Every month, Fiction Affliction provides a handy reference of the science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and young adult paranormal coming out in the ensuing month. Today’s column examines SCIENCE FICTION.
The Symptoms: Sci-fi takes to the skies in September, both steam-powered and high-tech, and it’s a good thing—terrorists and counter-terrorists are lurking around Earth, creating havoc.
The Diagnosis: Nine new science fiction books explore new worlds in September, with two steampunks, two jungle-roaming terrorist organizations, and five planetary flyovers.
The Cure: Sic the Terrans on the Church Universal and Triumphant, then arm the gun-runners with biological weapons to take down the Terrans from their airship...or something like that.
When Allen Allenson, scion of a noble family that has fallen on hard times, gets a mission to roust the power-hungry Terrans from a “wild” star sector where they’re encroaching, he jumps at the chance to show his individual worth, improve his family’s fortunes, and gather enough lucre to make a good marriage. But the wily Terrans are not so easily persuaded by a young colonial they think of as a “rube.” Worse, “Riders,” the beings who naturally ply the wilderness between the stars, are playing their own deadly political games.
Rudi McKenzie, now Artos, the High King of Montival, must fulfill his destiny. He wields the sword crafted for him before he was born. He has made friends of his enemies. He has won the heart of the woman he loves. And now he must defeat the forces of the Church Universal and Triumphant, knowing he may lose his life in the final battle. Eighth in the Emberverse/Change series.
Kenneth Chinran commanded the elite unit assigned to take out an entire planet in a terrible war. Millions died; billions more perished in the aftermath. One doesn’t send a sociopath on such a mission. A sociopath might not stop. Chinran did stop – but in the process nearly lost his sanity and his soul. But one of Chinran’s men was a sociopath going in. Now he’s a trained sociopath with the knowledge and firepower to take out entire tactical teams, evaporate through security cordons and change identity at will. Who do you send after a killer like that? There’s only one answer: the man who trained him.
Ex-mercenary, pirate, and gun-runner Dante Bogart knows he’s in trouble after he hands one of his shady employers a biological weapon that made the dead rise from their graves, laugh like hyenas, and feast upon the living. Dante tried to blow the whistle via a tell-all video that went viral—but that was before the black ops boys deep-sixed him at a secret interrogation site on the Panama-Colombia border. When Dante wakes up in the jungle with the five intervening years missing from his memory, he knows he’s got to do something about the laughing sickness that has caused a worldwide slaughter.
After being exposed to radioactive particles as part of a cleanup gang in the depths of space, Tanyana is told she has developed a hitherto-unseen ability to understand the apparently sentient stuff. Powerless, penniless and scarred, Tanyana must adjust to a new life collecting magical garbage—“debris”—but starts to realize debris is more important than anyone could guess.
Michael Valentine, veteran and former member of an elite private military company, has been recruited by the government to conduct a secret counter-terror operation in the Persian Gulf nation of Zubara. The unit is called Dead Six. Their mission is to take the fight to the enemy and not get caught. Lorenzo, assassin and thief extraordinaire, is being blackmailed by the world’s most vicious crime lord. His team has to infiltrate the Zubaran terrorist network and pull off an impossible heist or his family will die. When Dead Six compromises his objective, Lorenzo has a new job: Find and kill Valentine.
Imagine a future in which the sport of boxing has gone high-tech. Human boxers have been replaced by massive humanoid robots. And former champions of flesh-and-blood are obsolete. Richard Matheson’s classic short story is just one of over a dozen tales in this collection, which includes two new stories that have never appeared in any previous Matheson collection. Also featured is a satirical fantasy, “The Splendid Source,” that was turned into an episode of The Family Guy.
The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig—a supply run for the Seattle Underground—will be paid for by sap money. New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early—but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. Fourth in the Clockwork Century series.
In an alternate, steampunked London, Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds. The school is run by the founder’s son, Ernest, who has held to his father’s policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry. But keeping the secret of her gender won’t be easy, not with her friend Jack’s constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke’s young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for “Ashton.”
Author Suzanne Johnson is a bonafide book geek who thinks her life is an RPG. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.