Henry L Lazarus                                                                                                                                                                                                                       HOME
4603 Springfield Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143

Science Fiction for December 2017

    Religion and rational thinking rarely get along. Fantasy and Science fiction writers can imagine a different view.
Tracy Townsend introduces a 19th century world in which people believe in a rational god  and that the world is his experiment. There are two other intelligent species on the world;
Aigamuxans;apes with eyes in their feet, and  and lanyani; mobile plants.  At the heart of the tale is a book that gives constantly changing information about the location of The Nine (trade from PYR) individuals around the world. Various groups are hunting the book to either protect the individuals in the book or to kill them.  Rowena Dowshire is a pre-teen delivery girl trying to earn enough money to buy her mother out of debtors prison.  The book is stolen from her and that group wants everyone who touched it dead. Luckily she comes into contact with the Alchemist and Anmselm Meteron, a former assassin. They have to break into the cathedral where Phillip Chalmers is translating the text under guard and fight off many Aigamuxans. Its lots of fun and an introduction to a interesting world.
There are only about one out of a thousand people who feel they were born into the wrong gender. April Daniels adds superpowers to the emotional mix. Fifteen-year-old Danny Tozer was hiding in the mall painting his toenails when Utopia killed Dreadnaught. Danny draggs him to safety and in return receives a bundle of energy. This gives him Dreadnaught’s powers while transforming him to female. Needless to say his parents, particularly his abusive dad. His best friend is only interested in her new body. The legion Pacifica only admits adults and some of their members are prejudiced against transsexuals. She finds a friend in Calamity who lives to hunt minor criminals. Together they go after Utopia. Dreadnought: Nemesis ( paper from  Diversion Books)is a fun look at an odd heroine. I immediately bought the sequel.
The latest Wild Card weave novel shows the final trip of the steamship Natchez as it moves up from New Orleans on a Mississippi Roll (hard from TOR and edited by George R. R. Martin) going to Cincinnati where it is supposed to be converted to a casino, . The original owner, Captain Wilbur Leathers, turned into a steam creature in 1951 has been locked to the boat ever since. There are Kazakh Joker refugees hidden  on board, Joker entertainers like Wild Fox who can create illusions provide entertainment ans sometimes find adventure. Retired NY police detective Leo Storgman is looking into the suspicious death of a crew member. And I.C. E. Is waiting at ever stop. This is a light entry to a series that takes comic book tropes to higher level.
I enjoyed it a lot. The Amazon listing suggests the series is still being considered for television.
Katherine Arden returns to Rus of the 14th century when the Mongols still technically ruled. Vasilisa Petrovna (Vasya) can see the spirit beings and had to deal with The Bear and the Nightingale (paper) which resulted in her father’s death and mad friend with  Morozko, Lord of Winter and death. She decides to travel with her magical horse dressed as a boy for protection. Local villages have been attacked by bandits who steal young girls. Rescuing some girls she meets with Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy, Prince of Moscow who is also hunting the bandits with her monk brother Aleksandr.  Vasya hides her gender until a horse race with a Prince reveals her. Dmitiry  would make her The Girl in the Tower(hard from Del Rey), for all high born women, including her pregnant sister, are locked in towers, or even burn her as a witch. Alas the prince who tricked her has a plot to kill Dmitiry and only she and her brother can stop him. This is a lush look at the early years of Moscow and is fascinating. I look forward to the final book in the trilogy.
Michael Livingston’s final tale of the five stones that grant magical abilities, the shards of heaven, is set in the turbulent period after Herod the Great’s death. The demons released in the last tale are trying to enter The Realms of God (hard from TOR). The riots in Jerusalem allow roman troops entry into the Chamber of Holies in the rebuilt Jewish Temple to find a hidden shard that allows teleportation. From there the action moves to Petra where one of the other shards was hidden. Real historical events and actual historical figures, like future emperor Tiberius  pepper the scene. The mythology of the tale is based on mystic Jewish and Christian writings which I found disconcerting. This is a nice end to the trilogy.
Lois McMaster Bujold has a series about Penric, am infected with the two-century demon Desdemona who also has collected the personalities of her previous hosts. Penric's Mission (hard fromSpectrum Literary Agency, Inc) is to help a General Arisaydia in Cedonia who has fallen under suspicion of treason. Thrown into jail and then set to drown because his mission was known, Penric has to excape, and help the blinded general and his widowed sister Nikys leave the dukedom safely. His using his abilities to heal Arisaydia makes things worse. Halfway to a dukedom the promises safety Penric has to call up the personality of a previous host for Mira's Last Dance (hard) and dress accordingly. Lots of fun.
\Ellen Kushner’s Swordpoint created a 16th century world in 1987 that was remarkable free for its time in the freedom of sexual preference. It also had lots of politics and swords. In Teemontaine Season 1 (hard from Sega Press by Ellen Kushner and six other authors), which is a prequel to the previous book, the Duchess has a dark secret. Ixkaab Balam is newly, a member of the Chocolate trading family from South America. The family holds the secret of ocean navigation. But Rafe, a scholar who wants to prove that the Earth goes around the sun, and Micah, a girl just arrived from the farm with her cousin selling Turnips and who just happens to be a calculating genius, might have a way to solve the mystery of Navigation. Add in murder. Several torrid love affairs. There’s a nice mix here, but many plot threads still dangle at the end. Fun.     
Some people think that life-extension is around the corner. In Robert Buettner’s a wealthy industrialist is murdered with a bomb under The Golden Gate (paper from Baen) bridge. There’s a good excuse to delve into all the philosophical complications of extending human life.   Dredging for the car is difficult and there are no DNA traces to help identify any washed up bodies. Kate Boyle, a journalist with a very-connected father, and Ben Shepard, an Iraq war vet serving as aide to the Department of Homeland Security secretary.  The only clues are a series of objects donated to various museums around San Francisco. Manuel Colibri, the victim, was a very wealthy  head of a research center into life extension. Fun, but a bit predictable.
    Baen has The Jim Baen Memorial Award: The first decade(trade) and Down and Out in Purgatory (hard), a collection of tales by Tim Powers. They also have reprinted None but Man (trade) from one of my favorite writers of the 60's Gordon R. Dickson.
    The Science Fiction Society will have its next meeting  on December 8th The meeting starts  at  8 p.m. at International House on  the University of Pennsylvania Campus. .Roberta Rogow, a writer of mysteries starring Louis Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle will speak. She also writes filk songs  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).Check out his unified field theory at henrylazarus.com/utf.html that suggests a simpler way to achieve fusion generation.