Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for October 2016
by Henry Leon Lazarus
Some people enjoy exciting action in their
Fantasy and Science Fiction, and others find that they want deep,
psychological interaction with very flawed characters. I definitely
want fun and I want my heroes to win the day. I’m a bit old
fashioned, I guess.
In Glynn Stewart’s rip snorting action
tale, Earth’s discovery of hyperspace has led to one of the empires
that control our galaxy arriving to conquer Earth. Earth’s only
hyper-capable warship under the command of Captain Annette Bond is
sent to be The Terran Privateer (ebook from Faolan's Pen
Publishing Inc). Her mission is to discover the organization of the
galaxy and to attack shipping to hopefully gain enough technology to
enable Earth to throw out her conquerors. To do that they have
capture freighters, and find a place to sell their loot. The first
mate of their first capture is willing to help, even though she is
of the same species of the empire that captured Earth. Slavers
attempt to capture the human crew at the pirate base. One thing lead
so another with lots of space battle. I’m eager for the sequel.
George R. R. Martin’s fans have some good
news. Not , alas, about Game of Thrones. The Wildcard series that he
and Melinda M. Snodgrass have been editing since 1987 have been
picked up by Universal Cable Productions as a tv series. The latest
tale in the series provides High Stakes (hard from Tor) for
some of the Aces as they face Lovecraftian monsters in Talas
Kyrgyzstan. In the previous book a trail of missing jokers led to
gladiatorial matches in Talas. The violence was keeping the monsters
quiescent, but now the city is filled with people eating their own
flesh, and the Aces on the UN committee go mad when exposed to the
evil miasma. The heart-pounding excitement is not for the faint of
heart, but good wins in the end. If only one book a year in the
series makes it to television, it will take a quarter century to
reach this tale, sigh.
Marc Turner shows promise to be a major
fantasy writer. When the Heavens Fell (paper) introduced us
to a world filled with magic and wandering gods. In a world where
the inhabitants of Erin Elal fled Augura, a genocidal people with
stone colored skin and powerful magic. Dragon Hunters (hard
) was set on Dragon Day when normally one dragon was let through.
This time political scheming and Auguran assassins let many dragons
through, destroying the hunter ships. Fourteen days later the
Augurans have sent ships to the Rubyholt islands, a pirate infested
groups with ruins of old civilizations lost in its seas. They plan a
Red Tide (hard from Tor) to destroy the canal between two
seas and don’t care how many die to let their ships through.
Characters introduced in both previous books reappear for the same
pulse-pounding action as our heroes attempt to save the canal from
invasion. Mr. Turner’s world building skills are top notch and I
expect an award nomination for this or one of his future tales.
John Ringo liked Larry Correia’s Monster
Hunter series so well that he wrote some prequels set in the 80's Monster
Hunter Memoirs: Grunge(hard from Baen) is the tale of Oliver
Chadwick Gardenier who almost lost his life when his barracks were
blown up in Beruit. A dream convinced him that St. Peter let him
live because God had further plans from him. Then a prayer meeting
literally caused the dead to rise, and he had to destroy zombies.
After Oliver joins Monster hunters, Inc he works in Seattle where he
has to kill giant spiders, vampires. werewolves, and more in
various adventures that cover the first decade of his time with the
company. Two more books are promised.
Max Gladstone is a rising star in fantasy
because of his tales of a world recovering from a war of the gods
and of the Craftsmen and Craftswomen who are as powerful as gods. Four
Roads Cross (hard from TOR) takes place in the city of Alt
Coulumb where a year before the fire god Kos was murdered and
brought back to life. This is a world where bonds are sold based on
the stability of Gods, and the return of the moon god Seril
threatens the solvency of Kos’s bonds. So Tara Abernathy, a
craftswoman working for Kos’s temple, has to work with Seril’s
gargoyles to recover Seril’s lost powers and prevent a hostile
takeover of the city. Working with her are the agent of justice
Catherine Elle, who can manifest a silver protective suit, and the
vampire Raz Pelham. This is a possible award
David D. Levine imagines an Earth
floating in air instead of space. Sailing ships can use the solar
winds to float between worlds. It’s 1813 and Arabells’s mother sends
her from her father’s plantation on Mars to Earth for a proper
education for a young lady. After her father’s death, her uncle
decides that killing her brother would give him deed to the family
estate. Arabella rushes off to stop him, only to disguise herself as
a young man and join the crew of the Diana, a commercial sailing
ship under the command of Captain Prakash Singh. From her father
Arabella had a fascination with Automata and Captain uses one to
help navigate between planets. On the way they are attacked by
Pirates, and suffer a Mutiny. The they reach Mars only to discover
the native Crabs are in revolt. Of course it falls on Arabella
of Mars ( hard from Tor). There’s a strong taste of
Treasure Island in this well thought out adventure. It can’t be read
without bringing a solid grin.
I got addicted to Debra Dunbar’s eight
book imp series and couldn’t stop till finished. Slum landlord
Samantha Martin is really a young imp, only a thousand years old and
has played on Earth for forty. Angels will kill her if she is found,
but when one does, she becomes A Demon Bound (paper)
instead. Things get complicated when she finds Satan's Sword
(paper) and it chooses her, the first Satan since the war between
Angels of Chaos and Angels of Order two million years before. The
new demons, exiled to Hel, could still breed, but the remaining
angels, thankfully immortal, couldn’t. The sword puts her in the
empty seat on the ruling committee of Angels. By the fifth book, Imp
Forsaken (paper) she was injured by angels working with humans
and elves to bottle demon spirit so that it can be used for angel
sex. Heavily injured, she somehow manages to face her enemies and
become the first Angel of Chaos since the war. The Angel world, Aaru
has a civil war going on, and the elves have decided to Exodus
(paper from Anessa Books) Hel and conquer Earth, not realizing
that technology will trump their magic and their allergy to iron is
a great detriment. Our heroine has to find demons to help in the
fight. She finds thirty, instead of legions. The tales are cute,
silly and impossible to put down.
Hail Bristol left the Indranan Empire
after her father, the royal consort, was murdered and after trying
to find her father’s murderers ended up as a gun runner. She had
some sisters who would become Empress didn’t care. Then, as K. B.
Wagers tells it, someone started murdering her sisters and poisoned
her mother, leaving her the heir Behind the Throne (paper
from Orbit) shanghaied back to her home world she soon has to find
friends to help her survive assassination after assassination
attempt. Lots of fun.
J.L. Doty writes about a star empire of
our future with an ambitious king, but weak king. His first attempt
at expansion left Charlie Cass, a bastard son of one of the Dukes,
in a pow camp with the Syndonese despite the fact his tactics
allowed for peace. Now returning a hero, he becomes an enemy of the
king when the king lets the Syndonese control him as he attacks
other star kingdoms. Charles’s father, murdered by his own wife,
bequeathed him the Duchy of Lunis, whose first twelve Dukes had all
committed treason. As The Thirteenth Man (paper from Harper
Voyager Impulse) in the dukedom. However his father left him
powerful tools, should he dare to use them Add a princess, and
heiress to the Realm who has been betrothed to an evil Duke. There
are assassination attempts and colorful Gipsy allies. This fun
action tale with light romance.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr. returns to the
imager’s world at a time when Alastar is settled into his role as
Maitre of the Collegium of Imagers. The current Rex is weak, and the
merchant class is growing, encroaching on the nobility. Some of them
plan an uprising using Treachery’s Tools (hard from Tor).
They have forgotten the power of Imagery and the willingness of
Alastar to use his and the Colegium’s magic to prevent the Solidar
devolving into a collection of Noble estates. This is quiet, taking
its time to reach any excitement, but still quite enjoyable.
Peter F. Hamilton latest tale of the
Commonwealth would have been more fun if it didn’t have a
deus-ex-machina ending. A Night Without Stars (hard from Del
Rey) is the story of the survival of the humans on the planet
Bienvenido, a commonwealth settled world that lost most of its
technology and that got dropped out of the Void where magic worked.
. They are being menaced by a species they call the fallen dropping
from trees in orbit. The fallen have the ability to exactly mimic
people and animals and only their blue blood gives them away. They
are losing, though not really realizing it, when a baby is dropped
in a Commonwealth capsule. A forest ranger, Florian, finds the
capsule and has to protect the baby from a corrupt government
for a month until she grows into the adult Paula Myo and can figure
out how to save the human population and get them to the
Commonwealth. This is a fun conclusion to the whole Void part of Mr.
Hamilton’s Void series.
Jennifer Estep’s fifteenth tale of
master assassin Gin Blanco, the spider, finds her Unraveled
(paper from Pocket Books) after she killed Finnigan Laine’s evil
mother and learned about the new evil in her life, the circle.
Time for a vacation, especially since Finnigan has inherited a
western theme park, Bullet Pointe. The bad guys are there searching
for hidden jewels. One of them is a sharpshooter who infuses her
bullets with fire energy. The usual fun.
The tenth October Daye is a routine
murder mystery set at a conclave run by the King and Queen of the
North American Fae to determine whether the cure for elf-shot (that
kills half-fae and leaves the full Fae in a coma for a century)
should be used. Once Broken Faith (paper from DAW) has Toby
trying to solve the murder of a minor Fae king. Of course Seanan
McGuire has the murder involving magic, and of course all of
Toby’s friends get elf shot during the investigation. Fun.
Barbara Barnett takes an odd look at the
effects of The Apothecary's Curse (paper from Pyr) of
immortality on two people. In the sixteenth century Gaelan
Erceldoune mixed a cure for the plague from his father’s ancient
text. In the nineteenth century his friend Simon Bell, a physician
of repute, asks him for a cure for cancer for his wife, The wife
dies, and Simon thinking the medicine is poison downs the dose. Then
a madman captures Gaelan and experiments on him in horrible ways
including cutting off some fingers to see if they would grow back.
His father’s book lost, Gaelan becomes a rare book collector, until,
in the present, an evil medical research corporation finds a clue to
his location and a miracle brings the book back to him. Simon wants
to join his wife in death, and Gaelan just wants to be normal.
Interesting tale though the ending seemed to simple.
At the same time as the Magna Carta was
signed, an agreement was signed limiting mythical creatures to a
single instance, the rest sent to a deep sleep. Ben Garston was one
of the signers and the only dragon allowed. He mostly lives as human
until an ancient dragon/goddess, gets awakened and then his enemies
come after him. According to James Bennett, Ben might be very
difficult to kill, but his girlfriend, Rose, is all too human. So
Ben sets off Chasing Embers (paper from orbit) no realizing
that his true, hidden, enemies have a plan to end the world. Very
exciting, although the action becomes a bit predictable.
Eric Flint with a new co-author for his
series of humans working with aliens who conquered us to fight the
Ekhat, a genocidal, insane species. David Carroco adds a different
flavor to the tale as a fleet is sent to discover potential allies
in their fight to improve the The Span of Empire (hard from
Baen) . The best parts are the tale of first contact with xenophobic
aliens still recovering from another alien attack centuries before.
Then the Ekhat arrive and the real battle begins. Fun and routine. I
really liked the first book in this series.
Baen has reprinted Larry Correia’s fun Son of
the Black Sword in paper. They also have several short story
collections this month: older tales about Things from Outer
Space (paper edited by Hank Davis); Multiverse:Exploring
Poul Anderson’s Works (paper and edited by Greg Bear and
Gardner Dozois); classic tales of Women of Futures Past (trade
edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch); and tales from Wen Spencer’s
Project Elfhome (hard).
The Science Fiction Society will
have its next meeting on October 14th 2016 where William
"Brad" Hafford, Archeologist at the Penn Museum is the guest
speaker. The meeting starts at 8 p.m. at
International House on the University of Pennsylvania
Campus. As usual Guests are Welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the
author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally
Female (Smashwords).Check out his unified field theory at
henrylazarus.com/utf.html that suggests a simpler way to achieve