Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing February Releases in Science Fiction

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

The Symptoms: Deadly plagues and viruses are on the rampage, and some might cause zombie action. Plus, we have met the enemy in Vietnam and World War II, and it wasn’t who we thought.

The Diagnosis: Twelve new science fiction books hit the shelves in January: four deadly viral invaders, with and without zombies; four space operas; three alt histories (two in WW II-era England and Japan); and two techno-takeovers.

The Cure: Bring out the gas masks, find a bunker, and figure out your best anti-Zombie moves, because the viruses are spreading, the dead are rising, and they’re hungry.

Rising Tides: Destroyermen, by Taylor Anderson (Feb. 1, Roc)

In Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series, a parallel universe adds a additional layer to the drama of World War II. Now, as Lieutenant Commander Matthew Reddy and the crew of the U.S.S. Walker continue their battle for freedom and survival, the stakes become more personal and more perilous.  

Leviathans of Jupiter, by Ben Bova (Feb. 1, Tor)

The 18th space adventure in Bova’s Grand Tour series, following The Return (2009). Physicist Grant Archer’s research station is out to prove the intelligence of the leviathans that populate Jupiter—unless astro-authority Katherine Westfall succeeds in shutting him down.

Battle Stations, by David Drake, Mike Resnick, S.M. Stirling and Others (Feb. 1, Prime)

When the Fleet is challenged by an alien armada from the other side of the galaxy, they construct The Stephen Hawking, an enormous mobile base for thousands of soldiers and warships, and the overstressed crew prepares for a direct assault by a deadly insectoid race. But the pressures of combat and close quarters have taken their toll, threatening to turn the crew to the enemy’s prime advantage.

Autumn: The City, by David Moody (Feb. 1, St. Martin’s Griffin)

A hybrid of War of the Worlds and Night of the Living Dead, the Autumn series chronicles the struggle of a small group of survivors forced to contend with a world torn apart by a deadly disease. Animated by “phase two” of some unknown contagion, the dead begin to rise, only to lumber forth and destroy the sole remaining attraction in the silent, lifeless world: those who have survived the plague, who now find themselves outnumbered a million to one. While the first Autumn novel focused on those who escaped the city, Autumn: The City focuses on those who didn’t. U.S. release.

Deep State, by Walter Jon Williams (Feb. 7, Orbit)

By day Dagmar Shaw orchestrates vast games with millions of players spanning continents. By night, she tries to forget the sound of a city collapsing in flames around her. She tries to forget the faces of her friends as they died in front of her. She tries to forget the blood on her own hands. But then an old friend approaches Dagmar with a project that will lead her from the world of alternate-reality gaming to one even more complex.

Thirteen Years Later, by Jasper Kent (Feb. 8, Pyr)

Tsar Aleksandr made a silent promise to the Lord. God would deliver him—would deliver Russia—and he would make Russia into the country that the Almighty wanted it to be. It’s 1825, and Europe and Russia have been at peace for ten years. For Colonel Aleksei Ivanovich Danilov, life is good. But his Tsar has been reminded of a promise that was broken a hundred years before. Now the one who was betrayed by the Romanovs has returned to exact revenge, and for Aleksei, the vile pestilence that once threatened all he believed in has returned, thirteen years later. U.S. release.

Grail, by Elizabeth Bear (Feb. 22, Spectra)

Rife with intrigue and betrayal, heroism and sacrifice, Grail concludes Elizabeth Bear’s epic space opera. At last the generation ship Jacob’s Ladder has arrived at its destination: the planet they have come to call Grail. But this habitable jewel just happens to be populated already: by humans who call their home Fortune. And they are wary of sharing Fortune—especially with people who have genetically engineered themselves to such an extent that it is a matter of debate whether they are still human.

Point, by Thomas Blackthorne (Feb. 22, Angry Robot)

In a Britain on the edge of collapse, there is a desperate new craze: A suicide cult made up of disaffected young people. They kill themselves in “cutter circles,” loaded up with teenage cool and desolate dreams. For ex-Special Forces soldier Josh Cumberland, this is just the start of another descent into the heart of darkness. It’s a virus. Find out who caused it. Destroy them. Survive. Thomas Blackthorne is a pen name for author John Meaney.

The Remembering, by Steve Cash (Feb. 22, Del Rey)

For thousands of years the Meq have existed side by side with humanity—appearing as twelve-year-old children, unsusceptible to wounds and disease, dying only by extraordinary means. Five sacred stones give a few of them mystical powers, but not the power to understand a long-destined event called the Remembering. In the aftermath of the nuclear bombing of Japan in 1945, Zianno Zezen finds himself alone, while the fate of the other Meq and his beloved Opari. With the day of the Remembering approaching, Zianno must interpret the strange writing on an ancient etched stone sphere and begin a journey to the truth about his people and himself.

Xombies: Apocalypso, by Walter Greatshell (Feb. 22, Ace)

A group of women have been discovered who are immune to the Agent X plague. The secret of their immunity can provide a cure for human and inhuman alike—unless the Xombies find them first.

Cloneworld, by Andy Remic (Feb. 22, Solaris)

Junks, an evil alien scourge, are flooding Quad-Gal with terror, and Combat K are sent on a mission to find an elusive alien retrovirus which can be used against the enemy. SLAM-dropped to Cloneworld—a planet ravaged by violent civil war—not only are Combat K hunted by elite junk assassins, but they get caught in a global conflict between augmented mechanised war machines and genetically modified humans who have the ability to clone themselves.

Deus Ex: The Icarus Effect, by James Swallow (Feb. 22, Del Rey)

In the near future, with physical augmentation gaining ground and nano-cybernetics only years away, the dawn of limitless human evolution is just beyond the horizon, and a secret corporate cabal of ruthless men intends to make sure humankind stays under its control. But two people on opposite sides of the world are starting to ask questions that could get them killed. Secret Service agent Anna Kelso has been suspended for investigating the shooting that claimed her partner’s life. Ben Saxon, former SAS officer turned mercenary, joins a shadowy special ops outfit. They say they’re a force for good, but Saxon quickly learns that the truth is not so clear-cut.

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 2012 by Tor Books, is set in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina. Find Suzanne on Twitter.


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