From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: your bi-weekly breakdown of the most notable new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.
Well would you look at that! It’s September already, which means it’s time for another look at the next two weeks’ worth of books. And my oh my, there are an awful lot of awesome new novels on the horizon, especially in terms of standalone stories such as Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, Saxon’s Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion, More Than This by the most excellent Patrick Ness, plus the best horror novel Stephen King has read since Peter Straub’s Ghost Story: namely Breed by Chase Novak.
It isn’t exactly slim pickings in terms of sequels and series additions either. Jay Kristoff’s Kinslayer picks up where his debut Stormdancer left off, Ramez Naam likewise continues the narrative began in his first novel Nexus courtesy Crux, whilst Charlie Higson has another novel about The Enemy, and Nathan Hawke’s David Gemmell-esque Gallow trilogy concludes, two scant months since it started.
All that—and rather a lot more, actually—in the early September edition of the British Genre Fiction Hitlist.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (Coldtown #1)—Holly Black (September 3, Indigo)
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. It’s an eternal party, shown on TV 24 hours a day—gorgeous, glamorous, deadly! Because, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave...
A wholly original story of rage and revenge, love and loathing from Holly Black, bestselling author of The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Shaman—Kim Stanley Robinson (September 3, Orbit)
Kim Stanley Robinson, the New York Times bestselling author of science fiction masterworks such as the Mars trilogy and 2312, has on many occasions imagined out future. Now, in Shaman, he brings our past to life as never before.
There is Thorn, a shaman himself. He lives to pass down his wisdom and his stories—to teach those who would follow in his footsteps. There is Heather, the healer who in many ways holds the clan together. There is Elga, an outside and the bringer of change. And then there is Loon, the next shaman, who is determined to find his own path. But in a world so treacherous, that journey is never simple—and where it may lead is never certain.
Children of Fire (Children of Fire #1)—Drew Karpyshyn (September 5, Del Rey UK)
Wizard, Warrior, Prophet, King. The Immortal Daemron, know as the Slayer, was all these things before his ascension.
Trapped in a realm of Chaos for centuries by the Old Gods, using a magical barrier known as The Legacy, a last desperate ritual will herald the return of Chaos to the human world, and the lives of four children will never be the same.
The mortal realm is a balance of secular and religious authority, with The Order of the Crown holding much power over humanity, its members gifted with amazing abilities and all children with magical talents are theirs to claim.
Cassandra, Vaaler, Scythe and Keegan grow up in different places and with different lives, but all share the taint of Chaos magic. As various factions struggle to find the best solution to the coming return of Chaos, the fate of the world is in their hands.
Crux (Nexus #2)—Ramez Naam (September 5, Angry Robot)
Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place. In the United States, the terrorists—or freedom fighters—of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies.
In Washington DC, a government scientist, secretly addicted to Nexus, uncovers more than he wants to know about the forces behind the assassinations, and finds himself in a maze with no way out.
The first blows in the war between human and post-human have been struck, and the future of humanity is far from secure.
Grimm Tales for Young and Old—Philip Pullman (September 5, Penguin Classics)
In this beautiful book of classic fairy tales, award-winning author Philip Pullman has chosen his fifty favourite stories from the Brothers Grimm and presents them in a “clear as water” retelling, in his unique and brilliant voice.
From the quests and romance of classics such as ’Rapunzel’, ’Snow White’ and ’Cinderella’ to the danger and wit of such lesser-known tales as ’The Three Snake Leaves’, ’Hans-my-Hedgehog’ and ’Godfather Death’, Pullman brings the heart of each timeless tale to the fore, following with a brief but fascinating commentary on the story’s background and history. In his introduction, he discusses how these stories have lasted so long, and become part of our collective storytelling imagination.
These new versions show the adventures at their most lucid and engaging yet. Pullman’s Grimm Tales of wicked wives, brave children and villainous kings will have you reading, reading aloud and rereading them for many years to come.
More Than This—Patrick Ness (September 5, Walker)
A boy called Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him.
But then he wakes.
He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he is here? And where is this place?
It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America, but the neighbourhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him?
Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...
The Waking Dark—Robin Wasserman (September 5, Atom)
The town of Oleander is postcard perfect.
Until one day... the day the Devil came to Oleander.
Whatever they called it, through the months to come—through the funerals and the dinners and the sidelong glances between formerly trusting neighbours—it was all anyone could talk about. It seemed safe to assume it was all anyone would ever talk about, just as it was assumed that Oleander had been changed for ever, and that, once buried, the bodies would stay in the ground.
But then the storms came...
When the World Was Flat (and We Were in Love)—Ingrid Jonach (September 5, Strange Chemistry)
Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks—for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind—memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger—and much more terrifying and beautiful—than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.
An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, When the World Was Flat takes inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.
Zombie Baseball Beatdown—Paolo Bacigalupi (September 10, Little Brown)
The apocalypse begins on the day Rabi, Miguel and Joe are practicing baseball near their town’s local meatpacking plant and nearly get knocked out by a really big stink. Little do they know the plant’s toxic cattle feed is turning cows into flesh-craving monsters.... zombies!
The boys decide to launch a stealth investigation into the plant’s dangerous practices, unknowingly discovering a greedy corporation’s plot to look the other way as tainted meat is sold to thousands all over the country. With no grownups left they can trust, Rabi and his friends will have to grab their bats to protect themselves (and a few of their enemies) if they want to stay alive... and maybe even save the world.
In this inventive, fast-paced novel that strikes a pitch-perfect tone for reluctant readers, National Book Award finalist and Printz Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi effectively uses humour and high-intensity action to take on hard-hitting themes—from food safety to racism and immigration—and creates a zany, grand-slam adventure that will get kids thinking about where their food comes from.
Asylum—Madeleine Roux (September 11, HarperCollins World)
The asylum holds the key to a terrifying past…
For sixteen-year-old outcast Dan Crawford, the summer program at New Hampshire College Prep is a lifeline. Finally, a chance to make some friends before college. Even if that means staying in a dorm that used to be a old asylum.
Soon Dan’s hanging out with Abby and Jordan, and summer is looking up. But then he learns that the asylum was not just any sanatorium—it was a last resort for the criminally insane.
As Dan, Abby and Jordan explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. And that some secrets refuse to stay buried…
Featuring unsettling found photos of real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen horror debut treads the line between genius and insanity.
A Second Chance at Eden (Night’s Dawn)—Peter F. Hamilton (September 12, Pan)
Set in the same universe as his Night’s Dawn trilogy, this is a brilliant collection of six short stories and a novella from Britain’s number one science fiction writer, Peter F. Hamilton.
Amongst others, this book includes a story about a new blood-sport featuring artificial monsters and a short set in a far future world where one man wages an obsessive vengeance against the last survivor of an alien race, while the title novella centres on the mysterious death of the habitat Eden’s creator, and shows us that this is a must-have collection from a writer at the top of his game.
Breed—Chase Novak (September 12, Mulholland)
Alex and Leslie Twisden said they would pay any price to have children. But some costs are too high.
Adam and Alice Twisden know they’re not like other kids.
Other kids don’t get locked in their rooms at night.
Other kids don’t hear strange noises outside their door.
Noises which are getting louder...
The Complete Short Stories Vol. 1: The 1950s—Brian Aldiss (September 12, The Friday Project)
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.
The Fallen (Enemy #5)—Charlie Higson (September 12, Penguin)
Everyone over the age of 14 has been infected with a disease which rots their minds and consumes them with an insatiable appetite for human flesh. Now the remains of humanity roam the streets, feeding on their young. All over London, gangs of children are at war with ‘sickos’—their parents, teachers, older brothers and sisters—the adults that once protected and looked after them.
Maxie, Blue and the North London crew have left their hide-out in Holloway. Food supplies were running out and it was over-run with diseased adults. Arriving at the Natural History Museum, they find another gang of children who have made it their home. But when they get there, the place is under siege by sickos who have been living in the rooms and tunnels underneath the museum. A battle is underway which, with the help of Maxie and her crew, is won.
Justin, leader of the museum kids, is suspicious about the arrival of the North London crew and how his tight security has failed. He makes it clear that he suspects sabotage. But by who?
To establish some trust between the two groups, they embark on a trip to get more supplies for a research laboratory the museum kids have been running, in an attempt to find a cure for the disease. Led by Einstein, the brains behind the project, some of the bravest fighters from each gang leave on a mission across West London to a medical warehouse near Heathrow. But the journey leads them out into the unknown, where not only crazed, hungry sickos hide in the shadows.
The Ill-Made Mute (Bitterbynde #1)—Cecilia Dart-Thornton (September 12, Tor UK)
In a world where creatures of legend haunt countryside and forest, to be caught outside after dark means almost certain death, so the inhabitants of Isse Tower are amazed when a mute, starving foundling is discovered outside their gates. With no recollection of either its name or past, the child comes to realize that the only hope of happiness lies with a wise woman residing in distant Caermelor. But to get there, the newly named Imrhien must survive a wilderness of endless danger.
Lost and pursued by unhuman wights, Imrhien is eventually saved by Thorn, a mysterious and handsome ranger, but unknown to them both a dark force has summoned the Unseelie, and malignant hordes amass in the night...
Halo: The Thursday War (Kilo-Five #2)—Karen Traviss (September 12, Tor UK)
Welcome to humanity’s new war: silent, high-stakes and unseen.
This is a life-or-death mission for ONI’s black-ops team, Kilo-Five, which is tasked with preventing the ruthless Elites, once the military leaders of the Covenant, from regrouping and threatening humankind again. What began as a routine dirty-tricks operation—keeping the Elites busy with their own insurrection—turns into a desperate bid to extract one member of Kilo-Five from the seething heart of an alien civil war. But troubles never come singly for Kilo-Five. Colonial terrorism is once again surfacing on one of the worlds that survived the war against the Covenant, and the man behind it is much more than just a name to Spartan-010. Meanwhile, the treasure trove of Forerunner technology recovered from the shield world of Onyx is being put to work. And a kidnapped Elite plots vengeance on the humans he fears will bring his people to the brink of destruction.
Heir to Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters #4)—Juliet Marillier (September 12, Tor UK)
The chieftains of Sevenwaters have long been custodians of a vast and mysterious forest, one of the last refuges of the Tuatha De Danann, the Fair Folk of ancient story. Human and Otherworld dwellers have existed there side by side, separated by a thin veil between worlds and sharing a wary trust. Until the spring when Lady Aisling of Sevenwaters finds herself expecting another child, and everything changes.
With her mother pregnant, Clodagh fears the worst as Aisling is well past the safe age for childbearing. Her father, Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, faces his own difficulties as warring factions threaten his borders. When Aisling gives birth to a son—a new heir to Sevenwaters—the responsibility of caring for the infant falls to Clodagh while her mother recovers. Then the family’s joy turns to despair when the baby is taken from his room and something... unnatural is left in his place.
To reclaim her brother, Clodagh must enter the shadowy Otherworld and confront the powerful prince who rules there. Accompanied on her quest by a warrior who may prove to be more than he seems, Clodagh will have her courage tested to breaking point. The reward may be far greater than she ever dreamed...
Kinslayer (Stormdancer #2)—Jay Kristoff (September 12, Tor UK)
A shattered empire. A dark legacy. A gathering storm.
The mad Shōgun Yoritomo has been assassinated by the Stormdancer Yukiko, and the threat of civil war looms over the Shima Imperium. The Lotus Guild conspires to renew the nation’s broken dynasty and crush the growing rebellion simultaneously—by endorsing a new Shōgun who desires nothing more than to see Yukiko dead.
Yukiko and the mighty thunder tiger Buruu have been cast in the role of heroes by the Kagé rebellion. But Yukiko herself is blinded by rage over her father’s death, and her ability to hear the thoughts of beasts is swelling beyond her power to control. Along with Buruu, Yukiko’s anchor is Kin, the rebel Guildsman who helped her escape from Yoritomo’s clutches. But Kin has his own secrets, and is haunted by visions of a future he’d rather die than see realized.
Kagé assassins lurk within the Shōgun’s palace, plotting to end the new dynasty before it begins. A waif from Kigen’s gutters begins a friendship that could undo the entire empire. A new enemy gathers its strength, readying to push the fracturing Shima imperium into a war it cannot hope to survive. And across raging oceans, amongst islands of black glass, Yukiko and Buruu will face foes no katana or talon can defeat: the ghosts of a blood-stained past.
The Last Bastion (Gallow #3)—Nathan Hawke (September 12, Gollancz)
The last battle for the fate of your country is coming. My kin are out for blood and revenge. Another empire sees a chance to come in and pick up the pieces of our war. Most of your warriors are stuck hiding in the swamps, always aware that they do not have enough numbers to win a straight fight.
And from over the seas, my people bring their most deadly weapons, the Fateguard. Living suits of armour, imbued with mystical and deadly power. The end times have come for your land. I have fought alongside you, I have bled for you, I have made myself a traitor to all I believe in for you. And yet you still do not trust me.
But you have no option.
This will be our last battle, and there is only one place that it can be fought. We must defend our stronghold, no matter how many lives it may cost, no matter how hard it is. For if we do not, there will be no mercy and no relief from the terrors to come.
Good thing I’m on your side.
Saxon’s Bane—Geoffrey Gudgion (September 12, Solaris)
Solaris is pleased to present a supernatural thriller by a debut author that blends the Dark Ages and the present into a chilling rural nightmare.
Fergus’s world changes forever the day his car crashes. Traumatised by his near-death experience, he tries to discover a gentler pace of life, falls in love—and is targeted for human sacrifice.
Clare Harvey’s life will never be the same either. The archaeologist’s dream find—the peat-preserved body of a ritually murdered Saxon warrior and the nearby partial skeleton of a young woman—is giving her nightmares. Fergus discovers that his crash is linked to the excavation, and that the countryside harbours dark secrets. As Clare’s investigation reveals the full horror of a Dark Age war crime, the couple seem destined to share the Saxon bodies’ bloody fate.
The Thicket—Joe R. Lansdale (September 12, Mulholland)
Jack Parker knows all too well how treacherous turn-of-the-century East Texas can be. His parents did not survive a smallpox epidemic. His grandfather was murdered. Now his sister Lula has been kidnapped by a bank robber. Alongside bounty hunter Shorty, an eloquent dwarf with a chip on his shoulder, and Eustace, a grave-digger mean enough to remove bodies in retaliation for lack of payment, and their pet wild hog, Jack sets off in search of Lula.
In the throes of being civilized, East Texas is still a very wild place. Murderous outlaws find their homes in the remote wilderness. New-fangled motor cars threaten the pathways. Oil wells spurt liquid money from the ground. But blood and redemption still rule supreme...
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. On occasion he’s been seen to tweet, twoo.