon Lazarus

 
    There is a thin line between the edges of Fantasy and Science Fiction that can leave even the biggest purist in a quandary. Most of the time fantasy deals with magic, vampires, etc and Science Fiction has its spaceship and strange worlds. Iíve seen Science Fiction masquerading as Fantasy and the reverse. But occasionally even I have to shrug my shoulders.
Steven M. Irwin posts a world economically devastated after the polarity of the Earthís magnetic field switches. Not only that but people start seeing individual ghosts. Some of them commit murder and The Broken Ones (hard from Doubleday) who murder because their ghost tells them to, have an out, a police department nicknamed the barelies who can certify the murder wasnít their fault. Oscar Mariani head the small department in London, now down to two members. Then he decides to investigate a corpse with ritual scribbles on it and not pass it on to homicide. Soon he barely survives attacks on his life and has his car blown up. Evidence collected disappears along with assistant coroners and his partner is murdered. Thereísno one he can rely on and the corruption extends far higher than he knows. This is a dogged, gritty tale and impossible to put down.
Kat Richardsonís tales of Harper Blaine, a private detective who can see into the world of ghosts and magic has tried to keep her paranormal beings almost real. This time she is the insurance investigator for the Seawitch (hard from Roc) a yacht missing for twenty-seven years and suddenly returned to Seattle. Working with police detective Ray Solis, who is willing to accept the weird parts of the case, Harper has to face Ms. Richardsonís version of Selkies and Mermaids, that somehow is tied in with the awful wreck of the S. S. Valencia (actually built in Philadephia) in 1906. This is very intense and hard to put down.
I love Stacia Kaneís tales of church witch Chess Putnam enough to buy the episodes that somehow never get sent to me. In Chessís world the dead rose up and an obscure church provided the only protection. Chessís main job is finding people who fake hauntings for the payments the Church gives for real hauntings. But she is a drug addict, using uppers and downers to stay sane. This time someone is putting ectoplasm into cocain and adding magic to turn the addicts into mind-controlled slaves. So Chess and her lover Terrible have to go into the darkest areas of the city Chasing Magic (paper from Del Rey) to save the urban slum from destruction.
 In a future in which we have faster-than-light starships and a lot of nano-technology, Ian Douglas looks at the life of a Marine Corps Medic. Elliot Carlyle is your normal all-American boy who goes in with the Marines into battle. Thereís a galactic empire that has been falling since before humans existed and Earth is trying to stay out the ruins. The barbaric Qesh have found a human colony on Bloodstar (paper from Harper Voyager) which, unfortunately was settled by religious fanatics who rejected science even as they need it to survive on their hell whole of a planet. There are strong elements modernized from Starship Troopers but no lectures thankfully. The nanotech used in medicine is very neat. Elliot is a fun character with some darkness in his soul, dedicated enough to his job and he wins a silver star. Iím looking forward to sequels.
According to G. T. Almasi, World War Ii ended with four major powers and a Shadowstorm spy war that included agents amped up with cyborg modifications. Nine-teen-year-old Alex Nico can run at thirty-five miles per hour, jump to the roof a five story building, and, of course see in the dark. But she is only one of many modified spies.Her father had been a top U. S. Agent until his death. Then when a mission she had faked her way into, goes bad, she learns that her father may not be dead after all and that she is being hunted by a group of ex-agents, the Blades of Winter (paper from Del Rey). Soon she is jetting around the world with her lover/partner, who is the same age, hunting for Winter and searching for clues of her Father. Impossible to put down and luckily the first of a series. G. T. Almasi is an author to watch and definitely on my must buy list.
Michael P. Spradlin must have loved the old westerns like The Lone Ranger and The Wild Wild West. Blood Riders (paper from Harper Voyager) introduces us to Jonas P. Hollister a former captain in the Calvary who was court marshaled because they didnít believe him as the only survivor of a vampire attack. Allan Pinkerton, working for President Grant, believes him and sends him and his partner Che (a quarter Chinese with kung fu abilities, and a quarter Indian)  armed with special weapons and a specially designed train off after a mad vampire trying to created enough followers to wage war against humanity. Thereís a sexy good vampire, Shaniah, whose people try to live in peace drinking only animal blood. Yes this is as much fun as it sounds and Iím looking forward to the sequel.
Dani and Eytan Kollin have taken a future, where mankind fills the solar system and is a peace, through the turmoil of a civil war because of a man, Justin, who had been in suspended animation since our near future. They reach The Unincorporated Future (hard from Tor) through oa series of horrific war crimes that leave billions dead. The series has been notable for solid characters, cardboard villains who luckily donít have much screen time in this final book, and a description of space war that should be must reading for future admirals of space fleets. The ending is worth the trip and I really enjoyed the whole series.
 Michael Z.. Williamsonís team of top bodyguards of the future have another case. This time a politician, a potential condidate for the UN Secretary General is visiting a war zone. But the enemies are not only external but internal. When Diplomacy Fails (hard from Baen) they find that protecting her involves facing heavy fire and dealing with UN politics. The bangs come fast and the book is hard to put down.
Clay Griffith and  Susan Griffith conclude  their fun, dashing tale of humans fighting a vampire empire which conquered the northern part of the world in 1900 after the beginning of an ice age. In the third and final act, Prince Gareth, as heir to the English vampire thrown must go to England and meet the Kingmakers (trade from Pyr) while Empress Adele sends fleets of flying warships to bomb the vampires while they deliberate their choice between Gareth and his evil brother Cesare. But Mamoru plans to use Adeleís Gomancer powers in a way that will kill her. Very exciting and a strong ending to a fun series.
Iíve always felt that Carrie Vaughnís tales of Kitty Norville, werewolf with a radio show on the occult The Midnight Hour, would make a fun television series. The latest send her to London for an International Conference on Paranormal Studies, much more fun than the Olympics. She is the keynote speaker and behind the scenes dealing with a potential vampire war. Of course Kitty Steals the Show (paper from Tor) and saves her friends.
P. I. Dan Chambeaux feels like Death Warmed Over (paper from Kensington) because he kept working trying to solve his own murder and his other open cases, After the Big Easy a lot of unnaturals appeared, according to Kevin J. Anderson and zombies,  ghosts, werewolves are just a few of them. Together with his ghost office manager Shayenne whose murder he was also trying to solve, and Robin his living, lawyer partner, they investigate a divorce settlement between a man and his werewolf wife; protect a interior decorator vampire (he only drinks soy blood) whose neighbors have all been murdered; and finding out why zombies are melting all over town. He uses the best cosmetic morticians to stay in shape while facing off the normal and unnormal bad guys. Yes this is a silly as it sounds, but it is properly silly. I giggled all through it and couldnít stop reading.
Rachael Caine is always fun. Bryn Davis is a Working Stiff(paper) who died early in the first tale and brought back to life by a drug Returné by a corporation Pharamadene. Now addicted to the drug, because otherwise she dies again, she is running the funeral home where she started. But she doesnít get Two Weeks Notice (paper from Roc) when she is asked to find out about a Pharamadene shell company as part of her agreement to work with the FBI. What she finds is seven corpses, a bomb, and a flash drive with movies showing revived people being tortured and then cremated. Thereís a new player in the game and they are after her. Iím waiting for the third.
Ilona Andrews has a new tale set in Atlanta where Magic ebbs and flows, destroying many building in the process. A reclamation project run by Andreaís ex-boy friend finds a hidden vault and the shape shifters guarding it are murdered by snakes. The return of Magic has allowed the return of old guards and soon Adrea and her friends are involved with these old gods and Gunmetal Magic(paper from Ace) Add in love and romance and shape-shifter politics and you have fun. As a plus thereís an extra Kate Daniels novelette that takes place at the same time with overlap of some of the same scenes. Both are fun.
Itís been eight years since Emma  Donahoe, who started off as a nanny, lost her love John Chen who also was Xuan Wu an important celestial god in the Chinese mythology that is quite real in this series. Her charge Simone is now fourteen and dropping classes to kill demons attacking the Northern Kingdom. In this first book of the second trilogy, Emma has to go from Earth to Hell (paper from Harper Voyager) and back again. Kylie Chan has a good sense of how Chinese Mythical characters might exist in a very real Hong Kong. Emma was injuected with demon stuff and has to work and not transforming into a Demon Mother. What sheíd rather transform into is the huge snake that somehow att.atched itself to her. I really enjoy this series, but new readers should start with the first trilogy.
Itís been five years since Shanna Swendson lost her publisher for her fun, albeit silly tales about Katie Chandler who got a job working for Enchanted, Inc., a magical company headed by Merlin. Katie has returned from Texas for a better job in the advertising department. But their competitor Spellworks is selling darker magic and creating magical illnesses so they can sell the cure. There is Much Ado About Magic (ebook) because her boyfriend Owen is being painted as the villain and the parents he never knew have something to do about it. Iíve loved this series and this tale provides a complete closure.
 In a boston still recovering from a zombie plague that left the victims undead, but still mentally alive, Vicky Vaughn has a unique career of going into peopleís dreams and slaying guilt and fear demons. Her clientele si drying up because an old enemy is capturing the demons. To stop him Vicky has to go into the Deadlands (paper from Ace) where spirits go after death and with the help of her dead  father stop him from destroying hell. This is the fourth of Nancy Hoilznerís tales about Vicky but I had no trouble getting right into the story. I may even go back and read the earlier adventures.
Six years ago John Ringoís Princess of Wands (available for free on the Baen website) introduced us to a demon killing soccor mom who got her powers from her Protestant belief in God. Queen of Wands (hard from Baen) drops all the relationship parts of this genre. In the first part Janea lost her Ka while investigating a Girlís school that was creating soulless zombies from local boys. Barbara is called in and soon is killing the girls who were calling up a demon, and the boys they converted. Then Janea has to recover her Ka by going to a mystical version of Dragon Con. Finally both women have to face huge Lovecraftian monsters that require more power than both of them have. This is not for fans of the genre who like relationships in their adventure. Fans of John Ringoís war fiction should really dig it.
P. I Remy Chandler was once the angel Remiel. In his third adventure he has to help the still living Adam and his sons, along with a woman who has inherited a spark from Eve, deal with the return with the Garden of Eden. Thomas E. Sniegoski tells us that evil knows A Hundred words for Hate (trade from Roc) but I found the tale a bit over-the-top and clichéd. I started skimming to get to the end, which is never a good sign. People who take standard religious mythology of angels and the devil with enjoy this more.
    Baen has reprinted two of Andre Nortonís tales in Ice and Shadow (trade)
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on September 14th at 8 p.m. at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. Author James Morrow.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)