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 British genre fiction industry is on fire! But whatever you do, don’t put it out, because me? I appreciate the heat—and what with all that there is to look forward to in late July, you should do too.
There are new beginnings in abundance, such as Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene, The Queen of the Tearling by Erica Johansen and The Seventh Miss Hatfield by Anna Caltabiano. Ahoy endings, as well, including The Casual Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi, which concludes the story started in The Quantum Thief, whilst Deborah Harkness’ All Souls saga wraps up by way of The Book of Life.And that’snot to mention a marvellous miscellany of new books by Lauren Beukes, Ben Aaronovitch, Charlie Human, Mitch Benn, Nicola Griffith, Eric Brown, and—last but not least—the one and only Lisa Tuttle.
The Book of Life (All Souls #3)—Deborah Harkness (July 15, Headline)
A world of witches, daemons and vampires. A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future. Diana and Matthew—the forbidden love at the heart of it.
After traveling through time, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home in France they reunite with their families—with one heart-breaking exception.
But the real threat to their future is yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on a terrifying urgency. Using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the palaces of Venice and beyond, Diana and Matthew will finally learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
The Causal Angel (Quantum Thief #3)—Hannu Rajaniemi (July 17, Gollancz)
With his infectious love of storytelling in all its forms, his rich characterisation and his unrivalled grasp of thrillingly bizarre cutting-edge science, Hannu Rajaniemi has swiftly set a new benchmark for SF in the 21st century. He has told the story of the many lives, and minds, of gentleman rogue Jean de Flambeur.
Influenced as much by the fin de siecle novels of Maurice leBlanc as he is by the greats of SF, Rajaniemi has woven intricate, warm capers through dazzling science, extraordinary visions of a wild future and deep conjectures on the nature of reality and story. And now it’s time to learn the final fates of Jean, Mieli and all mankind…
Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London #5)—Ben Aaronovitch (July 17, Gollancz)
In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London—to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London, you can’t take the London out of the copper.
Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what’s more: all the shops close at 4PM!
Kill Baxter (Apocalypse Now Now #2)—Charlie Human (July 17, Century)
The world has been massively unappreciative of sixteen-year-old Baxter Zevcenko. His bloodline may be a combination of ancient Boer mystic and giant shape-shifting crow, and he may have won an inter-dimensional battle and saved the world, but does anyone care? No.
Instead he’s packed off to Hexpoort, a magical training school that’s part reformatory, part military school, and just like Hogwarts (except with sex, drugs, and better internet access). The problem is that Baxter sucks at magic. He’s also desperately attempting to control his new ability to dreamwalk, all the while being singled out by the school’s resident bully, who just so happens to be the Chosen One.
But when the school comes under attack, Baxter needs to forget all that and step into action. The only way is joining forces with his favourite recovering alcoholic of a supernatural bounty hunter, Ronin, to try and save the world from the apocalypse. Again.
The Queen of the Tearling—Erika Johansen (July 17, Bantam)
Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her motherQueen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid—was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For eighteen years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard—each pledged to defend the queen to the death—arrive to bring this most unregal young woman out of hiding…
And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea’s story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance—it’s about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive…
Outer Space, Inner Lands (The Unreal and the Real #2)—Ursula K. Le Guin (July 17, Gollancz)
For over half a century, multiple award-winner Ursula K. Le Guin’s stories have shaped the way her readers see the world. Her work gives voice to the voiceless, hope to the outsider and speaks truth to power. Le Guin’s writing is witty, wise, both sly and forthright; she is a master craftswoman.
This two-volume selection of almost forty stories was made by Ursula Le Guin herself. The two volumes span the spectrum of fiction from realism through magical realism, satire, science fiction, surrealism and fantasy.
Outer Space, Inner Lands showcases Ursula Le Guin’s acclaimed stories of the fantastic, originally appearing in publications as varied as Amazing Stories, Playboy, the New Yorker and Omni, and contains 20 stories, including modern classics such as the Hugo Award winning ‘The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas,’ Nebula Award nominee ‘Nine Lives,’ James Tiptree, Jr Memorial Award winner The Matter of Seggri, Nebula Award winner ‘Solitude’ and the secret history ‘Sur,’ which was nominated for the Hugo Award and included in The Best American Short Stories.
Terra’s World (Terra #2)—Mitch Benn (July 17, Gollancz)
Terra, which Neil Gaiman said reminded him of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Roald Dahl, launched the novel writing career of stand-up comedian and BBC Radio 4 Now Show regular Mitch Benn.
Now Terra is a couple of years older and back on earth. She’s in hiding. And in Terra’s World we find out why. But none of this is known to Billy Dolphin. He’s just annoyed that since Terra returned to Earth Science Fiction has died a death. How wrong could a teenage boy be?
Terra may be back on Earth but the powers of the universe are not finished with her. Her old home faces a terrible threat which possibly only Terra can overcome. Just what is the black planet? To find out first Terra must learn how to survive as there is an alien bounty hunter on her trail. And only Billy Dolphin to help her.
Hild—Nicola Griffith (July 24, Blackfriars)
Britain in the seventh century. The world is changing. Small kingdoms are merging, frequently and violently. Edwin, King of Northumbria, plots his rise to overking of all the Angles. Ruthless and unforgiving, he is prepared to use every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief. Into this brutal, vibrant court steps Hild, Edwin’s youngest niece.
With her glittering mind and powerful curiosity, Hild has a unique way of reading the world. By studying nature, observing human behaviour and matching cause with effect, she has developed the ability to make startlingly accurate predictions. It is a gift that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her.
It is also a valuable weapon. Hild is indispensable to Edwin… unless she should ever lead him astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, for her family, for her loved ones, and for the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can see the future and lead men like a warrior.
The Remaining: Refugees (Remaining #3)—D. J. Molles (July 29, Orbit)
He has fought the fight, and run the race… but the enemies never stop coming, and the race has no finish line.
It has been three months since Captain Lee Harden found the survivors at Camp Ryder. With winter looming, Lee is on the verge of establishing Camp Ryder as a hub of safety and stability in the region. But not everyone agrees with Lee’s mission… or his methods.
Growing tensions between camp leadership are coming to a head, and as Lee struggles amid the dissention and controversy, new revelations about the infected threaten to destroy everything he has worked for.
Broken Monsters—Lauren Beukes (July 31, HarperCollins)
Detective Gabi Versado has hunted down many monsters during her eight years in Homicide. She’s seen stupidity, corruption and just plain badness. But she’s never seen anything like this.
Clayton Broom is a failed artist, and a broken man. Life destroyed his plans, so he’s found new dreams—of flesh and bone made disturbingly, beautifully real.
Detroit is the decaying corpse of the American Dream. Motor-city. Murder-city. And home to a killer opening doors into the dark heart of humanity. A killer who wants to make you whole again…
Doctor Who: Engines of War—George Mann (July 31, BBC Books)
The Great Time War has raged for centuries, ravaging the universe. Scores of human colony planets are now overrun by Dalek occupation forces. A weary, angry Doctor leads a flotilla of Battle TARDISes against the Dalek stronghold but in the midst of the carnage, the Doctor’s TARDIS crashes to a planet below: Moldox.
As the Doctor is trapped in an apocalyptic landscape, Dalek patrols roam amongst the wreckage, rounding up the remaining civilians. But why haven’t the Daleks simply killed the humans?
Searching for answers the Doctor meets Cinder, a young Dalek hunter. Their struggles to discover the Dalek plan take them from the ruins of Moldox to the halls of Gallifrey, and set in motion a chain of events that will change everything… and everyone.
Earthquake (Earthbound #2)—Aprilynne Pike (July 31, HarperCollins Children’s)
Tavia Michaels is an Earthbound: a fallen goddess with the power to remake the Earth or destroy it.
The Reduciata, a rival faction of Earthbounds, has created a virus that is wiping out swathes of the planet. But before Tavia can act on this discovery, she is captured and imprisoned. Huddled in a cell with her eternal lover, Logan, she loses track of the days until they are mysteriously rescued… for Tavia isn’t like other Earthbound.
As her powers awaken, her centuries-long relationship with Logan is threatened, and when Benson—the best friend who’s always stood by her—returns, Tavia must again face a terrible choice between those she loves.
Can Tavia stop the destruction of Earth and uncover the ultimate truth about the Earthbound before it’s too late?
Jani and the Greater Game—Eric Brown (July 31, Solaris)
It’s 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist—and with strange technology-fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite—discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. But they rule but at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russians and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology.
This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game.
Into this conflict is pitched eighteen year old Janisha Chaterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. When Russians spies and the evil priest Durja Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. There she will learn the secret behind Annapurnite, and what she learns will change the destiny of the world for ever…
The Mysteries—Lisa Tuttle (July 31, Jo Fletcher)
Laura Lensky’s daughter, Peri, has been missing for two years. For the police it’s a closed case – she wanted to run away – but for her mother and boyfriend, Henry, it’s a different story.
When Laura hires private investigator Ian Kennedy, it is a last-ditch attempt to find her daughter. Despite Ian’s conviction that Peri chose to run, he may be the only person who can help.
Drawn in by the strange parallels to an obscure Celtic myth and his first, almost unexplainable case, Ian takes the job. But his mind is about to be stretched to its limit, because there are darker and more devious forces at work than he imagined.
One Night in Sixes—Arianne ‘Tex’ Thompson (July 31, Solaris)
Appaloosa Elim is a man who knows his place. On a good day, he’s content with it. Today is not a good day. Today, his so-called “partner”—that lily-white lordling Sil Halfwick—has ridden off west for the border, hell-bent on making a name for himself in native territory. And Elim, whose place is written in the bastard browns and whites of his cow-spotted face, doesn’t dare show up home again without him.
The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day, but Elim’s heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight. And about the only thing worse than finding whatever’s left of Sil is the thought of getting caught out after dark… of discovering how much savage magic is living in Elim’s own flesh, and how far he’ll go to survive the night.
The Rain-Soaked Bride (The Clown Service #2)—Guy Adams (July 31, Del Rey UK)
How do you stop an assassin that can’t be killed?
When several members of the diplomatic service die in seemingly innocent, yet strangely similar circumstances, it seems a unique form of murder is being used.
Toby Greene is part of Section 37, known as The Clown Service, a mostly forgotten branch of British Intelligence tasked with fighting exactly this kind of threat. That said, the Rain-Soaked Bride is no ordinary assassin. Relentless, inexorable and part of a larger game, merely stopping this impossible killer may not be enough to save the day…
The Seventh Miss Hatfield—Anna Caltabiano (July 31, Gollancz)
Rebecca, a fifteen year old American, isn’t entirely happy with her life, comfortable though it is. Still, even she knows that she shouldn’t talk to strangers. So when her mysterious neighbour Miss Hatfield asked her in for a chat and a drink, Rebecca wasn’t entirely sure why she said yes. It was a decision that was to change everything.
For Miss Hathfield is immortal. And now, thanks to a drop of water from the Fountain of Youth, Rebecca is as well. But this gift might be more of a curse, and it comes with a price. Rebecca is beginning to lose her personality, to take on the aspects of her neighbour. She is becoming the next Miss Hatfield.
But before the process goes too far, Rebecca must travel back in time to turn-of-the-century New York and steal a painting, a picture which might provide a clue to the whereabouts of the source of immortality. A clue which must remain hidden from the world…
Smiler’s Fair (Hollow Gods #1)—Rebecca Levene (July 31, Hodder & Stoughton)
Four people: Nethmi, the gentle princess, who discovers a strength she never knew she had. Dae Ho, the skilled warrior, who finds that a lifetime of bravery cannot make up for a single mistake. Eric, who follows his heart only to learn that love can exact a terrible price. And Krish, the humble shepherd, with a destiny he hardly understands and can never accept.
In a world where death lurks in the shadows, where the very sun and moon are at war, these four people must discover how they fit into the world—and how to fit that world to themselves.
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.