Science Fiction for November 2013
by Henry Leon Lazarus
Iím often guilty of judging a book by its cover,
putting off reading a fantasy or science fiction novel because itís title
suggests something. But when I get to the bottom of the pile, I sometimes
find unexpected jewels.
Aeons ago, one of the gods, Abandon decided to destroy all life. The war left the few surviving gods powerless and Abandon separated into a soul that transfers from body and his power formed into a daemon. When the daemon infects one human on a world, it grows to eventually destroy that world. According to B R Crichton, Kellan was only eight when he was infected and also saw his mother murdered by soldiers searching for rebels against the Korthean empire. He ran away and would have drowned but for one of the emissaries who watch the worlds with out interference. Exiled to reality, Granger finds the boy and takes him to secluded place where one of the last gods still survives. There Kellan is taught how to master The Rage Within (ebook form Amazon) using the Calm. When he is old enough he leaves the glen to join the Rebellion against the empire, weakening it enough that it is invaded by the Jendayan Empire who treat the locals the way the Japanese treated the Chinese during their WWII invasion. But They are under the command of Abandon who wants Kellan and the mercenary troupe he fights with. After well described battles against impossible odds, the problem finally remains. How do you kill an immortal being? This is impossible-to-put down and rates a wow. I hope the tales is nominated for some awards.
Michael Siemsen has a fascinating tale of The Many Lives of Samuel Beaucham (paper from Fantome Publishing in which the death of a young man creates a being who can jump from body to body. We meet Samuel in the body of an ex-biker, Tinker, who moved to New York City and works as a librarian in the late fifties. Then he finds a friend, becomes involved with a crazy, sexy woman, and finds another of his kind who wants to upend his world, bringing Tinkerís past to disturb Samuelís present. Disturbing, exciting and impossible-to-put-down.
Ann Leckie has a strange look at a far future in which intelligent starships are given mind-wiped, ancillary bodies that can act as crew or serve the crew members. Breq is the last surviving member of the troop carrier Justice of Toren, a one-time spare body that was the only survivor and is seeking Ancillary Justice (paper from Orbit) from the head of the Radch Empire, Anaander Mianaai who has many bodies and is over a thousand years old. Roman Ideals guide the Empire which controls most of known human space and tries to keep peace from some of the more powerful aliens that populate the galaxy. A lot of horrible things were done by the empire while in conquered human planets. How Breq can confront a person who, unlike most citizens of Radch, is in a thousand places is part of the dilemma she faces as well as dealing with only one body when in the past she had hundreds. Absolutely fascinating and impossible-to-put-down.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr.ís latest takes place in a future in which travel between can seem like weeks but actually take decades in the real world. Ecologist Paul Verano is willing to accept the loss of real time because his marriage fell apart and his teenage daughter wonít talk to him. He is sent to do a survey of Sittara, a planet settled for a thousand years and a source of anti-aging drugs. The planet with ists beautiful skytubes, and massive hurricanes that force human settlements to live underground, has some deadly secrets. Soon Dr. Verano feels like The One-eyed Man (hard from Tor) in the country of the blind because he is the only one who realizes how dangerous an experiment conducted by one of the mult-stellar corporations is. Fun and fascinating.
Stephen Hunter has a series set in a strange world with air-ships, steam driven computers powerful enough to a achieve intelligence in the form of metal men. Thereís also powerful genetic engineering. Each book in the series shares only a secondary character so they can be read independently. Jack Cloudie (hard from Tor) is a young manís adventure full of excitment and near death experiences. Oman is a slave working in a desalination plant in the hot Cassarabian Empire, not knowing he is the secret son of the owner. But a sect of womb-mages is pushing the empire towards war with the Kingdom of Jackels because they have discovered how to make artificial lifting gas. Omarís father is killed and he is somehow tapped to Guardian training instead of being resold or killed. Jack Keats came from a fallen rich family and now has is father and brothers in the poor house. A hacker, he is part of a plan to crack a major safe, but is caught and assigned to the Iron Partridge, the only armored airship in the royal navy. Even though designed to be completely automated, the machinery never worked so it is a perfect ship to send on a suicide mission to find the source of the Carabian lifting gas. Both end up in a hidden city filled with monstrous womb mage creations to rescue a man in an Iron Mask. The is a tale of heart pounding excitement and over-the-top danger that never stops for a second.
Ian Douglas has a second adventure for his Star Corpsman, Elliot Carlyle. His escapade in the first tale have left him a bit notorious so he is assigned to a small expedition to Abyss Deep (paper from Harper Voyager), a frozen planet with a deep liquid ocean filled with possibly intelligent whales. The research station there is out of contact. When they arrive they discover an aggressive alien species has arrived, and there is a hole were the research station was. It doesnít help that the ships captain is disabled and the doctor in charge of the medics has gone insane. But with lots of fun excitement, Eliot finds the intelligence of the whales and what happened to the research station. Light fun and I hope his next adventure is just exciting.
Chrysoula Tzavelas intoduced us to three Matchbook Girls (ebook), close friends who discover a strange world of angels and fae when Marley is hired to babysit two children with powers. At the end Penny was left in a coma and Branwyn who had contacts with Tarn, the of Underlight. He claims that if Branwyn makes the Infinity Key (ebook from Candlemark & Gleam). As she travels through both the fae and human worlds, she learns more about how magic works and how her abilities as an artificer will help her find the cure for her friend. Very good.
Pulse pounding action in the modern world sends a group from Swords of Exodus (paper from Baen) after a warlord deep in Central Asia. First Michael Valentine has to be broken out of a prison run by a rogue branch of the Government in Montana, then he and retired-thief Lorenzo and a small team of other go after Bob, ex FBI agent and Lorenzoís brother. Larry Correia and Mike Kupari are working with modern versions of James Bond, but more three-dimensional. Very exciting.
Genetics Researcher Ryan Abernathy is Chasing Eternity (ebook from Diversion Books) by collecting DNA samples from very old twins, hoping to find why some people live much longer than others. That brings him to an almost deserted Irish island and Cleona, the great-great grand daughter of Cleona and Catherine Owen who well over the century mark. Add in a nun with a brain tumor who recognizes one of the sisters as being very old when she joined the nunnery fifty years before. This is really a tale about real science, with the hint of the strange coming from the possible age of the dying sisters. Itís very charming.
Dax Warley has a silly tale about a teenage girl who works in her grandmotherís magic shop, Mimi's Charms & Enchantments and believes in magic because she has seen Mimi do minor magical healing. So when a shady customer drops a paper with a magical spell for power on the floor, she is Spellbound and Determined( ebook from eXcessica Publishing) to find the exotic ingredients which include grave dirt, leaches, and a three-legged animal. She is helped by her boy-crazy friend Reade and a nerd friend Zach who helps figure out what the spell means. Itís as silly as it sounds, but I giggled all the way through. Great for teenagers.
Collections this month include Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs (trade from Baen and edited by Mike Resnick and Robert T. Garcia) with tales from major authors; In Space No One Can Hear You Scream (trade from Baen) ; and The God Tattoo (trade from Baen) with tales set in Tom Lloydís Twilight Reign series.
The 77th Anniversary Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference, Philcon, will be on November 18 - 20, 2011 in the Crown Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, NJ. The Principal Speaker is three-time Hugo award winner, Allen Steele. Itís $50 for the weekend, but there are day rates. Always fun. Iíll be there
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally Female (Smashwords)