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.
With the festive season fast approaching, and the holidays almost upon us, you’d think that the number of new books of note would be about to drop off precipitously. And it is! Just not now. To wit, let’s look at the late November edition of the Hitlist as a last hurrah...
Ruled, as it happens, by beginnings and endings, as Justin Richards fires the first salvo of The Never War, Tom Lloyd introduces us to an Empire of a Hundred Houses, and over in the world of Warhammer 40000, Dan Abnett begins his Bequin trilogy. Meanwhile the Tower and Knight Chronicles come to a close, Greg Egan’s Orthogonal concludes, and Rojan Dizon is the Last to Rise.
There are, of course, several sequels to look forward to too: the Clockwork Century continues, Alan Campbell returns to the Unmer’s underwater world, there’s volume two of Angelfall, and the Moontide Quartet reaches the halfway point. The giftable books keep on coming with Dodger’s Guide to London and The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister, and last but not least, Neil Gaiman does the Doctor.
The Scarlet Tides (Moontide Quartet #2)—David Hair (November 15, Jo Fletcher)
The Moontide has come, and a scarlet tide of Rondian legions is flooding into the East, slaughtering and pillaging in the name of Emperor Constant. But the Scytale of Corineus, the source of ultimate magical power, has slipped through the emperor’s fingers.
His ruthless Inquisitors are desperately seeking the artefact, before it falls into the hands of those who would bring down the Empire. But there are some who have pledged to end the cycle of war and restore peace to Urte.
They are the unlikeliest of heroes: a failed mage, a gypsy and a lowly market-girl.
As East and West clash more violently than ever before, Urte will discover that love, loyalty and truth can be forged into weapons as deadly as swords and magic.
The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister—George R. R. Martin & Jonty Clarke (November 17, Harper Voyager)
Tyrion Lannister, the worldly, jaded, funny, highly intelligent, cynical, womanizing star of the books. A perfect stocking-filler for every fan of the books, and of HBO’s award-winning television series.
‘I only need half my wits to be a match for you.’
Short and to the point. That’s Tyrion. Here are the finest, funniest, rudest and wisest sayings of the miniature Machiavelli; the dwarf with a brain the size of a planet and a heart of (tarnished) gold...
‘Sleep is good. Books are better.’
Drawn from George R.R. Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire books, the basis for the HBO original series Game of Thrones. Illustrations are by artist and caricaturist Jonty Clark.
21st Century Science Fiction—ed. David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden (November 21, Robinson)
A fantastic collection of recent stories from some of science fiction’s greatest up-and-coming authors, including many award-winners.
David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have long been recognised as some of the most skilled and trusted arbiters in science fiction, but 21st Century Science Fiction presents fans with a first opportunity to see their considerable talents combined, and also to get a unique perspective on what’s coming next in the genre.
The anthology includes authors ranging from bestselling and established favourites to incandescent new talents, including Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. Valente, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear and Peter Watts. The stories selected include winners and nominees of all of the science fiction genre’s major awards.
The Arrows of Time (Orthogonal #3)—Greg Egan (November 21, Gollancz)
In an alien universe where space and time play by different rules, interstellar voyages last longer for the travellers than for those they left behind. After six generations in flight, the inhabitants of the mountain-sized spacecraft the Peerless have used their borrowed time to develop advanced technology that could save their home world from annihilation.
But not every traveller feels allegiance to a world they have never seen, and as tensions mount over the risks of turning the ship around and starting the long voyage home, a new complication arises: the prospect of constructing a messaging system that will give the Peerlessnews of its own future.
While some of the crew welcome the opportunity to be warned of impending dangers—and perhaps even hear reports of the ship’s triumphant return—others are convinced that knowing what lies ahead will be oppressive, and that the system will be abused. Agata longs for a chance to hear a message from the ancestors back on the home world, proving that the sacrifices of the travellers have not been in vain, but her most outspoken rival, Ramiro, fears that the system will undermine every decision the travellers make.
When a vote fails to settle the matter and dissent erupts into violence, Ramiro, Agata and their allies must seek a new way to bring peace to the Peerless—by traveling to a world where time runs in reverse.
The Art of Hunting (Gravedigger Chronicles #2)—Alan Campbell (November 21, Tor UK)
The Haurstaf have been decimated. The Unmer have seized the palace at Awl. Ianthe’s father carries her to safety. But she is not interested in a life of treasure hunting with him. She returns to the palace, hoping to find the Unmer prince with whom she shared some of her darkest moments.
Prince Paulus Marquetta discovers a friend and ally in Ianthe, albeit a dangerous one. She has the power to destroy his mind with a single thought, and yet she herself remains at risk from his own innate sorcerous abilities. The handsome young prince could murder her with a simple touch.
Briana Marks, meanwhile, has escaped with her life. Fearful of Marquetta’s rule, she travels to the Dragon Isles to seek out the exiled Unmer lord, Argusto Conquillas and beg him to help her assassinate Ianthe. When Granger learns of this plot to kill his daughter, he must use every scrap of his resourcefulness and cunning to protect her.
Maskelyne returns to Scythe Island to study the crystal he plucked from the wreckage of the Unmer chariot. The artifact leads him to discover exactly why the Drowned continue to deposit thousands upon thousands of keys on the beach beneath his fortress. The Unmer, in their quest to unlock the secrets of the universe, forged a monster. Now Maskelyne knows where this thing is imprisoned...
Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock—Neil Gaiman (November 21, Puffin)
Eleven Doctors, eleven months, eleven stories: a year-long celebration of Doctor Who! The most exciting names in children’s fiction each create their own unique adventure about the time-travelling Time Lord.
Thousands of years ago, Time Lords built a Prison for the Kin. They made it utterly impregnable and unreachable. As long as Time Lords existed, the Kin would be trapped forever and the universe would be safe. They had planned for everything... everything, that is, other than the Time War and the fall of Gallifrey. Now the Kin are free again and there’s only one Time Lord left in the universe who can stop them!
Author Neil Gaiman puts his own unique spin on the Doctor’s amazing adventures through time and space in the eleventh and final story in the bestselling 50th anniversary series!
Doctor Who: 50th Anniversary Anthology—Patrick Ness, Eoin Colfer, Neil Gaiman et al. (November 21, Puffin)
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Anthology is the perfect collection of adventures for Doctor Who fans.
This print edition is the culmination of a year-long series of ebooks to celebrate fifty years of Doctor Who. Eleven stories, eleven authors, eleven unique interpretations of the Doctor: his terrifying alien enemies and his time-travelling adventures.
The authors involved are Eoin Colfer, Michael Scott, Marcus Segdwick, Philip Reeve, Patrick Ness, Richelle Mead, Malorie Blackman, Alex Scarrow, Charlie Higson, Derek Landy and Neil Gaiman.
Dodger’s Guide to London—Terry Pratchett (November 21, Doubleday)
Roll up! Roll up! Read all about it!
Ladies and Gents, Sir Jack Dodger brings you a most excellent Guide to London!
Did you know: if a Victorian couldn’t afford a sweep, they might drop a goose down their chimney to clean it! A nobby lady’s unmentionables could weigh up to 40lbs! Parliament had to be suspended during the Great Stink of 1858!
From the wretches of the rookeries to the fancy coves at Buckingham Palace, Dodger will show you every dirty inch of London.
Warning: Includes ’orrible murders, naughty ladies and plenty of geezers!
Fiddlehead (Clockwork Century #5)—Cherie Priest (November 21, Tor UK)
Ex-spy ‘Belle Boyd’ is retired—more or less. Retired from spying on the Confederacy anyway. Her short-lived marriage to a Union navy boy cast suspicion on those Southern loyalties, so her mid-forties found her unemployed, widowed and disgraced... until her life-changing job offer from the staunchly Union Pinkerton Detective Agency. When she’s asked to assist Abraham Lincoln himself, she has to put any old loyalties firmly aside—for a man she spied against twenty years ago.
Lincoln’s friend Gideon Bardsley, colleague and ex-slave, is targeted for assassination after the young inventor makes a breakthrough. Fiddlehead, Bardsley’s calculating engine, has proved the world is facing an extraordinary threat. Meaning it’s not the time for civil war. Now Bardsley and Fiddlehead are in great danger as forces conspire to keep this potentially unifying secret, the war moving and the money flowing. With spies from both camps gunning for her, can even the notorious Belle Boyd hold the war-hawks at bay?
Limit—Frank Schätzing (November 21, Jo Fletcher)
The year is 2025. The end of the oil age forces mankind to reach for the stars. Entrepreneur Julian Orley is about opens the first-ever hotel on the Moon.
But Orley Enterprises deals in far more than space tourism: it operates the world’s only space elevator, connecting the earth with the moon and enabling the transportation of helium-3, the fuel of the future.
Now Julian has invited twenty-one of the world’s richest and most powerful individuals to sample his luxury lunar accommodation, hoping to secure the financial backing to build a second lift.
Meanwhile, on Earth, cyber detective Owen Jericho is sent to Shanghai to find a young female hacker, Yoyo, who has been on the run since she accidentally uncovered information that placed her in grave danger.
As Jericho closes in on the girl, he finds increasingly concerning links to Julian Orley that suggest the lunar expedition is in real and immediate danger.
Moon’s Artifice (Empire of a Hundred Houses #1)—Tom Lloyd (November 21, Gollancz)
In a quiet corner of the Imperial City, Investigator Narin discovers the result of his first potentially lethal mistake. Minutes later he makes a second.
After an unremarkable career Narin finally has the chance of promotion to the hallowed ranks of the Lawbringers—guardians of the Emperor’s laws and bastions for justice in a world of brutal expediency. Joining that honoured body would be the culmination of a lifelong dream, but it couldn’t possibly have come at a worse time. A chance encounter drags Narin into a plot of gods and monsters, spies and assassins, accompanied by a grief-stricken young woman, an old man haunted by the ghosts of his past and an assassin with no past.
On the cusp of an industrial age that threatens the warrior caste’s rule, the Empire of a Hundred Houses awaits civil war between noble factions. Centuries of conquest has made the empire a brittle and bloated monster; constrained by tradition and crying out for change. To save his own life and those of untold thousands Narin must understand the key to it all: Moon’s Artifice, the poison that could destroy an empire.
The Suicide Exhibition (Never War #1)—Justin Richards (November 21, Del Rey UK)
Wewelsburg Castle, 1940: the German war machine has woken an ancient civilisation. The alien Vril and their Ubermensch have returned. With this new power, ultimate Victory in the war for Europe is now within the Nazis’ grasp.
England, 1941: Foreign Office trouble shooter Guy Pentecross has stumbled into a conspiracy beyond his imagining: a secret war being waged in the shadows against a terrible enemy.
The battle for Europe has just become the war for humanity.
A groundbreaking alternate reality thriller, The Suicide Exhibition is an action-packed World War 2 adventure, perfect for fans of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Indiana Jones and Quatermass.
The Tower Broken (Tower & Knight #3)—Marzarkis Williams (November 21, Jo Fletcher)
The world is at breaking point. The nothing, a terrible darkness caused by the festering wounds of a god, bleeds out the very essence of all, of stone, silk—and souls. Emperor Sarmin thought he had stopped it, but it is spreading towards his city, Cerana—and he is powerless to halt the destruction.
Even as Cerana fills with refugees, the Yrkmen armies arrive with conquest in mind, but they offer to spare Sarmin’s people if they will convert to the Mogyrk faith.
Time is running out for Sarmin and his wife, Mesema: the Mage’s Tower is cracked; the last mage, sent to find a mysterious pattern-worker in the desert, has vanished; and Sarmin believes his kidnapped brother Daveed still has a part to play. The walls are crumbling around them...
Warhammer 40,000: Pariah (Bequin Trilogy #1)—Dan Abnett (November 21, Black Library)
In the city of Queen Mab, nothing is quite as it seems. Pariah, spy and Inquisitorial agent Alizebeth Bequin is all of these things and yet none of them. An enigma, even to herself, she is caught between Inquisitors Gregor Eisenhorn and Gideon Ravenor, former allies now enemies who are playing a shadow game against a mysterious and deadly foe.
Coveted by the Archenemy, pursued by the Inquisition, Bequin becomes embroiled in a dark plot of which she knows not her role or purpose. Helped by a disparate group of allies, she must unravel the secrets of her life and past if she is to survive a coming battle in which the line between friends and foes is fatally blurred.
World After (Penryn and the End of Days #2)—Susan Ee (November 21, Hodder)
In this sequel to the bestselling fantasy thriller Angelfall, the survivors of the angel apocalypse begin to scrape back together what’s left of the modern world. When a group of people capture Penryn’s sister Paige, thinking she’s a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken.
Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels’ secret plans, where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.
Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can’t rejoin the angels, can’t take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?
Last to Rise (Rojan Dizon #3)—Francis Knight (November 26, Orbit)
The towering vertical city of Mahala is on the brink of war with its neighbouring countries. It might be his worst nightmare, but Rojan and the few remaining pain-mages have been drafted in to help.
The city needs power in whatever form they can get it—and fast. With alchemists readying a prototype electricity generator, and factories producing guns faster than ever, the city’s best advantage is still the mages.
Leading the alchemists is Rojan’s sister, with a risky plan to help tap the mages’ strength and overcome the armies marching towards them. With food in the city running out, and a battle approaching that no one is ready for, risky is the best they’ve got...
Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)—Laini Taylor (November 26, Hodder)
In Night of Cake and Puppets, New York Time bestselling author Laini Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: the funny and fantastical first date of fan-favourites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike.
Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. When it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” however, her courage deserts her. But enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself!
Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.
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.