From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: your bi-weekly rundown of new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry. Welcome again, everyone!
In this edition of the Hitlist, I have twenty-odd notable novels for you all to anticipate, including standalone stories by Charlie Human, Celine Kiernan, Alan Spence and Natasha Carthew, sequels to The City’s Son and A Conspiracy of Alchemists, alongside additions to several series, such as Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim, Mark Hodder’s Burton and Swinbourne books and Amanda Hocking’s Watersong.
Keep your eyes peeled for a few conclusions, too: Emperor of Thorns ends Mark Lawrence’s account of The Broken Empire, The Beating of His Wings brings Paul Hoffman’s Sanctuary of the Redeemers series to a close, and the heavens finally fall in Heaven’s Fall, from David S. Goyer and Michael Cassut.
Several shiny new series are beginning in the next few weeks as well, including The Long War, Legend of the Duskwalker, The Valhalla Saga and the books of The Borderlands. Click through for all that and much, much more.
Emperor of Thorns (Broken Empire #3)—Mark Lawrence (August 1, Harper Voyager)
The path to the throne is broken—only the broken can walk it
The world is cracked and time has run through, leaving us clutching at the end days. These are the days that have waited for us all our lives. These are my days. I will stand before the Hundred and they will listen. I will take the throne no matter who stands against me, living or dead, and if I must be the last emperor then I will make of it such an ending.
This is where the wise man turns away. This is where the holy kneel and call on God. These are the last miles, my brothers. Don’t look to me to save you. Run if you have the wit. Pray if you have the soul. Stand your ground if courage is yours. But don’t follow me.
Follow me, and I will break your heart.
The Ghost Bride—Yangsze Choo (August 1, Hot Key Books)
Yangsze Choo’s stunning debut, The Ghost Bride, is a startlingly original novel infused with Chinese folklore, romantic intrigue, and unexpected supernatural twists.
Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at what price?
Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family.
Reminiscent of Lisa See’s Peony in Love and Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Ghost Bride is a wondrous coming-of-age story and from a remarkable new voice in fiction.
The Glass Republic (Skyscraper Throne #2)—Tom Pollock (August 1, Jo Fletcher)
Pen’s life is all about secrets: the secret of the city’s spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly—and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror. Pen’s reflected twin is the only girl who really understands her.
Then Parva is abducted and Pen makes a terrible bargain for the means to track her down. In London-Under-Glass, looks are currency, and Pen’s scars make her a rare and valuable commodity. But some in the reflected city will do anything to keep Pen from the secret of what happened to the sister who shared her face.
Into the Grey—Celine Kiernan (August 1, Walker)
After their nan accidentally burns the family home down, twin brothers Patrick and Dominick move with their parents and baby sister to a small cottage by the sea. The family has spent many a happy summer there, but never a winter—and against a backdrop of howling storms and wild seas, the haunting of the twins begins…
Phoencia’s Worlds—Ben Jeapes (August 1, Solaris)
La Nueva Temporada is Earth’s only extrasolar colony: an Earth-type planet caught in the grip of a very Earth-type Ice Age. Alex Mateo wants nothing more than to stay and contribute to the terraforming of his homeworld, but tragedy strikes the colony, and to save it from starvation and collapse, he must reluctantly entrust himself to Phoenicia, the only starship in existence, to make the long slower-than-light journey back to Earth.
But it is his brother Quin, who loathes La Nueva Temporada and all the people on it, who must watch his world collapse around him and become its saviour… while everyone watches the skies for the return of the Phoenicia.
Three (Legends of the Duskwalker #1)—Jay Posey (August 1, Angry Robot)
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 thefglass forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.
Kill City Blues (Sandman Slim #5)—Richard Kadrey (August 1, Harper Voyager)
James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, has managed to get out of Hell—again—renounce his title as the new Lucifer, and settle back into life in LA. But he’s not out of trouble yet. Somewhere along the way he misplaced a weapon from the banished older gods who now want it back.
The hunt leads Stark to an abandoned shopping mall—a multi-storey copy of LA—infested with Lurkers and bottom-feeding Sub Rosa families, squatters who have formed tight tribes to guard their tiny patches of territory. Somewhere in the kill zone of the former mall is a dead man with the answers Stark needs.
All Stark has to do is find the dead man, get back out alive, and outrun some angry old gods—with a few killers on his tail.
Plastic—Christopher Fowler (August 1, Solaris)
June Cryer is a shopaholic suburban housewife trapped in a lousy marriage. After losing her home, husband and her credit rating, she flat-sits a friend’s spectacular London high-rise apartment and prepares to indulge herself amidst the city’s wealth.
But when a terrified girl breaks into the flat, June makes the mistake of asking the neighbours for help and finds herself embroiled in an escalating nightmare, trying to prove that a murderer exists. For the next 24 hours, she must survive on the streets without friends or money and solve an impossible crime.
Winter Damage—Natasha Carthew (August 1, Bloomsbury)
On a frozen Cornish moor, a fourteen-year-old girl lives in a trailer with her dad and little brother. Ennor’s mother left years ago, when things started to go wrong—and gradually their world has fallen apart. Now her father’s gravely ill, school has closed, and Ennor knows they’re going to take her brother away if things don’t pick up soon. Days before Christmas, when the wind is cold and her dad’s health takes a turn for the worse, Ennor packs a blanket, a map, a saucepan and a gun into her rucksack, and sets off to find her mum and bring her home.
Ennor thinks she knows where she’s going. But this journey will change her life for ever—it becomes a battle for survival, a heartbreaking story of love and friendship, and a fable about not finding what you were looking for, but finding something more important instead…
Swords of Good Men (Valhalla Saga #1)—Snorri Kristjannson (August 1, Jo Fletcher)
Ulfar Thormodsson has spent two years travelling as envoy and bodyguard to his high-born cousin. They have one last stop—the walled town of Stenvik—before they can finally go home.
Audun Arngrimsson works his forge and lives a secretive, solitary life. No one knows about his past, and he’d like to keep it that way. But the Old Gods have other ideas.
The factions within Stenvik are about to come to blows, but a far bigger battle is approaching: a young king is bringing the White Christ at point of sword and edge of blade. And on the horizon are the sails of another, more mysterious enemy…
The Black Guard (Long War #1)—A. J. Smith (August 5, Head of Zeus)
The Duke of Canarn is dead, executed by the King’s decree. The city lies in chaos, its people starving, sickening, and tyrannized by the ongoing presence of the King’s mercenary army. But still hope remains: the Duke’s children, the Lord Bromvy and Lady Bronwyn, have escaped their father’s fate.
Separated by enemy territory, hunted by the warrior clerics of the One God, Bromvy undertakes to win back the city with the help of the secretive outcasts of the Darkwald forest, the Dokkalfar. The Lady Bronwyn makes for the sanctuary of the Grass Sea and the warriors of Ranen with the mass of the King’s forces at her heels. And in the mountainous region of Fjorlan, the High Thain Algenon Teardrop launches his Dragon Fleet against the Red Army. Brother wars against brother in this, the epic first volume of the long war.
The Days of the Deer (Saga of the Borderlands #1)—Liliana Bodoc (August 6, Corvus)
It is known that the strangers will sail from some part of the Ancient Lands and will cross the Yentru Sea. All our predictions and sacred books clearly say the same thing. The rest is all shadows. Shadows that prevent us from seeing the faces of those who are coming.
In the House of Stars, the Astronomers of the Open Air read contradictory omens. A fleet is coming to the shores of the Remote Realm. But are these the long-awaited Northmen, returned triumphant from the war in the Ancient Lands? Or the emissaries of the Son of Death come to wage a last battle against life itself?
From every village of the seven tribes, a representative is called to a Great Council. One representative will not survive the journey. Some will be willing to sacrifice their lives, others their people, but one thing is certain: the era of light is at an end.
Night Boat—Alan Spence (August 6, Canongate)
My childhood name was Iwajiro, and I was eight years old when I first entered at the gates of hell…
One night in eighteenth-century Japan, at the hour of the Ox, a young boy named Iwajiro sits in a state of pure concentration. At the foot of Mount Fuji, behind screen walls and amidst curls of incense smoke Iwajiro chants the Tenjin Sutra, an act of devotion learned from his beloved mother.
On the side of the same mountain, twenty years on, he will sit in perfect stillness as the summit erupts, spitting fire and molten rock onto the land around him. This is not the first time he has seen hell.
This man will become Hakuin, one of the greatest teachers in the history of Zen. His quest for truth will call on him to defy his father, to face death, to find love and to lose it. He will ask, what is the sound of one hand clapping? And he will master his greatest fear. This is the story of his tremendous life.
Apocalypse Now Now—Charlie Human (August 8, Century)
Baxter Zevcenko’s life is pretty sweet. As the 16-year-old kingpin of the Spider, his smut-peddling schoolyard syndicate, he’s making a name for himself as an up-and-coming entrepreneur. Profits are on the rise, the other gangs are staying out of his business, and he’s going out with Esme, the girl of his dreams.
But when Esme gets kidnapped, and all the clues point towards strange forces at work, things start to get seriously weird. The only man drunk enough to help is a bearded, booze-soaked, supernatural bounty hunter that goes by the name of Jackson ‘Jackie’ Ronin.
Plunged into the increasingly bizarre landscape of Cape Town’s supernatural underworld, Baxter and Ronin team up to save Esme. On a journey that takes them through the realms of impossibility, they must face every conceivable nightmare to get her back, including the odd brush with the Apocalypse.
A Clockwork Heart (Chronicles of Light & Shadow #2)—Liesel Schwarz (August 8, Del Rey UK)
They gather at night. The steady click keeping them in time, unified, controlled. Their maker made them that way.
As more Londoners disappear, their numbers grow.
One has joined their ranks. A special one, with power more potent than any other. Old warlock magic, and something else… an enchantment wound so tight it’s near impossible to unravel.
And only Eleanor Chance—the oracle; the girl they call Pythia—has a hope of saving these unfortunate souls…
… souls that are burdened with the slow death from a clockwork heart.
The Secret of Abdu el Yezdi (Burton & Swinburne #4)—Mark Hodder (August 8, Del Rey UK)
Having successfully discovered the source of the Nile, Captain Richard Francis Burton returns to London expecting to marry his fiancé, Isabel Arundell, and be awarded the consulship of Damascus. However, when he’s unexpectedly knighted by King George V, his plans go awry. The monarch requires an agent to investigate a sequence of disappearances, and Burton, whether he likes it or not, is the man for the job.
Engineering and medical luminaries—such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Florence Nightingale—are among the missing, but the most significant absence is that of Abdu El Yezdi, an inhabitant of the Afterlife who, in the two decades since the assassination of Queen Victoria, has been Prime Minister Disraeli’s most trusted advisor.
The search for the missing ghost soon becomes the least of the explorer’s concerns, for it quickly becomes apparent that he himself is at the centre of increasingly bizarre and interconnected events, and that someone—or something—is intent not only on meddling with history, but also on harming the people Burton values the most.
Time is the Fire: The Best of Connie Willis (SF Masterworks)—Connie Willis (August 8, Gollancz)
Few authors have had careers as successful as that of Connie Willis. Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and recently awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Willis is still going strong. Her smart, heartfelt fiction runs the gamut from screwball comedy to profound tragedy, combining dazzling plot twists, cutting-edge science, and unforgettable characters.
From a near future mourning the extinction of dogs to an alternate history in which invading aliens were defeated by none other than Emily Dickinson; from a madcap convention of bumbling quantum physicists in Hollywood to a London whose Underground has become a storehouse of intangible memories both foul and fair—here are the greatest stories of one of the greatest writers working in any genre today.
All ten of the stories gathered here are Hugo or Nebula award winners—some even have the distinction of winning both. With a new Introduction by the author and personal afterwords to each story—plus a special look at three of Willis’ unique public speeches—this is unquestionably the collection of the season, a book that every Connie Willis fan will treasure, and, to those unfamiliar with her work, the perfect introduction to one of the most accomplished and best-loved writers of our time.
The Beating of His Wings (Sanctuary of the Redeemers #3)—Paul Hoffman (August 15, Michael Joseph)
Thomas Cale has been running from the truth.
Since discovering that his brutal military training has been for one purpose—to destroy God’s greatest mistake, mankind itself—Cale has been hunted by the very man who made him into the Angel of Death: Pope Redeemer Bosco.
Cale is a paradox: arrogant and innocent, generous and pitiless. Feared and revered by those created him, he has already used his breathtaking talent for destruction to bring down the most powerful civilisation in the world.
But Thomas Cale is weak. His soul is dying. As his body is wracked with convulsions he knows that the final judgment will not wait for a sick boy. As the day of reckoning draws close, Cale’s sense of vengeance leads him back to the Sanctuary—and to confront the person he hates most in the world. Finally Cale must recognise that he is the incarnation of God’s rage and decide if he will stand against the Sanctuary of the Redeemers and use his unique skill of laying waste to all things.
The fate of mankind rests on Cale’s decision.
Elegy (Watersong #4)—Amanda Hocking (August 15, Tor UK)
Cursed to be a siren, Gemma’s life is slowly being destroyed. Struggling to move away from the savage darkness she needs to survive, she’s desperate to break the curse that has turned her into a monster and is keeping her from the family—and boy—that she loves. But the alluring yet lethal sirens, Penn, Thea and the newly initiated, Liv have no intention of letting her go.
The key to her freedom lies with an ancient scroll and Gemma’s frantic search leads her to someone who might be able to help—the mysterious immortal Diana, who cursed Penn and her sisters thousands of years ago. But Diana will not give up her secrets easily and unless Gemma and her sister Harper can unlock the scroll’s powers then Penn will trap Harper’s boyfriend Daniel and destroy the two sisters for good.
Heaven’s Fall (Heaven Trilogy #3)—David S. Goyer and Michael Cassut (August 15, Tor UK)
Humanity is facing its greatest challenge. The alien Reivers have conquered our world, and their newly erected strongholds cast shadows across a subjugated land.
Twenty years earlier, extraterrestrials first came to Earth. They abducted humans; stranding them on a spacecraft named Keanu. However, these entities came seeking our help—against the Reivers who had overrun their home-world. But they brought the Reivers to us, carrying their contagion from the stars.
When Keanu finally re-establishes contact with Earth, terror awaits. Reivers now control the planet and are preparing to destroy Keanu. And Rachel Stewart will leave the ship to lead Earth’s last rebels in a bid for freedom; their goal being to infiltrate a Reiver fortress. But somehow Keanu holds the key to our salvation—and if it can’t be found, humanity will be finished. The galaxy will be next…
Judge Dredd: Trifecta—Al Ewing, Simon Spurrier, Henry Flint et al. (August 15, 2000 AD)
Mega-City One, 2134 AD.
Fresh from the devastating events caused by the Chaos virus, Judge Dredd becomes aware of a potential power grab from within the Justice Department, meanwhile Wally Squad gumshoe Jack Point is given a mysterious doll to safeguard and Dirty Frank wakes up on Luna-1 as a board member of Overdrive, Inc.
All three Judges soon find themselves embroiled in the same case in which allegiances and grudges form in equal measure!
Legion & The Emperor’s Soul—Brandon Sanderson (August 15, Gollancz)
The internationally bestselling author of the Mistborn and Stormlight Archive series presents two very different novellas that nevertheless showcase his remarkable gift for gripping narrative, world-building and empathetic characters.
In Legion, Stephen Leeds—aka Legion—is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his ’aspects’ are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith.
When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery in The Emperor’s Soul, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos. Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai’s only possible ally is the emperor’s most loyal councillor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent.
Strontium Dog: Portrait of a Mutant—John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra (August 15, 2000 AD)
In the far future, Strontium-90 fallout has created a race of mutants. Outcasts from society, they are despised by the ’norms’ and given only the dirtiest jobs: bounty hunting.
Johnny Alpha is one such mutant, working for the Search/Destroy Agency, hunting down the criminals for the Galactic Crime Commission. Portrait of a Mutant explores Johnny Alpha’s tragic early years fighting for survival amongst the ranks of the Mutant Army against his hate-filled father Kreelman, and features the introduction of many popular supporting characters such as the Torso from Newcastle and the knobbly-headed Glaswegian, Middenface McNulty.
This B-format collection is the perfect introduction to the classic character.
Niall Alexander is an erstwhile English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com, where he contributes a column concerned with news and new releases in the UK called the British Genre Fiction Focus, and co-curates the Short Fiction Spotlight. On occasion he’s been seen to tweet, twoo.