Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for October 2010
Science Fiction doesnít predict the future, it merely
sets stories in invented futures that sometimes match parts of the real
future. Robert Heinlein set many of his stories in a future history he
invented in 1941. In it he predicted the super highway system (except the
roads rolled instead of having cars); nuclear melt down; the privatization
of space (with colonies on the Moon, Mars, and Venus); and the Crazy years
when politicians wrote weird bills. Next up would be a religious dictatorship
of the US which looks more likely now that the religious right have come
out of the closet again.
by Henry Leon Lazarus
Joan Slonczewskiís first novel in ten years, the religious nuts believe
that the stars are painted on the firmament and no major politician dares
deny it. Jennifer Raqmos Kennedy is a minor celebrity by being the
granddaughter of two presidents. The tale is about the first semester of
her freshman year at Frontera College in The Highest Frontier (hard
from Tor), a space habitation connected to one of the space elevators from
Earth. Earth has been infected by the alien ultraphytes who used RNA instead
of DNA and mutate quite rapidly, killing people occasionally with cyanide
The habitat, itself, has problems because it is a decade old and can actually
flood if its power is lost. The college is constantly short of funds and
as a result Jennyís roommate is in a full-body prosthesis and thinks she
is an ultraphyite. Itís an election year on Earth and Jenny has been invited
to give a speach,. at the conventions, Something she is a bit shy
at doing. Her classes on Aristotle and Life are fascinating and improved
by computer constructs that seem quite real. This is a predicted future
that not only seems very real; a tale dense with ideas that sometimes lean
towards satire; and characters that leap out of the page into full life.
If this tale doesnít win numerous awards, I will be quite shocked.
third volume of Jasper Kent Ďs five part look at Russian History from 1812
to the Russian Revolution is out. Itís 1855 and a survivor of the famous
Charge of the Light Brigade fights over the cave where three vampires were
entombed. Blood trickles down, giving them enough strength to dig out.
The hero of the first two books, Danilov, is still in exile in Siberia.
His son Dmitry is a major on the walls of Sevastopol facing British and
French in the Crimean War when he confronts the first vampires he has seen
in thirty years. In Moscow Cain, a vampire since the last volume, is hatching
plots while working in The Third Section (trade from Pyr). Tamara,
Danilovís daughter, is working for him, not knowing his true nature, gathering
information from the brothel she runs. The tale has exciting set pieces
like the doomed fight in Sevastopol and the coronation of Alexander II.
It also has exciting fights with vampires. This series is a keeper.
D. Lachlan has been mixing the spirits of the Norse gods into Viking Age.
The current tale starts with the Viking siege of Paris in the middle of
the Tenth Century when the city sat on a small island in the middle of
the Seine. At its heart is a Norse princess who somehow has a piece of
Odin, and a monk with the spirit of Fenrir (trade from Pyr) who
horribly finds himself taking on the aspect of the wolf as he is captured
and escapes from various Viking raiders. Fun.
love story standard is that of the nanny who falls for her widowed employer.
Emma Donahoe is an Australian girl who had been working as a kindergarden
teacher and quit to become Nanny to the very rich John Chen. The daughter
Simone, a happy four-year-old, may have been human, but the father is a
celestial immortal. He is ruler of a Magical Mountain, and the four magical
winds like the White Tiger (paper from Harper Voyager) and has been keeping
himself in human form to stay with his daughter. Once he switches, he might
take as much as a century before he can return to Earth. Kylie Chan gives
her heroine a resolute character who accepts this strange world, adapting
to it and learning how to fight the demons that are constantly attacking
her and Simone. I had a smile on my face the whole time and canít wait
for the sequel.
is a libertarian colony that defended itself from takeover by Earth by
sending soldiers to sabotage whole cities on Earth. Ken Chinran, one of
the few survivors and leader of the group has been working a repair business
under an alias since that time and being a good citizen of Freehold. Then
one of the survivors decides to take up the assassination business, going
from Baen). Ken is the only one who might have a chance of stopping him,
and he is given an assistant, Sliver, to help him. Michael Z. Williamson
tells a taut tale of finding a needle in a haystack spread across several
worlds. It is bloody and heart-pounding. I couldnít put it down.
K. Morgan continues his sword-and-sorcery adventure set is no far a future
that some of the villains dwell in the gray land of dreams. Ringil, the
gay swordsman is up North killing slavers and being hunted by governments
who think it legal, but immortals want him back in the empireís capital
city. Yhelteth. Dragon Bane Egar is bored while his lover is entertaining
her husband, so he hunts down rumors that the religious sect is fermenting
rebellion using beings they think are angels. Archeth has recovered a helmsman
(robot) who literally dropped from orbit. It wants her to undertake an
expedition to a lost city only partially in our world. But before that,
she has to be there to confront the glowing Dwendaís who want to stop human
progress. Mr. Morgan is one of the better writers out there, but I got
a bit confused at times as to what was dream and what was real. The
Cold Commands (hard from Del Rey) is very intense and hard-to- put-down,
and not for people who dislike cursing in their tales.
Charlton, a medical student who survived dyslexia, continues his tale of
a world with magic base on words written mentally on the body and then
sent out. Their flying ships modify themself as needed, and their physicians
need no tools to do surgery. Nicodemus who we met in Spellwright
still doesnít have the magical emerald, stolen by the demon, that would
enable him to spell correctly, instead, since he knows the runes of the
prime language of life, his merest touch brings tumors and most magic breaks
up when touching him. Francesca DeVega is a Physician whose patient dies
and then comes back to life She is an Avatar Spellbound (hard from
Tor) to the demon who is only free just after being revived. She
sends Francesca on a quest to find Nicodemus and thwart the demon.
Mr. Charlton shows his medical expertise and enlarges his world nicely.
There are fun twists at the end, while there is a conclusion, the third
and final tale in the trilogy is also set up. I enjoyed this.
Edward Lazellari uses an old trope of people from a world where magic
works coming to our world to hunt down a missing heir. The first group
with the heir lost their memories and only three survived Cal Macdonnell
was in command of the small group and now is a New York cop with a wife
and child. Seth Raincrest was the apprentice magician and is now a pornographic
photographer. The missing heir has been adopted by an abusive step-father
and has enough problems because of that. Both Cal and Seth need Awakenings
(hard from Tor) to be able to face the villains that include trolls, half-dwarves,
and a sorcerer who has no problems using magic illegal on his world, magic
that could destroy ours. Characters are well-drawn, adding a level
of reality. Iím waiting for the part two.
Connolly has a new, exciting adventure for ex-car thief Ray Lilly who works
for the magical Twenty-Palace Society which tries to keep demons out of
our world. Ray has been tattooed with spells for protection and has a magical
paper knife that can cut through anything not alive and cuts through peopleís
wills. The sorcerer who infected Rayís best friend has infected the people
Ray worked for when he was a car thief. This Circle of Enemies (paper
from Del Rey) want the powers that they get from the demons inside them,
especially turning invisible, and donít realize the demons will eventually
eat them. Wally is using them to find a lost book of magic and will stop
at nothing. He really wants to destroy the world. This exciting series
is fun, impossibl- to-put-down, and dark. I canít wait for Rayís next adventure.
Brandon starts a tale set in an interesting background. The City of Vitrisi
on the Veiled Islands was conquered by the Taerleezi and the Magnifico
Aureste has risen high by befriending the governor and working against
the underground by betraying other noble families. When his daughter, Jianna,
betrothed to a man in another city, is captured by relatives who want her
married to the oldest son so they would inherit the estate. Can The
Traitorís Daughter (trade from Spectra) escape her horrible fate to
be married to a wife beater? In the background, the city is dealing with
rebellion and plague. And the magic may be undergoing a reversal which
would mean the end of humanity on the veiled islands. Nothing is fully
resolved in this interesting tale, but Iím willing to wait for the sequel
to find out what will happen..
Chandler continues his fun tale about A Thief in the Night
(paper from HarperCollins), , Malden, in a fantasy world where magic comes
from demons. This time, running from an assassin, he gets on an expedition
to kill a demon trapped in a neat dungeon. The Vincularium was a dwarf
city and abandoned to the elves during the human/elf war. After the last
of the elves sought refuge, they were locked in and a century later, thought
long dead. Nothing, of course, is what it seems. The dwarf city is filled
with wonders and something important enough that slag, the dwarf who creates
gadgets for thieves, comes along. Thereís a dwarf expedition hunting our
party, and elf zombie killers blocking the entrance. Fun and hard to put
Bones is one of the animated skeletons living in Xanth. He has a Well-Tempered
Clavicle (hard from Tor) which can make beautiful. He, and his sister
(and three pets from Mundania) are helping Princess Dawn find the moving
castle Caprice which has Pundaraís Box Ė which let out all the puns,
now infesting Xanth. To save the day and his love, Picka has to become
the best musician in Xanth and fight a monster. Itís hard to believe that
Piers Anthony has written thirty-five of these light fun adventures without
repeating himself. I like the ones, like this tale, that are more plot
driven and keep the horrible puns to a minimum.
Lima concludes her tale of fae Kierra Kelly who in the previous books had
become co-heir to the Kelly clan. But her grandmother, like all Kellys,
donít age and have been around for thousands of years. Gideon decides he
wants the full clan, and offers challenge. Legally this forces Kierra and
Adam off their ranch. But Gideon has a horrible Blood Sacrifice
(paper from Pocket) planned and only by returning to their ranch and facing
their enemy will all the issues be resolved. Iíve enjoyed this series.
Fans of the series will really appreciate the ending.
Baen has another omnibus selection of three Sharon
Lee and Steve Millerís Liaden tales. Chrystal Variation (trade)
includes the duology of the founding of Clan Korval and another of the
early years of Terran and Liaden interactions. Baen has also reprinted
in paper Patrick A. Vannerís first tale of humanityís fight against
in a future where Earth has surrendered to aliens, and Poul Andersonís
classic tales of Young Flandry.
Two really excellent editors, Gardner Dozois (once
editor of Asimovís) and George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones) have
a collection of urban fantasy, Down These Strange Streets (hard
from Ace).Stumar Press has their Derby Scribes 2011 Anthology available
as an ebook.. Damnation has some modern fairy tales since Mother Goose
is Dead (paper).
The Hollows Insider (hard from Harper Voyager)
is a guide to the world of Kim Harrison for fans of her series. Matt
Mock has answers to Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Zombies(
trade from Gallery Books).
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting
on October 14th at 8:15p.m. at International House on the University
of Pennsylvania. Campus .John G. Hemry, a retired United States Navy officer
who also writes fun galactic war tales under the name of Jack Campbell
will speak. Guests are welcome.
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis won the
Hugo this year.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author of A Cycle
of Gods from Wolfsinger Publications