Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for October 2012
Space opera has become jaded. There are always missiles
flying, bombs exploding in space and many ships engaged dog fighting. Iíve
seen everything from fleet operations to fighting pirate ships. Theyíre
always fun, but need something extra to make them unique.
by Henry Leon Lazarus
Johnson brings a unique character, Ia, into what is a standard tale of
a soldier rising in the ranks. Ia is clairvoyant, constantly working with
constantly changing futures to pick the right future. Thereís a desperation
to her actions because if she doesnít accomplish the right things at the
right time, in three centuries the milky way galaxy will be literally dismantled
by powerful, destructive beings who multiply by crushing all the matter
in a galaxy. An Officerís Duty (paper from Ace which I bought as
an ebook) takes Ia from the naval academy where her room mateís future
is blank to her, thorough blockade duty, to a situation in which she finally
reveals her true abilities by doing the impossible. This series is a keeper.
Others by Jo Walton (hard from Tor) won the Hugo Award and last yearís
Nebula I just bought the ebook. Itís a diary of a fifteen-year-old
girl who was injured and her twin killed in an interaction with her mother.
When she runs to her father she is sent to an English Boarding School.
Itís 1979 and Morwenna is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction
and her diary is filled with descriptions of books I remember fondly. But
Morwenna is not mundane because she can see faries and work some magic.
Itís an odd choice for a science fiction award, but it grows on you.
Buehlman mixes parable and horror with a novel set during the apocalyptic
period of 1348, the time of plague.. Apparently the fallen angels
have started another war in heaven and brought monsters and the dead to
life. An ex-communicate knight turned brigand meets a young woman
and finds himself on a quest to face Baal-Zebuth at Avignon after first
passing through Paris Between Two Fires (Hard from Ace). The tale
captures the mediaeval world perfectly along with the hope and despair
that the Black Death brought. It also has a strong Christian overtone.
Cronin continues his massive tale of vampires destroying our civilization
in his tale of The Twelve (hard from Balentine Books) vampires who
control the mostly mindless multitudes.. Part of the tale tells of the
fall of America through the eyes of survivors . The rest takes place a
century later when our heroes from The Passage (paper) face a corrupt
commune in Iowa run by people made immortal from vampire blood who are
working with the master vampires to provide them a steady food source.
If Stephen King were better at world building, this tale would be the result.
E. Gropp turns his home city of Spokane weird and, because of the weirdness,
has the city under martial law and moved the population into a quarantined
zone. Dean Walker a college student and wanna be news photographer sneaks
into the city, taking a series of photographs as he gets to know the few
people remaining in the city. What caused the ink spiders, the people trapped
in walls, and the other strange elements of the Bad Glass (trade
from Del Rey) is not really given, though the hint is that of a science
experiment gone bad. The tale is hard to put down with interesting characters
warped by their strange circumstances.
Drake has a fun tale of a world run by warlocks and witches. Gage Powell
quit the training to be a warlock, usually a death sentence, and
is forbidden anything but defensive magic. He earns his living running
a tattoo parlor with a hidden elf Trixie and a troll named Bronz, both
of whom donít know about his hidden talents. Then his old mentor comes
hunting him intending murder. His co-worker, Trixie, has family ties come
to haunt him, and he somehow makes a woman immortal using Angelís Ink
(paper from Harper Voyager) pissing off a grim reaper. Add in a witch turned
permanently into a cat, a dark elf gangster and you have not only the makings
of a fun tale, but a whole collection of them. I canít wait for Gages next
problems. Extra fun is found in an ebook called The Asylum interviews:
Correia likes to put heroes to the test with impossible monsters. His latest
has Owen Zastava Pitt and a whole Monster Hunter Legion (hard from
Baen) The monster hunters thought they just came to a convention at a brand
new casino, Dragonís rest which does have its own dragon. Then monsters
start appearing out of their nightmares and soon take the whole hotel into
a horrifying other universe. As usual the action is pulse-pounding and
lots of fun.
A. Stewart writes about a demon hunter with A wolf at the Door (paper
from Roc). Even though I missed the first two adventures, I enjoyed reading
about Jesse James Dawson doing a stint guarding a Hollywood star. Gretchen
keene had not only sold her soul for fame and fortune but also had accumulated
several hundred souls of men who had sold theirs to sleep with her. The
problem is a loophole. When she dies the ownership of the other souls
is not clear and various demons are fighting over who will get them. Jesse
is in the middle of some potent magic and only can survive by his wits
and the help of Gretchenís mundane bodyguards.
Thurman has a dark tale of a man with the ability to sense the history
of objects so much he canít eat meat. Jackson earns a living as an All
Seeing Eye (paper from Pocket Books) until he is blackmailed into helping
a government project on astral projection. The head scientist was murdered
while out of body and his attempts to return have revived old murderous
ghosts which take over peopleís minds. It doesnít help that the murderer
is trying to kill him or that he has a tragedy from his past haunting him.
Hard Ėput-down and horrifying..
Stephenson is an audacious writer. In his attempt to do a Tom Clancy type
thriller, he sends Russian mob goons up to attack what they think
is a group of Chinese hackers only to knock on the wrong door and find
a terrorist bomb factory. The Chinese hackers have been using the Reamde
(hard from William Morrow which I borrowed from a friend) virus to blackmail
gamers playing a very popular shared universe TíRain. Zula, the niece of
Richard, the owner of the game, has a boy friend, who without telling her
stole a bunch of credit card numbers for the Russian Mafia which was encrypted
by the virus. That takes the Russians to china where they open the wrong
door. The final scenes involve a shoot out between Richardís family and
terrorists trying to use a smugglers route from Canada to the U. S. In
between the action flies with hijacked planes and spies hunting spies.
Itís long, and very tense.
Lee and Stefe Miller have been following the career of Theo Waitley a pilot
in the Liaden Universe. She has come into contact with a Ghost Ship (paper)
that is artificially intelligent and in hiding for centuries. But she has
to work with the Bechimo and set up a new trading route with her Dragon
Ship (hard from Baen) dealing with various factions that live in worlds
that Clan Korval havenít had to deal with. Unfortunately old enemies
are after bother her and her new ship. There are too many references to
early books in this series to begin with this tale, but the whole series
is grounded in a realistically defined universe that is fun for both the
authors and reader fans.
Harper Voyager has a collection of Kim Harrisonís
shorter tales set in her special universe with witches, etc Into the
Woods (hard) and an extra short story ebook Pet Shop Boys.
Del Rey has reprinted Richard K. Morganís dark tale of The Cold Commands
in trade. Baen has reprinted of the three of the late Kieth Laumer,
fun Imperium (paper) tales from the sixties and David weberís
tale of the first meeting with treecats that will form A beautiful Friendship
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting
on September 149h at 8 p.m. at International House on the University
of Pennsylvania. Campus. Jay Smith, the creator and lead writer for
the 2011 Parsec Award-winning audio drama series "HG World" 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