Henry L Lazarus
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for December 2011
The problem with Global warming as a disaster is that
it lacks excitement. Yeah, a century from now we might have to deal with
rising ocean levels and move some of our cities away from coastal areas.
Science Fiction readers know true disasters; meteors that wipe out most
of life on earth; a plague with a ninety per cent kill rate like the Black
Death of the middle ages; solar flares that burn off sections of the Earthís
crust, or maybe a return Ice Age like the one twelve thousand years ago
that covered what has become many of our major cities.
by Henry Leon Lazarus
Dashner sets his tale of a young man on the run against an Earth hurt badly
by solar flares and fighting a deadly lab created disease that drives people
mad. The story started with a memory-wiped Thomas sent to a group of teen-aged
boys who have to deal with the constantly changing walls outside their
living area. Thomas soon becomes The Maze Runner (trade) and, with
the last person sent, a girl, finds the way out. Then the survivors of
their group and a group of women have to face The Scorch Trials (trade)
and cross a hundred miles of territory almost destroyed by the solar flares
and through a city filled with zombi-like victims of the plague. An organization
called Wicked is mapping their brains from these encounters trying to find
The Death Cure (hard from Delacorte). But Thomas runs from them,
finding civilized Denver desperately trying to keep the plague out and
where immune people are hated and frequently attacked. The he joins a rebel
attack on Wicked. All three books are very intense and difficult to put
down. The ending is worth the trip, but I hope the Earth never goes through
a disaster of that magnitude in mine of my grandchildrenís life time.
Turtledove borrows his disaster from 600,000 years ago, imagining a
Supervolcono: Erruption (hard from Roc) shooting out of Yellowstone
National Park. Main characters include L. A. Cop Colin Ferguson, his new
love, Geologist Kelly Birnbaum, his ex-wife and his scattered children.
This is the first volume of three and shows us a normal present until the
volcano blows and sends dust as far as Los Angeles, blankets a number of
central states and starts the world towards several years without summers.
Very intense. Iím not sure Iím going to read the next volume because of
attack is another thing to not worry about. But thereís something compelling
about a huge monster attacking Washington D. C, and crushing the monuments
under its feet.. . Larry Correia has an odd alternate history in which
people starting getting powers in the middle of the eighteenth century.
In this second tale he starts with an attack on FDR initiated by a secret
government organization who blames the Grimnoir Knights, eventually
to bring all actives under government control. The knights have to face
demons of greater and greater power, while some of their members are trapped
by devices that block their powers. Faye, the powerful teleporting girl
also has to come to terms with the fact she may be Spellbound (hard
from Baen) and the last person spellbound turned into a multi murderer.
This is a fun series that I loan to my son-in-law because he also really
off the power would be devastating to the modern world. Thatís what Joe
Haldeman has aliens do to Earth after giving it free power. Carmen Dula,
Martian colonist who discovered the Martians is now Earthbound (hard
from Ace) after traveling twenty-five lightyears to the Otherís planet.
After she arrives the power is shut off, then put on for a week. When the
power is up, she and her friends have access to a jet so they travel to
Russia and to Camp David, but soon crash near California, which the Governor
has isolated with H bombs on his border, when the power is cut for the
second time. After that she and her friends have to contend with
roving bicycle gangs. Disasters tend to bring out the worst in people.
one of the worst disasters the future can throw at us is a mental disease
that takes over peopleís minds. Walter Jon Williams looks at a future in
which everyone is backed up, can change bodies easily, and live in pocket
universes. Implied Spaces (electronic from Night Shade Books
which I bought for my Kindle App) introduces us to eight century old
Night Shade Books who we first meet, along with his talking cat and magical
sword, in a sword-and-sorcery universe. Someone is popping people
to another universe to have their minds altered. It turns out that one
of the eleven, super, artificial intelligences has been corrupted and that
leads to war, zombie plagues and worse. The villain actually wants a war
with the creator of our universe on the basis of complicated data that
show our universe is as artificial as the created pocket universes. Lots
you have seen the HBO series Game of Thrones, and found George R.
R. Martinís series A Song of Ice and Fire, then your probably aware
that the fifth massive book is out. Itís very dense and took me a full
week to read. Thereís some nice scenes like two snowed-in armies. Jon Snow
is attempting to get his enemies, the wildings, to man the unused forts
along the wall and Daenerys Targaryen who hatched the three dragons at
the end of the HBO series, has to do a Dance With Dragons (hard
from Bantam) as armies approach the city she conquered with free slaves.
The problem is that the dragons are larger than horses and not controllable.
Alas, in a world where winter can last several years and is almost upon
them, there is no resolution yet to any of the many story lines. Itíll
be years before we find out what happened and probably some of the story
lines in this book will have made it to television before the next book
Priest has a fun series that takes place where the Civil War has continued.
For two decades and a strange gas from Seattle is creating addicts who
eventually become Zombies. Earlier in the War a submarine, Ganymede
(trade from Tor) was sunk in a lake near New Orleans which is controlled
by Texicans for the Confederacy. So Free Blacks and other supporters of
the Union have to sneak it out and take it down river to the Bay where
a Union Dirigible is waiting for it. As always the world building is top-notch,
and the tale fun. The submarine, even without torpedoes is exactly what
steam punk requires Ė very neat. I love this series.
been enjoying Kaylie Chanís tales of a Nanny to the child of a Chinese
God. Emma has gotten more and more powerful as she trains in fighting skills
while fighting off demons working for a powerful demon who wants Johnís
head to become the number one demon son. While that wonít kill John, it
will force him back into primal shape and make him leave this world.
Blue Dragon (paper from Harper Voyager) has no answer to why Emma
turns into a snake sometimes, but it does answer some other questions while
setting up a second trilogy that already is in print in Australia. Ms.
Chan does a nice job of putting Chinese mythology into our real world and
I hope that Harper Voyager prints the follow up series.
McDevitt won a Nebula award for one of the Alex Benedict tales about a
relic hunter ten millennium from now where the culture feels very twentieth
century except for the electronics. A famous physicist, known for his out-spoken
views of alternate realities disappeared literally after being dropped
off at his doorstep. When his widow dies four decades later, Alex is asked
to sell his effects. But the puzzle leads deeper. There a planet abandoned
by humans that is inhabited by the artificial intelligences that used to
work for the people. Have some of them become truly sapient? Then there
is the work that Dr. Robin had been working on. He had been taking old
space yachts, like the Firebird (hard from Ace) and sending them
off seeming randomly. He had a fascination with ships lost in normal jumps.
Was this part of the reason he disappeared? All these questions are answered
including what happened to Dr. Robin. This is fun, but a minor addition
to a fun series.
fifteenth Repairman Jack tale shows us The Dark at the End (hard
from Tor) Iíve always thought of this F. Paul Wilson series as a sort of
Travis McGee tale with a supernatural bent. Jack has deliberately stayed
off the system with no SSN etc. Now he is actively involved with the fight
between two great powers in the Meta-universe, fighting an immortal man
who has been working to bring the doom of Earth for Millennia Jack
is also trying to protect the Lady who is the Avatar of the living Earth,
and helping a young woman retrieve her stolen baby. Heís got all sort of
weapons at his disposal, but, since this is the penultimate book in this
and other series, things donít go as well as hoped. This is a must for
fans of the series.
Evans(not the actor) concludes his tale of the Iron Elves, which mixes
the blood of Gunga Din and Beau Geste with heavy Magic. The set piece of
Ashes of a Black Frost (hard from Guardian Books) is in a deserted
fort far from civilization, guarded by dead monsters. Thereís also been
a big snowfall so that Mr. Evens can have Major Konowa and his trips ride
a huge luge down to battle with an army of giant apes. The final confrontation
with the evil Shadow Monarch seems almost postscript after that magical
battle for survival.
Lynn Barnes has an odd take on monster-hunting girls like Buffy. Sixteen-year-old
Kali, raised by her Professor father, has the strength and speed to kill
monsters Every Other Day (hard from EgmontUSA). When she sees a
classmate dying of a monster parasite on one of her normal days, she transfers
the parasite to herself, hoping to survive until dawn the next day when
her blood will kill the monster. One thing, of course, leads to another.
Helped by two girls she really didnít know before, one with psychic
powers, and a handy brother in the FBI, and the other the girl she helped
whose father happens to run a secret monster lab. Along the way she meets
the mother she hasnít seen since she was four and learns the reasons for
her strange powers. Lots of fun and impossible to put down.
L. Kent concludes his tale of a future Galactic wide human civilization
that had created sterile clones to man its armies. In The Clone Redemption
(paper from Penguin) Wayson Harris is leading the Clones to desperately
evacuate human colonies before the Avatari, alien invaders from a nearby
Galaxy, burn the planets they are on. The fight eventually takes him to
Earth. At the same time a Japanese fleet find the Avatari home planet
and faces impossible odds. This is a nice conclusion to a fun, forgetable,
future- military adventure. I donít keep these.
U.S.S. Merrrimack doesnít have a lot to do since peace came between the
Terran and Palentine empires. The battleship is glad when aliens attack
a planet with intelligent (and very cute foxes) and possibly intelligent
mastidons. The world is even more interesting because it is the first living
world found with DN similar to that of Earth. That arouses Romeís interest.
Romeís legionnaires come in groups of eight who are trained as brothers.
They are bonded by a hazing that has them one by one forced off a cliff
that has a hidden net. But for one group the net doesnít open and they
runĖ eventually dropped from the Legion and the empire into The Ninth
Circle(hard from Daw) of Hell . So they steal starship and become
pirates. But Rome has other plans for them and that puts them on the planet
with the foxes. I felt the plot was a bit contrived , but still enjoyed
Baen has preprinted John Ringoís Citadel (paper)about
Earth defending itís gate to other worlds with fancy weapons; Sharon Lee
and Steve Millerís last Lliaden Universe novel, Mouse & Dragon(paper);
and two classic Andre Norton novels, Moonsingerís Quest (trade).
Del Rey has a trade printing of Alan Dean Fosterís The Human Blend
which is soon to get a sequel. Harper Voyager has reprinted in paper Kim
Harrison latest about the witch Rachael Morgan, Pale Demon.
Collections this month include Worlds (paper
from Baen) with Eric Flint tales, and The Power Illusion (paper
from Baen) with classic tales from Christopher Anvil.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting
on December 9th at 8:15p.m. at International House on the University
of Pennsylvania. Campus .John G. Hemry, a retired United States Navy officer
who also writes fun galactic war tales under the name of Jack Campbell
will speak. Guests are welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a local Dentist and the author
of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally