From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist, a bi-weekly rundown of new releases from the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.
What with the transition between this being a bit in the former Focus and a regular feature in its own right—to run here on Tor.com every second Sunday—we’ve got a few of the last week’s more notable new releases to catch up on before we consider the crop of forthcoming genre novels. In addition, I wanted to take this opportunity to try something a little bit different, so going forward, great British graphic novels will also figure into the mix.
In this inaugural edition of the Hitlist, I’ve got more than twenty new books for you all to look forward to, including standalone stories by Neil Gaiman, Christopher Priest, Graham Joyce, Max Barry, Iain Banks and many other authors, alongside additions to several series, such as The Long Earth, The Iron Druid Chronicles, The Tales of Egil and Nix and The Spiritwalker Trilogy.
WEEK BEGINNING JUNE 10th
A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, by George R. R. Martin, Daniel Abraham, and Tommy Patterson (June 11, Harper Voyager)
Novelist Daniel Abraham and illustrator Tommy Patterson are not merely turning George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy A Game of Thrones into a graphic novel: They are meticulously translating one art form into another, and capturing the intricate nuances of Martin’s novels just as HBO is doing with the blockbuster series. The Abraham/Patterson collaboration is more than just a faithful adaptation. It is a labor of love—and a thrilling masterwork in its own right.
Now, in the second volume, the sweeping action moves from the icy north, where the bastard Jon Snow seeks to carve out a place for himself among bitter outcasts and hardened criminals sworn to service upon the Wall… to the decadent south and the capital city of King’s Landing, where Jon’s father, Lord Eddard Stark, serves as the Hand of King Robert Baratheon amid a nest of courtly vipers… to the barbarian lands across the Narrow Sea, where the young princess Daenerys Targaryen has found the unexpected in her forced marriage to the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo: love—and with it, for the first time in her life, power.
Meanwhile, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, accused by Lady Catelyn Stark of the attempted murder of her now-crippled youngest son, must call upon all his cunning and wit to survive when he is captured and imprisoned in the lofty dungeons of the Eyrie, where Lady Stark’s sister—a woman obsessed with vengeance against all Lannisters—rules. But Catelyn’s impulsive arrest of the Imp will set in motion a series of violent events whose outcome is fated to shake the world at the worst possible moment. For now is not the time for private feuds and bloodthirsty ambitions.
Winter is coming… and with it, terrors beyond imagining.
The Red Men, by Matthew De Abaitua (June 13, Gollancz)
Nelson used to be a radical journalist, but now he works for Monad, one of the world’s leading corporations. Monad make the Dr Easys, the androids which patrol London’s streets: assisting police, easing tensions, calming the populace. But Monad also makes the Red Men—tireless, intelligent, creative, and entirely virtual corporate workers—and it’s looking to expand the programme. So Nelson is put in charge of Redtown: a virtual city, inhabited by copies of real people going about their daily business, in which new policies, diseases and disasters can be studied in perfect simulation. Nelson finds himself at the helm of a grand project whose goals appear increasingly authoritarian and potentially catastrophic.
As the boundaries between Redtown and the real world become ever more brittle, and revolutionary factions begin to align themselves against the Red Men, Nelson finds himself forced to choose sides: Monad or his family, the corporation or the community, the real or the virtual.
Unnatural Creatures, edited by Neil Gaiman with Maria Dahvana Headley (June 13, Bloomsbury)
The sunbird, the manticore, the werewolf, the griffin—welcome to a menagerie unlike any other, where stories let amazing, beautiful and occasionally terrifying creatures roam free in your mind.
This is Neil Gaiman’s selection of his favourite stories featuring beasts from myth, fable and imagination. Creatures extraordinary, exotic, extinct, living, dead and undead prowl the pages of this book.
Be very, very careful if you insist on opening it.
Pirate Cinema, by Cory Doctorow (June 14, Titan)
When Trent McCauley’s obsession for making movies by reassembling footage from popular films causes his home s internet to be cut off, it nearly destroys his family. Shamed, Trent runs away to London. A new bill threatens to criminalize even harmless internet creativity. Things look bad, but the powers-that-be haven’t entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people’s minds…
WEEK BEGINNING JUNE 17th
Before the Fall (Rojan Dizon #2), by Francis Knight (June 18, Orbit)
With the destruction of their main power source, the towering vertical city of Mahala is in crisis.
Downsiders are verging on a riot, and the mage Rojan Dizon is just trying to keep his head down and some power back to the city—whilst staying hopeful that he won’t get executed for using his magic. Then things go from bad to worse when a Downsider and emerging mage is found murdered. It’s a crime that divides all sides, and the result is mayhem.
But Rojan’s worst nightmare is just around the corner. When he discovers the killer’s identity, he’s either going to be responsible for all-out anarchy, or for a war with Mahala’s neighboring countries that no one is prepared for.
And there’s nothing Rojan hates more than being responsible.
Man of Steel: The Official Movie Novelisation, by Greg Cox (June 18, Titan)
The official novelization of the new Man of Steel movie by author Greg Cox.
In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time. Clark Kent / Kal-El is a young twenty-something journalist who feels alienated by powers beyond anyone’s imagination. Transported to Earth years ago from Krypton, an advanced alien planet, Clark struggles with the ultimate question: why am I here?
Shaped by the values of his adoptive parents Martha and Jonathan Kent, Clark soon discovers that having super abilities means making very difficult decisions. But when the world needs stability the most, it comes under attack. Will his abilities be used to maintain peace or ultimately used to divide and conquer? Clark must become the hero known as Superman, not only to shine as the world’s last beacon of hope but to protect the ones he loves.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman (June 19, Headline Review)
It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole his car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed—within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.
Three women are his only defence, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is the ocean. The oldest claims to remember the Big Bang.
ABC Warriors: The Volgan War Vol. 3, by Pat Mills and Clint Langley (June 20, 2000 AD)
Mars, the far future.
War droids created for a conflict that ended centuries ago, the A.B.C. Warriors are resistant to Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical warfare. Recruited to bring peace to the civil war-ravaged frontier colonies on Mars, the Mek-nificent Seven must stop the evil Volkhan and two of their ex-comrades from capturing the Red House.
The bestselling book, now in paperback.
The Adjacent, by Christopher Priest (June 20, Gollancz)
Tibor Tarent, a freelance photographer, is recalled to Britain from Anatolia where his wife Melanie has been killed by insurgent militia. IRGB is a nation living in the aftermath of a bizarre and terrifying terrorist atrocity—hundreds of thousands were wiped out when a vast triangle of west London was instantly annihilated. The authorities think the terrorist attack and the death of Tarent’s wife are somehow connected.
A century earlier, a stage magician is sent to the Western Front on a secret mission to render British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy. On his journey to the trenches he meets the visionary who believes that this will be the war to end all wars.
In 1943, a woman pilot from Poland tells a young RAF technician of her escape from the Nazis, and her desperate need to return home.
In the present day, a theoretical physicist stands in his English garden and creates the first adjacency.
The Adjacent is a novel where nothing is quite as it seems. Where fiction and history intersect, where every version of reality is suspect, where truth and falsehood lie closely adjacent to one another. It shows why Christopher Priest is one of our greatest writers.
Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol. 20, by Grant Morrison, John Wagner, Mark Millar et al. (June 20, 2000 AD)
Mega-City One: the future metropolis bustling with life and every crime imaginable. Keeping order are the Judges, a stern police force acting as judges, juries and executioners. Toughest of all is Judge Dredd. He is the law and these are his stories.
Volume 20 in this best-selling series sees Judge Dredd travel to the North African city of Luxor, where he has to battle a flesh-hungry mummy!
The past catches up with Dredd when an abomination from the ashes of East Meg 01 travels to the Big Meg with vengeance on its mind.
Plus the return of the first-ever published Judge Dredd artist Mike McMahon!
Lexicon, by Max Barry (June 20, Mulholland)
Two years ago, something terrible was unleashed in an Australian mining town called Broken Hill. Thousands died. Few people know what really happened.
Emily Ruff is one of them. She belongs to an elite organisation of “poets”—masters of manipulation who use language to warp others to their will. She was one of their most promising recruits until she made a catastrophic mistake: she fell in love.
Wil Parke knows the truth too, only he doesn’t remember it. And he doesn’t know why he’s immune to the poets’ powers. But he knows he needs to run. As their stories converge, the past is revealed, and the race is on for a deadly weapon: a word.
Because the poets know that words can kill…
The Long War (Long Earth #2), by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter (June 20, Doubleday)
A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth—but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind.
A new ’America’, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth—and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government…
Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation…
Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.
Lupus Rex, by John Carter Cash (June 20, Ravenstone)
The crow king is dead, and in the field below all the creatures tremble as the Murder gathers to choose a new king from the rival sons Sintus, Milus and Nascus. When the crows drive everyone from the field to keep the reckoning secret, the quail Isyl, Cormo and Harlequin believe they must simply follow their elders to safety.
But when the crows turn against each other, the forest becomes full of danger. In the confusion the last wolf, Asmod, shucks off his isolation and begins to raise an army to claim the kingdom for his own.
As hidden truths are brought to light and enormous sacrifices are made Isyl and his friends must make an epic journey and an unthinkable alliance if the lesser animals are to survive.
The Quarry, by Iain Banks (June 20, Little, Brown)
Eighteen-year-old Kit is weird: big, strange, odd, socially disabled, on a spectrum that stretches from “highly gifted” at one end, to “nutter” at the other. At least Kit knows who his father is; he and Guy live together, in a decaying country house on the unstable brink of a vast quarry in the Pennines. His mother’s identity is another matter. Now, though, his father’s dying, and old friends are gathering, for one last time.
Uncle Paul’s a media lawyer; Rob and Ali are upwardly mobile corporate bunnies; pretty, hopeful Pris is a single mother; Haze is still living up to his drug-inspired name twenty years on; and fierce, protective Hol is a gifted if acerbic critic. As young film students they lived at Willoughtree House with Guy, and they’ve all come back because they want something. Kit, too, has ulterior motives. Before his father dies he wants to know who his mother is, and what’s on the mysterious tape they’re all looking for. But most of all he wants to stop time and keep his father alive.
Fast-paced, gripping and savagely funny, The Quarry is a virtuoso performance whose soaring riffs on the inexhaustible marvel of human perception and rage against the dying of the light will stand among Iain Banks’ greatest work.
Reviver, by Seth Patrick (June 20, Tor UK)
Revivers are able to wake the recently dead, and let them bear witness to their own demise.
Twelve years after the first reviver came to light, they have become accepted by an uneasy public. The testimony of the dead is permitted in courtrooms across the world. Forensic revival is a routine part of police investigation. In the United States, that responsibility falls to the Forensic Revival Service.
Despite his troubled past, Jonah Miller is one of their best. But while reviving the victim of a brutal murder, he encounters a terrifying presence. Something is watching. Waiting. His superiors tell him it was only in his mind, a product of stress. Jonah is not so certain. Then Daniel Harker, the first journalist to bring revival to public attention, is murdered, and Jonah finds himself getting dragged into the hunt for answers.
Working with Harker’s daughter Annabel, he’s determined to find those responsible and bring them to justice. Soon they uncover long-hidden truths that call into doubt everything Jonah stands for, and reveal a threat that if not stopped in time, will put all of humanity in danger…
The Year of the Ladybird, by Graham Joyce (June 20, Gollancz)
It is the summer of 1976, the hottest since records began and a young man leaves behind his student days and learns how to grow up. A first job in a holiday camp beckons. But with political and racial tensions simmering under the cloudless summer skies there is not much fun to be had.
And soon there is a terrible price to be paid for his new-found freedom and independence. A price that will come back to haunt him, even in the bright sunlight of summer.
WEEK BEGINNING JUNE 24th
A Discourse in Steel (Tales of Egil and Nix #2), by Paul S. Kemp (June 25, Angry Robot)
Egil and Nix have retired, as they always said they would. No, really—they have! No more sword and hammer-play for them!
But when two recent acquaintances come calling for help, our hapless heroes find themselves up against the might of the entire Thieves Guild.
And when kidnapping the leader of the most powerful guild in the land seems like the best course of action, you know you’re in over your head…
A hugely-enjoyable adventure in classic sword and sorcery mode, from the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Deceived and The Hammer and the Blade.
Cold Steel (Spiritwalker #3), by Kate Elliot (June 25, Orbit)
The final volume in this historical fantasy of dragons and politics in the New World. The Spiritwalker trilogy is fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Anne McCaffrey or Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series.
Will war set them free?
Trouble, treachery and magic seem to follow Cat Barahal wherever she goes. The Master of the Wild Hunt has stolen away her husband. The ruler of the Taino kingdom blames her for his mother’s murder. An enraged fire mage wants to kill her. And Cat, her cousin Bee and her half-brother Rory aren’t even back in Europa yet, where revolution is burning up the streets. Rebellions to plot. Enemies to crush. Handsome men to rescue. Cat and Bee have their work cut out for them.
Hunted (Iron Druid Chronicles #6), by Kevin Hearne (June 25, Orbit)
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, his apprentice Granuaile and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha D? Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide and seek, the game plan is… run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.
Time of Contempt (Witcher #2), by Andrzej Sapkowski (June 27, Gollancz)
Geralt the Witcher has fought monsters and demons across the land, but even he may not be prepared for what is happening to his world. The kings and armies are maneuvering for position, each fearing invasion from across the river, each fearing their neighbours more. Intrigue, dissent and rebellion are on all sides.
The Elves and other non-humans are still suffering under decades of repression, and growing numbers join the commando units hidden deep in the forest, striking at will and then dissolving into the trees. The Magicians are fighting amongst themselves, some in the pay of the kings, some sympathetic to the elves.
And against this backdrop of fear and contempt Geralt and his lover Yennefer must protect Ciri, orphaned heir and sought by all sides. For the prophecy rests on her, and whether she lives or dies she has the power to save the world—or perhaps end it.
Theatre of the Gods, by M. Sudain (June 27, Blacklist Publishing)
This is the story of M. Francisco Fabrigas, philosopher, heretical physicist, and perhaps the greatest human explorer of all ages, who took a shipful of children on a frightening voyage through dimensions filled with deadly surprises, assisted by a teenaged Captain, a brave deaf boy, a cunning blind girl, and a sultry botanist, all the while pursued by the Pope of the universe and a well-dressed mesmerist.
Dark plots, cannibal cults, demonic creatures, madness, mayhem, murderous jungles, the birth of creation, the death of time, and a creature called the Sweety: all this and more waits beyond the veil of reality.
Niall Alexander is an erstwhile English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com, where he contributes a column concerned with news and new releases in the UK called the British Genre Fiction Focus, and co-curates the Short Fiction Spotlight. On occasion he’s been seen to tweet, twoo.