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.
There’s lots to look forward to in late August if you’re itching for a genre fiction fix. There are the big hitters—books like The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks, Lock In by John Scalzi and Jo Walton’s new novel, My Real Children—and there are a good few little books that could, including the revised version of Marcher by Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner Chris Beckett, The Race by Nina Allan, and the finale of Ben H. Winter’s underrated Last Policeman series.
This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Kanae Minato, Mark Walden, Ian Whates, Lilite Saintcrow, George Mann, Salome Jones, D. J. Molles, Michael Grant, Lloyd Shepherd, Josephine Angelini and Dana Fredsti.
Confessions—Kanae Minato (August 15, Mulholland)
When Yuko Moriguchi’s four-year-old daughter died in the middle school where she teaches, everyone thought it was a tragic accident.
It’s the last day of term, and Yuko’s last day at work. She tells her students that she has resigned because of what happened—but not for the reasons they think.
Her daughter didn’t die in an accident. Her daughter was killed by two people in the class. And before she leaves, she has a lesson to teach…
But revenge has a way of spinning out of control, and Yuko’s last lecture is only the start of the story. In this bestselling Japanese thriller of love, despair and murder, everyone has a confession to make, and no one will escape unharmed.
Earthfall: Retribution (Earthfall #2)—Mark Walden (August 15, Bloomsbury Children’s)
It’s been several months since the events of Earthfall, yet Sam’s attempts to rouse the enslaved people of London from their trance-like state have frustratingly failed. Worse still, the enormous Voidborn drilling device which Sam and his friends disabled in London was one of hundreds scattered across the planet, all nearing the final stages of construction.
Joining up with another resistance group, they plot to disable a drilling machine in Tokyo and in the process implant viral commands that will cause a catastrophic failure of the entire network. Just as that mission appears to have been successful, Sam and the others are double-crossed by the resistance leader.
Earthfall: Retribution will take the series on to a global stage, as the true scale of the conflict being played out on Earth is revealed.
Marcher—Chris Beckett (August 15, Newcon Press)
Charles Bowen is an immigration officer with a difference: the migrants he deals with don’t come from other countries but from other universes. Known as shifters, they materialize from parallel timelines, bringing with them a mysterious drug called slip which breaks down the boundary between what is and what might have been, and offers the desperate and the dispossessed the tantalizing possibility of escape.
Summoned to investigate a case at the Thurston Meadows Social Inclusion Zone, Bowen struggles to keep track of his place in the world and to uphold the values of the system he has fought so long to maintain…
The Race—Nina Allan (August 15, Newcon Press)
In the coastal town of Sapphire, the illegal sport of racing greyhounds genetically modified with human DNA dominates. For Jenna, the latest Cup meet bears a significance far beyond the simple hunger for victory. Christy’s life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man she knows capable of monstrous acts and suspects of hiding even darker ones. Desperate to learn the truth she contacts Alex, a stranger she knows only by name. Together they must face their demons, wherever that may lead. Raised at the Croft, a secret government programme focussing on smartdogs, Maree has to undertake a journey through shipping lanes haunted by the enigmatic and dangerous Atlantic whale. What she discovers en route will change her world forever.
The story of four damaged people whose lives are inextricably linked, The Race is a novel of tender nuances, brutality, insight and great ambition, a narrative that lays bare the fears and joys of being human, and, ultimately, offers hope to us all.
Solaris Rising 3—ed. Ian Whates (August 15, Solaris)
Award-nominated editor Ian Whates showcases the best in contemporary science fiction, celebrating new writing by a roster of diverse and exciting authors including Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Chris Beckett, Julie E. Czerneda, Ken Liu, Tony Ballantyne, Sean Williams, Laura Lam, Aliette de Bodard, Ian Watson, Gareth L. Powell, Nina Allan, Adam Roberts, George Zebrowski, Cat Sparks, Rachel Swirsky, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Ian R. MacLeod and Martin Sketchley. Here you will discover how this literature of ideas produces stories of astonishing imagination and incisive speculation.
Solaris Rising 3 thrillingly demonstrates why science fiction is the most relevant, daring and progressive of genres.
World of Trouble (The Last Policeman #3)—Ben H. Winters (August 15, Quirk)
With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force. But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank’s safety is only relative, and his only relative—his sister Nico—isn’t safe. Soon, it’s clear that there’s more than one earth-shattering revelation on the horizon, and it’s up to Hank to solve the puzzle before time runs out… for everyone.
The Ripper Affair (Bannon & Clare #3)—Lilith Saintcrow (August 19, Orbit)
Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul…
A shattering accident places Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime. Clare needs a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. At all.
Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, murdering poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of frails murdered on cold autumn nights would make no difference… but the killings echo in the highest circles, and threaten to bring the Empire down in smoking ruins.
My Real Children—Jo Walton (August 21, Corsair)
It is 2015 and Patricia Cowan is very old. “Confused today” read the notes clipped to the end of her bed. Her childhood, her years at Oxford during the Second World War—those things are solid in her memory. Then her memory splits in two.
She was Trish, a housewife and mother of four.
She was Pat, a successful travel writer and mother of three.
She remembers living her life as both women, so very clearly. Which memory is real? Or are both just tricks of time and light?
My Real Children is the story of both of Patricia Cowan’s lives—each with its loves and losses, sorrows and triumphs, its possible consequences. It is a novel about how every life means the entire world.
Sherlock Holmes: The Spirit Box—George Mann (August 22, Titan)
German zeppelins rain down death and destruction on London, and Dr Watson is grieving for his nephew, killed on the fields of France.
A cryptic summons from Mycroft Holmes reunites Watson with his one-time companion, as Sherlock comes out of retirement, tasked with solving three unexplained deaths. A politician has drowned in the Thames after giving a pro-German speech; a soldier suggests surrender before feeding himself to a tiger; and a suffragette renounces women’s liberation and throws herself under a train.
Are these apparent suicides something more sinister, something to do with the mysterious Spirit Box? Their investigation leads them to Ravensthorpe House, and the curious Seaton Underwood, a man whose spectrographs are said to capture men’s souls…
The Broken Eye (Lightbringer #3)—Brent Weeks (August 26, Orbit)
As the old gods awaken and satrapies splinter, the Chromeria races to find the only man who might still end a civil war before it engulfs the known world. But Gavin Guile has been captured by an old enemy and enslaved on a pirate galley. Worse still, Gavin has lost more than his powers as Prism – he can’t use magic at all.
Without the protection of his father, Kip Guile will face a master of shadows as his grandfather moves to choose a new Prism and put himself in power. With Teia and Karris, Kip will have to use all his wits to survive a secret war between noble houses, religious factions, rebels, and an ascendant order of hidden assassins called The Broken Eye.
Cthulhu Lives! An Eldritch Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft—ed. Salome Jones (August 26, Ghostwoods)
“That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die.”
At the time of his death in 1937, American horror writer H.P. Lovecraft was virtually unknown. The power of his stories was too great to contain, however. As the decades slipped by, his dark visions laid down roots in the collected imagination of mankind, and they grew strong. Now Cthulhu is a name known to many and, deep under the seas, Lovecraft’s greatest creation becomes restless…
This volume brings together seventeen masterful tales of cosmic horror inspired by Lovecraft’s work. In his fiction, humanity is a tiny, accidental drop of light and life in the endless darkness of an uncaring universe—a darkness populated by vast, utterly alien horrors. Our continued survival relies upon our utter obscurity, something that every fresh scientific wonder threatens to shatter. The dazzling stories in Cthulhu Lives! show the disastrous folly of our arrogance. We think ourselves the first masters of Earth, and the greatest, and we are very badly mistaken on both counts. Inside these covers, you’ll find a lovingly-curated collection of terrors and nightmares, of catastrophic encounters to wither the body and blight the soul. We humans are inquisitive beings, and there are far worse rewards for curiosity than mere death. The truth is indeed out there—and it hungers.
The Remaining: Fractured (Remaining #4)—D. J. Molles (August 26, Orbit)
This is the destiny of those who stand for others.
Their honour will be bought in blood and pain.
The Camp Ryder Hub is broken. Captain Lee Harden is nowhere to be found, and his allies are scattered across the state, each of them learning that their missions will not be as easy as they thought. Inside the walls of Camp Ryder, a silent war is brewing between those few that still support Lee’s vision of rebuilding and the majority who support Jerry’s desire for isolation. But this war will not remain silent for long. And in this savage world, everyone will have to make a choice.
The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies #5)—Pittacus Lore (August 26, Penguin)
The worst was supposed to be over. We were reunited after a decade apart. We were discovering the truth about our past. We were training and getting stronger every day. We were even happy…
We never imagined the Mogadorians could turn one of our own against us. We were fools for trusting Five. And now Eight is lost forever. I would do anything to bring him back, but that’s impossible. Instead, I will do whatever it takes to destroy every last one of them.
I’ve spent my entire life hiding from them, and they’ve stolen everything away from me. But that stops now. We’re going to take the battle to them. We have a new ally who knows their weaknesses. And I finally have the power to fight back.
They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. Number Three in Kenya. And Number Eight in Florida.
They killed them all.
I am Number Seven. I will make them pay
Lock In—John Scalzi (August 28, Gollancz)
Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. 4% suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And 1% find themselves ’locked in’—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.
1% doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the US that’s 1.7 million people ’locked in’—including the President’s wife and daughter.
Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can fully restore the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, ’The Agora’, where the locked-in can interact with other humans, whether locked-in or not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, allowing those who are locked in to occasionally ’ride’ these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.
This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse…
Messenger of Fear (Play or Pay #1)—Michael Grant (August 28, Electric Monkey)
I remembered my name—Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.
And then the games began…
Think you know the meaning of suspense? Think again… The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.
But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out…
Savage Magic—Lloyd Shepherd (August 28, Simon & Schuster)
It’s 1814 and the streets of London’s Covent Garden are at the centre of a dark trade, enticing rich and poor alike with a cocktail of gin and beer and sex. Behind their own fashionable private doors in the surrounding parishes, a group of aristocratic young men are found murdered: all of them wearing the mask of a satyr, all of them behind locked doors with no signs of entry.
Constable Charles Horton’s investigation into these violent crimes begins, quite by chance, at Thorpe Lee House in Surrey, where accusations of witchcraft have swept the village. What connects these broken London men, savage with the pursuit of pleasure, and a country village awash with folklore and talk of burning witches? The answers lie, yet again, under lock and key, in a madhouse for the deranged, where Horton’s wife Abigail seeks refuge from her disordered mind.
In this world of witchcraft and madhouses, whores and aristocrats, it’s a savage magic indeed that holds its victims in its thrall.
Trial by Fire—Josephine Angelini (August 28, Macmillan Children’s)
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted… which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.
Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian, Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.
Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected. But how can she be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?
Plague World (Ashley Parker #3)—Dana Fredsti (August 29, Titan)
Having been ambushed in San Francisco, which is now fully engulfed in the zombie plague, Ashley and the wild cards must pursue the enemy to San Diego. There they will discover a splinter of their own organization, the Dolofónoi tou Zontanoús Nekroús, which seeks to weaponise the plague.
But that isn’t the worst news. The plague has gone airborne, making it transferable without physical contact. It cannot be controlled by anyone, so reports of the zombie swarm are coming in from across the United States—and across the world.
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.