Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for March 2020
by Henry L Lazarus
As spring comes, there is more time for the
adventures of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
In Ditchtown, a slum of future
Miami, Ashley Akachi is a player in the infinite game, a game
played by the whole body in addition to the mind. As Ashura the
Terrible she and her team are among the best gamers. The money she
earns is barely enough to pay for her mother’s treatment to reduce
the psychosis caused by fighting in the water wars. Gamers make
excellent soldiers. The evil bad guy creates a new helmet
allows computer control of their bodies. Ash discovers this in
a clandestine operation in the real that she does as a side job for
a secret government organization. Then she and her gamer team are
working to find the source of these new helmets before being
attacked in both the real and the game world. Otaku (hard
from Tor) by Chris Kluwe is a thrilling tale of a depressed future
where the haves and have-nots live in very different worlds. It’s
impossible to put down.
Talon Novels is reissuing C. R.
Daems’s Red Angel series which I hadn’t read. Anna Paulus
almost died of the incurable Coaca virus at age four but she somehow
was adopted by a rare poisonous Krait snake she calls Red. She grows
up and is adopted by a former Navy captain and goes through the
classes of the Naval Academy by seventeen. Then she is recruited by
the Naval Intelligence Agency. Her first concerns Smugglers
(ebook). It’s a rare trick to make data analysis exciting, but C. R.
Daems makes the tale impossible to put down. Not only that but
I gulped down the other four books in the series. Lots of fun.
E. J. Swift imagines time travel
as an addiction that only a few rare people can partake. In
2318 the world is destroyed by a nuclear holocaust. The only way to
stop this is to introduce Halle, a college student on a gap year in
2017, to interact with the temporal anomaly beneath Millie’s bar
where she finds work. When she finally gets time travel to
work, she is stuck in 1875 for months with the Millie who founded
the tavern. Then she ends up in World War II helping a young cellist
recover her cello before being rescued by the underground. As
she travels she changes the present, setting Paris Adrift
(paper from Solaris). he dips more and more into the past and
future, helped by another time traveler and lover, Leon. Eventually
she learns that if she keeps time traveling, she will waste away.
If there was an SF award for the
largest imaginary creation, then Zack Jordan would win it handily.
He starts with a network whose nodes are spheres surrounding stars
connected to over a billion stars. The intelligent network allows
information to flow instantly within the network and ships to move
from solar system to solar system through gates. Gates are
open to all species that elect to join and only one has ever refused
and was apparently destroyed. Sarya knows she is The Last
Human (hard from Del Rey) and has been adopted by an
intelligent, giant black widow spider. When kidnappers come to the
water tower station she has been raised on, it sets off a chain of
reactions that ends up with her an a ship owned by a
super-intelligent seven-year-old alien who thinks she has been
manipulating things. Unfortunately the network and a multi-bodied
Operator are fighting for her allegiance. This is a mind-blowing
tale that jumps to larger and larger playing fields abruptly.
Katie M. Flynn has a solution to
create intelligent robots: simply use down-loaded minds from the
recently dead. The Companions (hard from
Gallery/Scout Press) is more of a group of tales detailing the
emergence of this technology at a time when society is under
quarantine from human created viruses. Lilac a new companion,
figures out how to escape her owners and find the woman who had
murdered her decades before. That leads to slow changes in society
and eventually to the end of the companion program. I’d nominate
this for awards.
In a world much like our
own, Randi, newly graduated from high school in her small
town, just wants to be a hair stylist. But the mark of a Paragon
(hard from Zimbell House Publishing) appears. The gods have given
seven tokens for each generation to fight evil. However is someone
can call the owners and claim all the tokens, they can manifest an
eighth power, time travel. So hunters are going around trying to
collect the tokens and kill Paragons. The authorities seem to ignore
the problem. So Randi and her friends go to the nearest big city
hoping to find clues as to what is happening (and actually looking
at the college there) . At the same time, spirits are coming up from
a mine and causing people to turn violent. In addition, every night
instead of sleeping, Randi finds herself in a training gym. Shauna
Alderson tells an exciting tale with some neat twists that kept me
Duncan M. Hamilton tells of a
world where magic had ebbed and now was coming back, awakening
dragons and other magical creatures. Guillot who had been drinking
his life away after exile from the court and his wife’s death, has
the village on his estate destroyed by a dragon. It’s been decades
since the last Dragonslayer (paper) was need and the magical
techniques that protected them have been lost. Guillot was, in fact,
the last Knight of the Silver Circle (paper). But with
the help of a wizardress Solène who had been hiding her powers for
fear of being put to the stake for being a witch, he manages to kill
two. But there’s a problem. The Prime minister, Amaury, an old
rival of Guillot, has used his small magical powers to throw the
king into a coma, and has declared himself Prime Defender. Guillot
and Solène have to each be a Servant of the Crown ( hard from
Tor) to cure their king and set him back on his thrown. Fun tale
with lots of potential for sequels.
After literally going to hell and
back, Ingred Castine returns to L.A. and meets up with
Sebastian Vickery to deal with dreams of an old house. This time
it’s a case of Forced Perspectives (hard from Baen) as
someone wants them to join humanity into a single consciousness in a
ceremony on Halloween 2018. The old house was the scene of a
previous attempt in 1968. Soon a millionaire and his henchmen
are chasing him, while an Egyptologist is trying to remove the magic
from a stolen hieroglyph that someone had painted on the walls of
Cecil Demille’s Egyptian palace built for the 1928 version of The
Ten Commandments. Tim Powers has lots of fun and action in
this sequel. And plenty of ghosts too.
Carrie Vaughn returns to her
series about Kitty who is a werewolf , radio host.
Ricardo de Avila was one of Coronado’s soldiers and turned into a
vampire five centuries ago. The Immortal Conquistador (paper
from achyon Publications) tells of several events in his long, and
independent life. Fun.
After her family was murdered,
Queen Everleigh Blair of Bellona had to Kill the Queen(paper)
and then Protect the Prince (paper) but now she has to face
her real enemy and Crush the King (hard from Harper Voyager)
. Her best chance is during Regalia Games attended by all seven
kingdoms. The Mortan king has huge storm powers and Evie’s immunity
magic seems much weaker. As usual in a Jennifer Estep tale, Evie has
to be smarter and faster than her opponent. Lots of fun, even though
I never read the first two books of the series.
The colonist star ship Outward
Initiative was hit by disaster losing four lifeboats with passengers
in them. One makes it to Orado as does the Outward Iniative. The
other three land on a Castaway Planet (paper) they call
Lincoln filled with floating continents. When one continent rots
away because of the interference of one group, it takes an Castaway
Odyssey(paper) for them to reach another continent where the
other colonists have survived. Back home the search has begun to
find them, while the planet has more surprises before the
Castaway Resolution (hard from Baen) sees them rescued. A bit
predictable, but light fun.
Solaris has published a collection of Made to
Order (paper) with tales from by John Chu; Daryl Gregory;
Alice Sola Kim; Rich Larson; Ken Liu; Carmen Maria Machado; Ian R.
Macleod; Annalee Newitz; Suzanne Palmer; Vina Jie-Min Prasad;
Alastair Reynolds; Kelly Robson; Sofia Samatar; Rivers Solomon ; and
Peter Watts and printed on 100th anniversary of the word “Robot”.
Tor has reprinted the excellent China
Mountain Zhang (trade) by Maureen F. McHugh about a U.S. under
Chinese control. I still have my copy. Baen has reprinted James L
Cambias’s fun Arkad’s World in paper, Tim Powers’ Earthquake
Weather in paper, David Drake’s fun second tale of a chaotic
universe that can be walked through in The Storm, and
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes’s tale first
published in the 1987 The Legacy of Heorot in trade.
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on March 13th. The meeting starts at 8
p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at 39th and Locust Walk
on the University of Pennsylvania Campus. Simone Zelitch,
author of the alternate history novel Judenstaat 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 fusion generation requires
less energy because only one frequency is needed rather than a full
spectrum. It also explains dark matter, the proliferation of
subatomic particles, and the limit of light speed for matter.