Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for March

Thirteen new genre benders defy categorization in March, including a new “gaslight fantasy” anthology, an annual showcase of SF/F, a new Lady Lazarus book from Michele Lang, and some interesting new standalones.

Fiction Affliction details releases in science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and “genre-benders.” Keep track of them all here.

Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.



The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Seven, edited by Jonathan Strahan, (March 5, Night Shade Books)

This annual compilation brings together a who’s-who of storytellers, including Eleanor Arnason, Peter S. Beagle, Aliette de Bodard, Peter Dickinson, Andy Duncan, Jeffrey Ford, Neil Gaiman, Molly Glass, Theodora Goss, Nalo Hopkinson, Kij Johnson, Gwyneth Jones, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Ellen Klages, Ted Kosmatka, Margo Lanagan, Kelly Link, Ken Liu, Paul McAuley, Megan McCarron, Pat Murphy, Linda Nagata, K.J. Parker, Rachel Pollack, Robert Reed, Adam Roberts, Christopher Rowe, Robert Shearman, Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, Karin Tidbeck, Catherynne M. Valente, and Genevieve Valentine.

The Books of Barakhai, by Mickey Zucker Reichert, (March 5, DAW)

Benton Collins was a graduate student working in the bio lab. When a lab rat managed to escape its cage, Ben chases the rat into a storeroom that would ultimately lead him through a gateway into the realm called Barakhai. Barakhai was a place peopled by inadvertent shapeshifters, humans forced to spend half their day, or night, in animal form. A life where the inhabitants were ruled by a few humans of royal blood who remained in their human form and were virtual dictators. A rebel named Zylas hoped that Ben could become the instrument to turn Barakhai around. Zylas and his comrade rescued Ben from certain death. If Ben agreed to join their cause, would he only be postponing the moment of his execution, and would he ever be allowed to return to his own world again?

Terrain: A Tor.Com Original, by Genevieve Valentine, (March 6, Tor)

A steampunk western about six diverse people living and working together on a farm outside a small town in Wyoming. The encroaching Union Pacific railroad wants the land, threatening their home and their livelihood, running a unique message service with mechanical “dogs” (actually looking more insectile) that can climb up mountains where the Pony Express cannot. Ebook.



Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), by Frank Cottrell Boyce, (March 12, Candlewick Press) (U.S.)

Young Adult. When the Tootings return to Zobrowski Terrace at the end of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again, they find that “home” is looking a lot like Jurassic Park. But this is no theme park, a very real and very hungry T. Rex is charging them! Thanks to Dad’s inadvertent yanking of Chitty’s “Chronojuster” lever, the spirited car has ushered them back to prehistoric times, where the family (and especially Baby Harry) make a narrow escape. Chitty has a mind of her own, and the Tootings will get an unexpected tour of exciting times and places from Prohibition-era New York (where Chitty wants to compete in the famous Prix d’Esmerelda’s Birthday Cake race) to the lost city of El Dorado and back again, with misadventures and surprise stowaways along the way. U.S. release.

Rebel Angels (Lady Lazarus #3), by Michele Lang, (March 12, Tor)

Magda Lazarus has twice come back from the dead to fight the Nazis’ devastating conquest of Poland. To prevent the Holocaust her sister has seen in terrible visions, Magda will need the Heaven Sapphire, a gem powerful enough to defeat even the demon Asmodel. With the future of all Europe in the balance, Magda and her husband, the fallen angel Raziel, begin a perilous journey to the Caucasus, the resting place of the fabled stone. Surrounded by Germans, Russians, and mistrustful Azerbaijani tribesmen, Magda must summon all her magic to withstand the predations of the deadly supernatural foes. But more dangerous yet is the power of the Sapphire itself, which could stop Hitler, or destroy Magda.

The Scourge, by Roberto Calas, (March 12, 47North)

A mysterious plague descends upon 14th century England, ravaging the country and trapping the souls of the afflicted in eternal madness. The feudal hierarchy, and even the church itself, slowly crumbles as the dead rise to feed and the living seek whatever shelter they can. The bishops of England call for calm and obedience, but one man isn’t listening. Sir Edward of Bodiam has been separated from the woman he loves and nothing on heaven or earth can stop him from seeking her out. Edward and two of his knights travel through the swiftly changing landscape of England, a countryside now overrun by the minions of hell. The knights encounter madness, violence, and sorrow, but Edward fights his way ever deeper into the thickening darkness of unholy terror.



Goldenland Past Dark, by Chandler Klang Smith, (March 18, ChiZine Publications)

A hostile stranger is hunting Dr. Show’s ramshackle traveling circus across 1960s America. His target: the ringmaster himself. Dr. Show scraps his ambitious itinerary, ticket sales plummet, and nothing but disaster looms. The troupe’s hopes fall on their latest recruit, Webern Bell, a sixteen-year-old hunchbacked midget devoted to perfecting the surreal clown performances that come to him in his dreams. Webern’s bizarre past starts to pursue him. Along the way, we meet Nepenthe, the seductive Lizard Girl; Brunhilde, a shell-shocked bearded lady; Marzipan, a world-weary chimp; a cabal of drunken, backstabbing clowns; Webern’s uncanny sisters; and his childhood friend, Wags, who may or may not be real, and whose motives are more sinister than they seem.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslight Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, (March 19, Tor)

An anthology for everyone who loves works of neo-Victorian fiction, and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call Fantasy of Manners, all of which fit under the larger umbrella of Gaslamp Fantasy. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, mainstream, and young adult fields, including Elizabeth Bear, James Blaylock, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Kushner, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire, Delia Sherman, and Catherynne M. Valente, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century invested (or cursed!) with magic.

Quintessence, by David Walton, (March 19, Tor)

Imagine an Age of Exploration full of alchemy, human dissection, sea monsters, betrayal, torture, religious controversy, and magic. In Europe, the magic is thin, but at the edge of the world, where the stars reach down close to the Earth, wonders abound. This drives the bravest explorers to the alluring Western Ocean. Christopher Sinclair is an alchemist who cares only about one thing: quintessence, a substance he believes will grant magical powers and immortality. And he has a ship.



The Marching Dead, by Lee Battersby, (March 26, Angry Robot)

Find the dead a King, save himself, win the love of his life, live happily ever after. No wonder Marius dos Helles is bored. But now something has stopped the dead from, well, dying. It’s up to Marius, Gerd, and Gerd’s not-dead-enough Granny to journey across the continent and put the dead back in the afterlife where they belong.

The Scrivener’s Tale, by Fiona McIntosh, (March 26, Harper Voyager)

In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant… until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems. As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe’s life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible. When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia. Soon, Gabe’s world will be turned upside down, and he will learn shocking truths about who he is… and who he can, or cannot, trust.

Wasteland, by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan, (March 26, Harper Teen)

Young Adult. Welcome to the Wasteland. Where all the adults are long gone, and now no one lives past the age of nineteen. Wasteland is the first of a trilogy in which everyone is forced to live under the looming threat of rampant disease and brutal attacks by the Variants, hermaphroditic outcasts that live on the outskirts of Prin. Esther thinks there’s more to life than toiling at harvesting, gleaning, and excavating, day after day under the relentless sun, just hoping to make it to the next day. But then Caleb, a mysterious stranger, arrives in town, and Esther begins to question who she can trust. As shady pasts unravel into the present and new romances develop, Caleb and Esther realize that they must team together to fight for their lives and for the freedom of Prin.

Wolfhound Century, by Peter Higgins, (March 26, Orbit)

Investigator Vissarion Lom has been summoned to the capital in order to catch a terrorist, and ordered to report directly to the head of the secret police. A totalitarian state, worn down by an endless war, must be seen to crush home-grown insurgents with an iron fist. But Lom discovers Mirgorod to be more corrupted than he imagined: a murky world of secret police and revolutionaries, cabaret clubs and doomed artists. Lom has been chosen because he is an outsider, not involved in the struggle for power within the party. And because of the sliver of angel stone implanted in his head.

Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series is published by Tor Books. You can find Suzanne on Twitter and on her daily speculative fiction blog, Preternatura.


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