Fiction Affliction: Genre-Benders for September

Twenty-six books that formerly might have lived uneasily on the science fiction shelves make up this month’s genre-benders, from steampunk to dystopia to horror. Look for new releases this month from Tad Williams, Margaret Atwood, John Barnes, and Brandon Sanderson; a special halloween anthology edited by Paula Guran; and a trip back into the world of The Shining by Stephen King.

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.

WEEK ONE

Happy Hour in Hell (Bobby Dollar #2)Tad Williams (September 3, DAW)

My name’s Bobby Dollar, sometimes known as Doloriel. Hell isn’t a great place for someone like me, I’m an angel. They have my girlfriend, who happens to be a beautiful demon named Casimira, Countess of Cold Hands. She’s being held hostage by one of the nastiest, most powerful demons in all of the netherworld, Eligor, Grand Duke of Hell. Not only do I have to sneak into Hell, make my way across thousands of miles of terror to reach Pandemonium, capital of the fiery depths, but then I have to steal Caz right out from under Eligor and smuggle her out again. I’m also being stalked by an undead psychopath named Smyler. If I somehow survive, I’ll still be the most hunted soul in Creation. But at least I’ll have Caz. So just pour me that drink. I’ve got somewhere to go.

MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3)Margaret Atwood (September 3, Nan A. Talese)

Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house. Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the deceased Crake. While their reluctant prophet, Jimmy, recovers from a debilitating fever, it’s left to Toby to narrate the Craker theology. Zeb searches for Adam One, founder of the God’s Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. At the centre, is the story of Zeb’s past, which involves a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.

The Last President (Daybreak #3)John Barnes (September 3, Ace)

Heather O’Grainne and her small band of heroes, operating out of Pueblo, Colorado, have struggled to pull the United States back together after it shattered under the impact of the event known as Daybreak. They are poised to bring the three or four biggest remaining pieces together, with a real President and Congress, under the full Constitution again. Heather is very close to fulfilling her oath, creating a safe haven for civilization to be reborn. Other forces are rising too. Some people like the new life better. In a devastated, splintered, postapocalyptic United States, with technology thrown back to biplanes, black powder, and steam trains, a tiny band of visionaries struggles to re-create Constitutional government and civilization itself, as a new dark age takes shape around them.

The Woken GodsGwenda Bond (September 3, Strange Chemistry)

Young Adult. This morning, seventeen-year-old Kyra Locke was late for school. That’s not out of the ordinary in a transformed Washington, D.C., dominated by the embassies of divine pantheons and watched over by the mysterious Society of the Sun. What is unusual is Kyra’s encounter with two trickster gods on her way home. Kyra escapes with the aid of young operatives from the Society, who inform her that her scholarly father has disappeared from its headquarters at the Library of Congress and taken a dangerous Egyptian relic with him. The Society needs the item back. Kyra must depend on her wits and the help of everyone from a ex-boyfriend to Sumerian gods to operatives whose allegiance is first and always to the Society.

Under a Graveyard SkyJohn Ringo (September 3, Baen)

When an airborne “zombie” plague is released, bringing civilization to a grinding halt, the Smith family, Steven, Stacey, Sophia and Faith, take to the Atlantic to avoid the chaos. The plan is to find a safe haven from the anarchy of infected humanity. What they discover, instead, is a sea composed of the tears of survivors and a passion for bringing hope. For it is up to the Smiths and a small band of Marines to somehow create the refuge that survivors seek in a world of darkness and terror. Now with every continent a holocaust and every ship an abattoir, life is lived beneath a graveyard sky.

Business As Usual: A Tor.Com OriginalDavid Barnett (September 4, Tor)

Spring 1890, and England needs a hero. Gideon Smith is yet to step up to the role as public protector of the Empire, but in the background and the shadows, Mr Walsingham pulls strings to keep the often outlandish threats to Britain and her interests at bay. It is a role that lies heavy on his shoulders, and here we find him composing his end-of-year report to Queen Victoria. Business As Usual is a standalone short story that takes place months before the events of the novel Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl, also released this month.

Shades of Blue and Gray: Ghosts of the Civil War—edited by Steve Berman (September 4, Prime)

More Americans were killed during the years 1861-1865 than any other four-year period in history. Men shattered, women lost, families broken. Editor Steve Berman offers readers tales of the supernatural, ghost stories that range from the haunts of the battlefield to revenants on the long march home. Yank. Rebel. Both finding themselves at odds in flesh and spirit. Contributing authors include: Will Ludwigsen, Tenea D. Johnson, Carrie Laben, Devin Poore, Ambrose Bierce, Connie Wilkins, Christopher M. Cevasco, Jameson Currier, Cindy Potts, Kristopher Reisz, John F.D. Taff, Russell Davis, Jennifer R. Povey, Jeff Mann, Albert E. Cowdrey, Ed Kurtz, Caren Gussoff, Nick, Mamatas, Chaz Brenchley, Laird Barron, Melissa Scott, and Lee Hoffman.

 

WEEK TWO

Fangborn: The Serpent’s TaleDana Cameron (September 10, 47North)

When the villagers of Godestone report a series of bizarre and troubling events, Sir Hugo, his heavily pregnant wife, Lady Alice, and her distant kinsman Father Gilbert are honor bound to investigate, for they are “born to the Fang,” shape-shifters dedicated to fighting evil in secret. And the events are worrying indeed, stolen farm implements, a mutilated goat, and now a missing child. Their investigation is further complicated by the arrival of Robert Fynch. A member of the fanatical Order of Nicomedia, he is bent on tracking down and killing those “born to the Fang,” believing the shape-shifters to be demons, rather than the protectors of humanity they truly are. Can Lady Alice, Sir Hugo, and Father Gilbert stop a murderer in their village without their true nature being discovered? Digital.

Gideon Smith and the Mechanical GirlDavid Barnett (September 10, Tor)

Nineteenth century London is the center of a vast British Empire. Airships ply the skies and Queen Victoria presides over three-quarters of the known world. London might as well be a world away from Sandsend, a tiny village on the Yorkshire coast. Gideon Smith dreams of the adventure promised him by the lurid tales of Captain Lucian Trigger. When Gideon’s father is lost at sea in highly mysterious circumstances Gideon is convinced that supernatural forces are at work. Gideon sets off for London. On the way he rescues the mysterious mechanical girl Maria. They make for London, where Gideon finally meets Captain Trigger. Trigger is little more than an aging fraud. Looking for heroes but finding only frauds and crooks, it falls to Gideon to attempt to save the day.

Gods of EarthCraig DeLancey (September 10, 47North)

Thousands of years after a war against the gods drove humanity nearly extinct, something divine stirs. It awakens the Guardian, an ancient being pledged to destroy the gods. Through deep caverns, he makes his way to the desolate surface of Earth and stalks toward the last human settlements, seeking the source of this power. The orphan Chance Kyrien is turning seventeen and will be confirmed as a Puriman. Ambitious, rebellious, but fiercely devout, Chance dreams of being a farmer and winemaker and marrying the girl he loves, the Ranger Sarah Michaels. Aided by his friends and the Guardian, the young man must travel through time and space to battle the last remaining god. The destinies of Chance and this deity are intertwined. Only one of them can survive.

RelativityCristin Bishara (September 10, Walker)

Young Adult. If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, and her best friend George and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can’t come true; some things just can’t be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities. Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life, if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat, her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth, her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world, one with everything and everyone she wants most, could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

RiversMichael Farris Smith (September 10, Simon & Schuster)

Following years of catastrophic hurricanes, the Gulf Coast has been brought to its knees. The region is so punished and depleted that the government has drawn a new boundary ninety miles north of the coastline. Life below the Line offers no services, no electricity, and no resources. Cohen is one who stayed. After his home is ransacked and all of his accumulated supplies stolen, Cohen is finally forced from his shelter. On the road north, he encounters a colony of survivors led by a fanatical, snake-handling preacher named Aggie. Realizing what’s in store for the women Aggie is holding against their will, Cohen is faced with a decision: continue to the Line alone, or try to shepherd the madman’s captives across the unforgiving land with the biggest hurricane yet bearing down.

 

WEEK THREE

Delia’s ShadowJaime Lee Moyer (September 17, Tor)

It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted with an ability to peer across to the other side. Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free. Until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest. It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again and who is now aware of Delia’s existence.

King of Swords (The Starfolk #1)Dave Duncan (September 17, 47North)

Rigel has always known he is not quite human, but the only clue to his origin is the otherworldly bracelet he has worn since childhood. His search for his parentage leads him to the Starlands, where reality and fantasy have changed places. There he learns that he is a human-starborn cross, and his bracelet is the legendary magical amulet Saiph, which makes its wearer an unbeatable swordsman. Fighting off monsters, battling a gang of assassins seeking to kill him, Rigel finds honorable employment as a hero. He knows that he must die very soon if he remains in the Starlands, but he has fallen hopelessly in love with a princess and cannot abandon her.

Once We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles #2)Kat Zhang (September 17, HarperCollins)

Young Adult. Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. She lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away. Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. The girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Both girls are eager to join the rebellion. How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Their answers may tear them apart forever.

WikiWorldPaul Di Filippo (Sept 17, ChiZine)

An assortment of Di Filippo’s recent work. The title story is a radical envisioning of near-future sociopolitical modes. In addition, there are alternate history adventures such as “Yes We Have No Bananas”; homages to icons such as Stanislaw Lem (“The New Cyberiad”); collaborations with Rudy Rucker and Damien Broderick; and a posthuman odyssey (“Waves and Smart Magma”).

Zombies: A Hunter’s Guide Deluxe EditionJoseph McCullough (September 17, Osprey)

The dead have always walked among us, from the shambling corpses of Eastern European folklore to the drug-created zombie of Haitian voodoo. The number of zombie outbreaks has increased every year, while governments desperately try to cover up the facts. Beginning with an explanation of the historical origins of zombies, the guide follows their history straight through to the threat they pose to the world today. All varieties of zombie are cataloged and examined, giving their strengths and weakness, with a special emphasis on recognition and elimination. The book covers the tactics and equipment used in zombie fighting. Numerous full-color reconstructions to help with identification.

Halloween: Magic, Mystery and the Macabre—edited by Paula Guran (September 18, Prime)

Eighteen tales of dastardly deeds from authors Laird Barron, Laura Bickle, Jay Caselberg, Lawrence Connolly, Brenda Cooper, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nancy Kilpatrick, Jonathan Maberry, Norman Partridge, Barbara Roden, John Shirley, Maria V. Snyder, Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem, Carrie Vaughn, A.C. Wise, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

 

WEEK FOUR

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair #1)Emma Jane Holloway (September 24, Del Rey)

In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch, and sorcery the demon enemy of the empire. The most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines, something Evelina has secretly mastered. Rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out? Then there’s that murder. As Sherlock’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. The first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.

All is Fair (The Split Worlds #3)Emma Newman (September 24, Angry Robot)

William Iris struggles to keep the throne of Londinium while hated by his own court and beset by outsiders, while Cathy discovers the legacy of her former governess. Those who dare to speak out about Society are always silenced. While trying to avoid further torments from the mercurial fae, Sam finds himself getting tangled in the affairs of the Elemental Court. An unexpected offer from the powerful and enigmatic Lord Iron turns out to be far more than Sam bargained for. Max and the gargoyle are getting closer to uncovering who is behind the murder of the Bath Chapter and the corruption in London and Max finds the gargoyle’s controversial ideas harder to ignore. Can he stay true to his sworn duty without being destroyed by his own master?

Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2)Stephen King (September 24, Scribner)

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death. Dan has been drifting for decades. He settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. He becomes “Doctor Sleep.” Dan meets Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival.

Mirror, Mirror (In Death #37.5)J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Mary Kay McComas, Ruth Ryan Langan (September 24, Jove)

Once upon a time in a world far removed from the days when fairy tales were new, five bestselling authors spin versions that take the classic stories into a new dimension. You’ll recognize Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and other enduring characters, but they’ll exist in realms beyond your imagination, where the familiar is transformed into the extraordinary and otherworldly.

Steelheart (Reckoners #1)Brandon Sanderson (September 24, Delacorte)

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics, nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart, the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning, and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

The Spirit Keeper: A NovelK.B. Laugheed (September 24, Plume)

Young Adult. The thirteenth child conceived of miserable Irish exiles, Katie O’Toole dreams of a different life. Little does she know that someone far away is dreaming of her. In 1747, savages raid her family home, and seventeen-year-old Katie is taken captive. Syawa and Hector have been searching for her, guided by Syawa’s dreams. A young Holyman, Syawa believes Katie is the subject of his Vision: the Creature of Fire and Ice, destined to bring a great gift to his people. Despite her flaming hair and ice-blue eyes, Katie is certain he is mistaken, but faced with returning to her family, she agrees to join them. She soon discovers that in order to fulfill Syawa’s Vision, she must first become his Spirit Keeper, embarking on an epic journey that will change her life, and heart, forever.

Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles #2)Gena Showalter (September 24, Harlequin Teen)

Inspired by the childhood classic Alice in Wonderland, this harrowing and romantic story features teen zombie slayer Alice Bell who has lost so much, family, friends, her home. After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind as well. A terrible darkness blooms inside her, urging her to do wicked things. The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life. She’s never needed her team of zombie slayers more, including her boyfriend, Cole, than she does now. But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.

ViciousV.E. Schwab (September 24, Tor)

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. When their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend, aided by a young girl with a stunning ability. Eli is on a mission to eradicate every super-powered person. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge.


Author Suzanne Johnson is a book geek with a fondness for a good dystopia. Her Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series continued in August with the release of Elysian Fields. You can find Suzanne on Twitter and on her daily speculative fiction blog, Preternatura.

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