It’s another big month in genre-bending land, as twenty-six books push the limits of genre—or downright straddle the fence. We have paranormal cozy mysteries, alt history, steampunk with and without romance (pauses for a moment of silence while male readers heave put-upon sighs), and more. In addition to popular series outings, there are a genre-bending pile of new anthologies: John Joseph Adams edits Wastelands II: More Stories of the Apocalypse; Steve Berman edits Bad Seeds: Evil Progeny; Ellen Datlow takes on The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Five; Samantha Beiko and Sandra Kasturi edit Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing; and Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malki offer up This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible and Inescapable Machine of Death.
Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here.
Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
After a year of hard work in her Texas hometown, Harlow Jane Cassidy’s dreams are finally within reach, if she can just get it all done in time. Harlow’s designs will be featured in a big magazine spread, but she only has a few days to finalize her collection. Plus she’s busy helping to plan her mother’s upcoming wedding, playing host to her old friend Orphie, and avoiding a competitive Dallas designer set on stealing Harlow’s ideas. Harlow’s making it all work, until someone breaks into Buttons & Bows and the rival designer is found dead. But when a near miss makes it clear that Orphie could be the next victim, Harlow will have to untangle the threads of evidence if she wants to save her friend, her mother’s wedding, and her business from becoming fashion road kill.
Bounty hunter and lycanthrope Cedar Hunt vowed to track down all seven pieces of the Holder, a strange device capable of deadly destruction. Accompanied by witch Mae Lindson and the Madder brothers, he sets out to do just that. The crew is forced to take refuge in the frontier town of Des Moines, Iowa, when a glacial storm stops them in their tracks. The town, under mayor Killian Vosbrough, is ruled with an iron fist, and plagued by the steely Strange, creatures that pour through the streets. Cedar learns that Vosbrough is mining cold copper for the cataclysmic generators he’s manufacturing deep beneath Des Moines. Chipping through ice, snow, and bone-chilling bewitchment to expose a dangerous plot, Cedar must stop Vosbrough and his scheme to rule the land and sky.
England in the fourteenth century: a land of poverty and opulence, prayer and plague, witchcraft and necromancy. Where the medieval barber-surgeon Elisha seeks redemption as a medic on the front lines of an unjust war, and is drawn into the perilous world of sorcery by a beautiful young witch. In the crucible of combat, utterly at the mercy of his capricious superiors, Elisha must attempt to unravel conspiracies both magical and mundane, as well as come to terms with his own disturbing new abilities. But the only things more dangerous than the questions he’s asking are the answers he may reveal.
Young Adult. In the Pacific, as USS Walker is repaired and updated after a previous battle and Reddy is healing from his wounds, planning begins for a bold raid on the very heart of the Grik Empire. Time is running out for the Alliance army in Indiaa, and the Allied forces in the west must gather in an unprecedented land, air, and sea campaign to destroy the mighty Grik battle fleet and break through to their relief. The struggle continues on other fronts near and far: in the Americas, where the allies are finally learning the terrible truth about the twisted Dominion. The Alliance is on the offensive everywhere, but their enemies have a few surprises, including new weaponry and new tactics, and a stunning geographic advantage that Reddy never suspected. Until now.
As the owner of a popular vintage clothing store, Lily Ivory can enjoy a day of antique jewelry shopping and still call it work. But as one of San Francisco’s resident witches, searching for hidden treasures can sometimes lead to dangerous discoveries. When Lily arrives at an antique jewelry fair, her bargain sensors go off, but she also picks up a faint vibration of magic. Could the merchant Griselda be a fellow practitioner? A sudden fire sends panic through the crowd, and Lily discovers Griselda murdered in a way that nods to a witch hunt. A crime that hits close to home turns into a flash from the past when the police bring in their lead suspect, Lily’s estranged father. Lily is determined to clear her father’s name and solve a murder that’s anything but crystal clear.
Autumn has come to New England, and with it a new threat to the city of Boston. British naval ships have sailed into Boston Harbor bearing over a thousand soldiers. Ethan Kaille, thieftaker and conjurer, is awakened early in the morning by a staggeringly powerful spell. Every man aboard the HMS Graystone has died, though no one knows how or why. Ethan discovers that one soldier, a man who worked with Ethan’s rival, Sephira Pryce, has escaped the fate of his comrades. Ethan, the missing soldier, and Sephira Pryce scour the city in search of a stolen treasure which seems to lie at the root of all that is happening. Men are dying. If he fails to unravel the mystery of what befell the Graystone, every conjurer in Boston will be hanged as a witch. Including him.
Young Adult. Lydia Bentley has discovered that the conspiracy theories about the Montauk Project, the ones her grandfather had told her about all her life, were true all along. The little town on Long Island really is the Area 51 of the east. Lydia’s hometown has been the site of government time-travel experiments since World War II. Among the “recruits” the Project has used as subjects in these experiments are two members of Lydia’s own family, and Wes, the boy she loves. What is Lydia willing to sacrifice to save them?
Brilliant but autistic, Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover’s refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. She is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future. One of Clover’s missions reveals that West’s life is in danger. To change West’s fate, they’ll have to take on the Company. They realize that the Company’s rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. Clover will face a more powerful force than she imagined, and will team up with a band of fellow misfits to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever.
Wastelands II: More Stories of the Apocalypse (Wastelands #2), edited by John Joseph Adams, (July 2, Night Shade)
Since the Wastelands anthology was published, apocalyptic fiction of all types have exploded in the popular consciousness. Wastelands 2 focuses on short fiction published subsequent to the first book, plus several stories original to the anthology.
Children are supposed to be all sugar and spice and everything nice, but we know that’s not the truth. Dark tales of wicked tykes and dangerous kids playing vicious games fill this anthology, with stories from Charles Grant, Lisa Tuttle, Joe R. Lansdale, Stephen King, Robert McCammon, Michael Marshall Smith, Jeffrey Ford, Gemma Files, Peter Straub, Michael Reaves, and Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, among others.
When Chase Daniels first sees the little girl in umbrella socks tearing open the Rottweiler, he’s not too concerned. As a longtime meth addict, he’s no stranger to horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations. But, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived. Chase’s life was over long before the apocalypse got here, his existence already reduced to a stinking basement apartment and a filthy mattress and an endless grind of buying and selling and using. He chose the embrace of the drug over the woman he still loves. Maybe the end of the world is an opportunity. Soon he’s fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among civilization’s ruins. But is salvation just another pipe dream?
Young Adult. Seventeen-year-old Icie’s parents have given her $10,000 in cash, a map of a top-secret bunker, and instructions to get there by any means necessary. They have news of an imminent viral attack and know that the bunker is Icie’s only hope for survival. Along with three other teens, she lives locked away for months, not knowing what’s happening in the outside world or who has survived. And are they safe in the bunker after all? Generations in the future, a mysterious cult worships the very mountain where Icie’s secret bunker was built. They never leave the mountain, they’re ruled by a teenager, and they have surprising ties to Icie.
Young Adult. Twelve-year-old Dahlia has always lived at Silverton Manor, having spent fifty years as its resident ghost. When Oliver Day and his family show up as house-sitters the day Mrs. Tibbs, a Liberator sent by the Spectral Investigative Council, arrives to teach Dahlia the proper rules for ghosting, Dahlia can’t wait to make new friends. But the unscrupulous ghost hunter, Rank Wiley, and the crooked town councilman, Jock Rutabartle, plan to rid Silverton Manor of its ghosts and sell it to the highest bidder. With her home and friendships at stake Dahlia may have to break the rules of ghosting as quickly as she learns them to solve the mystery of her death and save the manor.
Enter at your own risk. This collection of short horror fiction includes stories from Jeffrey Ford, Kij Johnson, Gemma Files, Tamsyn Muir, Ian Rogers, Bruce McAllister, Megan Arkenberg, Adam Nevill, Lucy Snyder, and more.
Since the assassination of Queen Victoria in 1840, a cabal of prominent men, including Kingdom Brunel, has received guidance from the Afterlife. The spirit of a dead mystic, Abdu El Yezdi, has helped to steer the empire into a period of unprecedented peace and creativity. On the eve of an alliance with the newly formed Greater German Confederation, scientists, surgeons, and engineers are being abducted-including Brunel. The government turns to the Afterlife, only to find that Abdu El Yezdi is now refusing to speak with the living. Enter the newly-knighted Sir Richard Francis Burton. Appointed the king’s agent, he must trace the missing luminaries and solve the mystery of Abdu El Yezdi’s silence. But the Beast has been summoned.
In the frigid waters off the Arctic Ocean, the anti-whaling ship, The Sentinel, and her crew face off against a harpoon ship in search of Humpback whales. When the two ships collide and a suspicious explosion sends both ships to the bottom, the crews take refuge on what they think is a peninsula attached to the mainland, but is actually an island, recently freed from a glacial ice bridge. The two opposing crews scour the island. They find a stone totem warning of horrible creatures buried in the island’s caves. Facing violent, frigid storms, a hungry polar bear and the possibility that they are stranded, Jane Harper leads the two crews, who must work together to defend themselves against an ancient evil upon which the modern stories of both zombies and vampires are based.
How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea: A Newsflesh Novella (Newsflesh Trilogy), by Mira Grant, (July 15, Orbit)
Post-Rising Australia can be a dangerous place, especially if you’re a member of the government-sponsored Australia Conservation Corps, a group of people dedicated to preserving their continent’s natural wealth until a cure can be found. Between the zombie kangaroos at the fences and the zombie elephant seals turning the penguin rookery at Prince Phillip Island into a slaughterhouse, the work of an animal conservationist is truly never done, and is often done at the end of a sniper rifle. (ebook only)
Witness the epic battle of the cyclops! Visit the endangered dragon preserve! Please, no slaying. Solve the mystery of The Mystery Cottage, if you dare! Buy some knickknacks from The Fates! They might come in handy later. On a road trip across an enchanted America, Helen and Troy will discover all this and more. If the curse placed upon them by an ancient god doesn’t kill them or the pack of reluctant orc assassins don’t catch up to them, Helen and Troy might reach the end their journey in one piece, where they might just end up destroying the world. Or at least a state or two. A minotaur girl, an all-American boy, a three-legged dog, and a classic car are on the road to adventure, where every exit leads to adventure. Whether they like it or not.
Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, edited by Samantha Beiko and Sandra Kasturi, (July 16, ChiZine)
An anthology of speculative short fiction and poetry (science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, etc.) that represents the best work of Canadian writers. Authors include Michael Kelly, Helen Marshall, Claire Humphrey, Tony Burgess, Dave Duncan, A.M. Dellamonica, Gemma Files, David Livingston Clink, Dominik Parisien, Ian Rogers, and Matthew Johnson, among others.
This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible and Inescapable Machine of Death, edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo and David Malki, (July 16, Grand Central)
The machines started popping up around the world. The offer was tempting: with a simple blood test, anyone could know how they would die. But the machines didn’t give dates or specific circumstances—just a single word or phrase. DROWNED, CANCER, OLD AGE, CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. The machines held onto that old-world sense of irony in death: you can know how it’s going to happen, but you’ll still be surprised when it does. This anthology collects the best of the thousands of story submissions the editors received in the wake of the success of the first volume.
Young Adult. A group of high school girls takes revenge on their sadistic gym teacher in the most fitting way possible. Two stowaways find themselves on a ship for the dead. An ancient predator stalks the wrong victim. Here are thirteen tales of death, murder, and revenge from the fertile and febrile imagination of master storyteller David Lubar, his first story collection for the teen audience.
The civil war in Spain drags on, even after General Franco’s death. The United States fights the Japanese in the Pacific. Russia and Germany go toe-to-toe in Eastern Europe. Hitler stares east, not everything behind him is going as well as he would like. The Germans wheel out new tanks and planes, Japan deploys weapons of a very different sort against China, and the United States, England, and France do what they can to strengthen themselves against imminent danger. Seen through the eyes of ordinary citizens, this is a you-are-there chronicle of battle on land and sea and in the air. Here are bombing raids that shatter homes, businesses, and the rule of law. Here are commanders issuing orders that cannot be taken back. Here are the seeds of rebellion sown in blood-soaked soil.
Rumors of the seemingly magical victory that allowed the Exodus of Israelites from Egypt have resonated through the archaeological world for decades. Now evidence has been discovered that points to a new explanation of how the ancient Hebrews destroyed the unstoppable army of Pharaoh with a tribe of warriors. A treasure of a different kind is unearthed at Jericho: the petrified remains of an animal that could not exist. Enter the Event Group. The Group’s men and women gather to discover the truth behind the magnificent animals that led the defeat of Pharaoh’s army. The Event Group will come face-to-face with every myth, legend, and historical truth that has ever unfolded in the Carpathians, or as the area was once known, Transylvania, the land of Vlad the Impaler.
Saint-Germain is living in a monastery in Egypt when he is hired to guide a group of pilgrims to underground churches in southern Egypt. The vampire finds a companion in a lovely widow who later fears that her dalliance with the Count will prevent her from reaching Heaven. The pilgrims begin to fall prey to the trials of travel in the Holy Lands; some see visions and hear the word of God; others are seduced by desires for riches and power. A visit to the Chapel of the Holy Grail brings many quarrels to a head; Saint-Germain must use all his diplomacy and a good deal of his strength to keep the pilgrims from slaughtering one another.
When a real-life truth serum, an unauthorized military cabal, and the nuclear football, which contains the authorization the President needs to launch the nation’s missiles, all converge, the Nightstalkers suit up for another deadly job. Joining forces with the Cellar, the covert world’s police force, the team might be mankind’s last hope. With the President infected by an out-of-control pathogen, the Nightstalkers primary mission becomes finding a hidden stash of nuclear missiles before a secret group can launch a pre-emptive strike against America’s enemies. A rogue general has taken control of the operation center beneath the White House, and all hell’s about to break loose.
The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more. But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantel of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.
Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series is published by Tor Books. You can find Suzanne on Twitter and on her daily speculative fiction blog, Preternatura.