Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for December 2018
Winter is a great time to find fun Fantasy and
Adrian Selby has a tale of early
civilization in a world in which plants have a great effect on
people, the proper blend making warriors far more powerful and new
mixes more important than new weapons. Teyr Amondsen had spent years
in militias before retiring to become a merchant. She is building a
road with forts from the port city of Hillside to the Circle
inhabited by various tribes where she had grown up. She and her
husband and their step son take settlers and soldiers on The
Winter Road (paper from Orbit) to visit the various forts she
had built and visit with family. What she didn’t know was that a
warlord had risen in the Circle with chalk covered soldiers who will
kill anyone who gets in his way. She will end up naked and abandoned
to death in the wilderness. Of course she survives and returns for
revenge. This is an extremely bloody tale of amped up
warriors. Very intense.
Mirah Bolender writes of a world
with 20th century technology, magic, and too many monsters. While
walled cities keep out the wilderness, broken amulets can infest the
house they are found and kill all the inhabitants. Only the sweepers
of the city, using weaponized magic, can destroy the infestation and
protect their city. Specialized pits are used to keep the broken
amulets quiescent. The City of Broken Magic (paper from Tor),
Amicae, pretends the monsters are the work of the mob and that the
city walls protect their population, though the leaders know the
truth. Clae Sinclair is the last of a family of sweepers and his
only apprentice, Laura Kramer, learned of the profession from books.
Her Aunt and friends wish she would find a more appropriate and
safer job, or just get married. Then a very rich man in charge of
sewage for the city decided to run a pipe in a way that conflicts
with the pits, and suddenly Laura and another newer apprentice have
to face the possible destruction of their city. This is a world well
limned with interesting details that make it quite real. Lots of fun
and I hope a return to this world is warranted.
Imagine if the Berlin wall had
been erected out of pure magic. W.L. Goodwater creates an
alternate Eisenhower era, with all the politics the same.
Karen O’Neil is a research magician called in when the CIA discovers
a Breach (paper from ACE) in the wall. The soviets send their most
evil agent, Nightingale. A ex-Nazi magician who helped build the
wall wants to defect. Of course there’s a mole. But at the heart of
the problem is a deep secret, a magical book that one of the Nazi
magicians had hoped to end the world, and instead created a
dangerous area. Spies and magic during the cold war is a weird mix,
but fun adventure actually works very well.
Once Upon a River (hard from
Atria/Emily Bestler Books), a wounded man comes caring a dead girl
in his arms, and promptly collapses. Rita, the local nurse in
Radcot on the Thames, is called to treat the man. Then the girl
comes to life. Diane Setterfield tells a wonderful Victorian tale
centered on three people who claim the child. One couple lost a
child two years before in a kidnaping. Another is the grandfather of
a child whose mother committed suicide. The third is convinced it is
the return of her drowned sister. Slowly the truth is revealed. This
is an entrancing tale whose characters slowly grab the reader up in
Tasha Suri imagines a three
hundred year old Empire of Sand (paper from Orbit) where the
first emperor, Maha, uses the power of magical desert storms, which
come from dreaming gods, to insure the empire’s success. For that he
needs the power of Amrihi natives who can magically touch the storms
since they descend from magical Daiva who at one time mated with
humans. But the Amrihi suicide if captured and hide in the deep
desert. Mehr is the daughter of the Governor of the Amrihi provence
and an Amrihi mother. She has no defence when Maha’s mystics come to
wed to Arum, an Amrihi man under Maha’s control. The two have to
dance in the storms in order to change the world, and if they don’t
dance, the Gods could awake and destroy it. This is a solid romance
with interesting background. It drags the reader deep into its
drifting sands and absorbs all attention.
Dayne Heldrin believed in The
Way of the Shield (paper from DAW) and the Tarian Order. He
wanted to protect people with his sword and shield and mostly save
lives. But Parliament decides who will advance. He and his mentor
had been sent to rescue a kidnaped noble child. Alas the child was
hurt and his mentor killed. Returning to Maradaine, the city in
which all Marshall Ryan Maresca fun tales are set, the master of the
order informs him that he will never advance to adept. Then a group
of wannabe revolutionaries decide to try to kill members of
Parliament, and he and Jerinne, one of the initiates become involved
in trying to stop the plotters, whose real leaders are very high in
status. Lots of fun and very enjoyable.
Don Sakers & Melissa Scott
(whose The Roads of Heaven I’ve read numerous times since their
publication in the mid 80's and which need to be republished
soonist) start a neat series in a complicated far future that has
humanity spread out over thousands of worlds and across Five
Planes (paper from Speed-of-C Productions) of existence.
Justices, aided by artificial intelligences settle legal disputes
across the five planes, overruling governments and large
corporations as needed. Large luxury Plane liners, piloted by a huge
A.I, carry passengers. The tale starts when one of these
liners, attacked by pirates, would have been lost in the maelstrom
of hyperspace currents is led to safety by the mythical fifth
generation ship that apparently had helped ships before. The human
pilot, Val Milat is ordered to keep silent about the event and quits
the ship to discover the truth. Supreme Justice Nalani Lotuma has
come out of near retirement to find a missing friend and
co-Justice. Pirates attack the Liner Quintile Illumination’s
A.I, killing it with a logic bomb and leaving the huge liner
potentially lost mid-drop. There’s a major war starting on the
fourth plane that’s forcing a settled asteroid to dare try to drop a
plane on it’s own. Alas, not everything is tied up. I’m hoping for
the next episode to come soon.
It’s taken five years to get to
the end of Edward Lazellari’s of a prince sent to our world to
protect him when his country is invaded. With the Blood of Ten
Kings (hard from Tor), he is very important. Fourteen years in
our world, is only two days in his, and he and his protectors are
transferred back when they’re not ready. Of course the
villains are truly evil, and the fun of having an armed helicopter
attacking a medieval army makes the whole tale worth the ride. Fun.
Antony Johnston, whose made a name
for himself in graphic novels like the one turned into the movie Atomic
Blonde, sets his tale of a cat burglar with impossible skills
in a world with futuristic tech and magic. Nicco Salarum is down on
his luck, and takes a commission to steal a magical amulet from a
visiting governor. It’s an impossible theft, but the consequences
are so horrible that Nicco has to travel to the land that the
governor came from and steal back the amulet from the leader of the
revolution. He has to use his wits, when he doesn’t know the
language, and when crossing a swamp filled with monsters. Stealing
Life (paper from Abaddon Books) is a romp of action-adventure.
Brandon Sanderson has a tale of a
genius with a Legion (hard from Tor) of imaginary people who
help him with cases. Stephen Leeds considers himself perfectly sane,
even though he flies first class with extra seats for his imaginary
friends, and needs large cars to hold all the aspects who he needs
to solve the latest mystery. Like a missing camera that can take
pictures of the past, or a missing corpse with information encoded
in its cells. It’s a fun, but silly read.
For two decades and a book a
year, Neal Asher has been building aspects of the humanity’s
Polity worlds. With aliens, artificial intelligence, and humans
modified both with technology and with biology, his worlds and both
strange and filled with superscience. One species, the Jain, have
been extinct for five millennia. Their technology has destroyed
civilizations. Outside an accretion disc of the remains of an
ancient battle, the Polity has created a wall of battleships to keep
the technology contained. Then a collector of Jain technology
releases The Soldier (hard from Skyhorse Publishing). To
complicate things there’s an ancient, extinct species whose corpse
is revived, a woman, Orlandine, who can go from human to full AI
with a thought, and who designed the fortresses, and other odd
beings. Fans of the series will be glad to see old friends. Mr.
Asher has a gift of keeping his complex universe understandable to
readers. Highly recommended like all his work.
I have really enjoyed Jeff
Wheeler’s tale of a Harbinger, a dreamer of the future, set in a
Victorian society with magic. In the third book, Iron
Garland (ebook from 47North) Cettie Pratt has been managing
her family’s floating estate while sending her dreams to her adopted
father Fitzroy who is the admiral in charge of fighting the battle
with the other world of Kingfountain, accessible through a magical
gate. Sera Fitzempress, supposedly heir to the throne and hated by
her father, has been in house arrest. After a major battle, the only
hope her world has is for her to got to Kingfountain and marry their
prince after making a peace treaty. Two more books remain in this
fun series and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Ben Aaronovitch has a wonderful
series about policing the magical sides of London. Peter Grant, a
cop in London, demonstrated a talent for magic when he encountered
the mad spirit Mr. Punch in the first tale. He’s been trained by
Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in London. He’s also
been sleeping with one of the human spirits of the river, Beverly.
In the seventh tale, the problem is what Lies Sleeping (hard
from DAW) in the ancient past of London. The faceless man, Martin
Chorley, has a plan to bring back someone from the fifth century
using an ancient magical sword, a magical bell, and the energy from
killing Mr. Punch. He’s working with Peter’s old partner, Lesley and
all sorts of minions. The joy of these books come from descriptions
of odd, but very real parts of the city, and to the descriptions of
actual police work. Lots of fun.
I love fun tales of superheroes
and James Alan Gardner delivers in a second tale of Jools and
her friends who became super in a world with darklings like vampires
and demons and sparks. They Promised Me The Gun Wasn't Loaded
(ebook from Tor) tells of a bazooka possibly created by the
supervillain Diamond. Robin Hood and his gang want to steal the
device, and their capture of Jools, somehow puts her in the middle
of the theft. With lots of super fighting and impossible odds, Jools
confronts her addictions. I hope there’s more.
The Mortal Word (paper
from ACE) is needed to save a peace treaty in the multiverse between
the Dragons representing order and the Fae representing Chaos. Irene
is called in with her friend the Great Detective and her former
protégée Kai to solver the closed door murder of one of the Dragon
diplomats on a early 20th century Earth. It’s a pretty standard
Sherlock Holmes case with the added complication of Dragon and
Fae powers until the murder is discovered and all hell breaks loose.
Genevieve Cogman tells a fun mystery for Irene’s fifth library book.
Dru Jasper, a crystal sorceress,
and her friends are convinced they have stopped the end of the
world. Bu there’s No Sleep till Doomsday (trade from Pyr)
once a magical amulet is stolen from her shop. The trail leads to an
irradiated empty town deep in the desert and a second demon car as
powerful as her friend Grayson’s vehicle. The action is non-stop and
the evil sorceress really wants to destroy the world. Laurence
MacNaughton adds another pulse pounding tale in this fun series.
Anise Wise has been working in her
Aunts magical bakery for a few months now, but her brush with death
imbued necromantic magic into her Sugar Spells (ebook
from Ink Monster, LLCby Lola Dodge)) and everything she bakes.
There’s a strange being that can wants and can actually eat her
pastries and wants to pay in gold. It turns out her bodyguard is
basically a slave because of his contract. All she wants is to pay
off that contract, now that she’s no longer in danger. Alas there’s
a giant bad god lurking and waiting to capture her. Silly fun.
Twenty-one books ago, David Weber
introduced us to Honor Harrington, a star ship captain of the Star
Kingdom of Manticore. In a very settled galaxy, Manticore and it’s
enemy, the People’s Republic of Haven were tiny compared to the huge
Solarian empire base on Earth. Their wars with each other kept
improving their technology until they were no longer neo-barbarians,
but potentially far more powerful competitors. Unfortunately there’s
an evil cabal imbedded in Solarian bureaucracy that want’s war and
isn’t afraid of setting off hidden nukes. This final tale needs Uncompromising
Honor (hard from Baen) though millions including those close
to her were killed.
Baen has four collections; Straight out of
Tombstone (paper edited by David Boop) with weird tales of the
West; Target Rich Environment volume 1 (hard ) with shorter
tales from Larry Correia known for Monster Hunter International
tales; The Monster Hunter Files (paper) edited by Larry
Correia and Bryan Thomas Schmidt with tales by other authors;
and Forged in Blood (paper ) edited by Maichael Z.
Williamson and set in his Freehold universe.
Baen has also reprinted in trade Elizabeth Moon’s
Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, the first tale of The Deed of
Paksenarrion, and the first of Wen Spencer’s Elfhome series, Tinker.
The Alexander Inheritance about a modern cruise ship sent to
the Hellenic period has been reprinted in as a paperback. It’s
written by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, and Paula Goodlett. So has P. C.
Hodgell’s The Gates of Tagmeth, the latest of Jame’s
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on December 14th The meeting starts
at 8 p.m. at International house on the University
of Pennsylvania Campus. Lawrence Schoen, author of the Barsk novels,
among others, and Klingon language scholar will speak As usual
guests are welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a retired 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