Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for December 2010
I like to walk while reading a book, startling bystanders.
The other day I passed someone reading a book while walking, but he was
reading his on a Kindle. I guess that means we have entered a new era.
Electronic books have arrived for good. Whether you read books on
a designated reader, a computer pad, or a smart phone ( like I do) most
books are available. Isnít this a wonderful time to be a reader?
By Henry Leon Lazarus
Lee uses older magical creatures, like dryads, and selkies in the enchanting
Maine coastal town of Archerís Beach. Kate, who had been a land guardian
and exiled herself of a bad decision that let a friend die, returns when
her Grandmother disappears. Kate had been born on a princess on one of
the more magical worlds and escaped to her grandmother on Earth when her
father was killed. But the powerful wizard has come to Archerís Beach searching
for something he thinks was stolen and Kate and her magical friends can
stop him only if she reconnects to the land and if she gets her Carousel
ride ready for early opening of the amusement park. Only the Carousel
Tides (trade from Baen) and the imprisoned beings who inhabit the creatures
of the ride will determine her success. This is a warm, wonderful look
at the fantasy just below reality and has such a strong sense of wonder,
it is impossible to put down.
Berg introduces us to a world transitioning from magic to science. Powerful
magic using blood has been outlawed after a major war. On the anniversary
of his sonís death, the king is nearly assassinated, and he appoints his
best friend and closest advisor to determine how a man, drained regularly
of blood for months, was able to shoot an arrow into the kingís horse.
Then the advisor disappears and the King suspects another attack will come
on the next anniversary. Enter Portier de Duplais, library to the college
of magic and failed magician who is a distant cousin of the king. Together
with the Queenís half-brother, Ilario, a seemingly useless fop, and
Dante, a loner magician who passed all the magical tests without going
to the college he has to determine who is responsible and why illegal blood
magic plays such a strong part in the various attacks on the King. Thereís
also the problem of the missing advisor he might have actually survived
and is mixed into the plot somehow. Fascinating. Luckily the tale is complete.
Sequels to this first tale of Collegia Magica, The Spirit Lens (paper
from Roc which I bought for my Kindle App) will have new characters and
been very impressed with N. K. Jemisinís tales of a world whose creators
and the godlings they birthed wonder around where everyone can talk to
them. The sun god has been overthrown and made basically mortal, leaving
his priesthood still in power, but very confused. Then Oree Shoth, a blind
artist whose ex-lover is one of the godlings, is present when another godling
is found murdered. In the city of Shadow under the World Tree in The
Broken Kingdoms (trade from Orbit) a sect of the Sun God worshipers
uses powers inherited from breeding with the immortal godlings to destroy
them. Since her paintings have magic. Oree and her new, friend who keeps
killing himself and then is reborn to health, are under suspicion, especially
when she uses the magic inside her to fight the priests sent to arrest
her. This is an unusual and addicting world and I hope further tales are
on their way.
wonderful to see Louis McMaster Bujold bring Miles Vorkosigan back into
action. This time Gregor sends him to Kibou-daini where senior citizens
are put into cryogenic storage. The owners of the storage facilities, who
can vote by proxy for their clients, have accumulated a lot of political
power and are looking to extend that power to one of words of the Barrayaran
Empire. An attempted kidnaping leads Miles to the son of a woman forcibly
frozen because a dirty secret from one of the companies. Of course he and
his sister have to be rescued, their mother brought out of cold storage,
and the information she holds brought to life. The bad guys are incompetent,
making Miles job a little easier and the plot a bit silly. This tale of
a Cryoburn (hard from Baen) is a must for fans of the series
and luckily comes with a cd of all the previous books in the series.
E. Modessitt, Jr imagines a time, ages from now, when a massive canal,
totally impervious to change, crosses one of the continents. As human civilizations
rise and fall, and as the earth goes from ice age to overheating and back
to our normal, three groups of scientists to to investigate the canal and
find themselves under attack by their own governments. Since the canal
is locked out of time, it, somehow, can connect the three groups and provide
help for their deadly problems. One of the groups in under attack by a
weapon that could destroy the universe. All tthe researchers have
to do is somehow connect to the controls of the canal, and for one of them
to actually direct the forces the canal can master to become a sort-of
of Eternity (hard from Tor). This took about half the book to get into,.
Mr. Modesitt is one of my favorite writers so I persevered, and found the
end worth the trouble.
Anne Gilman continues her tale of magic and wine in Weight of
Stone (hard from Gallery which I bought for my Kindle app) in which
Jerzy and friends travel across the ocean to find where the evil that is
attacking his lands is coming from. The bad guys turn out to be a bit routine,
but I still love the magic that comes from the preparation and decanting
of special wines. Jerzy, and ex-slave and apprentice wine maker, is solidly
growing into his magical talents, even though the outer world still confuses
him. The final book in this trilogy, coming next year, holds promise.
always compare Rachael Caineís tales of The Morganville Vampires as
counter to Buffy. Claire, the heroine, is very smart and has no super powers.
Most vampires have settled in the small Texas town which has itís own university.
Claire was an early admission student because her parents thought her too
young to go to MIT (yeah she is that bright) and no one outside of the
town know that it is run by vampires. In the eighth book, Claire and friends
go on a road trip to Dallas, because Michael has a recording session. But
their minder. Oliver, has a side trip in mind, a trip to a small Texas
town where new vampires created by the evil Bishop have been heavily infected
by the Kiss of Death (paper from New American Library that I bought
for my kindle app) that zombifies them. Then Claire and her boss Myrnin,
in book nine, uses a computer to recreate the vampire brain powered system
that kept people leaving Morganville from remembering the vampires. Alas
it goes horribly wrong erasing three years of memories from both vampires
and humans. Myrnin goes nuts and blocks Claire from turning off the machine
that is turning Morganville into a Ghost Town (hard). Ms. Caine,
as usual, has created impossible to put down tales. Iím always up for Claireís
also keep following Patricia Briggsís tales of coyote shifter, Mercy Thompson.
In the fifth book it is time for the villain to be fae, this time a fairy
queen who is enthralling humans and is searching for a magical Silver
Borne (paper from Ace that I bought for my Kindle app) object that
Mercy owns. The queen is not above attacking the local werewolf pack, especially
Adam, its alpha and Mercyís lover. It doesnít help that Samuel, Mercyís
friend, physician, and werewolf, is suicidal and only his wolf aspect is
keeping him alive. Mercy eventually has to face the queen in her lair and
only her ties to those she love enables her to survive.
series Iíve been following is Jennifer Estep whose tales of Spider (Gin
Blanco), an assassin with elemental powers of stone and ice made her impossible
to stop. Eventually she hopes to face Mab Monroe, a powerful mage with
fire magic so powerful she rules the town. She burnt out Ginís family when
Gin was a child, forcing Gin to live on the streets. Venom (paper
from Pocket which I bought for my Kindle app). Now with the sister she
thought dead come to town as a police detective, and a whore-house owning
vampire being stalked by Mabís enforcer, a giant named Elliot Slater. Elliot
likes eventually to beat his girls to death and Rachael, even though a
vampire, wouldnít survive. Heís fast, deadly, and attacking him would alert
Mab. I like this series well enough that I bought Karma Girl (paper
from Berkley) about a reporter in a world of super heroes and super villains
who has a reputation for finding the secret identities, at least till one
of her finds commits suicide., and itís sequel Hot Momma (paper)
about two superheroes falling in love. Lots of fun.
the radio station run by vampires who play music from the era they were
turned, is back this time with zombies. According to Jeri Smith-Ready,
these zombies need magic to rise and are only deadly until the sun burns
them to a crisp. But Bring On the Night(paper from pocket which
I bought for my Kindle App) and the monsters might tear up Sherwood, if
not stopped. They also are carriers of a lethal version of Chicken Pox
that can kill in hours anyone not immunized previously (alas like our hero
Ciara Griffin who has finally said yes to her vampire fiancee Shan). Of
course thereís the massive zombie rising, that can only be stopped
by slicing the zombies in two, and a deadly plot that only Ciara can stop.
Fun and another tale is coming next year.
Sharp Paul continues his tale of Helfortís war of two human empires,
the Federation and the Hammer Worlds (boo hiss), at war for over
a century. Helfortís love Anna is in a POW camp. Helford has become such
a thorn in the Hammer Worlds paw that they send him a message Ė surrender
yourself or Anna gets tortured and raped to death. As commander of the
three remaining dreadnaughts, he first thinks of desertion but his crew
has other ideas. The Battle for Commitment Planet (paper from DelRey)
starts with a basically simple plan, let the planetary defense destroy
his dreadnaughts while he and the crew use assault shuttles to rescue the
Federation Prisoners. Then join the rebels and carry the fight directly
to the enemy. The Hammerís have control of air and space, and outnumber
the rebels, but are suffering from morale problems from too frequent purges
of anyone considered heratic. Iím waitting for more in this fun series
of well described battle both in space and on the ground.
E. Knight continues his tale of David Valentine soldier in the fight against
the vampiric Kurians who drink human auraís. This time David learns of
a group of Grogs (brought from another planet to replace humans) who have
been settled in Missouri. Now they work with the Kurians but might be resettled
in the recently freed areas of Kentucky. To get them there requires removing
their leader and then a hard March in Country (hard from Roc) so
David goes in pretending to be a human slave until he can make his move.
Mr. Knight has attempted to keep his tale of revolution against alien invaders
as realistic as possible and there is no easy solution to the horrors of
this Vampire Earth.
Webber writes in Tom Clancy style in his alien invasion novel, Out of
the Dark (hard from Tor which I bought for my Kindle app); a gun of
certain muzzle velocity will punch a bullet through the windshield and
the driver and into the seat behind him. The Shongair think that by hitting
Earthís major cities with small rocks (destructive as nukes but no radiation)
the survivors will simply acknowledge defeat and surrender. Yeah right.
The aliens arenít ready for guerrilla warfare and their armored personal
carriers donít have enough armor for earth weapons. I felt cheated by the
real solution, however, which Mr. Webber introduces in the Carpathian mountains
and a resistence fighter who admires Vlad the Impaler and whose friends
seem unkillable. It was still a fun read.
empire required soldiers so they cloned them. As Steven L. Kent tells it,
in this sixth book of the series, Wayne Harris was the last of the liberator
clones, the only clone type that wouldnít suicide when told they were a
clone. In the last book he figured out how to fight alien invaders to our
galaxy and recovered many human planets. Then he, and the rest of the clones,
were betrayed. They were set as targets to blood the new all-human Earth
fleet, but Wayne survived to rejoin The Clone Empire (paper from
Ace). His first problem, find the deadly, assassin clones who are infiltrating
the clone planets and look like ordinary clones. But success with that
leads to another problem. The aliens are back and they are wiping life
out on all the planets they were driven off of. This is the penultimate
book of this fun military series, and I hope it has a rousing finish.
Viehl has a fitting end to her fun Star Doc series about an immortal physician
who works on hurt aliens in a strange future in which is doomed by a
black crystal that is semi-intelligent. When a strange starship millions
of years old is discovered by a rift in space, Cherijo and her husband
Duncan, are part of the team sent to investigate. But it takes a Dream
Called Time (paper from ROC which I bought for my Kindle app) and a
trip to the past to prevent the creation of the black crystal and save
Dean Foster starts a tale where half of human practice The Human blend
(hard from Del Rey) and modify themselves with biologic and mechanical
gadgets. Two thieves rob the wrong man, stealing a mysterious chain. One
is killed quickly and the other goes underground, finding a doctor willing
to work with him to investigate the origin of the chain and what it means.
The blending bothered me, since I have an artificial hip which has more
limits than the real one I was born with, and the tale has been broken
into three parts with two years left till itís conclusion.
I put the U. S. S. Enterprise Ownerís workshop
Manual (hard from Gallery Books and written by Ben Robinson and Marcus
Riley) in my waiting room. Itís a must gift for Star Trek fans.
Harry Turtledove has a collection of tales of alternate
times and places, Atlantis and Other Places (Hard from Roc).
Baen has reprinted John Ringís tale of New Hampshire citizens fighting
back against alien domination by selling maple sugar, Live Free or Die
in paper, and has a third volume of The Complete hammerís Slammers
in trade from David Drake.
The City & The City by China Miéville
was the winner of the 2010 World Fantasy Award.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting
on September 10th, 2010 at 8 pm at the Rotunda on the University
of Pennsylvania. Campus. Ellen Kushner, host of the radio program Sound
& Spirit on Public Radio International, and the author of three major
fantasy novels, will speak. Guests are welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author of A Cycle
of Gods from Wolfsinger Publications which can be bought on Amazon.com.