Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Science Fiction for October 2010
By Henry Leon Lazarus

    I seldom see heroic fantasy of the likes of Conan the Barbarian, Elric of Melnibone, Fafhred and the Grey Mouser anymore. Memorable characters able to swing an enchanted sword and brood while doing so, are quite rare.
James Enge returns to The Wolf Age(trade from Pyre) and his character, Morlock Ambrosius and his sword Tyrfing. This time the Strange Gods, humans who have taken on god-like aspects, are destroying the city of Werewolves because itís immortal founder is waging war on them. Morlock is captured by the wolves and thrown into their prison with a spike in his to block his magic, which drives him mad and leads to a prison break. Werewolf politics follows, eventually leading Morlock to Ulugarriu and confrontation with the Strange Gods. The best parts are the description of the city with its wolf and human area for  the weres who are locked into one shape. Political rallies that always devolve into war, and elections that come down to one to one fights, Very neat. James Enge is on my must read list.
Sheri S. Tepper has been a favorite of mine since the middle eighties. Her latest takes place millennias from now when technology has been lost to all but a few, a time of three moons, a time when the water-breathing sea king has forbidden sea trade,  and a time when people have to survive The Waters Rising (hard from Eos). Xulai, seemingly seven years old, has been sent to carry the dying princessís soul back to her home country as per custom. An evil duchess, who had used ancient machines to slowly murder the princess, has decided to also kill Xulai.  But with help including Abasio and his talking horse, a magical chipmunk, and the people from her home sent to protect her, and her abilities at deceptive magic she has a chance to survive. Itís more adult than I just made it sound. Lots of fun and a sure award nominee.
Imagine Constantinople at the height of power during the reign of Justinian when Rome was reconquered. Guy Gavriel Kay changes the names and characters involved to created a very satisfying look at the city where chariot races are the heart of the city and mosaics the center of art. We met Crispin, master mosaic, when he went Sailing to Sarantium (paper) both at the request of the Emperor to decorate the ceiling of a new sanctuary, and of his queen, to convey a private message to the Emperor. Now he finds himself at the heart of Imperial politics just by knowing the movers and shakers. His queen, now in exile, awaits the word of the Emperor and his ex-actress wife. The Empress, impressed by his work is a friend and his friend, a soldier, is marrying the girl he rescued on his travels. Another character, Dr. Rostum has been sent as a spy by the King-of-Kings who rules Sarantiumís enemy kingdom. Add in a famous Charioteer knifed after a love tryst, a dancer worshiped by all factions,  a famous cook, and an assassination plot and you have a tale the kept me glued to the pages.  Only the Lord of Emperors(trade from Roc) can unravel the mess.  Very satisfying.
Thereís not a lot of magic in Joel Shephardís tale of an ex-princess/ sword- woman Sasha (paper) She, her teacher Kessligh, her Serrin lover Errolyn, and her sister Alythia have traveled from Petrodor (paper) to Tracato (trade from Pyr) , a city soon to come under attack from the crusading army led by her Father. But the city is on the verge of civil war between the followers of a nobility left over from before the Serin conquered the country, and those who want no nobility. When evidence is found of nobility treason, the city explodes trapping Sasha and her friends. This is the third book of a tertrology and Iím eagerly awaiting the conclusion.
I was in Junior High School working as a volunteer for the school library when I discovered Dumasís tales of the Musketeers and was lucky the library had all five volumes. Pierre Pevel has entered that realm with the addition of dragon-turned-humans. He even adds a dash of Dumas characters (like Athos) for true fans. The Black Claw, a secret society devoted to bringing Dragon Rule to the world, are the villains. The tale starts when Richelieu, looking to for a treaty with Spain, reinstates The Cardinalís Blades (trade from Pyr and translated from the French by Tom Clegg) to find a missing Spanish Cavalier. Soon the discredited Captain La Farge has gathered up the swordsmen and swordswoman who had formally served with him and, facing daunting odds armed with only sword and single-shot pistol, discover the evil that has infested France. Double and triple spies abound. I hope more books in the series are going to be translated.
Daniel Leery and Adele Mundy have an easy assignment because they are still recovering from their last mission so their next assignment is to take a new Commissioner to a planet allied to the Alliance Ė no problem since Cinnabar and the Alliance have signed a peace treaty. So Danielís corvette , the Princess Cecile, sails into a nasty plot by a nominal ally of Cinnabar. David Drake, as usual, for What Distant Deeps (hard from Baen) has borrowed from history to provide a basis for this latest action tale. This time he as to partner with the Alliance military in order to prevent the Palmyrans from restarting the war. I always enjoy the tales in this series and eagerly gulp them down
Harry Connolly writes a second tale of ex-con Ray Lilly, who has become an agent for the magical Twenty Palace society. Preditors are creatures from unknown dimensions who can be quite deadly when found on Earth. The societyís main purpose is to wipe them out and protect humanity. One family has managed to keep a saphire dog in a Game of Cages (paper from Del Ray) but ther daughter needs the money and holds a quiet auction Ė except the dog gets out and is soon terrorizing a small town and the losing bidders, including a warlock. Only the tattoos that protect him from bullets, his magic knife that can slice through anything, and grit and determination can keep Ray alive in this solid thriller. Impossible-to-put-down. I liked the tale well enough to find the first, Child of Fire (paper),  at amazon for my kindle software. It was just as much fun.
Alexia Tarabotti would not have gone to Italy and the paranormal-hating Templars, if her Werewolf husband had held her Blameless (paper from Orbit) in her pregnancy. Her abilities to render immortal Vampires and Werewolves human with a mere touch has also allowed the impossible to happen, and Lord Macon is the sire. It doesnít help that Vampire have her marked for death because centuries before another with her talent had also born a child. Alexia is a proper Englishwoman who keeps her poise even when chaos surrounds her. Lots of fun. Iím looking forward for the next, and final book in this series.
Anya Kalinczyk has a day job as an arson inspector for the Detroit Fire Department while working with a psychic research group because she can see, talk, and sometimes absorb ghosts. But thereís a con artist trapping ghosts and incidently using their Sparks (paper from Pocket by Laura Bickle) to burn people from the inside and sometimes cause incidental fires. It seems she is after a museum vase, that may have been Pandoraís box. It doesnít help that Sparky, Anyaís pet, elemental salamander lays a bunch of eggs that no one else can see and which have to be protected from the villain. Iím enjoying this series and hoping for more.
Carolyn Crane returns to Midcity where an industrial accident created highcap people with psionic abilities. Otto, now mayor has the ability to lock people into rooms, and another, Packard,  can read people so well he can train neurotics to zap their neuroses into other people. Justine, a hypochondriac who is in love with both, has been giving her neurosis to highcaps locked safely by the mayor as a way of resetting their personalities, and maybe making them sane. One, who can link peopleís dreams together, has linked her to Packard. At the same time some people have discovered how to see highcaps and protect themselves from the highcap powers, and hard murdering Highcaps. It all has to do with evil from Otto and Packardís past and Justine has to figure the Double Cross (paper from Bantam-Spectra) before she gets murdered herself. Very odd, but hard to put down.
A typical Connie Willis time travel story has very average historians from our near future trapped in the past and forced to live through the events they had hoped to skip over. Ms. Willis is fascinated by the British home front in World War II. This time she somehow covers the whold war from the Blackout (trade) of the Blitz till the All Clear (hard from Bantam Spectre) of VE day. Like a good historical novelist, she puts her people, working in normal jobs like sales and watching children, and ambulance drivers through the worst of the bombing of London and the rocket attacks later in the war. They may be hysterical about trying to return to their present, but they manage to survive the worst parts of the war. I didnít find the reason they couldnít return believable and the tale is much, much too long. But I kept reading and enjoying the occasional silliness thrown in.
Patrick A. Vanner is obviously a fan of Battlestar Galactica. He has humanity fighting the frog-like Xan-Sskarn. Captain Alexandra McLaughlin commanded the only surviving ship for the last battle. Human traitors have given deadly secrets to the frogs, forcing Alex and her crew again and again into deadly battles even a Ragnarok (trade from Baen) fight in the Solar System. Plus she has human enemies like an Admiral convinced she had left his son to die in one of them. The battle scenes are well limned and I found the tale hard to put down. Sequels are planned and, alas, needed.
    Iíve been using my kindle app to catch up on books and to save on books I want that I see in a bookstore.
Jack Campbell completes his tale of the lost hero found in suspended sleep who leads the Lost Fleet: Victorious (paper from Ace) back from a trap by Syndic forces in the first tale. I brought the fleet home, but is sent rearmed back to confront to Syndic forces again and bring an end to the century long war that was instigated by aliens. So he has not only to confront the syndics in their home system with traps set for their arrival, but he also has to face aliens who have successfully hidden their ships from previous human contact. Lots of fun with a solid ending.
Rachael Caine ends her long running Weather Warden series with a Total Eclipse (paper from Ace). Joanne Baldwin and her husband David, a Djinn have been trying to prevent Mother Nature  from destroying humanity. Mother Nature has finally woken up and Joanne and David are both powerless. Towards the end when all seems lost Cassiel, a djinn made human when she refused to wipe out humanity, and her lover Luis come riding to the rescue on their motor cycle. A side series about them Undone (paper) and Unknown (paper) recounts their fight against Pearl, once a Djinn who is using kidnaped warden kids to try to destroy all the djinns. That series has two more tales to go and fits before this last Weather Warden tale. All of Ms. Caineís tales are impossible to put down and I usually gulp them down in a day.
    Tor has a collection of Larry Nivenís recent tales and articles about Stars and Gods (hard).  Baen has reprinted The Vorkosigan Companion (Edited by Lillian Stewart Carl and John Helfers) for fans of Lois McMaster Bujoldís series in paper.
    Baen has reprinted P. C. Hodgell part 2 and 3 of her long God Stalker series in Seekers Bane which I have enjoyed for decades. Poul Andersonís classic the High Crusade (Baen) about King Arthurís  knights capturing a space ship and creating a star empire  is out in trade.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on at 8 p.m. on September 8th, 2010 at the Rotunda on  the University of Pennsylvania. Campus. Anna Dhody, curator of the Müttter Museum, a medical museum at the College of Physicians, will speak
    Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author of A Cycle of Gods from Wolfsinger Publications which can be bought on Amazon.com.