Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Home
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Science Fiction for December 2013
by Henry Leon Lazarus

    I’ve been amazed at how big the young adult section of book stores have become. The books tend to fantasy and science fiction and used to be filed there. There’s some good stuff there for adults and it’s worth a gander.
Robin McKinley got a Newberry honor almost twenty years ago and, not being a prolific writer, it is amazing to stumble across a new tale, that takes place in a world where dimension shattering Cobeys arise occasionally. Most of the world uses magic to contain them, but New World has abjured magic to the point of genetic modification of those with the magic gene. Maggie, a highschool senior knows nothing of magic until her mother remarries a man from Oldworld and Maggie can see the Shadows (hard from Nancy Paulson Books which I bought at Philcon) moving behind him. One friend, Takahiro, taught Maggie how to fold origami paper and has a secret he has hidden in the eight years he’s been in New World since his mother died. This is one of those magical tales that telling too much of the plot destroys the wonder. My only complaint about the tale is that Robin McKinley rarely does sequels and I really want to know what happens next.
Myla Lewis is your normal high school in Purgatory. She’s quasi-demon with a tail, a love of watching arena fights, and one of the few quaxi-demons who fight souls to the death when they chose death by combat. Before she was born, Purgatory was conquered by both ghouls and demons .and her classes are more propaganda than actual lessons. Still when her best friend gets close to a boy, she’s happy to cover for them. Then there’s the high prince of the demon fighting Thranx who seems too interested in her. But she doesn’t know who her father is or why her mother, a dress maker, is always so sad. Christina Bauer lovingly hints things about her Angelbound (ebook from Ink Monster, LLC) heroine who is as feisty as they come. I was completely absorbed in this fun tale and looking forward to the sequel.
I have a soft spot for tales of werewolves who completely turn wolf. Samantha Lee started her all-girl band Cream Puffs after graduating from New York’s High School of the Performing Arts. She plays the Base Guitar and writes their songs. She’s also the shyest of the group and ducks out after a local contest and bikes home. That gets her bitten by a werewolf. Now she has to deal with the changes in her life, like going from being a vegetarian to craving meat and dealing with a local family of werewolves while keeping the secret of her transformations from her band and the public. Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl (hard from  Skyscape which I bought electronically) strikes the perfect mixture of fun and excitement. I can only hope that Emily Pohl-Weary has a sequel.
E. C. Blake tells of fantasy world in which the Autarch demands everyone wears magical Masks (hard from DAW). Those who can’t wear masks are sent to the mines to mine for maqic. Mara at fifteen can see all the colors of magic that she saw at age five, but she lies to apprentice with her father, a mask maker. Then at seventeen, the mask her father makes for her breaks into pieces and she is sent to the mines. Rescued by the unmasked army, she is then kidnapped back to the mines, along the way discovering, by trying to protect herself from rape, how to kill by magic. This is an interesting and fun world that promises even more excitement in later adventures.    
Nina D'Aleo has a strange, but ancient world that has both magic and technology; Androids, human breeds with wings, and demons in  Scorpia , The Last City(trade from Momentum)of Aquais  . The  Oscuri Trackers investigate strange murders, and they have several in which the corpses came from something explosive within them. Led by Copernicus Kane, a harsh man demanding perfection because of his horrible father, they don’t realize they are faced with a rise of immortal demons. The rest of the team includes Diega who can manipulate metal with a word and carries a flier compressed to the size of a coin in her pocket, Jude who’s hiding his noble origins; Eli who can hack computers and flies with wings on his back, and the latest recruit Silho Brabel who is hiding her rare breeding and talents. Helped by a Gangster King and a wanted fugitive, the action is pulse-pounding and the tale is impossible to put down.
Max Gladstone has a modern-feeling world based on Aztec magic. Dresediel Lex overthrew their priests and wizards the King in Red provide the massive amounts of food and water the city requires. Caleb is an executive for King in Red Consolidated, When he investigates the murder of a night watchman at one of the reservoirs by a magical monster, he runs into Mal, cliff runner who later turns out to work for Heartstone, another corporation soon bought by KRC. Then an executive, originally from Heartstone  at another reservoir goes mad and contaminates the water with the King in Red sending both Mal and Caleb, rapidly falling in lust, to fix the problem. But Mal in involved with the plots to wake the snake gods under the city. If The Two Serpants Rise (hard from Tor) not only the city, but the world would be in danger. It doesn’t help that Caleb’s father is a former priest and working to restore the regular human sacrifices that fed the gods of this strange land. Highly recommended.
Francis F. Knight has another strange background, a city built on the edge of a cliff and magic that requires pain to work. Mahala is under siege by enemies determined to destroy their new acceptance of the wizards of pain. Rojan Dizon apparently was responsible for the rise of these wizards in the first two books of this series. In Last to Rise ( paper from Orbit) he, not only has to find potential wizards, he has to find a way for his city to survive and face a major sacrifice himself. I’m thinking about reading the first two tales in this dark, albeit fun tale.
Widderships, a young woman somehow bonded to a minor god, is back to protect her adopted family from a Lost Covenent (hard from Prometheus Books). The last branch of the Delacroix family is under attack by chemicals that dissolve their fields. They don’t know Widdershims and are not inclined to trust her, So she has to find a friend within the family and discover the connection between the attacks, The Carnot family, and the local gangs carrying out the attacks. Ari Marmell even throws in a Die Hard scenario to keep the excitement high. Lots of fun as usual.       
In a world of super-heroes mostly controlled by the Super Patriots, Velma Martinez who can bring toys to life and control them has found a new home in Oregon after a disastrous road trip that was detailed in Velveteen vs the Junior Super Patriots (ebook). Seanan McGuire continues her travails in Velveteen vs. The Multiverse (hard from Isfic Press which I bought at the last Philcon) which sends Velveteen into some alternate universes like the one in which she didn’t quit the Super Patriots and married her first love. In the real world she has to deal with the death of her present lover and the evil mind brainwashing the Super Patriots. The only to do this is to find one of the first Super Patriot, Jolly Roger and eventually attack the headquarters of the West Coast Division of the official league. I gulped it down in a day, while at the convention and can only hope for more.
Kelly Meding is more concerned with the human problems  of her super-heroes to find the humor in super powers. In her fourth book about the heroes who lost their powers for fifteen years after destroying New York City, hidden children of the banes (the powers who fought for evil) were raised by Uncle and hate the new Rangers. The father of one of the children, Chimera  (Ebook from Pocketstar) provides a clue. Flex, who used to stretch every part of her body, is recovering from massive burns and has limited stretch in her left had, leaving her feeling useless in any meta fight. I enjoyed the tale, even though I missed book three in the series.S
Mike Resnick has the fourth of a fun series about the old west with magic from Indian medicine men. Geronimo comes to the dying Doc Holliday and restores him to partial health so he can intervene in the famous Bone Wars between Edward Cope and Charles Marsh who in our world fought and bickered over dinosaur fossils and advance the field of Paleontology. The problem is that they are disturbing Comanche burial grounds and Geronimo is afraid the Comanche medicine men will create real beasts. Of course in the fight between The Doctor and the Dinosaurs (trade from Proetheus Books). While the tale has a predictablity about it that the previous tales lacked, I enjoyed it.
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a fun series set in a future with super polite Liaden mixing with traders from Earth. Trade Secret(hard from Baen) is a sequel to Balance of Trade and is found in the Bean collection The Crystal Variation (trade) and takes place two centuries before the main series.  Jethri had been adpted into the  Liaden trading clan Ixin. Because of the theft of his father’s diary, a Scout takes him hunting through various star systems, while at the same time his old ship faces problems because of what information his Father may have left on board before his untimely death. Fans of the series will be excited to get this latest addition and really enjoy the complicated social interaction of the Liaden people. I’ve been a fan of the series since the first book which is available from Baen.
    Paper reprints this month include Sarah A. Hoyt’s fun Dark Ship Renegades (Baen) and Kim Harrison’s latest  Ever after (Harper Voyager).
    Hank Davis has put together tales from major authors about A Cosmic Christmas 2 You (trade from Baen). David Drake tales of Night & Demons are available in paper from Baen as are two of Mercedes Lackey’s collections, Dragon’s Teeth.
    Open Road Media has reprinted John Barnes’s fun The Duke of Uranium as an ebook.
    Major editors David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielson Hayden have put together a major collect of 21st Century Science Fiction (hard from Tor) I wonder what tales the collection would include at the end of this century.
        Darell Schweitzer has two new collections in trade  from Borgo Press; Emperor of the Ancient World, and Echoes of the Goddess.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting on December 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. at The Rotunda   on  the University of Pennsylvania. Campus,. Christopher Weuve, a naval analyst and war-game designer will speak. 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). He has a tale in the second issue of Fantasy Times which is available at Amazon. The stories are fun.