Fiction Affliction: Diagnosing April 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 April releases in fantasy, young adult paranormal, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Today’s column examines SCIENCE FICTION.

The Symptoms: The aliens are here, and—surprise—they are not our friends. Nor is history what we thought. Oh, and the internet? Evil!

The Diagnosis: Fifteen new science fiction books hit the shelves in April, including alien hostiles, American and Russian dystopias, zombie armies, and a traveling circus.

The Cure: The Moscow Metro—it’s the only sanctuary after aliens take over from without and within and the zombie armies start marching. And even in the Metro, things might not be all copacetic.


Read summaries of April science fiction releases

Element Zero, by James Knapp (April 5, Roc)

Technologically reanimated corpses are frontline soldiers engaged in a neverending war. Agent Nico Wachalowski uncovered a conspiracy that allowed Samuel Fawkes, the scientist who created them, to control them beyond the grave. And now Fawkes has infected untold thousands with new technology, creating an undetectable army that will obey his every command—a living army that just might represent the future of humanity. Third in the Revivors series following State of Decay and The Silent Army.

Alien in the Family, by Gini Koch (April 5, Daw)

Super-Being Exterminator Kitty Katt and the Alpha Centaurian she loves, Jeff Martini, should be finalizing their wedding plans. But that was before she discovered Jeff is in line to become Emperor back on his home world. Kitty knows she is everything a royal family wouldn’t approve of, and is bracing herself for the worst. As it turns out, the royal family is just the beginning—especially when extraterrestrial Amazonian terrorists are determined to start and end Kitty and Jeff’s nuptial festivities with a bang. Third in the series following Alien Tango and Touched by an Alien.

Betrayer, by C.J. Cherryh (April 5, Daw)
The civil war among the alien Atevi has ended. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western Association, along with Cajeiri his son and heir, and his human paidhi, Bren Cameron, have returned to the Bujavid, their seat of power. But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over. This is the twelfth in Hugo Award winner C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series.

WWW: Wonder, by Robert J. Sawyer (April 5, Ace)

Webmind, the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web, has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But now the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated. Caitlin Decter—the once-blind sixteen-year-old math genius who discovered and bonded with Webmind—wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn’t act, everything, Webmind included, may come crashing down. Third in the WWW series, following WWW: Wake and WWW: Watch.

The Company Man, by Robert Jackson Bennett (April 11, Orbit)

The year is 1919. The McNaughton Corporation is the pinnacle of American industry. They built the guns that won the Great War before it even began. They built the airships that tie the world together. And, above all, they built Evesden—a shining metropolis, the best the world has to offer. But something is rotten at the heart of the city. Deep underground, a trolley car pulls into a station with eleven dead bodies inside. Four minutes before, the victims were seen boarding at the previous station. Eleven men butchered by hand in the blink of an eye. All are dead, and all are union. Now, one man, Cyril Hayes, must fix this. There is a dark secret behind the inventions of McNaughton and with a war brewing between the executives and the workers, the truth must be discovered before the whole city burns. Caught between the union and the company, between the police and the victims, Hayes must uncover the mystery before it kills him.

All the Lives He Led, by Frederik Pohl (April 12, Tor)

It’s 2079, and with America still reeling from the aftermath of a cataclysmic eruption at Yellowstone, Brad Sheridan signs up for an overseas job as an indentured servant—anything to escape the American refugee camp where he’d been doing time. He ends up in Italy, preparing for the second-millennial anniversary of Pompeii. All good, until he gets too close to a terrorist plot that could make the refugee camps of America look posh. Now 91, Pohl himself remains a national treasure.

Hybrids, by Whitley Strieber (April 12, Tor)

For years, people have feared that sexual material removed from victims of alien abductions might lead to the creation of something that modern science considers impossible: hybrids of the alien and the human. They would think like aliens, but appear human, and be able to do something that full-blooded aliens can’t—walk the earth freely. In Hybrids, Whitley Strieber unleashes his skills as a thriller writer and his unique knowledge of the abduction phenomenon—he says he was abducted by non-human beings in 1985. His goal: to explore what might happen if hybrids invaded the earth, not from the stars but from exactly where the aliens told him they would emerge when one of them said, “We will come from within you.”

Soft Apocalypse, by Will McIntosh (April 19, Night Shade)

What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America’s previous stable society apart, the “New Normal” is a Soft Apocalypse. New social structures and tribal connections spring up across America as the previous social structures dissolve. Soft Apocalypse follows the journey across the Southeast of a tribe of formerly middle class Americans struggling to find a place for themselves and their children in a new, dangerous world that still carries the ghostly echoes of their previous lives.

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, by Genevieve Valentine and Kiri Moth (April 25, Prime)

Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic. That magic is no accident: Boss builds her circus from the bones out, molding a mechanical company that will survive the unforgiving landscape. But even a careful ringmaster can make mistakes. Two of Tresaulti’s performers are trapped in a secret standoff that threatens to tear the Circus apart, just as the war lands on their doorstep. Now they must fight a war on two fronts: one from the outside, and a more dangerous one from within.

Phoenix Rising, by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris (April 26, Harper Voyager)

These are dark days in Victoria’s England. Londoners are vanishing, then reappearing, washing up as corpses on the banks of the Thames, drained of blood and bone. Yet the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences—the Crown’s clandestine organization whose bailiwick is the strange and unsettling—will not allow its agents to investigate. Fearless and lovely Eliza D. Braun, however, with her bulletproof corset and a disturbing fondness for dynamite, refuses to let the matter rest—and she’s prepared to drag her timorous new partner, Wellington Books, with her into the perilous fray. For a malevolent brotherhood is operating in the deepening London shadows, intent upon the enslavement of all Britons. And Books and Braun—he with his encyclopedic brain and she with her remarkable devices—must get to the twisted roots of a most nefarious plot. First in the new Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series.

The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught, by Jack Campbell (April 26, Ace)

The Alliance woke Captain John “Black Jack” Geary from cryogenic sleep to take command of the fleet in the century-long conflict against the Syndicate Worlds. Now Fleet Admiral Geary’s victory has earned him the adoration of the people—and the enmity of politicians convinced that a living hero can be a very inconvenient thing. Geary knows members of the military high command and the government question his loyalty to the Alliance and fear his staging a coup, so he can’t help but wonder if the newly christened First Fleet is being deliberately sent to the far side of space on a suicide mission.

Burn Down the Sky, by James Jaros (April 26, Harper Voyager)

After the destruction of nature and the death of the world, after the Wicca virus drove billions to madness and suicide, one commodity has become far more valuable than all others combined: female children. When well-armed marauders roll in at dusk to brutally attack a fiercely defended compound of survivors, Jessie is unable to halt the slaughter—and she can do nothing to prevent the ruthless abduction of innocents, including her youngest child. Now, along with her outraged teenage daughter, Bliss, Jessie sets out on a journey across a blasted landscape—joining up with the desperate, the broken, and the half-mad to storm the fortress of a dark and twisted religion and bring the children home.

Theories of Flight, by Simon Morden (April 26, Orbit)

Petrovitch has a lot of secrets—like how to make anti-gravity, and the fact that he’s keeping a sentient computer program on a secret server farm, the same program that nearly destroyed the Metrozone a few months back. Now, the people of the OutZone want what citizens of the Metrozone have before they burn it to the ground. With the heart of the city destroyed by the New Machine Jihad, the Outies finally see their chance. Someone is trying to kill Petrovitch and they’re willing to sink the whole city to do it. Second in the new series that began in March with Equations of Life. Degrees of Freedom will follow May 31.

The Noise Revealed, by Ian Whates (April 26, Solaris)

While mankind is adjusting to its first-ever encounter with an alien civilization—the Byrzaens—black ops specialist Jim Leyton reluctantly allies himself with the mysterious habitat in order to rescue the woman he loves. This brings him into direct conflict with his former employers: the United League of Allied Worlds government. Scientist and businessman Philip Kaufman is fast discovering there is more to the virtual world than he ever realized. Yet it soon becomes clear that all is not well within the realm of Virtuality. Truth is hidden beneath lies and there are games being played, deadly games with far reaching consequences. Both men begin to suspect that the much-heralded “First Contact” is anything but first contact, and that a sinister con is being perpetrated with the whole of humankind as the victim. Now all they have to do is prove it.

Retribution Falls, by Chris Wooding (April 26, Spectra)

Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay, or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man. But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies. U.S. release.

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.


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