Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three from Harriet

The Sapphire Sirens
John Zakour
DAW, Dec 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756405816

In 2060, Zachary Nixon Johnson is the last freelance detective in the world. He is ably assisted by his AI sidekick HARV and together they have saved the world many times over.

Zach’s latest case is finding former basketball star turned entrepreneur Don Rickey’s Baseball card collection. He gets a blackmail letter asking for four million dollars to get the collection back. The paper the note is written on is Prime especially since most people communicate through paperless means. The client’s ex-wife bought the paper. Zack finds in her home a sapphire who fights him and knocks him out. She takes him to Lantis an island dominated totally by females who came from another planet millennia ago and use a force field and other advanced technology to keep intruders out. His “man-napper” sapphire-haired Amazon Princess Kiana demands Zach find out who killed her mother. The evidence points to Kiana, but the sleuth thinks she is being framed as her guilt is too overwhelming to be true. He has two days to uncover the truth or one of her three sisters will be the heir to the throne of Lantis and Kiana will be execured; of course than again the proof may prove right.

This amusing pulp action science fiction mystery is loaded with futuristic technology, royal politics, a two meter plus giantess, amazons, baseball cards, comic books, Zach and HARV. What more could someone ask for?. The relationship between HARV and Zach is evolving as the AI increasingly seems more human, which makes them behave more like friends. Zach treats the island case like he does any as he easily adjusts to kick butt females (he knows Threta first hand), technology (He has HARV) and royal bull (he has the law). John Zakour provides another colorful insane sci fi whodunit. Harriet Klausner

The Tuloriad
John Ringo & Tom Kratman
Baen, Oct 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439133040

To save humanity, the Posleen aliens had to be defeated as the latter considered the former beneath them on the food chain; a source of sustenance. The final battle leaves mankind struggling but thriving and the Posleen almost extinct. Those few surviving Posleen begin a desperate mission to track their heritage although many of the sentient races belonging to the treacherous Galactic Confederation would prefer the final solution instead of what the Posleen may learn.

At the same time, the Posleen prepares its trek, the victors in the war send missionaries from the major religious groups to convert the heathens to their particular religion. These self appointed emissaries of God catch up to the Posleen researchers. The Poleen are finding shocking evidence of their origins that shake the earthlings and representatives from the other races like the devious Darhel and the legacy of the benign manipulative Aldenata is not the altruism they thought they pursued. Hell and distrust between and even within species is the norm.

The latest entry in the Posleen-Humanity science fiction thriller (adding war to the title seems inappropriate at this point) has less action than usual as John Ringo & Tom Kratman raise fascinating questions about religion, military intervention, and social rules. The story line however is very thin as the concepts for instance of the Muslim marital allowance, the “white man’s burden” and the American invasion to take out a brutal bully in Iraq have parallels but never quite explored beyond a slim veneer as the authors detract from the plot with their opinion. Still fans of the series will enjoy this cerebral turn as the Posleen come across less B movie monstrous and more humane with the underlying theme asking do other sentient species have souls. Harriet Klausner

John Levitt
Ace, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441017980

There is a magic world that the Ordinaries know nothing about even its existence. To keep it that way, certain magical practitioners serve as cops to insure no one deviates from the righteous path. They also cover up when something magical happens so that s mortals do not learn of their existence. One enforcer with medium level strength is Mason, who has an Ifrit Louie, a faithful familiar shaped like a dog.

Mason tries to help some San Francisco homeless practitioners who are gradually losing their humanity and turning into beings from the myths and legend. They accidentally create an anti-Ifrit who killed people. At first Mason thought the anti-Ifrit murdered ordinaries, but he revised his theory. He now thinks a Wendigo came out of the energy field that the anti-Ifrit came out of and is the killer. The pair finally gets it right when they figure our what the real killers are. Mason, Louie, their mentor Eli and Chief Enforcer Victor know it will take team work and a miracle to destroy the killer.

Magic, mayhem and mystery make up Unleashed, a poignant yet often amusing urban fantasy that is filled with intrigue and a sense of wonder. Mason will do anything for his Louie and likewise the Ifrit canine will sacrifice himself for his partner; as man’s best friend is his dog. The danger begins due to out of control practitioners losing their sense of reality and allowing a pseudo Ifrit, a Wendigo and a killer out of the energy pool leading to a wonderful original urban fantasy whodunit. Harriet Klausner

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