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.
The Hitlist has rarely been busier than it is in this edition. I’ve got fully twenty two new books for you, including oh-so-many sequels—by Gail Carriger, Wesley Chu, David Dalglish, Jonathan L. Howard, Anne Rice, Phil Rickman, Kate Locke, among others—several standalones, such as The Eidolon, The Waking That Kills and The Madonna on the Moon, plus a couple of particularly giftable editions, including Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug by Raymond E. Feist and Umberto Eco’s Book of Legendary Lands.
The most notable novel from this round of new releases is the latest addition to the Discworld mythos—Raising Steam by that bastion of British genre fiction, Sir Terry Pratchett—however the highlight of the weeks ahead for me has to be The Time Traveller’s Almanac: an epic collection of long and short science fiction selected by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, which we’ll be talking about on Tuesday in the next Short Fiction Spotlight.
Ghosts—Paul Kane (November 2, Spectral Press)
They are all around us all the time. But only a few make contact, and only certain people are destined to see the ghosts.
Here, you’ll read a lonely shade’s tale... learn of how a deceased old man’s house is invaded... the way one person discovers the true meaning of the Christmas spirit while a parent struggles to come to terms with the sad loss of a child... and what happens when the ghosts of war go on the rampage, or when a monstrous wraith stalks the streets looking for revenge.
Gathering together all of award-winning and bestselling author Paul Kane’s supernatural fiction, including three brand new stories—one a sequel to ‘The Signal-Man’ by Charles Dickens—and featuring an introduction from bestselling horror author Nancy Kilpatrick, the script of Wind Chimes introduced by its director Brad Watson as well as a DVD of the film itself, plus suitably atmospheric cover art from Edward Miller, this is a collection that will haunt you forever.
Still Life—Tim Lebbon (November 2, Spectral Press)
Jenni’s husband was part of the Road of Souls—his flesh swarmed by ants and pecked by rooks, bones crushed to powder by wheels of dread—and yet she still saw him in the pool.
The incursion has been and gone, the war is over, and the enemy is in the land, remote and ambiguous. The village outskirts are guarded by vicious beasts, making escape impossible. The village itself is controlled by the Finks, human servants to the enemy—brutal, callous, almost untouchable.
Everything is less than it was before... time seems to move slower, the population is much denuded, and life itself seems to hold little purpose. This is not living, it’s existing.
But in a subjugated population, there is always resistance...
A Dance of Blades (Shadowdance #2)—David Dalglish (November 5, Orbit)
It’s been five long years since the city learned to fear...
The war between the thief guilds and the powerful allegiance known as the Trifect has slowly dwindled. Now only the mysterious Haern is left to wage his private battle against the guilds in the guise of the Watcher - a vicious killer who knows no limits. But when the son of Alyssa Gemcroft, one of the three leaders of the Trifect, is believed murdered, the slaughter begins anew. Mercenaries flood the streets with one goal in mind: find and kill the Watcher.
Peace or destruction; every war must have its end.
Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2)—Gail Carriger (November 5, Atom)
Does one need four fully-grown foxgloves for decorating a dinner table for six guests? Or is it six foxgloves to kill four fully-grown guests?
Sophronia’s first year at school has certainly been rousing. First, her finishing school is training her to be a spy (won’t Mumsy be surprised!). Secondly, she gets mixed up in an intrigue over a stolen device and has a cheese pie thrown at her. Now, as Sophronia sneaks around the dirigible school, eavesdropping on the teachers’ quarters and making clandestine climbs to the ship’s boiler room, she learns that there may be more to a school trip to London than at first appears...
Vampires, werewolves, and humans are all after the prototype Sophronia recovered in Etiquette & Espionage, which has the potential to alter human and supernatural travel. Sophronia must try to uncover who is behind a dangerous plot to control the prototype... as well as survive the London season with a full dance card.
Midkemia: The Chronicles of Pug—Raymond E. Feist & Stephen Abrams (November 5, Harper Voyager)
The world of Raymond Feist is brought to stunning life in this illustrated deluxe compendium, complete with fold-out maps, blueprints of important buildings and houses, character drawings, and first-person narrative text by the master of fantasy fiction.
“In the first year of the reign of King Lyam conDoin, I, Pug of Crydee, magician to the royal court and cousin to the King by adoption, do take quill in hand and set forth this writ, that all may benefit from the knowledge I have gained.”
So begins the narrative account of Feist’s best-selling character, Pug of Stardock, for Midkemia Atlas. Part travel log/journal and part atlas, this visual compendium brings with world of Midkemia to vivid, illustrative life, and gives readers a completely new look at the creative genius of Raymond E. Feist.
The Book of Legendary Lands—Umberto Eco (November 7, MacLehose Press)
From Homer’s poems to contemporary science fiction, literature through the ages has continuously invented imaginary and legendary lands, projecting there all those wishes, dreams, utopias and nightmares that are too intrusive and challenging for our limited daily reality.
Umberto Eco leads us on an illustrated journey through these distant, unknown lands: introducing us to their inhabitants, their heroes and villains, the passions and preoccupations that shaped them, always mindful of the continued importance of myth and legend to modern life and consciousness.
Placing ancient and medieval texts beside contemporary stories, films beside poems, comics beside novels, it is a journey that is both erudite and enjoyable, and one that only Eco could have created.
The Broken Wheel (Chung Kuo Recast #7)—David Wingrove (November 7, Corvus)
The year is 2207. Chung Kuo’s perfect stasis is falling apart. The Seven’s dominance is threatened by a series of terrorist attacks as the War of Two Directions intensifies. Howard DeVore, the Seven’s greatest enemy, is masterminding the atrocities—but how can anyone hunt down a man who seems to be invulnerable?
Kim Ward, the Clay-born scientific genius, is attacked by a group of deadly assassins, bent on destroying his work. And a group of rich young American rebels intend to create Change... at any price.
Cracked—Eliza Crewe (November 7, Strange Chemistry)
Meet Meda. She eats people.
Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.
They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.
Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.
The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny... she may finally give into it.
The Deaths of Tao (Tao #2)—Wesley Chu (November 7, Angry Robot)
The Prophus and the Gengix have now both found a way off-planet. The Gengix method will take less time about 30 years’ less time but will mean the ultimate destruction of mankind in the process. They think it a small price to pay to get home.
The Eidolon—Libby McGugan (November 7, Solaris)
When physicist Robert Strong—newly unemployed and single—is offered a hundred thousand pounds for a week’s worth, he’s understandably sceptical. But Victor Amos, head of the mysterious Observation Research Board, has compelling proof that the next round of experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider poses a real threat to the whole world. And he needs Robert to sabotage it.
Robert’s life is falling apart. His work at the Dark Matter Research Laboratory in Middlesbrough was taken away from him; his girlfriend, struggling to cope with the loss of her sister, has left. He returns home to Scotland, seeking sanctuary and rest, and instead starts to question his own sanity as the dead begin appearing to him, in dreams and in waking. Accepting Amos’s offer, Robert flies to Geneva, but as he infiltrates CERN, everything he once understood about reality and science, about the boundary between life and death, changes forever.
Mixing science, philosophy and espionage, Libby McGugan’s stunning debut is a thriller like no other.
Heartwood (Elemental Wars #1)—Freya Robertson (November 7, Angry Robot)
A dying tree, a desperate quest, a love story, a last stand.
Chonrad, Lord of Barle, comes to the fortified temple of Heartwood for the Congressus peace talks, which Heartwood’s holy knights have called in an attempt to stave off war in Anguis. But the Arbor, Heartwood’s holy tree, is failing, and because the land and its people are one, it is imperative the nations try to make peace.
After the Veriditas, or annual Greening Ceremony, the Congressus takes place. The talks do not go well and tempers are rising when an army of warriors emerges from the river. After a fierce battle, the Heartwood knights discover that the water warriors have stolen the Arbor’s heart. For the first time in history, its leaves begin to fall...
The knights divide into seven groups and begin an epic quest to retrieve the Arbor, and save the land.
Katya’s War (Katya’s World #2)—Jonathan L. Howard (November 7, Strange Chemistry)
The battle lines have been drawn. The people of Russalka turn upon one another in a ruthless and unwavering civil war even while their world sickens and the deep black ocean is stained red with their blood. As the young civilisation weakens, its vitality fuelling the opposing militaries at the cost of all else, the war drums beat louder and louder.
Katya Kuriakova knows it cannot last. Both sides are exhausted—it can only be a matter of days or weeks before they finally call a truce and negotiate. But the days and weeks pass, the death toll mounts, and still the enemy will not talk. Then a figure from the tainted past returns to make her an offer she cannot lightly refuse: a plan to stop the war.
But to do it she will have to turn her back on everything she has believed in, everything she has ever fought for, to make sacrifices greater even than laying down her own life. To save Russalka, she must become its greatest enemy.
The Madonna on the Moon—Rolf Bauerdick (November 7, Atlantic)
November 1957: As Communism spreads across Eastern Europe, strange events are beginning to upend daily life in Baia Luna, a tiny village nestled at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains. As the Soviets race to reach the moon and Sputnik soars overhead, fifteen-year-old Pavel Botev attends the small village school with the other children. Their sole teacher, the mysterious and once beautiful Angela Barbulescu, was sent by the Ministry of Education, and while it is suspected that she has lived a highly cultured life, much of her past remains hidden. But one day, after asking Pavel to help hang a photo of the new party secretary, she whispers a startling directive in his ear: “Send this man straight to hell! Exterminate him!” By the next morning, she has disappeared.
With little more to go on than the gossip and rumours swirling through his grandfather Ilja’s tavern, Pavel finds curiosity overcoming his fear when suddenly the village’s sacred Madonna statue is stolen and the priest Johannes Baptiste is found brutally murdered in the rectory. Aided by the Gypsy girl Buba and her eccentric uncle, Dimitru Gabor, Pavel’s search for answers leads him far from the innocent concerns of childhood and into the frontiers of a new world, changing his life forever.
The Magus of Hay (Merrily Watkins Mysteries #12)—Phil Rickman (November 7, Corvus)
A man’s body is found below a waterfall. It looks like suicide or an accidental drowning - until DI Frannie Bliss enters the dead man’s home. What he finds there has him consulting Merrily Watkins, the Diocese of Hereford’s official advisor on the paranormal.
It’s nearly forty years since the town of Hay-on-Wye was declared an independent state by its self-styled king. A development seen at the time as a joke. But the pastiche had a serious side. And behind it, unknown to most of the townsfolk, lay a darker design, a hidden history of murder and ritual magic, the relics of which are only now becoming visible.
It’s a situation that will take Merrily Watkins—on her own for the first time in years and facing public humiliation over a separate case—to the edge of madness.
Raising Steam (Discworld #40)—Terry Pratchett (November 7, Doubleday)
To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork—a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.
Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work - as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital... but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse...
Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails...
Sláine: The Book of Scars—Pat Mills, Clint Langley, Simon Bisley et al. (November 7, 2000 AD)
Marking 30 years of the Celtic barbarian s adventures, this special anniversary book brings together a sequence of new stories from creator Pat Mills and the biggest artists to have worked on Sláine over the past three decades. This hardback volume also includes a gallery of Sláine covers and additonal material. A great collector’s item and not to be missed by fans of great storytelling, art and warp spasms everywhere!
The Time Traveller’s Almanac—ed. Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer (November 7, Head of Zeus)
The Time Traveller’s Almanac is the largest, most definitive collection of time travel stories ever assembled. Gathered into one volume by intrepid chrononauts and world-renowned anthologists Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, here is over a century’s worth of literary travels into past and the future. The anthology covers millions of years of Earth’s history—from the age of the dinosaurs to strange and fascinating futures, through to the end of Time itself. The Time Traveller’s Almanac will reacquaint readers with beloved classics and introduce them to thrilling contemporary examples of the time travel genre.
Tinder—Sally Gardner & David Roberts (November 7, Indigo)
Otto Hundebiss is tired of war, but when he defies Death he walks a dangerous path. A half beast half man gives him shoes and dice which will lead him deep into a web of dark magic and mystery. He meets the beautiful Safire - pure of heart and spirit, the scheming Mistress Jabber and the terrifying Lady of the Nail. He learns the powers of the tinderbox and the wolves whose master he becomes. But will all the riches in the world bring him the thing he most desires?
Fairy tales are often the cruellest stories of all; in this exquisite novel Sally Gardner writes about great love and great loss.
The Waking That Kills—Stephen Gregory (November 7, Solaris)
The ghosts that haunt us are not always strangers.
When his elderly father suffers a stroke, Christopher Beale returns to England. He has no home, no other family. Adrift, he answers an advert for a live-in tutor for a teenage boy. The boy is Lawrence Lundy, who possesses the spirit of his father: a missing military pilot, presumed dead. Unable to accept that his father is gone, Lawrence keeps his presence alive in the big old house and the overgrown garden.
His mother, Juliet Lundy, a fey, scatty widow living on her nerves, keeps the boy at home, away from other children, away from the world. And in the suffocating heat of a long summer, she too is infected by the madness of her son. Christopher Beale becomes entangled in the strange household... enmeshed in the oddness of the boy and his fragile mother.
The Wolves of Midwinter (Wolf Gift Chronicles #2)—Anne Rice (November 7, Chatto & Windus)
It is the beginning of December and it is cold and grey outside. In the stately flickering hearths of the grand mansion of Nideck Point, oak fires are burning. The Morphenkinder are busy getting ready for the ancient pagan feast of midwinter. Everyone is invited, including some of their own who do not wish them well...
Reuben Golding, the newest of the Morphenkinder, is struggling with his new existence as a Man Wolf, struggling to learn to control his desires and bloodthirsty urges. His pure, luminous girlfriend Laura seems all set to join him in this new way of life, but Reuben is not at all certain he will love her if she becomes as he is. Beyond the mansion, the forest echoes with howling winds, which carry with them tales of a strange nether world, and of spirits—centuries old—who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and taunt with their dark, magical powers.
As preparations for the feast gather pace, destiny continues to hound Reuben, not least in the form of a strange, tormented ghost who appears at the window, unable to speak. But he is not alone: before the festivities are over, choices must be made—choices which will decide the fate of the Morphenkinder for ever.
Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead—George Mann (November 8, Titan)
A young man named Peter Maugram appears at the front door of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watsons Baker Street lodgings. Maugrams uncle is dead and his will has disappeared, leaving the man afraid that he will be left penniless. Holmes agrees to take the case and he and Watson dig deep into the murky past of this complex family.
A brand-new Sherlock Holmes novel from the acclaimed author of the Newbury & Hobbes series.
Long Live the Queen (Immortal Empire #3)—Kate Locke (November 12, Orbit)
Xandra Vardan thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. The vampires, werewolves and humans all want the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins... wins.
With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra’s finding out that being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and if she doesn’t do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.
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. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.