Aliens are busting out all over, with twenty-six new releases in science fiction this month. (Missing a favorite? Check tomorrow’s “Genre-Bender” column.) Look for new series releases from, among others, Whitley Strieber (Alien Hunter), John Varley (Thunder and Lightning), John Ringo (Black Tide Rising), Charles E. Gannon (Tales of the Terran Republic), Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (Hellhole Trilogy), James Rollins (Sigma Force), Ann Aguirre (Dred Chronicles), and Pittacus Lore (Lorien Legacies).
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.
Flynn Carroll works for the most secret police unit on the planet, seeking the most brilliant and lethal criminals who have ever walked free: thieves and murderers from another world. Flynn’s unit has been tasked with tracking down rogue agents from the planet Aeon. While Aeon claims to be a free planet, Aeon criminals have committed a series of brutal and bizarre murders on Earth. Flynn has been forbidden to take lethal action against the alien murderers. Flynn finds himself cut off from his team, struggling to unearth Aeon secrets while protecting Earthling civilians from the deadly creatures. He finds himself facing some of the most dangerous and frightening criminals ever seen on Earth. Flynn must come to grips with the greatest mystery he has yet confronted: who, or what, is he?
On a voyage to New Earth, the starship Rolling Thunder is powered by an energy no one understands, except for its inventor Jubal Broussard. Jubal rests in a state of suspended animation for years at a time, asleep yet never aging. The moments when Jubal emerges from suspended animation are usually a cause for celebration for his family, including his twin daughters, Cassie and Polly, and their uncle who is captain of the Rolling Thunder. But this time, Jubal makes a shocking announcement. The ship must stop, or everyone will die. These words will send shock waves throughout the starship, and divide its passengers into those who believe and those who doubt. It will be up to Cassie and Polly to stop a mutiny, discover the truth, and usher the ship into a new age of exploration.
With the world consumed by a devastating plague that drives humans violently insane, what was once a band of desperate survivors bobbing on a dark Atlantic ocean has now become Wolf Squadron, the only hope for the salvation of the human race. Banding together with what remains of the U.S. Navy, Wolf Squadron, and its leader Steve Smith, not only plans to survive, he plans to retake the mainland, starting with North America. The next step: produce a vaccine. Wolf Squadron forces led by Smith’s terrifyingly precocious daughters Sophia and Faith must venture into the infected to obtain and secure the needed materials. If some of the survivors turn out to be more than they seem, Smith just might be able to pull off his plan. Wolf Squadron forces must throw themselves into battle, scouring the islands of the Atlantic for civilization’s last hope.
Earth remains the battleground of near-immortal aliens. These god kings never anticipated resistance from a group of humans possessing the tenacity and spirit to reclaim their planet. The Cerberus fighters forge an epic showdown, as evil shape-shifts and unfurls its design. The madness surrounding entombed secrets of an ancient race puts Kane and his allies on a death chase across Africa. Facing attack from winged hell beasts and marauding militia, the rebels are forced into an alliance with a deadly foe. Only the dark goddess spawned of humanity’s most brutal overlord can challenge a superhuman interloper and navigate an ancient ziggurat that guards a nightmare. The price for miscalculation will be paid in blood, with the eternal damnation of the human race.
In a universe where the laws of physics and the speed of light are completely alien to our own, the travelers on the ship Peerless have completed a generations-long struggle to develop advanced technology in an attempt to save their home world. As tensions mount over the risks of turning the ship around and starting the long voyage home, a new complication arises: the prospect of constructing a messaging system that will give the Peerless news of its own future. While some see this as a guarantee of safety and a chance to learn of their mission’s ultimate success, others are convinced that the knowledge will be oppressive or worse. The conflict over this proposed communication system tears the travelers’ society apart, culminating in terrible violence. To save the Peerless and its mission, two rivals must travel to a world where time runs in reverse. (U.S. Release)
Registry field op Chris Copeland arrives in Hungary on a routine mission: find a sacred spot, lay down a wire grid, and capture a full flask of a god’s energy. When his new partner, Adam Shailer, sabotages the wires, things go very wrong. The god manifests as a mirror image of Chris himself. Chris quickly destroys the god and buries the evidence. When a mysterious serial killer begins stalking Budapest, a psychopath who bears an eerie resemblance to Chris, the operative is forced back into the field. Chris tracks the monster across the globe. Only the real danger isn’t a killer on the outside, it’s Chris’s treacherous colleagues at the Registry, who refuse to acknowledge the terrifying forces they’ve unleashed in the name of profit, forces whose origins lead back to the dawn of man, and beyond. (Digital)
Prince Roger MacClintock was an heir to the galaxy’s Throne of Man and a self-obsessed spoiled young brat, that is, until he and the Royal Marines sent to protect him were stranded by an assassination attempt on the wild and dangerous planet of Marduk. After much travail, Roger has developed into a competent and compassionate leader of men. That competence will be tested when Roger and the Marines face an even greater challenge. The Throne of Man has been usurped. With his brother dead and the forces of an interstellar empire arrayed against him, Roger must avenge his family and fight for the just rule of a thousand stars.
When reluctant interstellar diplomat and intelligence operative Caine Riordan returns from humanity’s first encounter with alien races, sudden war clouds burst. With Earth’s fleet shattered by a sneak attack and its survivors fighting for their lives, Caine must rely upon both his first contact and weaponry skills to contend with the non-humanoid enemy. Humanity fights back with its best weapons: cunning, inventiveness, and guts. As Earth hurtles towards a final trial by fire that is certain to scar its collective memory, Caine discovers that there may also be large and disturbing gaps in that memory. Clues point to a much earlier inter-species apocalypse, buried in humanity’s own prehistory. What if their harrowing memories of a long-past cataclysmic war makes them willing to do anything to keep it from reigniting? Even if that means exterminating the human race.
The Committee, an international cabal of industrialists and media barons, is on the verge of privatizing all information. Dear Diary, an idealistic online Underground, stands in the way of that takeover. Into this secret battle stumbles an unlikely trio: Leila Majnoun, a disillusioned non-profit worker; Leo Crane, an unhinged trustafarian; and Mark Deveraux, a phony self-betterment guru who works for the Committee. Leo and Mark were best friends in college, but adulthood has set them on diverging paths. Growing increasingly disdainful of Mark’s platitudes, Leo publishes a withering takedown of his ideas online. The Committee is reading, and erasing, Leo’s words. Leila’s discoveries about the Committee’s ambitions threaten to ruin those who are closest to her.
The people of Hellhole and the shadow-Xayans scramble to rally against the threat from the still-living rogue Xayans. Back on Sonjeera, the Monarchy is in an uproar after their surprising defeat and the breakaway of the Deep Zone planets. The dowager Queen decides to go to Hellhole on a diplomatic mission. After touring Hellhole, Queen Michella is shaken, and begins to realize that she can never have the old Monarchy back. The Queen is captured by the rogue Xayans and learns the reason for their attack: the orthodox Xayans had developed their minds to the point where they could evolve and, in so doing, trigger another Big Bang, wiping out everything. Twenty-two huge asteroids from the outer reaches of the solar system are bearing towards Hellhole, summoned by the rogue sect as a last resort. Can all these lives and the planet itself be saved?
Journal of the Plague Year: An Omnibus of Post Apocalyptic Tales—C.B. Harvey, Malcolm Cross and Adrian Tchaikovsky (August 12, Abaddon)
The Cull swept the world in the twenty-first century, killing billions and ending civilization. Only a fortunate few were spared. In Malcolm Cross’s Orbital Decay, the team in the International Space Station watch as the world is all but wiped out. Astronaut Alvin Burrows must solve the mystery of the “Pandora” experiment, even as someone on the station takes to murdering the crew. In C. B. Harvey’s Dead Kelly, fugitive and convict “Dead” Kelly McGuire returns from hiding to the lawless city of Melbourne. McGuire has three jobs to do and, ultimately, to discover his own terrible destiny. In Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Bloody Deluge, Katy Lewkowitz and her friend and tutor Dr. Emil Weber take refuge among the anachronistic survivors at the monastery of Jasna Góra in Poland. A battle of faith ensues that could decide the future of humankind.
When Maryam arrives back at Onew?re and tries to loosen the Apostles’ religious stranglehold by sharing the miraculous remedy for Te Matee lai, she finds herself captured once again, prey to the Apostles’ deadly game. The ruling elite manipulate her return by setting in motion a highly orchestrated ritual before a hysterical and brain-washed crowd. Somehow Maryam must get the islanders to listen to her plea that they start thinking for themselves, hoping to stir the independence in their hearts, even as she finds herself on the brink of death. (U.S. Release)
Cast out from Atopia, Robert Baxter undertakes a globe-trotting quest to find his friend Willy’s lost body, which just may hold the key to understanding the dangers facing his home and Jimmy Scadden’s role in the disasters that are spreading across the world. As Robert pieces together the puzzle, he realizes that mankind’s ravenous consumption of natural resources is no longer the most immediate threat to this world. As full-scale global war erupts and an ancient apocalyptic threat resurfaces, Robert must risk losing the ones he loves to save the planet from destruction.
A remote military research station broadcasts a frantic distress call that ends with a chilling message: Kill us all. When soldiers arrive to investigate, they discover everyone in the lab is dead, not just the scientists, but every living thing for fifty square miles is annihilated. The land is completely sterile, and the blight is spreading. Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma must decipher a threat that rises out of the distant past. Following clues from an ancient map rescued from the lost Library of Alexandria, Sigma will make a shocking discovery involving a prehistoric continent, and a new form of death buried under miles of ice. Sigma will face its greatest challenge yet: stopping the coming extinction of mankind. But is it already too late?
In the twenty-second century, no one, alive or dead, human or alien, is quite what they seem. When terrorists manage to crash Coral, the moon, into its home planet of Ribon, forcing evacuation, it’s up to Dave Crowell and Alan Brindos, contract detectives for the Network Intelligence Organization, to solve a case of interplanetary consequences. The two detectives soon find themselves separated, chasing opposite leads: Brindos has to hunt down the massive Helk alien Terl Plenko, shadow leader of the terrorist Movement of Worlds. Crowell, meanwhile, runs into something far more sinister, an elaborate frame job that puts our heroes on the hook for treason. Crowell and Brindos are forced to answer the all-important question: Who, and what, is the Ultra Thin Man?
Young Adult. True Earth has returned during a massive snowstorm in Manhattan, and this time they have an army. Rhys, Noble, Sophia, and Peter know they don’t stand a chance against the enemy without Miranda. And once they revive her, she’s horrified to find her world in flames. The enemy occupation is brutal, but the director promises to release her hold on the city if Mr. East is turned in, and Miranda and her team are determined to find him. With her grief over the losses she has suffered fueling her spirit, Miranda knows that this time the sacrifices have to be worth it.
Zee has given up her entire world to be with David on far-future Earth, confident that their love will overcome all obstacles. But beneath its lustrous surface and dazzling technology, New Earth is full of challenges, including the animosity of David’s wealthy and powerful family. As Zee struggles to find her place, David travels back to past Earth. Then, on a mission to Pompeii on the eve of the Vesuvius eruption, he vanishes. Zee knows he is in mortal danger, but will she be able to rescue him in time? (U.S. Release)
David Leveraux is an Apprentice Flavor Chemist at one of the world’s leading flavor production houses. While testing Sweetness #9, he notices that the artificial sweetener causes unsettling side-effects in laboratory rats and monkeys. But with his career and family at risk, David keeps his suspicions to himself. Years later, Sweetness #9 is America’s most popular sweetener, and David’s family is changing. His wife is gaining weight, his daughter is depressed, and his son has stopped using verbs. Is Sweetness #9 to blame, along with David’s failure to stop it? Or are these just symptoms of the American condition?
2402 AD CCF homicide investigator Kyle Tanner and his girlfriend are on their way to Pluto, en route to a new life together. Just one little death to check out first. The mystery is a strange one, one man dead, a cryptic message his dying breath. Tanner’s ready to wrap it up until another gruesome murder shakes him to his core. The discovery of a microscopic bomb near his own heart offers the first clue. The clock is ticking. He has four days. A desperate search for answers takes Tanner to The Freezer, an isolated facility on one of Jupiter’s moons. With anti-CCF dissidents targeting the facility, a team of scientists conducting experiments the military would rather remain hidden, and a mysterious man in white hunting him on the ice, Tanner will have to choose his allies carefully. Putting his faith in the wrong person will leave him bleeding out in seconds. (Digital)
Daniel Bruks is a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he’s turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. He awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn history inside out. He’s trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn’t yet found the man she’s sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. Dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call “The Angels of the Asteroids.” Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.
Perdition is under siege. Mercenaries have boarded the station with orders to take control of the facility, and execute the prisoners. Their commander is offering full pardons to the first five inmates willing to help the mercs complete their mission. Dresdemona “Dred” Devos hasn’t survived hard time just to surrender to the Conglomerate’s armored thugs. Leading a ragtag army of inmates, Dred and her champion, Jael, wage a bloody guerilla war of chaos and carnage against impossible odds. But no matter how dire the outlook, the Dread Queen never backs down.
A new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. One percent find themselvs “locked in”, fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. Two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own. This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse.
Solaris Rising 3: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction—edited by Ian Whates (August 26, Solaris)
These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and continue our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exiting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising 1 and 2 we showed both the quality and variety that modern science fiction can produce. In Solaris Rising 3, we’ll be taking SF into the outer reaches of the universe. Aliette de Bodard, Tony Ballantyne, Julie Czerneda, Ken Liu, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Gareth L Powell, Adam Roberts, Cat Sparks, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Ian Watson, and Sean Williams are just some of the exciting names set to appear.
In Chicago, John makes the unlikeliest of allies: Adam, a Mogadorian who turned his back on his people. He has invaluable information about Mog technology, battle strategies, and weaknesses. He knows where to hit them: their command base near Washington, DC. John and Adam learn the unimaginable truth: it is too late. The Mogadorians have commenced their ultimate invasion plans. Ella finds herself in the hands of the enemy. She’s more valuable to them alive, and they’ll stop at nothing to turn her. Six, Nine, and Marina make their way through the Florida Everglades, hot on the trail of the traitorous Five. With the development of a new Legacy, Marina finally has the power to fight back, if her thirst for revenge doesn’t consume her first.
Michael completed the Path. What he found at the end turned everything he’d ever known about his life, and the world, completely upside down. He barely survived. It was the only way VirtNet Security knew to find the cyber-terrorist Kaine, and to make the Sleep safe for gamers once again. The truth Michael discovered about Kaine is more complex than they anticipated, and more terrifying than even the worst of their fears. Kaine is a tangent, a computer program that has become sentient. Michael’s completing the Path was the first stage in turning Kaine’s master plan, the Mortality Doctrine, into a reality. The Mortality Doctrine will populate Earth entirely with human bodies harboring tangent minds. Any gamer who sinks into the VirtNet risks coming out with a tangent intelligence in control of their body. And the takeover has already begun.
Dev Harmer, reluctant agent of Interstellar Security Solutions, wakes up in a newly cloned host body on the planet Alighieri, ready for action. It’s an infernal world, so close to its sun that it surface is regularly baked to 1,000°C, hot enough to turn rock to lava. Deep underground there are networks of tunnels connecting colonies of miners who dig for the precious helium-3 regolith deposits in Alighieri’s crust. Polis+, the AI race who are humankind’s great galactic rivals, want to claim the fiery planet’s mineral wealth. All that stands between them is Dev. As well as Polis+’s agents, there are giant moleworms to contend with, and a spate of mysterious earthquakes, and the perils of the surface where a man can be burned to cinders if he gets caught unprotected on the day side.