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.
Hello again, everyone. I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. If you’re anything like me, you’re still working your way through the mountainous amount of genre fiction released in recent weeks… and folks? I’m afraid the calendar is still stacked.
Thus the bad news gives way to the good, because there’s loads to look forward to in late June, including new old Neil Gaiman, a cacophony of Careys in The House of War and Witness, the return of Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, and Tom Harper’s terrific riff on The Thing. Besides the big hitters, James Lovegrove has written a Sherlock Holmes story, Stephen Deas shares another Memory of Flames, and Barricade—Jon Wallace’s first novel—is a bona fide barnstormer of a book.
A Better World (Brilliance Saga #2)—Marcus Sakey (June 17, Thomas & Mercer)
The brilliants changed everything.
Since 1980, 1% of the world has been born with gifts we’d only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person’s most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional… and the rest of us.
Now a terrorist network led by brilliants has crippled three cities. Supermarket shelves stand empty. 911 calls go unanswered. Fanatics are burning people alive.
Nick Cooper has always fought to make the world better for his children. As both a brilliant and an advisor to the president of the United States, he’s against everything the terrorists represent. But as America slides toward a devastating civil war, Cooper is forced to play a game he dares not lose—because his opponents have their own vision of a better world.
And to reach it, they’re willing to burn this one down.
Shattered (Iron Druid Chronicles #7)—Kevin Hearne (June 17, Orbit)
For nearly two thousand years, there was only one Druid left walking the Earth: Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword kept him alive while pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.
Atticus’ apprentice Granuaile is finally a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern name Owen Kennedy.
And Owen has some catching up to do.
Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.
As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time… three’s a charm.
The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains—Neil Gaiman & Eddie Campbell (June 17, Headline)
Beautifully illustrated by renowned artist Eddie Campbell, this is a four-colour edition of Neil Gaiman’s award-winning novelette, The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains—first published in the collection Stories: All New Tales—a haunting story of family, the otherworld, and a search for hidden treasure.
After the End—Amy Plum (June 19, HarperTeen)
Juneau grew up fearing the outside world. The elders told her that beyond the borders of their land in the Alaskan wilderness, nuclear war had destroyed everything. But when Juneau returns from a hunting trip one day and discovers her people have been abducted, she sets off to find them. And leaving the boundaries for the very first time, she learns the horrifying truth: World War III never happened. Nothing was destroyed. Everything she’d ever been taught was a lie.
As Juneau comes to terms with an unfathomable deception, she is forced to survive in a completely foreign world, using only the skills and abilities she developed in the wild. But while she’s struggling to rescue her friends and family, someone else is after her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about her secret past.
Barricade—Jon Wallace (June 19, Gollancz)
Kenstibec is a member of the ’Ficial’ race, a breed of merciless super-humans. Their war on humanity has left Britain a wasteland, where Ficials hide in barricaded cities, besieged by tribes of human survivors. Originally optimised for construction, Kenstibec earns his keep as a taxi driver, running any Ficial who will pay from one surrounded city to another.
The trips are always eventful, but this will be his toughest yet. His fare is a narcissistic journalist who’s touchy about her luggage. His human guide is constantly plotting to kill him. And that’s just the start of his troubles.
On his journey he encounters ten-foot killer rats, a mutant King with a TV fixation, a drug-crazed army, and even the creator of the Ficial race. He also finds time to uncover a terrible plot to destroy his species for good—and humanity too.
The Dark Inside—Rupert Wallis (June 19, Simon & Schuster Children’s)
When thirteen-year-old James discovers a homeless man in an abandoned house, the course of his life changes dramatically. Hoping to find a cure for a dark curse inflicted on the homeless man, the pair embark on a journey together not knowing that what they discover will impact them both in ways they never imagined…
Horror Hospital (Zombie Apocalypse)—Mark Morris (June 19, Robinson)
London is in turmoil following riots and the Trafalgar Square Massacre. A doctor in a big East End hospital, already hard hit by government cutbacks and increasing social unrest, starts to get reports of something having happened at All Hallows church…
Then, the first of the injured, including policemen and soldiers, start to be brought in, but the nurses and doctors on the day shift still can’t make sense of what the victims are talking about. Soon their resources begin to be overwhelmed.
Some of the injured begin to change and soon the hospital, like so many other buildings throughout the city, is on lockdown. But as things grow increasingly chaotic outside, for those trapped within the old hospital building, both staff and patients, things quickly become infinitely worse as the dead return to life and stalk the corridors in search of flesh.
A Tale of Tales (Runelords #9)—David Farland (June 19, Orbit)
The great war with the Wyrmling Hordes is over, and mankind has lost. Lord Despair has gathered an army of fell creatures, and is planning to unleash them like a wildfire across the stars.
Those who oppose him know that the battle is all but lost. Though they stand against the darkness, they cannot hope to win with arms. Indeed, they stand against him armed with little more than principles alone.
Fallion and Tuul Ra, with only a handful of allies, must hope that with resolve and cunning alone they can win the day, before darkness closes upon them for ever…
The House of War and Witness—Mike, Linda & Louise Carey (June 19, Gollancz)
In the year 1740, with the whole of Europe balanced on the brink of war, a company of Austrian soldiers is sent to the village of Narutsin to defend the border with Prussia. But what should be a routine posting is quickly revealed to be anything but. The previous garrison is gone, the great house of Pokoj, where they’re to be billeted, a dilapidated ruin, and the people of Narutsin sullen and belligerent. Convinced the villagers are keeping secrets—and possibly consorting with the enemy—the commanding officer orders his junior lieutenant, Klaes, to investigate.
While Klaes sifts through the villagers’ truths, half-truths and lies, Drozde, the quartermaster’s woman, is making uncomfortable discoveries of her own—about herself, her man, and the house where they’ve all been thrown together. Because far from being the empty shell it appears to be, Pokoj is actually teeming with people. It’s just that they’re all dead. And the dead know things—about Drozde, about the history of Pokoj, and about the terrible event that is rushing towards them all, seemingly unstoppable.
The ghosts of Pokoj, the soldiers of the empress and the villagers of Narutsin are about to find themselves actors in a story that has been unfolding for centuries. It will end in blood—that much is written—but how much blood will depend on Klaes’ honour, Drozde’s skill and courage, and the keeping of an impossible promise?
The Long Mars (Long Earth #3)—Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter (June 19, Doubleday)
In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has ulterior motives…
Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth.
For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their “long childhood” in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear are causing “normal” human society to turn against the Next—and a dramatic showdown seems inevitable…
The Splintered Gods (Memory of Flames #6)—Stephen Deas (June 19, Gollancz)
Captured by an unknown enemy and forced to wage war on his rivals, the Dragon Queen has found herself hated and feared by all the people of this new land. There is little they can do to hurt her while she has her dragon, but she cannot escape while the magic necklace she is forced to wear remains active—or it will throttle her. And the enemies of her new master are gathering for revenge…
Lost in a body that isn’t his own, Berren—the Bloody Judge—continues his search for the man who stole his life. Accompanied by a single Adamantine soldier, they scrabble to survive in a world shaken by the Dragon Queen’s attack and suspicious of all those who are strangers. But there is another power inside Berren, one which escapes when he is in danger and has the habit of disintegrating those around him. And that power has its own agenda… one that will lead it to the Dragon Queen, and battle.
Zodiac Station—Tom Harper (June 19, Hodder & Stoughton)
In the Arctic Ocean, the US Coast Guard icebreaker Terra Nova batters its way through the pack ice. There shouldn’t be anyone near them for hundreds of miles. But then a lone skier, half-dead with cold, emerges out of the snow.
His name is Tom Anderson, and he is the only survivor of a disaster at Zodiac Station, a scientific research base deep in the Arctic Circle. He tells an incredible story of scientists and spies, of lust and greed, of jealousy, mayhem and murder. But his tale simply doesn’t add up. Whose blood is smeared across his clothes? Why is there a bullet hole through the jacket he’s wearing, and why is that jacket labelled with someone else’s name?
It’s clear that more was going on at Zodiac Station than Anderson is telling. And someone else may have survived the disaster, as well… someone who has killed before, and who is willing to kill again.
The Remaining: Aftermath (Remaining #2)—D. J. Molles (June 24, Orbit)
Nothing has gone according to plan.
To Captain Lee Harden, Project Hometown feels like a distant dream and the completion of his mission seems unattainable.
Wounded and weaponless, he has stumbled upon a group of survivors that seems willing to help. But a tragedy in the group causes a deep rift to come to light and forces him into action. In the chaos of the world outside, Lee is pursued by a new threat: someone who will stop at nothing to get what he has.
Sherlock Holmes: Gods of War—James Lovegrove (June 27, Titan)
1913. The clouds of war are gathering and Europe is in turmoil. A body is discovered on the shore below Beachy Head, just a mile from Sherlock Holmes’ retirement cottage. Suicide, or murder? As Holmes and Watson investigate, they uncover a conspiracy with shocking ramifications: men who welcome the idea of a world war are seeking divine aid to make it a reality.
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.