Welcome once again to the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: a bi-weekly rundown of new and notable books out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry, from the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus.
I’ve got more than 20 promising novels and a couple of awesome comics for you all to start looking forward to today, including standalone stories by Mitch Benn, F. G. Cottam and Tobias S. Buckell, sequels (of sorts) to Under Heaven and The Devil’s Nebula, alongside additions to several series, such as Paul McAuley’s Quiet War, Mira Grant’s Newsflesh, Sarah Pinborough’s Tales from the Kingdoms, Terry Brooks’ Dark Legacy of Shannara and—neither last not least—Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London. Lovely.
Finally, one stalwart saga comes to a conclusion—that’s House of Comarre by Kristen Painter—as if to make room for two shiny new series: namely The Friday Project’s complete collection of short stories by Brian Aldiss, and from the workhorse formerly known as Chuck Wendig (in collaboration with Amazon’s Skyscape), there’s Under the Empyrean Sky, which I gather begins The Heartland Trilogy.
Witch Wraith (Dark Legacy of Shannara #3), by Terry Brooks (July 16, Orbit)
Following Wards of Faerie and Bloodfire Quest, this is the final novel in a powerful new trilogy from bestselling master of fantasy Terry Brooks.
For centuries, the Four Lands enjoyed freedom and peace, protected by a magical barrier from the dark dimension known as the Forbidding. But now the unthinkable is happening: the ancient wards securing the border have begun to erode—and the monstrous creatures imprisoned there are poised to spill forth, seeking their revenge.
Young Elf Arling Elessedil possesses the means to close the breach, but her efforts may be doomed when she is taken captive. The only hope lies with her determined sister Aphen, who bears the Elfstones and commands their magic. Now the fate of their world rests upon her shoulders...
How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea: A Newsflesh Novella, by Mira Grant (July 17, 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.
Arctic Rising, by Tobias S. Buckell (July 18, Del Rey UK)
The Arctic Cap has all but melted, oil has run low and Anika Duncan, former mercenary turned United Nations Polar Guard pilot, patrols the region to protect against pollution and smuggling.
In a daring plan to terraform the planet, the Gaia Corporation develops a revolutionary new technology, but when they lose control, our best potential solution to global warming may become the deadliest weapon ever known.
As a lethal game of international politics and espionage begins, it will be up to Anika to decide the fate of the Earth.
Part techno-thriller, part eco-thriller, Arctic Rising is a fantastic dystopian science fiction adventure that will appeal to fans of everyone from Michael Crichton to James Bond.
Charm (Tales From the Kingdoms #2), by Sarah Pinborough (July 18, Gollancz)
Charm is a beautifully illustrated re-telling of the Cinderella story which takes all the much-loved elements of the classic fairytale (the handsome prince, the fairy godmother, the enchanted mouse, the beautiful girl and, of course, the iconic balls) and puts a modern spin on the characters, their motives and their desires.
This is fun, contemporary and sexy fiction, perfect for fans of Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Snow White and the Huntsman and more.
This edition contains 15 original pen and ink illustrations by Les Edwards.
The Complete Short Stories Vol. 1: The 1950s, by Brian Aldiss (Update: this collection has been delayed, further news as it develops)
The first in a six-volume series collecting every short story Brian Aldiss ever published.
Brian Aldiss, OBE, is a fiction and science fiction writer, poet, playwright, critic, memoirist and artist. He was born in Norfolk in 1925. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller, which provided the setting for his first book, The Brightfount Diaries in 1955. His first published science fiction work was the story “Criminal Record,” which appeared in Science Fantasy Magazine the previous year. Since then he has written nearly 100 books and over 300 short stories.
Evening’s Empires (Quiet War #4), by Paul McAuley (July 18, Gollancz)
In the far future, a young man stands on a barren asteroid. His ship has been stolen, his family kidnapped or worse, and all he has on his side is a semi-intelligent spacesuit. The only member of the crew to escape, Hari has barely been off his ship before. It was his birthplace, his home and his future.
He’s going to get it back.
McAuley’s latest novel is set in the same far-flung future as his last few novels, but this time he takes on a much more personal story. This is a tale of revenge, of murder and morality, of growing up and discovering the world around you. Throughout the novel we follow Hari’s viewpoint, and as he unravels the mysteries that led to his stranding, we discover them alongside him. But throughout his journeys, Hari must always bear one thing in mind.
Nobody is to be trusted.
Firebird (Alex Benedict #6), by Jack McDevitt (July 18, Headline)
Forty-one years ago, renowned physicist Dr. Christopher Robin vanished. Before his disappearance, his fringe science theories about the existence of endless alternate universes had earned him both admirers and enemies.
Now his widow has died and Alex Benedict has been asked to handle the auction of the physicist’s artifacts, leading the public to once again speculate on the mystery surrounding Robin’s disappearance. Did he finally find the door between parallel universes that he had long sought?
Intrigued, Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath embark on their own investigation as they follow the missing man’s trail into the unknown to uncover the truth—a truth people are willing to kill to protect...
Judge Dredd: Endgame (Day of Chaos #2), by John Wagner, Henry Flint, Colin McNeil et al. (July 18, 2000 AD)
With the Chaos virus released, Mega-City One totters on the brink of extinction. Judge Dredd and a weakened Justice department are desperately trying to stay in control, but the citywide infection has taken its toll and the chances of anyone coming away unscathed is looking less and less likely as each new day goes by.
The gruesome conclusion to this epic event features the much welcomed return of some of Dredd’s greatest enemies: the Dark Judges!
The Memory of Trees, by F. G. Cottam (July 18, Severn House)
Billionaire Saul Abercrombie owns a vast tract of land on the Pembrokeshire coast. By restoring the original forest that covered the area before medieval times, he believes he will rekindle the spirits of ancient folklore.
But the re-planting of the forest will revive an altogether darker and more dangerous entity—and young arboreal expert Tom Curtis will find himself engaging in an epic, ancient battle between good and evil. A battle in which there can be only one survivor...
Seventh Retribution (Warhammer 40,000), by Ben Counter (July 18, Black Library)
Captain Darnath Lysander, hero of the Imperial Fists and captain of their elite First Company, leads his battle-brothers in an assault on a daemon world. Beset by unimaginable horrors and tortured by memories of his time imprisoned by the dark forces of the Iron Warriors, Lysander must rally his Space Marines to defeat the master of the daemonic hordes before they are consumed—or corrupted—by the insidious powers of Chaos.
Slaine: The King, by Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry (July 18, 2000 AD)
From Marshal Law author Pat Mills and Preacher artist Glenn Fabry comes a world of mists and magic and the ultimate Celtic warrior, Sláine!
Exiled from his tribe, Sláine is forced to roam the land of Tir-Nan-Og with his dwarf, Ukko. Ahead of him lie terrifying ordeals that will require all of Sláine’s famed warrior strength if he is to return victorious and claim his rightful place as King...
This classic tale of sword and sorcery is available again, complete with a fantastic host of extras.
Slaine: Time Killer, by Pat Mills and Glenn Fabry (July 18, 2000 AD)
Sláine, his faithful, evil-smelling dwarf Ukko and trainee priestess Nest visit the fortress of the Ever-Living Ones. These arch-druids may hold the key to the final defeat of the evil forces oppressing Sláine’s people, but a chance encounter hurls Sláine and his allies through time to ever greater battles, threats and challenges!
Written by Charley’s War author Pat Mills with art by Glenn Fabry (Preacher) and Massimo Belardinelli (Mean Team) amongst others, this is the latest edition of the second volume of the classic adventures of the Celtic warrior Sláine.
Terra, by Mitch Benn (July 18, Gollancz)
No-one trusts humanity. No-one can quite understand why we’re intent on destroying the only place we have to live in the Universe. No-one thinks we’re worth a second thought. And certainly no-one is about to let us get off Rrth. That would be a complete disaster.
But one alien thinks Rrth is worth looking at. Not humanity, obviously, we’re appalling, but until we manage to kill every other living thing on the planet there are some truly wonderful places on Rrth and some wonderful creatures living in them. Best take a look while they’re still there.
But on one trip to Rrth our alien biologist causes a horrendous accident. The occupants of a car travelling down a lonely road spot his ship (the sort of massive lemon coloured, lemon shaped starship that really shouldn’t be hanging in the sky over a road). Understandably the Bradbury’s crash (interrupting the latest in a constant procession of bitter rows). And in the wreckage of their car our alien discovers a baby girl. She needs rescuing. From the car. From Rrth. From her humanity.
And now eleven years later a girl called Terra is about to go to school for the first time. It’s a very alien experience...
River of Stars, by Guy Gavriel Kay (July 18, Harper Fiction)
Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later - and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.
Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.
In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.
Doctor Who: The Complete Guide, by Mark Campbell (July 20, Constable & Robinson)
Celebrating 50 years of the most popular drama on TV, this is the essential guide to all things Doctor Who.
Eleven Doctors, a multitude of companions and a veritable cornucopia of aliens and villains: Doctor Who has it all.
Since its humble beginnings on 23 November 1963, the show has become an essential part of British popular culture, watched by an estimated 80 million viewers in 206 countries. Celebrating the 50th anniversary, a special episode featuring Matt Smith, David Tennant and Billie Piper is currently being filmed in 3D and will be screened in cinemas this November.
Doctor Who: The Complete Guide has all the facts, figures and opinions on every episode of Doctor Who. There are sections on TV, radio, cinema, stage and internet spin-offs, novels and audio adventures, missing episodes, and an extensive website listing and bibliography.
This is the most comprehensive guide to Doctor Who yet: an indispensable companion for all completists and fans.
Broken Homes (Rivers of London #4), by Ben Aaronovitch (July 25, Gollancz)
Ben Aaronovitch has stormed the bestseller list with his superb London crime series. A unique blend of police procedural, loving detail about the greatest character of all, London, and a dash of the supernatural.
In the new novel DC Peter Grant must head south of the river to the alien environs of Elephant and Castle. There’s a murderer abroad and, as always when Grant’s department are reluctantly called in by CID, there is more than a whiff of the supernatural in the darkness.
Full of warmth, sly humour and a rich cornucopia of things you never knew about London, Aaronovitch’s series has swiftly added Grant’s magical London to Rebus’ Edinburgh and Morse’s Oxford as a destination of choice for those who love their crime with something a little extra.
The Burning Man (Fringe #2), by Christa Faust (July 26, Titan)
The critically acclaimed Fringe television series explores the dramatic and grotesque as impossible crimes are investigated by the government’s shadowy Fringe Division, established when Special Agent Olivia Dunham enlisted institutionalized “fringe” scientist Walter Bishop and his globe-trotting son, Peter, to help in investigations that defy all human logic - and the laws of nature.
Author Christa Faust is working hand-in-hand with the television writers to create new adventures uncovering the secrets of the series. The first novel revealed how Walter Bishop and William Bell discovered the drug Cortexiphan—and the alternate universe! Book two will explore how Olivia Dunham first was subjected to Cortexiphan experiments, with catastrophic results.
The Wild Girl, by Kate Forsyth (July 29, Allison & Busby)
Once there were six sisters. The pretty one, the musical one, the clever one, the helpful one, the young one...
And then there was the wild one. Dortchen Wild has loved Wilhelm Grimm since she was a young girl. Under the forbidding shadow of her father, the pair meet secretly to piece together a magical fairy tale collection. The story behind the stories of the Brothers Grimm.
The Big Reap (Collector #3), by Chris F. Holm (July 30, Angry Robot)
Who Collects the Collectors?
Sam Thornton has had many run-ins with his celestial masters, but he’s always been sure of his own actions. However, when he’s tasked with dispatching the mythical Brethren – a group of former Collectors who have cast off their ties to Hell – is he still working on the side of right?
Last Blood (House of Comarre #5), by Kristen Painter (July 30, Orbit)
In the final showdown between the forces of dark and light, Mal and Chrysabelle face not only their old master, the vampire Tatiana, but the ancient evil that now controls her: the Castus Sanguis. Chrysabelle gathers her friends and family around her, forming a plan to bring an end to the chaos surrounding them. But the Castus is the most powerful being they’ve ever come up against. Defeating such evil will require a great sacrifice from someone on the side of light.
One of them will change sides. One of them will die. No one will survive unscathed. Can Chrysabelle save those she cares about or will that love get her killed? What price is she willing to pay to draw last blood?
The Rise of the Griffin (Belador Code #4), by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love (July 30, Piatkus)
As an Alterant who fights everything from trolls to demons, Evalle has lived as an outcast among the Beladors. But when an opportunity to change all that and find answers to her origins arises, Evalle sees the chance she needs to seize control.
However, a traitor hides within the Medb coven, an enemy poised to destroy the mortal world and all that Evalle holds dear. And while her best friends Tzader and Quinn want to help, they have their own conflicts to face and unthinkable choices to make.
With time ticking down on a decision that will compel allies to become deadly enemies, Evalle turns to Storm and takes a major step that only complicates matters more when the witchdoctor he’s been hunting now stalks Evalle.
Satan’s Reach (Weird Space #2), by Eric Brown (July 30, Solaris)
Satan’s Reach is the second volume in the Weird Space series, a fast-paced action-adventure that pits humanity against the unimaginable Terror from Beyond.
Telepath Den Harper did the dirty work for the authoritarian Expansion, reading the minds of criminals, spies and undesirables. Unable to take the strain, he stole a starship and headed into the unknown, a sector of lawless space known as Satan’s Reach. For five years he worked as a trader among the stars... then discovered that the Expansion had set a bounty hunter on his trail.
But what does the Expansion want with a lowly telepath like Harper? Is there validity in the rumours that human space is being invaded by aliens from another realm? Harper finds out the answer to both these questions when he rescues an orphan girl from certain death—and comes face to face with the dreaded aliens known as the Weird.
Under the Empyrean Sky (Heartland Trilogy #1), by Chuck Wendig (July 30, Skyscape)
Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it. It’s the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow—and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it.
As captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, Cael and his crew sail their rickety ship over the corn day after day, scavenging for valuables. But Cael’s tired of surviving life on the ground while the Empyrean elite drift by above in their extravagant sky flotillas. He’s sick of the mayor’s son besting Cael’s crew in the scavenging game. And he’s worried about losing Gwennie—his first mate and the love of his life—forever when their government-chosen spouses are revealed. But most of all, Cael is angry—angry that their lot in life will never get better and that his father doesn’t seem upset about any of it.
When Cael and his crew discover a secret, illegal garden, he knows it’s time to make his own luck... even if it means bringing down the wrath of the Empyrean elite and changing life in the Heartland forever.
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.