Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Science Fiction for October 2010
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    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.
In 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.
The 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.
M. 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.
One 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.
Freehold 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 Rogue(hard 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.
Richard 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.
Blake 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 (paper) 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.
Harry 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.
Paula 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..
David 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 down.
Picka 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.
Maria 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 Ragnarok 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