From the fold of the British Genre Fiction Focus comes the British Genre Fiction Hitlist: your biweekly breakdown of the most notable new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.
The fifth of June is coming soon! A day for the history books, I dare say. Well, the ones I’m writing…
But why? I hear you cry. Because never before have I seen so much speculative fiction shipping on the same day in the UK. And it’s not all nonsense neither: amongst a huge number of highlights, we have Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey, Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence, Sand by Hugh Howey, The Way to Babylon by Paul Kearney—a person favourite—and so much more! It’s a little ridiculous, really.
A Shiver of Light (Merry Gentry #9)—Laurell K. Hamilton (June 3, Bantam)
Merry Gentry, ex-private detective, now full-time princess, knew she was descended from fertility goddesses, but when she learned she was about to have triplets, she began to understand what that might mean. Infertility has plagued the high ranks of faerie for centuries. Now nobles of the both courts of faerie are coming to woo Merry and her men at their home in exile in the Western Lands of Los Angeles, because they will do anything to have offspring of their own.
Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, is a more dangerous problem. He tried to seduce Merry, and failing that, raped her. He’s using the human courts to sue for visitation rights, claiming that one of the children is his. And though Merry knows she was already pregnant when he took her, she can’t prove it.
To save herself and her babies from Taranis Merry will use the most dangerous powers in all of faerie: a god of death, a warrior known as the Darkness, The Killing Frost, and a king of nightmares. They are her lovers, and her dearest loves, and they will face down the might of the high courts of faerie—while trying to contain the war, to keep it from spreading to those innocent humans who are in very real danger of becoming collateral damage…
Justice (Tainted Realm #3)—Ian Irvine (June 3, Orbit)
The once beautiful land of Hightspall is being carved up by warring armies led by figures from out of legend. One army is headed by the charismatic brute, Axil Grandys, and the other by Lyf, resurrected sorcerer-king and Axil’s ancient nemesis.
Only the escaped slave Tali and her unreliable magic stand in their way—but Tali’s gift grows more painful every time she uses it. As the armies converge on the fateful peak of Touchstone, Tali and her ally Rix must find a way to overcome Lyf and prevent Axil from using the Three Spells that will destroy Hightspall for ever.
Mr Mercedes—Stephen King (June 3, Hodder & Stoughton)
A riveting cat-and-mouse suspense thriller about a retired cop and a couple of unlikely allies who race against time to stop a lone killer intent on blowing up thousands.
Retired homicide detective Bill Hodges is haunted by the few cases he left open, and by one in particular: in the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of desperate unemployed people were lined up for a spot at a job fair in the distressed Midwestern city where he worked. Without warning, a lone driver ploughed through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes. Eight people were killed, fifteen wounded. The killer escaped.
Months later, on the other side of city, Bill Hodges gets a taunting letter in the mail, from a man claiming to be the perpetrator. Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent hunting him down.
Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. And he is preparing to kill again.
Hodges, with a couple of misfit friends, must apprehend the killer in a high-stakes race against time. Because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim hundreds, even thousands.
An Angel Torched My Homework & Other Lies—Miche Sipes (June 5, Strange Chemistry)
Imagine if vampires, werewolves, angels and zombies were merely humans with a genetic mutation… could Norms and Differents ever get along?
Carrie Philips just wants her junior year at Clement Academy to go smoothly. Sure, it’s the first high school in the nation to integrate Norms like her with the Differents. But the Diffs are just typical teenagers with teeny-tiny genetic anomalies. They’re certainly not dangerous or anything.
At least that’s what Carrie has always believed. But when several of her fellow students are mysteriously assaulted, cracks form in Carrie’s worldview. Cracks she tries to ignore while defending her friends from anti-Diff backlash and solving the mystery of who’s really behind the attacks. Then, Carrie stumbles on a bombshell that could forever change how Norms and Diffs see each other.
So much for a quiet school year!
Cibola Burn (Expanse #4)—James S. A. Corey (June 5, Orbit)
The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonise has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity’s home planets. Illus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire.
Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world.
James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the heart of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail.
And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilisation which once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed them.
Zero Hour (Department 19 #4)—Will Hill (June 5, Harper Children’s)
As Dracula continues his rise, the men and women of Department 19 wait for good news. But hope is in short supply—the country is beginning to fall apart as the public comes to terms with the horror in their midst; a cure for vampirism remains years, even decades away; and their supposed ally Valentin Rusmanov has not been heard from in weeks.
Jamie Carpenter and his friends are working hard to keep the forces of evil at bay, but it is beginning to feel like a lost cause… until familiar faces from the past bring news that could turn the tide. News that takes Matt Browning to America on a desperate search for a miracle, and sends Jamie and Larissa Kinley into the darkest corners of Eastern Europe, where something old and impossibly powerful waits for them. Something that could stop Dracula for good.
But the clock is ticking. Night is falling. And Zero Hour is almost here…
Essence (Essence #1)—Lisa Ann O’Kane (June 5, Strange Chemistry)
Neutrality is the key to longevity. This motto has governed 17-year-old Autumn’s life in the mid-21st-century Centrist cult, which believes that expressing emotions leads to Essence drain and premature death. But Autumn’s younger brother’s death casts her faith into question.
While sprinting through a park in violation of Centrist teachings, she encounters Ryder Stone, an Outsider who claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic. She agrees to join his Community, a utopia of adrenaline junkies living in the abandoned remains of Yosemite National Park. Autumn learns about sex, drugs, and living life to the fullest.
But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realises that this illusion of paradise could be shattered…
Midnight Blue-Light Special (Incryptid #2)—Seanan McGuire (June 5, Corsair)
The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn’t quite work out that way…
But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing-until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city’s readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there’s no way Verity can take that lying down.
Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity’s apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ—assuming there’s anyone left standing when all is said and done.
It’s a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit… and carnage.
Night Terrors (Shadow Watch #1)—Tim Waggoner (June 5, Angry Robot)
When you dream, you visit the Maelstrom. Dream long enough and hard enough, and your dreams can break through into the living world. So, alas, can your nightmares.
And who’s there to catch the dreams and nightmares as they fall into reality? Meet the Shadow Watch.
Pray you never need them…
The Oath of the Vayuputras (Shiva Trilogy #3)—Amish (June 5, Jo Fletcher)
Today, Shiva is a god. But four thousand years ago, he was just a man – until he brought his people to Meluha, a near-perfect empire founded by the great king Lord Ram. There he discovered he was the Neelkanth, a barbarian long prophesied to be Meluha’s saviour.
But in his hour of victory fighting the Chandravanshis – Meluha’s enemy – he discovered they had their own prophecy.
Now he must fight to uncover the treachery within his inner circle, and unmask those who are about to destroy all that he has fought for. Shiva is about to learn that good and evil are two sides of the same coin…
Prince of Fools (Red Queen’s War #1)—Mark Lawrence (June 5, Harper Voyager)
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other.
Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line to the throne. While his grandmother shapes the destiny of millions, Prince Jalan pursues his debauched pleasures. Until he gets entangled with Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse axe man, and dragged against his will to the icy north.
In a journey across half the Broken Empire, Jalan flees minions of the Dead King, agrees to duel an upstart prince named Jorg Ancrath, and meets the ice witch, Skilfar, all the time seeking a way to part company with Snorri before the Norseman’s quest leads them to face his enemies in the black fort on the edge of the Bitter Ice.
Reach for Infinity—ed. Jonathan Strahan (June 5, Solaris)
What happens when humanity reaches out into the vastness of space?
The brightest names in SF contribute new original fiction to this amazing anthology from master editor Jonathan Strahan.
Including new work by Alastair Reynolds, Greg Egan, Ian McDonald, Ken Macleod, Pat Cadigan, Karl Schroeder, Hannu Rajaniemi, Karen Lord, Adam Roberts, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Aliette de Bodard and Peter Watts, among others.
Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3)—Leigh Bardugo (June 5, Indigo)
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as Alina begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields.
The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction… but claiming it could cost Alina the very future she is fighting for.
Sand—Hugh Howey (June 5, Century)
The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes. Here in this land of howling wind and infernal sand, four siblings find themselves scattered and lost.
Palmer has never been the same since his father walked out twelve years ago. His elder sister, Vic, is trying to run away from the past; his younger brothers, Connor and Rob, are risking their lives to embrace it. His mother, left with nothing but anger, is just trying to forget.
Palmer wants to prove his worth, not only to his family, but to himself. And in the barren, dune-covered landscape of his home, there is only one way to earn respect: sand-diving. Plunging deep below the desert floor in search of relics and scraps of the old world. He is about to embark on the most dangerous dive of his young life, aiming to become the first to discover the rumoured city below.
Deep within the sand lies the key to bringing his family together… and tearing their world apart.
Shield of Winter (Psy-Changeling #13)—Nalini Singh (June 5, Gollancz)
Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.
For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…
Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption.
But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…
Skinjob—Bruce McCabe (June 5, Bantam)
A bomb goes off in downtown San Francisco. Twelve people are dead. But this is no ordinary target. This target exists on the fault line where sex and money meet.
Daniel Madsen is one of a new breed of federal agents armed with a badge, a gun and the Bureau’s latest piece of technology. He’s a fast operator and his instructions are simple: find the bomber before he strikes again.
In order to understand what is at stake, Madsen must plunge into a sleazy, unsettling world where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, exploitation is business as usual, and the dead hand of corruption reaches all the way to the top. There’s too much money involved for this investigation to stay private.
Sky Pirates (Chronicles of Light & Shadow #3)—Liesel Schwarz (June 5, Del Rey UK)
Eleanor Chance has made it her mission to find her husband who has been cursed to roam the netherworld—whatever it takes. But her plans are scuppered when a band of sky pirates attack, led by a man hell-bent on revenge. And rumour has it the Council of Warlocks has fallen under the sway of the nefarious Shadow Master—who wants her dead at any cost.
Being chased from all sides, Elle will have to channel all of her powers as the Oracle to try to save the man she loves…
Take Back the Skies—Lucy Saxon (June 5, Bloomsbury Children’s)
Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged—she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all…
Those Who Wish Me Dead—Michael Koryta (June 5, Hodder & Stoughton)
Jace Wilson’s life is changed for ever when he witnesses a brutal murder.
Forced into a Witness Protection Program, he hides in the wild Montana Mountains. But now the killers—the notorious Blackwell brothers—have tracked Jace down, and are inexorably making their way across the country towards him, ruthlessly slaughtering anyone who gets in their way.
Uprising (Heirs of the Demon King #1)—Sarah Cawkwell (June 5, Abaddon)
Mathias Eynon’s dreams were small. A dabbler in magic, he expected to live in obscurity in his home in the Welsh hills, not drawing attention to himself. But fate has other plans for him. It is the Year of Our Lord Fifteen Ninety, and a revolution is quietly brewing, here and further abroad. Richard V has overstayed his rule, some say; others whisper that the whole line of Demon Kings must be burned out.
Mathias—son of a man executed for the practice of magic—is set to become a symbol, and a leader. And to do that, he needs champions. A wise woman sends him to the corners of the known world—to the frozen lands of the north, to the pirate-haunted ports of Spain, to the mountains of the German Empire, to the burning sands of the Holy Land—to bring back masters of the four magic arts. With Richard’s Witch Hunters on his heels, he sets out to gather his allies.
The Visitors—Simon Sylvester (June 5, Quercus)
Nobody moves to the remote Scottish island of Bancree, and few leave—but leaving is exactly what seventeen-year-old Flora intends to do. So when a mysterious man and his daughter move into isolated Dog Cottage, Flo is curious. What could have brought these strangers to the island? The man is seductively handsome but radiates menace; and there’s something about his daughter Ailsa that Flo can’t help but feel drawn towards.
People aren’t only arriving on Bancree… they are disappearing too. Reports of missing islanders fill the press and unnerve the community. When a body washes ashore, suspicion turns to the strange newcomers on Dog Rock.
Convinced of their innocence, Flo is fiercely determined to protect her friend Ailsa. Could the answer to the disappearances, and to the pull of her own heart, lie out there, beyond the waves?
The Way to Babylon—Paul Kearney (June 5, Solaris)
Michael Riven has fallen off a mountain. The author is broken in both body and mind, as the fall also claimed his wife and climbing partner Jenny. Readers are desperate to know what will happen next in the fantasy world Minginish, but neither writing, nor living, are of interest to the author as he lies in traction.
But there are others seeking the scribe out. Men—and someone who is not all human—have begun a quest to rescue their blighted homeland, and their road will take them between worlds. Michael Riven will return to his home in Scotland, and accompany a stranger into a place altogether more familiar and terrifying: Minginish itself, a real place stranger even than the world of his novels. Michael must take up the companions of his stories—Bicker, Ratagan and Murtach—and find a way to mend the sundered world. He may even find that Jenny’s existence did not end that day on the mountain.
The White Towers (Rage of Kings #2)—Andy Remic (June 5, Angry Robot)
Vagandrak is broken, and a new threat has arisen that threatens to defeat even the mighty Iron Wolves.
The twisted, deviant Elf Rats have gathered in the toxic realm beyond the White Lion Mountains… swiftly they invade the troubled land of Vagandrak, killing for profit and pleasure.
The now-disgraced Iron Wolves are the realm’s only hope, but there’s a problem: they’ve been sentenced to death by the insane King Yoon for the dark sorcery in their blood.
In the mountains of Zalazar lie the White Towers, pillars of legend said to contain the Heart of the Elves. The Iron Wolves must journey north to steal the Heart, and purify the evil in the land, but the land belongs to the Elves—and they won’t give it up without a fight!
Earth Awakens (First Formic War #3)—Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston (June 10, Orbit)
Time is running out for humanity.
It is one hundred years before the events of Ender’s Game. Tens of millions are dead in China as the invading Formics scour the landscape and gas cities with a lethal alien chemical. Young Mazer Rackham and the Mobile Operations Police scramble to find a counteragent, while asteroid miner Victor Delgado infiltrates the alien ship in near-Earth orbit.
Victor needs to find a way to seize the ship and end the war, but he’ll need a small strike force of highly skilled soldiers to pull it off. In this last-ditch effort to save what’s left of humanity, Mazer Rackham and his team may be just the men for the job…
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8)—Diana Gabaldon (June 10, Orion)
It is June 1778, and the world seems to be turning upside-down. The British Army is withdrawing from Philadelphia, with George Washington in pursuit, and for the first time, it looks as if the rebels might actually win. But for Claire Fraser and her family, there are even more tumultuous revolutions that have to be accommodated.
Her former husband, Jamie, has returned from the dead, demanding to know why in his absence she married his best friend, Lord John Grey. Lord John’s son, the ninth Earl of Ellesmere, is no less shocked to discover that his real father is actually the newly resurrected Jamie Fraser, and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for the woman who has just agreed to marry him.
And while Claire is terrified that one of her husbands may be about to murder the other, in the 20th century her descendants face even more desperate turns of events. Her daughter Brianna is trying to protect her son from a vicious criminal with murder on his mind, while her husband Roger has disappeared into the past…
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.