Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for July

Twelve genre-bending titles leap onto shelves this month, including a collection of short stories from Jonathan Maberry; the conclusion to Jo Walton’s Thessaly trilogy; and new books from Harry Turtledove and Ben H. Winters!

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

 

WEEK ONE

Night of the Animals—Bill Broun (July 5, Ecco)
Over the course of a single night in 2052, a homeless man named Cuthbert Handley sets out on an astonishing quest: to release the animals of the London Zoo. When he was a young boy, Cuthbert’s grandmother had told him he inherited a magical ability to communicate with the animal world—a gift she called the Wonderments. Ever since his older brother’s death in childhood, Cuthbert has heard voices. These maddening whispers must be the Wonderments, he believes, and recently they have promised to reunite him with his lost brother and bring about the coming of a Lord of Animals … if he fulfills this curious request. Cuthbert flickers in and out of awareness throughout his desperate pursuit. But his grand plan is not the only thing that threatens to disturb the collective unease of the city. Around him is greater turmoil, as the rest of the world anxiously anticipates the rise of a suicide cult set on destroying the world’s animals along with themselves.

Heroine Complex—Sarah Kuhn (July 5, DAW)
Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants. Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea. But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest secret comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands.

Deserts of Fire: Speculative Fiction and the Modern War—Douglas Lain, editor (July 5, Night Shade)
In 1987, the New York Times published their first front-page review of a science fiction anthology for a collection called In the Field of Fire, themed around the war in Vietnam. “Vietnam was science fiction,” the reviewer wrote, and writing about it through that lens found meaning in a war few understood. This idea, that speculative fiction is a vital tool to understanding the inexplicable, is just as relevant nearly thirty years later. Deserts of Fire is a war-inspired anthology for the new millennium, because for many, the recent wars in the deserts of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East are just as slippery to grasp and difficult to understand as Vietnam was two generations earlier.

The Wolf Road—Beth Lewis (July 5, Crown)
Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in this desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other. But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim. Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind—and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight.

Underground Airlines—Ben H. Winters (July 5, Mullholland)
A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He’s got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn’t right—with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself. A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Victor believes he’s hot on the trail, but his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won’t reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw’s case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor’s salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all—though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

 

WEEK TWO

A Natural History of Hell—Jeffrey Ford (July 12, Small Beer Press)
Emily Dickinson takes a carriage ride with Death. A couple are invited over to a neighbor’s daughter’s exorcism. A country witch with a sea-captain’s head in a glass globe intercedes on behalf of abused and abandoned children. In July of 1915, in Hardin County, Ohio, a boy sees ghosts. Explore contemporary natural history in a baker’s dozen of exhilarating visions.

The Last One—Alexandra Oliva (July 12, Ballantine)
It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game. Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones. But as her emotional and physical reserves dwindle, she grasps that the real world might have been altered in terrifying ways—and her ability to parse the charade will be either her triumph or her undoing.

Necessity (Thessaly #3)—Jo Walton (July 12, Tor Books)
More than sixty-five years ago, Pallas Athena founded the Just City on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, placing it centuries before the Trojan War, populating it with teachers and children from throughout human history, and committing it to building a society based on the principles of Plato’s Republic. Among the City’s children was Pytheas, secretly the god Apollo in human form. Sixty years ago, the Just City schismed into five cities, each devoted to a different version of the original vision. Forty years ago, the five cities managed to bring their squabbles to a close. But their existence finally came to the attention of Zeus, who can’t allow them to remain in deep antiquity, changing the course of human history. Convinced by Apollo to spare the Cities, Zeus instead moved everything on the island to the planet Plato, circling its own distant sun. Now, more than a generation later, the Cities are flourishing on Plato. Then, on the same day, two things happen. Pytheas dies as a human, returning immediately as Apollo in his full glory. And there’s suddenly a human ship in orbit around Plato—a ship from Earth.

 

WEEK THREE

Whistling Past the Graveyard—Jonathan Maberry (July 22, Journalstone)
A lonely, nerdy paperboy encounters ancient evil on the shadowy back roads of his home town. A little girl spends her nights dreaming of monsters and teaching herself the art of murder. Sherlock Holmes journeys to America for an encounter with the ghost of a murdered woman. A samurai sails to a forgotten island to battle the living dead. Special ops soldiers fly the void to fight space pirates. A heartbroken junkie seeks vengeance for his murdered friend. Whistling Past the Graveyard is the first print collection of short fiction by New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry. These are strange journeys through nightmare land, with a five-time Bram Stoker Award winner as your guide.

The Monster’s Daughter—Michelle Pretorious (July 19, Melville House)
Somewhere on the South African veld, 1901: At the height of the Boer War, a doctor at a British concentration camp conducts a series of grim experiments on Boer prisoners. His work ends in chaos, but two children survive: a boy named Benjamin, and a girl named Tessa. One hundred years later, a disgraced young police constable is reassigned to the sleepy South African town of Unie, where she makes a terrifying discovery: the body of a woman, burned beyond recognition. The crime soon leads her into her country’s violent past—a past that includes her father, a high-ranking police official under the apartheid regime, and the children left behind in that long ago concentration camp. Michelle Pretorius’s epic debut weaves present and past together into a hugely suspenseful, masterfully plotted thriller.

Fallout: The Hot War—Harry Turtledove (July 19, Del Rey)
In this new series, the unthinkable has come to pass. The Cold War turns hot—and the United States and the Soviet Union unleash their nuclear arsenals upon each other. Millions die. Millions more are displaced. At the heart of Fallout are Harry Truman and Josef Stalin. Even as Joe McCarthy rises in power, the U.S. president is focused elsewhere, planning to cut off the head of the Soviet threat by taking out Stalin. When the United States drops another series of bombs to slow the Russian advance in Europe, Stalin strikes back—with horrifying results. These staggering events unfold through the eyes of a sprawling cast of characters: a Holocaust survivor in a displaced persons camp in Washington; the wife of a bomber pilot and her five-year-old daughter starting a new existence; a savage Soviet fighter waging war by his own rules; a British pub owner falling in love with an American pilot. As the armies of the world implode, the next chapter will be written by the survivors—those willing to rise up for an uncertain future.

 

WEEK FOUR

The Night Parade—Ronald Malfi (July 26, Kensington)
First the birds disappeared. Then the insects took over. Then the madness began. They call it Wanderer’s Folly—a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race. After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure. Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road…

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