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Science Fiction for November 2017
    Now that The Orville and Star Trek: Discovery are satisfying the hunger for military Science Fiction on the small screen, it’s fun to look for additional fiction in the same genre.
Richard Baker sets his tale in the era of future colonial politics in galactic future. Many colonies suffered technology loss after centuries of loss of contact. Acquilla and Dremish and Montréal all have worlds under their protection, though the Dremish claim they were shut out. Sikander Singh North is a prince of Kasmir serving as gunnery officer on the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. The Hector is ordered to Gadria, a world controlled by Montréal because of increasing rebellion is effecting Acquillan merchants. The Sultan’s daughter is active in politics and beautiful.. Dremish has two ships in the area and is supplying weapons in a move to put a Sultan under their control on the Gadrian throne. Because Sikander lived through rebellion on his home world, he is at the Valiant Dust(hard from TOR) of Hector’s attempt to control the situation. Lots of fun for a first adventure. I really look forward to Sikander’s next adventure.
Annalee Newitz has a dark near future. After robots became Autonomous (hard from TOR). Their creators were given ten years indentured servitude to pay for their cost. Unfortunately it soon because legal to indenture humans too, with parents selling their children. Drug companies only sell their cure-alls to people with money. Jack is a robin hood pirate, retro-engineering drugs that she gives away to those in need. She pays for that by retro-engineering pleasure drugs. Zacuity is a drug that makes work seem like fun, but unfortunately is very addicting. The pills Jack had sold were creating disasters and she needed to contact old friends to find a cure Unfortunately Eliasz, a International Property Coalition  agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin are on her trail and they don’t hesitate to torture and murder potential witnesses on their way. Fun, but I hope that future isn’t out future.
Seanan McGuire, the guest of honor at Philcon 2017, is very prolific. She has a book set in the role-playing game of the weird wild west, Dead Lands. Annie Pearl ran away from her husband with mute daughter Adeline. And joined the Blackstone Family Circus. Their last run of the season takes them to The Clearing in Oregon, a place notorious both for paying well and problems that effect some of the other circuses going through. Annie is in charge of the Oddities wagon filled with dangerous creatures like nibbler fish and a pumpkin-headed corn stalker. The monsters that surround The Clearing , giant wolves and Wendigo’s have turned the forest in a Boneyard (trade from TOR). It’s a dangerous place to find Adeline who was tricked into entering. Eventually her husband comes calling with men to take Annie back. The tale is eerie and tense.
David Drake tells a variation of the King Arthur tale set millions of years from now. Monsters live outside the human area. People with the maker talent can rebuild ancient technology. King Jon is bent on restoring The Spark (hard from Baen) of order with his Champions. Pal, is a maker who has built his own weapon and shield and goes to Dun Add. His rough weapons impress Guntram, the chief maker of the city, but are too rough to get him admitted as an Aspirant. Guntram, fascinated by his self-taught maker skills follows him home and provides him a machine fighter  trainer. Eventually he joins the champions and goes on quests to kill monsters, and finally to defend the Queen in a fighting trial. This is a neat world and I hope Mr. Drake has further adventures for Pal in mind.
David Walton looks at The Genius Plague (trade from Pyr) caused by a fungus that integrates with brain tissue. The problem is that the fungus influences infected humans towards its own needs. Neil Johns is a new analyst in the NSA, following in the footsteps of his father who left because of Alzheimer's disease. New terrorists arise in Brazil, even attacking Neils brother Paul, a mycologist, who picks up the fungus when he escapes through the jungle. Soon South America is in an uproar and infected US troops turn on their comrades. Drug dealers push the fungus to college students trying for an edge and there’s a counter fungus that turns people into puppets. Mr. Walton grounds the tale with realistic settings and three dimensional characters. Fun.
Fifty years after the zombie apocalypse, the Krakau cured some humans to be soldiers. Lieutenant Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is in charge of hygiene and sanitation on the  Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish when the ship is infected with a disease that killes the Krakau ship officers and turns all the rest of the crew back into Zombies. Only Mops and her small crew are unaffected and have to protect it from Prodyan pirates. When they somehow survive, they are ordered to bring the ship in so that the affected crew would be “put down”. Mops will have to find a Terminal Alliance (hard from DAW) to locate a cure and to save herself and her small crew. Jim C. Hines tells of laugh-out-loud tale of a group whose technologic ability lies in maintenance rather than military and an ability to talk their way out of harm rather than just shooting.
Tess McBray was dying of Solstice Syndrome when a meteor strike not only cures her but gives her Superhero Syndrome (paper from Twisted Tree Press) . In her case it’s the ability to turn flesh into something she touches (like metal). Caryn Larrinaga tells a fun tale of a young millennial returning to her home town Weyland. Someone is abducting young women, including her pregnant sister and other friends and only she and another affected potential super-hero, The Fox, can stop them. This is a giggle.
James Alan Gardner has a tale of an alternate Earth with Darklings; werewolves, vampires, demons, and ghosts. Int he 80'as the masters of the dark offered to sell eternal life for a million dollars. The conversion is not predictable. Kim Lam, and her three co-ed roommates were helping a friend move equipment when an explosion leads them to a rift in the universe in which six Darklings had entered.   Poison gas filled the room and only by shutting down the rift generator can the process be stopped. The side effect is to turn the four girls into super heroes. Kim can shrink and has super vision.  Of course All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault (paper from TOR). Soon it’s time to pick out costumes and investigate the goblin market where enough rift, even larger, has to be closed. Eventually our four heroines have to face a super villain responsible for the rifts. There a wink, wink to the light story telling that makes it fun.
Jazz Bashara came to Artemis (hard from Crown Publishing), the only lunar city,  at age six. Even though she’s smart enough to do anything she wants, she uses a pen pal on Earth, and her job as a porter to smuggle Illegal luxuries. Then one of her clients wants her to sabotage the mining machines of the aluminum processing company so he can buy the company. Alas the company is owned by Earth gangs for money laundering. Jazz’s client is murdered and Jazz has to go into hiding from the mob enforcer and the local cop. Andy Weir tells an exciting tale of the early days of luna exploration from a strong engineering background.
    Dafne Rose Wallace , Daffy to friends is a baker and a mother of three children. Her husband Gabrial Or G was constantly traveling for business for most of their thirteen years of marriage so she has had to handle her daughters and G’sorphaned son from his previous marriage. The town of Eugene Oregon is scandalized when G is discovered with another woman and that leads Daffy to divorce. Then her husband confronts potential muggers with a magic wand. It turns out that he’s the sheriff for the international Guild of Wizards and that her children are developing powers. Not only that by G’s ex had been imprisoned in a dungeon and has been killing wizards around to world to steal their powers. Now she’s coming for her son’s eyes to restore her vision. Luckily Daffy has A Spoonful of Magic (paper from DAW) to help in the fight. Irene Radford tells a pleasant tale of coping not only with an evil wizard, but also with a local church that has decided Daffy is a witch.
L.E. Modesitt, Jr. returns to the world of Recluce for the tale of  Beltur, a young, weak chaos mage working for his more powerful chaos mage uncle Kaerylt After an expedition to investigate nomadic tribes for the Prefect of Gallos,  Beltur and Kaerylt are ambushed in the palace and Beltur only escapes because his uncle protects him. Fleeing to Elparta he is another mage provides lodging while he finds work. He turns out to be far better as an Black Wizard and works with a smith to create a metal that hadn’t been made in centuries. Then Gallos sends troops and a number of chaos mages  up the river on the pretext of a trade dispute. Beltur, like all Elparta mages is drafted. Other mages call him The Mongrel Mage (hard from Tor) because he had started off as a white wizard but he is able to help defeat the Gallosians.  L. E. Modesitt Jr spends more time than he used to on the little details. Beltur is a weaker mage than many of his previous protagonists. This is the first of three tales about the wizard and he probably will grow in strength in future tales.
After saving the galaxy in the previous tales Flinx and his pet minidragon are bored. Then the Commonwealth church asks him to intervene on a world kept from technology. Largess is very wet and its inhabitants sing Strange Music (hard from Del Rey) instead of just speaking, sort of like a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. A human with guns operating with locals has kidnaped and Flinx has to save her with only the help of pip, who can be quite deadly. ‘I’m glac  Alan Dean Foster decided to give Pip and Flinx a new adventure.
The world Tao always faces its sun like Mercury and Song of Edmon (paper from 47North) begins at the same time the fracture point, that allows travel between the stars,  moves closer to Tao. It’s a harsh world and defined a yearly combat. Edmon’s father was raised to nobility because he had done what is nearly impossible and  won two Combats.  He was granted the island of Bone on the sun side, though he never visited and had other children in the Twilight areas. One of the nobles Edmon’s age, Phaestion, comes to foster with him and both of them soon end of training for Combat at an Academy for Nobels. Edmon would much rather create music than fight, though for his survival he becomes good at it. Eventually it is expected that Phaestion and Edmon will face each other in their year’s Combat. This is the start of Edmon’s tale. Adam Burch does an excellent job of creating the society of Tao. I can’t wait for the sequel that sends Edmon out to other worlds
On another world, equal to the quiet before World War I, The Beautiful Ones (hard from Thomas Dunne Books), the rich and noble have their coming out parties and grand seasons of balls. Antonina Beaulieu, Nina, in Loisail. Nina doesn’t fit in at her home because of her lack of control of her telekinetic ability. Which sent objects flying at the worst time. She ‘s staying with her cousin Gaetan and his wife Valérie. Hector Auvray performs marvelous effects using his telekinetic ability and has returned after a decade to fin his lost love, Valérie. At first he uses a growing friendship for Nina to help her control her abilities to get close to Valérie., Love ensues. I would have expect that Silvia Moreno-Garcia would have used telekinesis more, but it is important at the end. This tale is more a classic romance in an age of manners, than fantasy, still I couldn’t put it down.
Stephen R. Donaldson starts a new series about two countries locked in war for generations using magical abilities called decimates that can throw fire, earthquake and other evils at the enemy. When  Belleger loses its magic to the Seventh Decimate (hard from Berkley) Prince Bifalt goes on a quest to find the great library of magic. Twice he dies only to have a voice ask him if he is ready yet. He, and his small troop have to fend with raiders from  Amika and cross a desert to get to the castle. The tale is quite basic.
 Sarah Gailey returns the the pre-civil war Louisiana where Hippos were introduced into the Mississippi River Delta. The feral Hippos have gotten into the main waterway and have a Taste of Marrow (ebook from TOR). Adelia’s baby has been kidnaped and it takes the four comrades from the first tale to come to Baton Rouge and rescue her.  Ok.  
    David Siegel Bernstein tells of the Blockbuster Science (hard from Prometheus Books) of SF movies. Great for people who never took science in college.
    Tachyon Publications has republished The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip in trade. It also has The Overneath (paper) a collection of tales from Peter S. Beagle.
    Baen has reprinted Lois McMaster Bujold’s Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen and Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor’s Castaway Odyssey in paper. They also have volume 1 of Poul Anderson’s The Complete Psychotechnic League, classic tales written in the fifties, in trade. Larry Correia and Bryan Thomas Schmidt have put together a collection of The Monster Hunter Files in hardcover.
    The Science Fiction Society presents Philcon 2017 at the  Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill on November 10-12.  Seanan Mcguire (Mira Grant) is the Prinicipal Speaker, Don Maitz the Artist Guest of Honor, and Janny Wurts  As the Special Guest. Adults are $65 at the door. There are reduced rates for students and teenagers.
    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.