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Science Fiction for October 2017
    Fantasy and Science Fiction can create worlds that operate with rules that are totally different from our own. To read them requires the ability flex ones mind and exercises the mind to look at our world from a different view.
Max Gladstone’s craft sequence takes place after a war of the Gods and has led to a technology based on craft magic and funded by a currency based on the soul. The city of Alikand was at the heart of the war and a new city, Agdel Lex has been forced on the perceptions of its inhabitants. A visitor might actually drop into the older city by losing concentration, People illegally dive into its depths for find lost treasures.  It is surrounded by a desert littered with dying gods. Kai Pohala, who is an agent for a company that manufactures gods comes to the city for a quick business venture, only to have her sister Ley asking for a large sum of money . When Ley is turned down she stabs her partner with a knife that steals the woman’s soul. Then works with her ex-lover to rob a train. Kai, trying to save her sister, works with the city and a Craftswoman to recover the knife so that the partner can be revived. What she doesn’t know is that Ley is trying to disrupt a huge venture that will cause The Ruin of Angels (paper from TOR)and has the potential to destroy  Alikand and the people who still live in it. This very complicated tale even involves a rocket launch into a space where the stars sing. This series keeps getting better.    
Ed McDonald tells of a land under attack by the Deep Kings who modify the humans under their rule to make them both powerful and subservient. Outside the cities is the desolate Misery created by a deadly magical weapon eighty years earlier.  Ryhalt Galharrow is a Blackwing (hard from Ace) captain working for Crowfoot, one of the powerful beings protecting their land. Once he was a noble and officer in the army. He chases heretics into the Misery, living off the rewards that he doesn’t drink away. Then Crowfoot sends him to Lady Ezabeth Tanza a magical researcher under attack because she has been trying to convince people that the magical weapon is broken and  that the Deep Kings might soon launch a new attack. When he was young Rhyhalt almost married her. Unfortunately she is right and that puts both of them in the center of a conspiracy that may end their world. I really enjoyed this tale.
Marcus Sakey has a most unusual secular version of the Afterlife (paper from Thomas & Mercer). FBI agent  Will Brody was chasing a terrorist sniper when he is killed in a trap. This sends him to an echo of our world in which murdering another ghost gives people extra powers. Attacked immediately, as most newcomers are, he saves himself by killing one of the attackers. Then he finds a collection of other people working together to protect themselves. Claire McCoy is boss and lover traps the sniper and is caught up in his suicide explosion, sending her to the same afterlife. The sniper proves far more powerful in this new world and only Clair and Will workign together can stop him. That only leads to the discovery of other levels of this universe. This is a solid tale. Apparently  Imagine Entertainment plans to make it a movie. I can only hope they can capture the essence of this fascinating tale.
Bob Johansson sold his software company for a lot a money and for a lark decides to arrange for his head to be frozen after death. Three days he’s killed by a bad driver. A century later it’s possible to scan a frozen brain and upload the personality to a computer. The theological state that the US has become can only use heads like Bob, because the government has appropriated the frozen heads. Bob is put in a Von Neuman to be sent to the stars and make copies of his ship and himself to look for potential colony planets. Dennis Taylor starts his tale with We Are Legion (paper) in which several Bob’s are created, colony worlds are found and Earth has had it’s population almost wiped out in the war that started with Bob’s launch. We Are Legion (paper) starts the evacuation of Earth that soon will be uninhabitable and the discovery of Three alien civilizations. Two are less developed, but the Others are building a Dyson Sphere in their system and see nothing wrong with destroying other systems for raw material. Earth is on their path and they will arrive sooner than the planet can be evacuated.  All the problems come to a culmination is  (paper from Worldbuilders Press) with more than five hundred Bob’as working to oppose the Others. Lots of fun. I love the way the Bobs have to think their way through their  problems. Lots of fun.
The best way to write a tale abut the FBI investigating monsters in a Chicago suburb is for one of the writers, Alistair Kimble, to actually be a FBI special agent. Eric Flint adds the fantasy excitement to Iron Angels (hard from Baen) which starts with rescuing a girl kidnaped as a cult sacrifice. Beings from another world can enter ours and love the iron in human blood. Someone who has gone into their world comes back with powers. Jasper Wilde is a special agent working with local police. After rescuing the girl and seeing inexplicable things, is joined by Supervisory Special Agent Temple Black from a new x-files like department. Very exciting with probable sequels.
Marshall Ryan Maresca fantasy tales take place in the city of Maradaine. Veranix Calbert is a university student of magic by day and The Thorn at night, using his magic to rout drug pushers from his part of the city. Satrine Rainey, the only woman cop  and her magic using-partner, Minox Welling, are inspectors in another part of the city. They are called to the university area because The Imposters of Aventil (paper from DAW) have killed cops while dressed as the Thorn. The university is the host of a massive athletic contest and drug vials have been appearing on the campus. I love both of these series and was excited to find the characters I’ve grown to love working both at cross and together. I can only hope that Mr. Maresca plans more of these intersections. I really love his world and the fun stories he tells.
Catherine Asaro returns to the ancient Skolian empire built by people stolen from Earth four millennia ago. The Bronze Skies (trade from Baen) sends Major Bhaajan back into the Undercity (paper) where she was born on the trail of a Jagernaut who had done the impossible – murdered an Assembly Councilor in front of the Ruby Pharaoh. Her AI should have prevented her from even firing her weapon. The core of the puzzle lies in the ancient ships that brought people to Raylicon and in the birth parents Major Bhaajan never knew.  This is a nice addition to the saga and I hope Major Bhaajan returns for another tale.
Curtis Craddock sets his tale of An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (hard from Tor) as a potential civil war blooms between two princes whose king Father is dying. Continents float about in a sphere of air with sailing ships flying between them. The destruction was caused by a technological society that left ruins and a priesthood that worship their remains. Princess Isabelle des Zephyrs was born with a crippled right hand and a lack of the blood-killing sorcery normally found in her family. Jean-Claude is the King’s musketeer whose been watching over her since her birth. She is so brilliant that the math papers published under a pseudonym have received renown. On another continent the King is dying and the eldest prince’s wife is barren. She is chosen to wed the younger prince, but things are not as they seem. There’s a deeper plot by an ancient priest who believes that she will birth the savior of their world. Unfortunately he also wants to start a massive war. Isabelle and Jean-Claude have their hands full, especially since the previous bride was assassinated before arriving. Lots fun with a sixteenth century feel. Even though this tale is complete, I’d love to revisit this complicated world.
Melissa Caruso sets her tale of a a lady and a street kid in a world based on the Venetian Empire of the fifteenth century. The empire collects most children with magical abilities and these ‘falcons’ are jessed  to falconers  without abilities who can turn their abilities on and off. Lady Amalia Cornaro is the heir to one of the great families and normally wouldn’t have been allowed to be a falconer. But a chance encounter with Zaira, a girl who had live on the streets and  who hid her fire abilities but unleashed them when attacked by kidnappers. She would have destroyed the city because she lost control, but another Falconer who had followed the girl, gave Amalia the jess bracelet because he was already linked to his sister. Raverra, the city in which Amalia had gotten her education, is on the verge of revolt and The Tethered Mage (paper from Orbit) with the rare ability of fire, represents a fearsome weapon to bring the city back under control of the  Raverran Empire. First however Amalia has to find common ground with Zaira so that the two can work together and save her friends in Raverra. I look forward to further adventures.
October Daye’s eleventh adventure starts when Amandine, Toby’s powerful mother decides that only Toby can find her lost half-sister, August,  a sister who disappeared in 1910. She kidnaps Toby’s fiancee and only by working with her worst enemy, Simon Torquill,, August’s father. The trail leads deep into lost parts of Fairy and The Brightest Fell (hard from DAW)  and then back to San Francisco. The problem is that August is under a spell that keeps her lost. The series is still very strong and fans of the series will be very happy with this episode.
Emma Newman continues her tale of Charlotte Gun who is still hiding her magical talents from the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts in a version of 1850. Her brother, who is in the society and now working at one of the magical wool factors, asks her to pretend to be a worker at his factory because something is destroying the looms and he is afraid he will be blamed and sent to Australia. The work is far harder than she expected and the workers have long hours and frequently die on the job. But it’s really the Weaver's Lament (paper from Tor) at the heart of the problem caused by the soul stealing looms. Fun.
P. C. Hodgell has been writing about the Kencyrath who have been fleeing the Primal Darkness from world to world  for three thousand years  with the amazing God Stalk (found in Godstalker Chronicles)  in 1982. The heroine Jamethiel lived with her traitor father in the Primal Darkness and since has been finding her place. Her twin brother, a decade older rules the Kencyrath despite powerful heads of Houses who have their own agendas. Jame has been sent with the command of a hundred to an abandoned Keep. But The Gates of Tagmeth (trade from Baen) include not only physical gates but also magical gates hidden in darkness that link the keep to places all over  Rathillien. The series in no closer to an end in this episode. Jame deals with house politics like refugees from houses whose rulers have gone mad, local gods awakened when the Kencyrath arrived, and the problems her friends and enemies force on her. It helps that Jame has claws and can ride a Rathorn (sort of a lion horse) Rathillien is a strange world in which people can breathe underwater if certain conditions are met, and in which the local gods like the Earth Mother appear at will. Even though this is a minor addition to the saga, I eagerly lapped it up. Hopefully there will be more tales.
Patrick Hemstreet tells of neuroscientist Chuck Brenton who works with advanced EEGs created from creative volunteers. Then he has a bright idea that the EEGs could be used to allow direct manipulation of computer effects. Working with a mathematician Matthew Streegman and others they soon discover that their subjects can create what they call a zeta brain wave, The God Wave (paper from HarperCollins Publishers), allows subjects to do impossible things like telekinesis. Unfortunately their company signs a contract to train members  with what they think is the US Army but is actually a paramilitary group.  The first half of the tale is a lot of fun, but then things go dark.  It is the first book of a trilogy which I bought when I read that the tv and film right had been picked up. It should make for a great tv or movie series.
Tom Doyle’s third tale of secret magical family fighting craft wars between the right hand magic and the left-hand evil magic After a Japanese wedding between Michael Endicott, and  Grace Marlow, they are attacked during the honeymoon and forced to flee to India, where they  are asked to stop an armageddon, with War and Craft (hard from Tor) in a very real Shangri-La in the mountains between India and Tibet. The living  and ghosts are bent on a destruction that could destroy the world. Of course it’s all the fault of the villain of the series Rodney. When death doesn’t mean dying,it makes it harder to care about the characters. Still this is a fun tale.
After America was invaded by elves, New Orleans has become a war zone and has been evacuated. Claire Connolly, who kept her small store operating in the city,  is able to use the magic now available. In her third adventure she and bounty Liam Quinn have the government on  The Hunt (paper from Berkley by Chloe Neill) for them. Liam is accused of a murder he couldn’t have committed because he was out of the city. Of course there’s a conspiracy behind the hunt. Fun.
    Michale Sims has put together tales of Frankenstein Dreams (paper from Bloomsbury USA)  of Victorian Science Fiction with tales from Jules Verne, Mary Shelly, Edgar Allan Poe, etc. Joseph Nassie has a collection of tales of Urban Enemies (paper from Gallery Books) from major authors of Urban Fantasy.The third volume of The Best of Ben Bova is out in trade from Baen Books. Baen has reprinted David Drakes fun tale of Daniel Leary and Adele Mundy, Death’s Bright Day in paper. Baen has reprinted Sharon Lee and Steve Miller latest Lladen universe tale Alliance of Equals in paper. Michael Z. Williamson has a collection Forged in Blood (hard from Baen) set in his Freehold universe.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on  October 12 2017. Kyle Williamson will speak. 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 fusion generation.