From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the first British Genre Fiction Hitlist of 2014!
After a quiet December, the publishing industry is back in business in this edition, which features a goodly number of notable genre novels, including a multitude of headline contenders across all the categories we care about.
With the New Year nearly here, it seems fitting to begin with a few new beginnings: Andy Remic, Amelie Howard, Peter Hamilton, Jonathan Blake and Brian Staveley are set to start an assortment of fantastical sagas and science fictional sequences in early January, plus Charlaine Harris is back with the promising first volume of a collaborative graphic novel project.
Meanwhile we’ve got sequels to series by Evie Manieri, Ian McDonald, Lynda Hilburn, Gareth Powell and Guy Adams; standalones like Innocence by Dean Koontz, Walcot by Brian Aldiss, Channel Blue by Jay Martel, and last but not least, the month’s most buzzed-about new book: I give you The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey.
The Almost Girl (Riven #1)—Amelie Howard (January 2, Strange Chemistry)
Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. Coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.
Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.
Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
Channel Blue—Jay Martel (January 2, Head of Zeus)
Planet Earth was once the star of Galaxy Entertainment’s most lucrative TV series. The Western Galaxy—the savviest, richest demographic in the Milky Way—couldn’t get enough of the day-to-day details of the average Earthling’s life.
But now Channel Blue’s ratings are flagging and its producers are planning a spectacular finale. In just three weeks, the show will go out with a bang. The trouble is, so will Earth.
Only one man can save our planet from total destruction, but down-on-his-luck screenwriter Perry Blunt is hardly a hero…
The Complete Short Stories Vol. 2: The 1960s—Brian Aldiss (January 2, The Friday Project)
The second in a six-volume series collecting every short story Brian Aldiss ever published.
Brian Aldiss, OBE, is a fiction and science fiction writer, poet, playwright, critic, memoirist and artist. He was born in Norfolk in 1925. After leaving the army, Aldiss worked as a bookseller, which provided the setting for his first book, The Brightfount Diaries in 1955. His first published science fiction work was the story “Criminal Record,” which appeared in Science Fantasy Magazine the previous year. Since then he has written nearly 100 books and over 300 short stories.
Crimson Psyche (Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist #3)—Lynda Hilburn (January 2, Jo Fletcher)
Psychologist Kismet Knight’s life changed for ever when she discovered a preternatural underworld and became involved with gorgeous, centuries-old Devereux, the powerful leader of a vampire coven. But it’s brought her plenty of new, undead clients and a certain amount of notoriety. When she agrees to what she believes is just another radio interview, she finds she’s completely mistaken.
And while Maxie Westhaven, a tabloid newspaper reporter in search of a juicy story, is befriending Kismet, leading her into a bizarre world of role-players and lost souls, Luna, Devereux’s hostile femme fatale PA recognises the perfect opportunity to throw a wrench into her boss’s blossoming relationship with the human shrink. Kismet’s life is about to get complicated… again.
The Emperor’s Blades (Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne #1)—Brian Staveley (January 2, Tor UK)
The circle is closing. The stakes are high. And old truths will live again…
The Emperor has been murdered, leaving the Annurian Empire in turmoil. Now his progeny must bury their grief and prepare to unmask a conspiracy.
His son Valyn, training for the empire’s deadliest fighting force, hears the news an ocean away. He expected a challenge, but after several ‘accidents’ and a dying soldier’s warning, he realises his life is also in danger. Yet before Valyn can take action, he must survive the Kettral’s brutal final initiation.
Meanwhile, the Emperor’s daughter, Minister Adare, hunts her father’s murderer in the capital itself. Court politics can be fatal, but she needs justice. And Kaden, heir to an empire, studies in a remote monastery. Here, the Blank God’s disciples teach their harsh ways—which Kaden must master to unlock their ancient powers. When an imperial delegation arrives, he’s learnt enough to perceive evil intent. But will this keep him alive, as long-hidden powers make their move?
Empress of the Sun (Everness #3)—Ian McDonald (January 2, Jo Fletcher)
When Everett Singh’s dad was randomly sent to one of the many parallel worlds in the multiverse, Everett discovered a way to find him on the quarantined planet E1, home of the terrifying Nahn.
Now he, along with the crew of the airship Everness, has followed a trail to the next world and his father.
But this is a world where dinosaurs have had sixty-five million years to evolve, where death is the key to the throne and where the Empress of the Sun has a plan to wipe out every other creature on her planet… and then take her conquest to Earth.
All she needs is Everett’s infundibulum.
Fortune’s Blight (Shattered Kingdoms #2)—Evie Manieri (January 2, Jo Fletcher)
Victory for the Shadari rebels has come at a terrible price. Hardship, superstition and a murderous cabal poison King Daryan’s young regime, but help is nowhere to be found: the mercenary who led their rebellion has vanished, their Nomas allies have troubles of their own, and the Norlanders who returned home to plead—or fight—for the Shadari’s independence have found themselves embroiled in the court politics of an empire about to implode.
As the foundations of the two far-flung countries begin to crack, an enigmatic figure watches from a tower room in Ravindal Castle. She is old, and a prisoner, but her reach is long, and her patience is about to be rewarded…
Hive Monkey (Ack-Ack Macaque #2)—Gareth L. Powell (January 2, Solaris)
In order to hide from his unwanted fame as the spitfire-pilot-monkey who emerged from a computer game to defeat the nefarious corporation that engineered him, the charismatic and dangerous Ack-Ack Macaque is working as a pilot on a world-circling nuclear-powered Zeppelin. But when the cabin of one of his passengers is invaded by the passenger’s own dying doppelganger, our hirsute hero finds himself thrust into another race to save the world this time from an aggressive hive mind, time-hopping saboteurs, and an army of homicidal Neanderthal assassins!
Innocence—Dean Koontz (January 2, HarperCollins)
Addison Goodheart is not like other people…
Addison Goodheart lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from a society which will destroy him if he is ever seen.
Books are his refuge and his escape: he embraces the riches they have to offer. By night he leaves his hidden chambers and, through a network of storm drains and service tunnels, makes his way into the central library.
And that is where he meets Gwyneth, who, like Addison, also hides her true appearance and struggles to trust anyone.
But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance − and nothing less than destiny − has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.
The Iron Wolves (Rage of Kings #1)—Andy Remic (January 2, Angry Robot)
Thirty years ago, the Iron Wolves held back mud-orc hordes at the Pass of Splintered Bones, and led a brutal charge that saw the sorcerer Morkagoth slain. This ended the War of Zakora, and made the Iron Wolves heroes.
Now, a new terror stalks the realm. In hushed whispers, it is claimed the Horse Lady, Orlana the Changer, has escaped from the Chaos Halls and is building an army, twisting horses, lions and bears into terrible, bloody hunters, summoning mud-orcs from then slime and heading north to Vagandrak where, it said, the noble King Yoon has gone insane…
After hearing a prophecy from a blind seer, aged General Dalgoran searches to reunite the heroes of old for what he believes will be the final battle. But as mud-orcs and twisted beasts tear through the land, Dalgoran discovers the Iron Wolves are no longer heroes of legend… Narnok is a violent whoremaster, Kiki a honey-leaf drug peddler, and Prince Zastarte a drinker, a gambler, amoral and decadent: now he likes to hear people scream as they burn…
United in hate, the Iron Wolves travel to the Pass of Splintered Bones; and as half a million mud-orcs gather, General Dalgoran realises his grave error. Together, the Iron Wolves hold a terrible secret which has tortured them for three decades. Now, they only wish to be human again…
Once Upon a Time in Hell (Heaven’s Gate #2)—Guy Adams (January 2, Solaris)
“Heaven? Hell? There’s no difference. Angels, demons, we’re all a bit of both. This could be the most wondrous place you ever experience or so terrifying it makes you pray for death. Not that death would help you, of course; there’s no escape from here…”
Wormwood has appeared, and for twenty-four hours the gateway to the afterlife is wide open. But just because a door is open doesn’t mean you should step through it…
Those who have travelled to reach the town are realising that the challenges they’ve already faced were nothing compared to what lies ahead. The afterlife has an agenda of its own, and with scheming on both sides of reality, the revelations to come may change the world forever.
The Pretenders (Cemetery Girl #1)—Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden & Don Cramer (January 2, Jo Fletcher)
Calexa Rose Dunhill was just fourteen when she woke in a cemetery. Bruised, bloody and left for dead, with no memory of her previous life, she took a new name from the headstones that surrounded her.
Now, three years on, Calexa still lives in Dunhill Cemetery, struggling with the desire to know her true identity—and the all-consuming fear of what she might discover when she does.
Then, when she witnesses a gang of teenagers staging a stunt that goes horribly, fatally wrong, Calexa Rose Dunhill discovers she has a unique ability. One she cannot control…
The Queen of Dreams (Books of the Realm #1)—Peter Hamilton (January 2, Doubleday Childrens)
Taggie and Jemima are holidaying on their dad’s farm. They know just what to expect: a tumbledown old cottage, sunshine and strawberry picking. But then Jemima sees a white squirrel wearing glasses… and soon after, their father is captured and whisked away to a faerie world that’s fallen to Darkness. But why would anybody want to kidnap boring old Dad, especially the dreaded King of Night? Could it be that their family isn’t quite as ordinary as they believed?
As Taggie and Jemima venture into fantastic Realms, they discover magical powers they never knew they had. Powers they’re going to need during the desperate race to save their father. But the sisters will also need all the friends they can find—no matter what kind of folk they are, or where in history they belong…
Walcot—Brian Aldiss (January 2, The Friday Project)
A story charting the events of the twentieth century through the eyes of the Fielding family, whose fortunes are altered irrevocably, Walcot may be Brian Aldiss’ magnum opus.
On the glorious sands of the North Norfolk coast, Steve, the youngest member of the Fielding family, plays alone. But are these halcyon days? War is looming, and things will never be the same again. This incredible novel charts the fortunes of the Fielding family throughout the twentieth century.
The Girl with All the Gifts—M. R. Carey (January 14, Orbit)
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favourite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look so sad…
Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.