Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for October 2013
La La Land! Los Angeles whether real or fantasy, past
or future is always the leader in trends and always carries the trend too
far. Fantasy and Science Fictions authors frequently make use of its foibles.
by Henry Leon Lazarus
G. Browne has a tale of a company called Big Egos (trade from Gallery
Books) which sells a drug that, with a shot to the brain stem, makes you
feel like you are someone else; Captain Kirk, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan,
etc, etc, etc. Our hero has risen high in the company and for three years
has been playing with the latest products, going to parties with different
people and making love to his girl friend as a different man each night.
Then things start to go wrong. People start dying, supposedly by black
market products according to the company. His co-works go mad and he doesnít
exactly feel normal himself. Itís a solid example of Hollywoodís love of
the inner self, and fascination with the latest and greatest new thing.
Angeles in the fifties was a great era for classic detective tales. Justin
Robinson puts Nick Moss in a weird version of that era, a City of Devils
(trade from Candlemark & Gleam) run by every monster possible and where
humans are a small minority. The actors in Hollywood are all doppelgangers,
The directors are mad robots and huge evil eyes. The cops are all werewolves
and witches fly over the light traffic. Humans are only safe by treaty
during the day, and Nick finds lost human children, usually converted to
monster. Then a big star is accused of killing her mummy husband, a Hollywood
mover and shaker and she wants a human detective to either find her husband
or prove she didnít do it. This involves sneaking past the ogre guarding
the gate of the movie studio, and invading a monster bordello in the middle
of the night. Nick may carry a full paraphernalia of monster warding objects
like wolfbane for the werewolves, a cross for vampires, silver bullets,
and a mirror for the doppelganger, but its never enough and only quick
wits and a willingness to run keeps Nick alive and human. Yes this is as
much fun as it sounds.
and Troy's Epic Road Quest (paper from Orbit by A. Lee Martinez) starts
in a strange version of Los Angeles where everybody simply accepts magical
creatures and Gods. Helen, a rare female minotaur who worries that her
horns, hooves, and size will get in the way of finding a boy friend, and
Troy an over-achiever are working in a burger joint when their elf boss
decides to sacrifice them to a hamburger god and gets eaten himself. The
god sends them on a quest that would allow him to return to the plane of
the gods, not a good thing. They are given a credit card and badges from
the National Questing Bureau and sent on their way to visit a dragon reservation,
fight a cyclops ( very nice guy), and eventually end up in an Amusement
Park. The God of Orcs has sent a bunch of week-end biker orcs who work
during the week as accountants, dentists, and realtors to kill our heroes.
Of course it all works out in the end, but I dare you to read it without
Slim lives in modern L. A., and the violence has increased. Richard Kadrey
puts the Oomrama Om Ya, a magical device that can destroy the universe,
in an abandoned mall filled with ghosts and demons. So our half-ange hero
who was lucifer in a previous book has to track it down singing the Kill
City Blues (hard from Harper Voyager) The abandoned mall is more dangerous
than Hell, literally. This is a fun, over-the-top, fantasy p.i. tale and
just as much fun as the previous exciting adventures.
Snodgrass writing as Phillipa Bornikova reflects that having a cast member
shoot up the set and kill the director is real Box Office Poison
(hard from Tor). Linnet Ellery is a lawyer working for a vampire firm in
a world where vampires, werewolves, and elves came out in the sixties.
She and her boss David have come to L. A. To mediate between
human and elf SAG actors because more and more roles have been going to
the elves who are more charismatic on a one-to-one basis. Then some elves
go nuts have no memory of what happened. The bad guy is trying to make
elves look bad and has something horrible planned for the Oscars. Fun but
a bit predictable.
is so worthless in the future, according to Michael Shea, that the extras
in the epic movies of the future really die. Of course the public is easily
sated. So a small town in the mountains is framed for murder and attacked
by giant nanotech insects while being filmed by camera crews on anti-gravity
rafts. The Assault on Sunrise (hard from Tor) is spread over two
days with directorial surprises for each of the three acts of each day.
Fun and exciting. I just find it difficult to believe that liberal California
would get so hard-nosed.
Jeschkeís The Cusanus Game ( trade from Tor and translated so well
by Ross Benjamin that it read as if it had been written in English) is
the best time travel tale Iíve read in several years. Fifty years from
now Europe is politically separated because of pressure from Global
Warming that has sent refugees fleeing from uninhabitable Norther Africa,
and a terrorist nuclear attack that radiated a huge part of Germany. Rome
is on the edge of disruption and the Papacy has moved to Salzburg. Botanist
Domenica Ligrina is hired by the Pope to be one of the time travelers sent
back to fifteenth century Cologne to collect seeds of plants long dead
in the 21st century. Her expedition will be a failure because she will
be exposed as a witch and maybe burned at the stake. She travels from Rome
where she graduated college, by various means of transportation including
dirigible, a short plane ride, and numerous trains which allows Herr Jeschke
to show in marvelous descriptive prose how Europe has changed with areas
of high technology, and poor areas worse than today.. Finally in Amsterdam
she is readied for her trip to the past. Time travel modifies the present,
but has limits to the amount of change and the tale plays with this in
fun ways. I took my time with this delicious novel and really enjoyed it.
Lawrence's trilogy takes place in a Europe gone feudal a thousand years
after a thousand suns destroyed civilization. Before that they had changed
the nature of reality to allow men to control fire, water, air and the
dead. Jorg, the Prince of Thorns (paper) is one of those characters
so violent you wouldnít want to meet him in real life, but is utterly fascinating
to read about. We first meet him in a thorn bush where he watches his mother
and brother murdered by assassins sent by he brother. Then he leaves his
fatherís palace with a group of bandits he releases from his fatherís prison
and four years later, when he is fourteen, he storms his uncleís palace
putting all to death. As King of Thorns (paper) he captures other
kingdoms and eventually heads to the conclave of kings that could chose
an Emperor of Thorns (hard from Ace). The problem a man called King
of the Dead, because of the dead army he has created, is heading to Vyene
and the conclave needs to finally pick and emperor to stop him. Jorg is
not the sort of person you poke a finger at; he will break it. When the
Pope sends an assassin after his wife and child, he murders the Pope. Not
a nice character, but fascinating. There is a solid ending that left me
wondering. I hope Mr. Lawrence fallows this tale with other equally as
Shannon imagines an alternate new future England ruled by the dictatorship
Scion since the 20's. and dedicated to controlling clairvoyants. They collect
them for the Raphaim, aura-eating, immortal aliens who came to Earth two
centuries before and use clairvoyants to keep alien monsters, Emim from
invading Earth. Every decade, during The Bone Season (hard from
Bloomsbury) clairvoyants are sent to Sheol I where Oxford used to be. Paige
Mahony has the rare ability to jump into other peopleís mindscapes. She
is working for one of the illegal clairvoyant syndicates when captured
and their her unusual talent She is trained by Warden, a Rapheim who has
never trained a human before. The evil leader of the Raphaim has the ability
to bind ghosts and use their talents and she wants Paigeís talents once
trained. This an exciting tale in a complicated universe and the first
of seven volumes. It is impossible to put down. Movie rights have
been sold, but the tale may be too complicated to convert.
Kenyon borrows from the Sepoy rebellion and of a young Victorian woman
who discovers A Thousand Perfect Things (trade from Premier
Digital Publishing ). There are only two continents in this world, England
and India and England has built a thousand mile bridge between them. Astoriaís
Grandfather was a famous explorer who brought back a cutting from a golden
Lutus that he and Antonia think will allow the scientific society to consider
working the wht Magic of India. Her grandfather dies and her parents destroy
the manuscript he and Tori were wor4king on. Tori considers herself unmarriageable
because of her club foot. Then a series of events including magical attack
on England sends Tori across the long bridge to India and the very Provence
where the Golden Lotus is hidden. She doesnít know she is being manipulated
by the Rajah and his magical advisor. But thereís a spirit helping her
and her new lover, the rajahís son who has hemophilia. Then the Rajaís
other son kills his father and sends India to war. The Golden Lotus
cures her lover, but nothing goes according to plan and Tori is caught
between what she feels her duty to India and her duty to her native country.
This is an intense tale about the plight of women in the nineteenth century
and conflict between science and magic. Itís fun and absorbing.
Lazellari tells of feudal fantasy world that sent an expedition to our
world with the heir to the thrown when the palace was attacked. Alas they
all lost the memories and rebuilt their lives while the prince grew up
with a drunk step-father. After their Awakenings (paper) the quest
is on to find The Lost Prince (hard from Tor) with the expedition
including a minstrel become rock star, a dwarf become billionaire, a cop
who was once a knight, and a cleric turned Christian Minister. The bad
guys have magic and the ability to take peopleís hearts like the evil queen
does in Once Upon a Time. The characters are three dimensional and all
having problems dealing with the contradictions between their present and
past lives. Iím eagerly awaiting the next book.S
Rosie Best tells of Meg Banks, the daughter of a member of Parliament
who locks her in a closet for disapproving behavior. As a result she sneaks
out late at night and paints graffiti all over London. Then a wounded fox
turns into a dead man, and Rosie develops the ability to shape change into
fax, one of the six members of the Skulk (ebook from Strange Chemistry).
There are four other groups of shape changers , rats, butterflies, spiders,
and Ravens and they are all under attack by a mysterious fog, and a wizard
who turns Megís parents into pigeons. The wizard is after the five magical
stones protected by the five groups which, together, form a magical weapon
from the age of magic. I had fun with this fun tale and hope the next part
is just as much fun.
Kaufmann tells of Trent for whom Dying Is My Business (paper from
St. Martin's Griffin). A year before he woke up with no memory,. Working
for a gangster, Underwood, retrieving odd objects he has discovered that
when he is killed, he takes the life from someone nearby and recovers.
Sent to retrieve a box, he runs into gargoyles attacking a woman and is
soon drawn into a hidden world of magic with the villain able to raise
the dead. Inside the box is something that can destroy New York, and Trent
has only hours to save his world. This is a fun start to what will be a
fun series and I canít wait for the next.
McGuire has the seventh October Daye tale, a series about the hidden Fae
of San Francisco. October is a rare changling (half human) who has become
a Knight of the Fae court. In the first tale , investigating a murder,
she had been turned into a fish for fourteen years. In Chimes at Midnight
(paper from DAW) Goblin Fruit is suddenly available. It is
instantly addicting and quite deadly to changlings. The Queen of Mists
has apparently been distributing the drug and exiles October when she tries
to curb the influx. So itís time to find a missing princess and replace
the Queen while trying to stave off the addiction after being hit in the
face with a pie made of the stuff. Lots of fun as usual.
Cooper, borrowing a smidgen from Evita Peronís life continues the tale
of Rubyís Song. The Creative Fire (paper) was a generation
ship that explored several stars and now is going home. Ruby led a revolution
that destroyed the caste system. Now they enter their very changed home
system, survive an attack by pirates and dock at the largest station orbiting
the mostly abandoned home planet. The Diamond Deep (trade from Pyr)
operates under harsh libertarian rules that offer a short life to those
who wonít compete for credits. This is extremely difficult for the several
thousand crew who donít know the rules and only have enough credits to
support them for six months. But Ruby, just as she was on their ship, is
charasmic singer, quickly moving to top billing on a station starved for
novelty. But her songs and the actions of her crewmates trying to survive,
upset the leadership leading to a dangerous trial. This is a sad tale,
impossible-to-put-down with a bitter-sweet ending. I dare you not to cry.
M. Lindskold is a great selection to continue David Weberís tale of Honor
Harringtonís ancestor, Stephanie Harrington as a teenager. . Treecat
Wars(hard from Baen) takes place after the Fire Season (trade) which
destroyed the habitats of many treecat tribes. One near starvation encounters
another that can survive but the stress of the fires has driven one of
them mad. At the same time Stephanie goes to Manticore for an advance course
while her boy friend Anders and Jessica have to discover and rescue the
starving treecat tribe. Light, well written teenage fun and Iím sure more
Quinn Yarbro writes historical novels, most featuring the travails of the
count Saint-Germaine, a vampire who lives mainly off sex. In the thirteenth
century he settled in an Egyptian monestary under the name of Rakoczy,
Sodo San djerímin. Polatics cause him to join a group of Night Pilgrims
(hard from Tor), traveling at night because of the heat of the Egyptian
and Sudan day, heading towards Ethiopia. Headed by a soldier-knight who
mistakenly killed a Christian village, and filled with people looking for
redemption, like a woman whose husband lost his senses in a fall. Itís
a hard trek, but the group as an easier time than the reports of other
pilgrims who fell to bandits, or disease. Each book in this series, like
this one, can be read independently and provide a solid look at an
obscure part of history.
summer ti seemed as if movie producers couldnít understand how to use CGI
to make moves people wanted to see. Larry Correia certainly knows how to
tell tales that keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The final book
of the Grimnoir Chronicles finds our super-powered heroes Warbound
(hard from Tor) in a specially made dirigible heading to fight the Japanese
empire controlling Shanghai. Super powers have been around since the 1870's
because of an alien creature that gives magic and reabsorbs it on the personís
death. Another creature, Pathfinder eats all species that accept the magic,
leaving desolated planets behind. It has to be stopped and that involves
going through super charged Japanese Warriors who are devoted to the person
they think is their chairman. Thereís enough action here for ten books.
B. Jackson has a wonderful historical tale of Boston in the Summer of 1768
when British troops occupied the city. Ethan Kaille is a Thieftaker
(paper) and one of the rare conjurers, who, like is fellow magic users
keeps his abilities hidden to avoid being burnt for a witch. When all the
men on the HMS Graystone suddenly keel over dead, Ethan is hired to investigate
the crime. With the lieutenant Governor wanting to burn all the known conjurers,
and a missing crewman seemingly searching for something, Ethat has is work
cut out because is rival thieftaker with lots of heavy muscle working for
her, is after something the Thievesí Quarry.(hard from Tor) This
was lots of fun for both people who like historical fiction, mystery lovers,
and fantasy fans. I really enjoyed it.
the werewolf radio host, is kidnaped by a strange group that is convinced
that with her they can create a ritual that will kill hers, and the worlds
worst enemy. But as Kitty in the Underworld (paper from Tor by Carrie
Vaughn) realizes, in a world where magic works, even nuts might be correct.
I love this series and hope someone makes a decent television series from
Adamsí I Crimsonstreak introduced us to the fastest man on Earth
who had been locked in an insane assylum for superheroes. Getting out he
discovered that a version of his father from an alternate universe had
taken over the US because he saved the Earth from an invasion of Kiltechs.
In II Crimsonstreak ((electronic from Candlemark & Gleam) it
turns out that the Kiltechs come from another alternate universe. They
are opposed to the Yellow Bands. (Think green lantern). One of them wants
to meld all of Earthís parallels which would destroy the universe. The
only way to stop this is to beat someone who may be even faster, Bluestreak.
Filled with the same superheroics and bad movie references. However, unlike
the first, this one ends in a cliff-hanger. Iím waiting for the third.
sated with Zombie tales, but I do like John Ringo. In Under a Graveyard
Sky (hard from Baen) nasty types from the genetic hacker society created
a two-pronged zombie virus. The first is a simple flu that gestates for
two weeks until turning its victims into mindless, naked people who just
want to bite. The bite quickly turns the victim into a zombie. In the first
part, the heroes work with one of the largest banks to develop a vaccine
from the spines of infected victims. In the second theyíre in the Bermuda
triangle rescuing survivors from ships filled with zombies after most of
civilization. Like a certain television show, this is about survival and
restarting civilization. And is filled with the usual Rohn Ringo love of
guns and the military. I would have liked it better if medical people had
turned the tide before civilization fell..
Odentz has a tale about teenagers in a Zombie apocalypse from a disease
created by mad scientists. Dead (A Lot) (paper from Bell Bridge
Books) tells of Tripp and has twin sister who are immune to the airborne
version of the virus that wipes out ninty per cent of humanity. The Zombies
here burn easily and Tripp and his sister rescue a few trapped people before
rescuing their parents from the mad scientists. This is a solid coming-of-age
tale and kept me reading.
díArc never went to college but instead joined an ad agency and did well.
On her twenty-fifth birthday, sheís at an office party when a grim reaper
comes to take her bosses soul and reaps her instead. Gina X. Grant then
sends her to hell where. The Reluctant Reaper (electronic from Simon
and Schuster Digital Sales Inc) appeals her reaping and so she can return
to her comatose body. She also falls for the reaper who mistakenly sent
her to hell, Dante Alighieri. Hell is not very hellish, but thereís a silliness
to the t ale that grows on you. This is only the first part of the tale.
(trade from Tor) is a surviving Valkyrie entrusted with Odinís spear after
Ragnarok. Sheí;s been around for centuries and fought the Naziís during
WWII. Now she leads a fairly normal life in San Francisco until she is
attacked by a Frost Giant and discovers that her boyfriend is really Loki
in disguise. Helped by a disgraced elf who first looks homeless, she discovers
that she is Freyaís daughter, Ragnarok never finished, and Loki wants to
restart it with the help of the Frost Giants he brought to Earth through
gates that somehow have closed. Susan Krinardís tale tells of the first
skirmish in this battle and sets the series up for future adventures. I
had fun with it.
E. Mooney and Bill Fawcett put together a collection of tales in honor
of Gene wolfe, Shadows of the New Sun (hard from Tor) . Michael
Z. Williamson has put together his shorter tales of soldiers on Tour of
Duty: Stories and Provocations (trade from Baen). Urban fantasy tales from
major authors can be found in Manifesto UF (ebook Angelic Knight Press).
Paperback reprints include: Sherwood Smithís continuation of
her Prisoner of Zenda with magic tale in which her heroine becomes a ghost
in the past, Revenant Eve ( DAW); two Andre Norton novels in Ice and Shadow
(Baen); Robert Heinleinís shorter works Assignment in Eternity (Baen);
John Ringoís second urban fantasy Queen of Wands (Baen); and Sharon Lee
and Steve Millerís last Liaden Universe tale, Dragon Ship (Baen);
Treade paperback reprints include: David Weber and Jane Lindskoldís
Fire Season Baen); Lois McMast Buujoldís first Vorkosigan tale in a while
Captain Vorpartilís Alliance(Baen);and two of Robert Heinleinís classic
collections The Man Who Sold the Moon and Orphans of the Sky (Baen).
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on at
8 p.m. at International House on the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author of A Cycle
of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally Female (Smashwords).
He has a tale in the second issue of Fantasy Times which is available at
Amazon. The stories are fun.