Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing November Releases in Science Fiction

Fiction Affliction is a monthly column written by Royal Street author Suzanne Johnson that lists upcoming releases by genre or sub-genre. Check back every day this week for coverage of November releases in fantasy, young adult paranormal, and urban fantasy & paranormal romance. Today’s column covers SCIENCE FICTION.

The Symptoms: The future’s so blight, we’ve gotta wear shades. Just in time for Thanksgiving, earth is decimated by alien viruses, vampire plagues, environmental disasters and a Gulf Coast zombie apocalypse?and deep space is no safer. Thank god there are still small bands of people struggling to ensure human survival—but if you see red, it’s probably not cranberry sauce.

The Diagnosis: Fourteen new science fiction books hit the shelves in November: six apocalyptic tales fraught with zombies and other unnatural disasters, often with kickass heroines leading the rebellion; six space battles complete with sentient ships and dying planets; and two genre-bending steampunks.

The Cure: Sorry, there isn’t one. Your best hope is to team up with a fierce female Mad Maxine type and stick with her to the bitter end. We have met the enemy and he could be your own spaceship.

Enemy Within, by Marcella Burnard (Nov. 2, Berkley)
Futuristic romance comes into play as Captain Ari Rose escapes an alien prison only to be stripped of her command and exiled to her father’s scientific expedition. Pirates provide a diversion—only studly pirate leader Cullin can’t decide if the former prisoner is a spy he’d love to kill or be willing to kill to stay alive. (Romance alert!)

The Greyfriar, by Clay & Susan Griffith (Nov. 2, Pyr)
The first in a new steampunk-noir Vampire Empire series finds war brewing in 2020 in a world reconfigured by an 1870s vampire plague. Millions died, storied cities were taken over by powerful vampire clans, and the remaining humans fled to southern climates where the vamps can’t stand the heat. Now it’s time for payback as the clans target Princess Adele, heir to what’s left of the old tropical British Empire, and she must rely on the mysterious fighter The Greyfriar to help her save humankind. (You can read an excerpt here on

Echo, by Jack McDevitt (Nov. 2, Ace)
In the fifth Alex Benedict novel, the antiquities dealer is out to decipher cryptic symbols inscribed on a stone tablet left behind by a noted eccentric who spent his life searching for proof of alien life forms. The tablet might have the proof Benedict needs, but there’s at least one determined enemy who doesn’t want the its secrets revealed.

Apocalypse of the Dead, by Joe McKinney (Nov. 2, Pinnacle)
Two years after hurricanes flooded the Gulf Coast and caused the dead to rise, a boatload of refugees manages to escape—but the zombie virus escapes with them. Within weeks, the zombie epidemic spreads across the globe, and it’s up to retired U.S. Marshal Ed Moore to lead a small band of survivors in search of sanctuary—and a final zombie showdown. This is the second of four zombie apocalypse novels by McKinney, who spends his daylight hours as a homicide detective for the San Antonio Police Department.

Steampunk’d, edited by Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg (Nov. 2, DAW)
This all-original anthology takes steampunk on a worldwide tour and blends it with a mind-melding set of genres. Features stories by Michael A. Stackpole, Robert Vardeman, William C. Dietz, Jody Lynn Nye, Stephen D. Sullivan and more.

One Hundred Percent Lunar Boy, by Stephen Tunney (Nov. 8, MacAdam Cage)
Two-thousand years in the future, the moon has become a rundown experiment in terraforming and colonization. Sixteen-year-old Hieronymus Rexaphin accepts his fate as an outcast until he meets an Earth girl drawn to him because of his special—some say dangerous—condition. He’s a rare One Hundred Percent Lunar Boy whose ability to see the fourth primary color helps him see future paths of time and matter. After breaking moon law and exposing his eyes to the young Earth girl, Hieronymus embarks on a quest to escape exile and imprisonment.

Empress of Eternity, by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (Nov. 9, Tor)
The newest release by veteran science fiction and fantasy author Modesitt takes place in the far future, where a 2,000-mile-long canal bisects the mid-Earth continent. Scientists from three different civilizations separated in time by hundreds of thousands of years study the canal, but everyone?and everything?is threatened by a religious rebellion in the most distant civilization.

Money Shot, by Christopher Rowley (Nov. 9, Tor)
The third Netherworld book finds Detective Rook Venner’s world in an uproar when the General Sangacha murder comes across his desk at the Hudson Valley P.D. Suddenly, he and a Pleasure Model with a dangerous secret are on the run from a whole Tactical Robotic Regiment. The answer lies with a horrific event deep underground and just the code words—Operation Taste Imperative—are deadly. This volume is part of Heavy Metal Pulp, a new line of novels combining noir fiction with the graphic style of Heavy Metal magazine. Art for this volume is by Justin Norman (interior) and Gregory Manchess (cover).

The Flock, by James Robert Smith (Nov. 9, Forge)
Technically more eco-thriller than sci-fi, this debut novel should appeal to both sets of readers. A remote Florida swamp has been targeted for theme-park development and the swamp’s inhabitants are none too happy. They’re a flock of intelligent, prehistoric, dinosaur-like birds that have managed to avoid extinction within their secret world where humans have no role. It’s mercenaries versus the Flock as nature fights greedy corporate America.

Hull Zero Three, by Greg Bear (Nov. 22, Orbit)
Sci-fi meets horror in this new space thriller from Hugo- and Nebula-winning author Bear. A small band of humans on a long journey awaken to find themselves light years from known space on a ship that has gone mad. The ship is an unmanned terraformer, designed to bring life to dead planets but not to transport the living. Now, on a crippled ship, five humans find themselves struggling to understand how they came to be here and where they are going. But they are not alone, and their struggle to stay alive will uncover long-hidden secrets best left to the empty void of space.

The Human Blend, by Alan Dean Foster (Nov. 23, Del Rey)
This near-future noir thriller?first in a new trilogy?takes place in a world where criminals are punished through genetic engineering and bodily manipulation. Given his name because radical surgery and implants have reduced him to preternatural thinness, Whispr is a thug whose random murder of a Savannah tourist puts him in possession of a mysterious thread with dangerous powers. All he wants to do is get rid of it, and he’ll need Ingrid, a savvy human physician, to help.

Wild Cards 1, edited by George R.R. Martin (Nov. 23, Tor)
The classic 1987 shared-world anthology has been expanded with new material set in the early Wild Cards universe—a world in which an alien virus struck Earth in the aftermath of World War II, endowing a handful of survivors with extraordinary powers. Adding to the original stories from Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams, George R.R. Martin and others are new pieces by authors such as Hugo-winner David Levine, screenwriter Michael Cassutt and New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

The Battle for Commitment Planet, by Graham Sharp Paul (Nov. 23, Del Rey)
In the fourth Helfort’s War outing, the Hammer Worlds are holding Anna Cheung prisoner—and she’s the only person Federated hero Helfort loves. He can either surrender, watch her handed over to depraved troopers to ravage and kill, or sail his dreadnoughts into the Hammers’ stronghold. Guess which one he chooses?

Guardians of the Phoenix, by Eric Brown (Nov. 30, Solaris)
The seas have dried up; deserts cover much of the Earth’s surface; and humankind has been annihilated by drought and the nuclear and biological conflicts following the Great Breakdown. Some desperate humans live far underground, away from the searing temperatures and ongoing conflicts on the surface; others scrape out a living in the remains of shattered cities above ground. Guardians of the Phoenix tells the story of the last survivors on planet Earth, their desperate fight for survival and their last hope to save the world.

Urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson is a bonafide book geek. Her new urban fantasy series, scheduled to begin with the release of Royal Street in April 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter and Facebook.


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