Robert J. Sawyer
Tor, Dec 6 2011, $14.99
In 2018 in Port Credit near Tornado, brewery owner Cliff Sullivan is rushed to the hospital. Dr. Thanh explains to his wife and son that Cliff suffers from Katerinsky Syndrome, which leaves him a vegetable until he dies. Since this is hereditary, he suggests Jake take an MRI.
Jake knew he was dying so he chose Immortex to make a Mindscan copy of his brain placed inside an android. He relocates to the moon where he expects to die in High Eden, a pleasant assisted living facility.
In 2045, Jake the robot on earth has faced rejection from all of the human Jake’s loved ones. He is bored with nothing to do until he meets the mindscan Karen Bessarian. Her biological body had been that of an octogenarian children's book author; but this model is in her thirties as opposed to Jake in his forties. As the two mindscans fall in love, the original Karen dies. Her son sues for ownership of his late mom’s estate insisting a mindscan has no rights; at the same time the original Jake finds a cure for his illness and demands his former life returned to him.
This discerning exciting look at future ethics questions asking what a human is and what rights does a mindscan have. The story line is fast-paced while the setting plays a key role as Americans flee their fundamentalist Christian kingdom homeland to reside in tolerant Canada; enhancing the rights argument. Readers will relish this profound extrapolation of current medical technology in which Robert J. Sawyer argues that medical advances are way ahead of legal advances. Harriet Klausner
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow Plus
PM Press, Nov 1 2011, $12.00
“The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.” The world ended not with a bang but with a wumpus; as everyone wanted control of technological change leading to the Mecha Wars. In Detroit, Jimmy Yensid, his dad Robin and the pack reside in abandoned Comerica Park. Dad restored the classic Carousel of Progress; currently he recommends preservation of this last standing city as a heritage site. Being transhuman Jimmy ages slowly so though he has lived for decades he remains preadolescent. He spots a wumpus near a crumpled Ford factory. Riding his dad’s mecha and accompanied by his canines packs piloting air drones, he attacks the wumpus. A gang riding eight smaller mechas attacks Jimmy. He fights back feeling like a murderer as life in abandoned Detroit is never dull.
"Creativity vs. Copyright." This fascinating essay/presentation focuses on proposed copyright laws in the electronic publication age. The impact on corporate profits has been discussed many times. Mr. Doctorow provides a fresh focus on the digital rights management (including monetary – how an author makes a living from Net sales is beyond my comprehension) of intellectual property in a world in which many users assume “information is free.”
The thought provoking novella is a dark thriller that turns upside down the “future” as progress does not necessarily mean better. The exciting storyline looks deeply at change as everyone insists implementation of theirs; and customized technology may just lead to a wasteland. The well written essay/presentation provides the audience with insight into Mr. Doctorow’s views especially on intellectual property ownership in an on demand digital world. Finally there is also included “Look for the Lake” Cory Doctorow Interviewed by Terry Bisson.
Dust of the Damned
Berkley, Jan 3 2012, $15.00
To preserve the Union, President Abraham Lincoln recruits European werewolves and vampires to fight against the Confederacy. His plan was to rip out the hearts of the rebels at Gettysburg and then send the paranormal back to East European homes. However, the paranormal unit achieves step one tearing the guts out of the Rebel army as Lee chooses a silver bullet rather than conversion and Lincoln after seeing what he wrought followed suit; the illegal immigrants ignore part two of the late president’s plan.
Instead of re-crossing the Atlantic, the Hell’s Angels werewolf brigade escape from Hellsgarde Penitentiary heeding Greely and head west young beast. Alpha shape-changer Charlie Hondo leads the howling pack partnering with dragon-riding Ravenna the witch as they search for the key to the eternal fountain of youth and world domination. Bounty ghoul hunter Uriah Zane and deputy marshal Angel Coffin lead the opposition.
This paranormal alternate historical thriller is a gory action-packed tale summed up nicely by Jesse James when he insists Zane is a trouble magnet. Although the story line never veers from its straight-lined bloody but fast-paced course from the first massacre to the final confrontation. Fans will enjoy the heroes in combat against deadly werewolves, vampires and witches, Oh! My! as the Dust of the Damned seek manifest destiny. Harriet Klausner
Tor, Jan 17 2012, $25.99
On September 1, 1939 Hitler begins the blitzkrieg destruction of Poland. In Budapest, Gisi the Jewish seer saw the Nazis’ deadly march over a month ago. Her sister Magda the Lazarus Witch tries to bind Asmodel the demon to her will while Gisi fears the repercussions. Magda’s beloved fallen angel Raziel supports her efforts as he knows the allies will need magic on their side to counter the dark forces allied with Hitler in order to save the Polish Jews from the Final Solution incantation sacrifice.
Magda leads her small troupe into Poland. However, she finds her cause in dire straits as Nazi werewolves and demons attack her and anyone in their path. Worse, the camps concentrate more evil power into the hands of Hitler and his demonic master by channeling death and torture. Hitler supporter Vampirrat orders Magda’s leader anti-Nazi Count Bathory the vampire to Berlin for a public staking. Magda may be too late to stop Hitler, but her hopes reside with finding the Book of Raziel arcane spells.
The sequel to super Lady Lazarus is an engaging urban alternate historical fantasy in which World War II is fought by mortals and paranormal. The story line is fast-paced with the various supernatural species (fighting on both sides) seemingly real and the combat with them and mortals vivid. As a master manipulator that Machiavelli would have admired, Asmodel somewhat steals the plot from the inexperienced heroine who logically works through her options to the best course only to impulsively act otherwise. Raziel and Bathory provide little to the mix except limited support and Gisi trembles in fear as WWII explodes on the continent.