It’s Aliens Behaving Badly in July as sixteen new science fiction titles hit the shelves—a virtual apocalypse of them compared to recent months. Speaking of which (you knew that was coming), we have aliens taking over Texas and Virginia, an asteroid heading for the U.S., and World War Three breaking out. It’s going to be a rough summer.
Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here.
Read about this month’s releases.
When it first appeared, the astronomers named the asteroid Keanu.A Near Earth Object, from a distant constellation, it was headed directly toward our sun. But when we went to meet it, it turned out to be far more than a huge rock hurtling through space...The two teams of astronauts sent to explore Keanu discovered it is, in fact, a spacecraft, a giant ship with an alien crew. A ship that had headed to Earth with a mission and a message: Help Us. A brave new frontier beckons. But we are about to learn that it comes with a price...Without warning, the aliens transport small groups of humans from the competing scientific communities of Houston, Texas and Bangalore, India to the vast interior habitats of Keanu. Their first challenge is to survive. Their second; to discover why The Architects—the unknown, unseen aliens controlling the asteroid—brought them there. And soon a third emerges: they must find a way to take control of Keanu. Because the NEO is moving again—away from Earth. The Architects are headed home.
War has engulfed the other earth. With every hard-won victory and painful defeat, Matt Reddy and the Allies encounter more friends—and even more diabolical enemies. Even, at last, in the arms of the woman he loves, there is little peace for Reddy. The vast sea, and the scope of the conflict, have trapped him too far away to help on either front, but that doesn’t mean he and Walker can rest. Cutting short his “honeymoon,” Reddy sails off in pursuit of Hidoiame, a rogue Japanese destroyer that is wreaking havoc in Allied seas. Now that Walker is armed with the latest “new” technology, he hopes his battle-tested four-stacker has an even chance in a straight-up fight against the bigger ship—and he means to take her on.
Fifteen years after winning the Spacer War, Cesar Vaquero has returned to Ithaca, a rugged orbital colony that boasts the only herd of cattle in space, and a wife and a son who don’t even recognize him when he shows up at their doorstep. Posing as a homeless drifter, he soon discovers that making his way home past space pirates, one-eyed giants, and mad scientists was the easy part. Penelope swore off men after her husband disappeared. She’s been busy enough running the ranch, raising her son, and fending off pushy suitors eager to get their hands on her and her herd. But something about this war-weary drifter stirs forgotten feelings in her.
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois (July 3, St. Martin’s)
In the new millennium, what secrets lay beyond the far reaches of the universe? What mysteries belie the truths we once held to be self evident? This year’s collection explores those questions, with works by Robert Charles Wilson, Steven Gould, Karl Bunker, John Kessel, Maureen F. McHugh, Bruce Sterling, Paul McAuley, Alexander Irvine, Dominic Green, Vandana Singh, John Barnes, Jay Lake, Peter Watts, Lavie Tidhar, Mary Rosenblum, Jo Walton, Rand B. Lee, Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette, Albert E. Cowdrey, Nicola Giffith, Geoff Ryman, James Van Pelt, Nancy Kress, John C. Wright, Ted Kosmatka and Michael Poore, Damien Broderick, Adam Roberts, Robert Reed, Paul Cornell, Chris Roberson, Ian Creasey, and Ian McDonald.
Insignia, by S.J. Kincaid (July 10, Katherine Tegen)
More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible. Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior envies. Young adult.
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact. The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.
The Prankster, by James Polster (July 10, 47North)
Time-traveling alien Pom Trager has used the gullible denizens of Earth as fodder for his practical jokes throughout the ages, with the pyramids, Picasso, and several US presidents among his more modest pranks. Why does he do it? To boost the ratings of The Prankster, his home planet’s most popular reality show.But when a system snafu lands Trager in the wrong place, he finds himself at the mercy of the very species he’s made into a galactic laughingstock. His only allies are the hapless assistant he just fired and an Earth woman who lends a hand against her better judgment.
Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced, somewhat bumbling extraterrestrials, who have news. The entire cosmos has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation ever. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe and humans suddenly own everything. Nick, an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero, now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall.
The mining ship El Cavador is far out from Earth, in the deeps of the Kuiper Belt, beyond Pluto. Other mining ships, and the families that live on them, are few and far between this far out. So when El Cavador’s telescopes pick up a fast-approaching massive object, it’s hard to know what to make of it. El Cavador has other problems. Their systems are old and failing. The family is getting too big for the ship. There are claim-jumping corporate ships bringing Asteroid Belt tactics to the Kuiper Belt. Worrying about a distant object that might or might not be an alien ship doesn’t seem important. But it’s the most important thing that has happened to the human race in a million years.
A geopolitical miscalculation tainted the world’s major oil fields with radioactivity and plunged the Middle East into chaos. Any oil that remains usable is more prized than ever. No one can build solar farms, wind farms, and electric cars quickly enough to cope. The few countries, chiefly Russia, still able to export oil and natural gas have a stranglehold on the world economy. And then, from the darkness of space, came the onrushing asteroid Phoebe, which America captures in Earth orbit. NASA engineer Marcus Judson is determined to make the Solar power satellites demonstration project a success although nothing in his job description mentions combating an international cabal, or going into space.
Sunny Mann has masterminded a life for herself and her family in a quiet Virginia town. Her house and her friends are picture-perfect. Even her genius husband, Maxon, has been trained to pass for normal. But when a fender bender on an average day sends her coiffed blonde wig sailing out the window, her secret is exposed and her facade begins to unravel. As children, the bald, temperamental Sunny and the neglected savant Maxon found an unlikely friendship no one else could understand. Now, as Sunny and Maxon are at each other’s throats with blame and fear of how they’ve lost their way, Maxon departs for the new moon colony. Just as the car accident jars Sunny into an awareness of what she really needs, an accident involving Maxon’s rocket threatens everything they’ve built.
After a desperate escape from the enemy ship, Waverly has finally made it back to the Empyrean. The memory of home has been keeping her alive for the past months… but home is nothing like she left it. Forced to leave their captive parents behind on the New Horizon, she’s returned only to find that Kieran has become a strict leader and turned the crew against Seth. What happened to the Kieran she thought she knew? Now Waverly’s not sure whom she can trust. And the one person she wants to believe in is darkly brilliant Seth, the ship’s supposed enemy. Young adult.
Fourteen-year-old Clara’s mother has notes that may lead to synthetic ammonia to save the 1950s-era world from global warming. The two of them find themselves aboard the submarine Cuttlefishon the run from the Russians, the British and possibly the Americans.
An Officer’s Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why, Book 2), by Jean Johnson (July 31, Ace)
Promoted in the field for courage and leadership under fire, Ia is now poised to become an officer in the Space Force Navy—once she undertakes her Academy training. But on a trip back home to Sanctuary, she finds the heavyworld colony being torn apart by religious conflict. Now Ia must prepare her family and followers to secure the galaxy’s survival. Her plan is to command a Blockade Patrol ship. Her goal, to save as many lives as she can. But at the Academy, she discovers an unexpected challenge: the one man who could disrupt those plans. The man whose future she cannot foresee.
Escaped Germline soldiers need to be cleaned up, and Stan Resnick is the best man for the job. Operatives from China and Unified Korea are gathering escaped or stolen Russian and American genetics, and there are reports of new biological nightmares: half-human things, bred to live their entire lives encased in powered armor suits. Stan fights to keep himself alive and out of prison while he attempts to capture a genetic, one who will be able to tell them everything they need to know about this new threat, the one called “Project Sunshine.”
Amy Peterson is a self-replicating humanoid robot known as a VonNeumann. For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother’s past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive. Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she’s learning impossible things about her clade’s history—like the fact that she alone can kill humans without fail-safing. First in a new series.
Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Royal Street, the first in her Sentinels of New Orleans series, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter and Facebook.