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 summer may be coming to a close, but don’t despair, readers dear… because it’s a fine fortnight to be a genre fiction fan. Look forward to a few exciting sequels—not least The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey, which takes place after The 5th Wave, Day 21 of The 100’s expedition to Earth and Sarah Rees Brennan’s latest Lynburn Legacy—as well as several new series, such as Pierre Pevel’s Tales from the High Kingdom, but if I’m honest, the standalones have it. Standalones like Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld, Eren by Simon P. Clark, Horrorstor by our own Grady Hendrix and The Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman. Then there’s Bête by Adam Roberts, The Revolutions by Felix Gilman, Rooms by Lauren Oliver and another Man Booker Prize-longlisted novel: namely J by Howard Jacobson.
This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Ekaterina Sedia, Sean Wallace, Ed Cox, Robert Rankin, Chris Riddell, Alexander Maskill, S. J. (aka Stephen) Deas, James Dashner, John Jackson Miller and Garth Stein.
The Golem of Hollywood—Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman (September 16, Headline)
A burned-out L.A. detective… a woman of mystery who is far more than she seems… a grotesque, ancient monster bent on a mission of retribution. When these three collide, a new standard of suspense is born.
The legend of the Golem of Prague has endured through the ages, a creature fashioned by a sixteenth-century rabbi to protect his congregation, now lying dormant in the garret of a synagogue. But the Golem is dormant no longer.
And for Detective Jacob Lev the mystery of how he spent last night pales in comparison the one he&;s about to be called upon to solve.
The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2)—Rick Yancey (September 16, Penguin)
Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.
Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.
Eren—Simon P. Clark (September 18, Corsair)
People are keeping secrets from Oli. His mum has brought him to stay with his aunt and uncle in the countryside, but nobody will tell him why his dad isn’t with them. Where is he? Has something happened? Oli has a hundred questions, but then he finds a secret of his own: he discovers the creature that lives in the attic.
Eren is not human. Eren is hungry for stories. Eren has been waiting for him.
Sharing his stories with Eren, Oli starts to make sense of what’s happening downstairs with his family. But what if it’s a trap? Soon, Oli must make a choice: learn the truth… or abandon himself to Eren’s world forever.
The Knight (Tales from the High Kingdom #1)—Pierre Pevel (September 18, Gollancz)
This is the tale of Lorn Askarian.
Some say he brought the kingdom to the brink of destruction, taking advantage of a dying king and an unpopular queen to strike against his enemies, heedless of the danger posed by a growing rebellion.
Others claim he saved the kingdom, following the orders of a king who had him falsely imprisoned, heedless of the personal cost, and loyal to the last—fighting against desperate odds on the political and physical battlefields alike.
Whatever the truth, whatever you choose to believe, this is his story.
The Mammoth Book of Gaslit Romance—ed. Ekaterina Sedia (September 18, Robinson)
A fantastic collection of stories of love and intrigue that focus on the trappings of the popular Victorian era, enlivened with fantastical elements and incorporating some noir and detective pieces. Featuring fiction by O. M. Grey, Leanna Renee Hieber, N. K. Jemisin, Eliza Knight, Sarah Prineas, Delia Sherman, Genevieve Valentine and many other authors.
The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry—ed. Sean Wallace (September 18, Robinson)
A stellar collection of short fantasy fiction from authors who have made an impact over the last decade, along with some bestselling favourites. These stories of life-and-death struggles and magical force, used for good and evil provide thrills and entertainment aplenty. Featuring fiction by Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Tanith Lee, K. J. Parker, Carrie Vaughn and many other authors.
The Relic Guild—Ed Cox (September 18, Gollancz)
It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls 100 feet high.
Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.
The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth—and the lives of one million humans—Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.
The Revolutions—Felix Gilman (September 18, Corsair)
In 1893, young journalist Arthur Shaw is at work in the British Museum Reading Room when the Great Storm hits London, wreaking unprecedented damage. In its aftermath, Arthur’s newspaper closes, owing him money, and all his debts come due at once. His fiancé Josephine takes a job as a stenographer for some of the fashionable spiritualist and occult societies of fin de siècle London society. At one of her meetings, Arthur is given a job lead for what seems to be accounting work, but at a salary many times what any clerk could expect. The work is long and peculiar, as the workers spend all day performing unnerving calculations that make them hallucinate or even go mad, but the money is compelling.
Things are beginning to look up when the perils of dabbling in the esoteric suddenly come to a head: A war breaks out between competing magical societies. Josephine joins one of them for a hazardous occult exploration—an experiment which threatens to leave her stranded at the outer limits of consciousness, among the celestial spheres.
Arthur won’t give up his great love so easily, and hunts for a way to save her, as Josephine fights for survival… somewhere in the vicinity of Mars.
The Abominable Showman—Robert Rankin (September 20, Telos)
Growing up in Brentford is never easy, especially when you have a needy younger brother and a daddy who is the fount of all knowledge. But the life of one Brentford schoolboy is turned upside down when he is sent on a mission by a Venusian he finds in his Daddy’s allotment shed, and with Barry the Time Sprout lodged in his head to act as his guardian angel, the sky really is the limit.
For the boy has to pose as the famous detective Lazlo Woodbine, and his travels will take him to an alternative future, where a vast pleasure palace space liner orbits the Earth, and where one Count Ilya Rostof is planning a celebration of Queen Victoria’s ninetieth year on the throne. He will travel to the fabled Garden on Venus, and even to Heaven to meet with God—a rather nice man named Terrance. But even as these events are taking place, what of the nefarious schemes of Lord Willoughby Chase, of Professor Mandelbrot and the silly boys and their plans to fly a spacecraft into the Sun, and what of the etherial Poppett and the fabled vegetable lamb of Tartary? Never mind Lady Raygun and a group of fanatical space pirates…
A work of surreal brilliance from the mind of Robert Rankin, combining ecumenical ponderings with breathless space opera, and jaw dropping imagination.
Afterworlds—Scott Westerfeld (September 22, Simon & Schuster Children’s)
Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…
Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the Afterworld to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved—and terrifying—stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.
Horrorstor—Grady Hendrix (September 23, Quirk)
Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Bracken glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofabeds-clearly, someone or something is up to no good.
To unravel the mystery, five young employees volunteer for a long dusk till dawn shift—and they encounter horrors that defy imagination. Along the way, author Grady Hendrix infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the new 21st century economy.
A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting (and full of contemporary fears), Horrorstor comes conveniently packaged in the form of a retail catalogue, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other, more sinister accessories.
Bête—Adam Roberts (September 25, Gollancz)
It began when the animal rights movement injected domestic animals with artificial intelligences in bid to have the status of animals realigned by the international court of human rights. But what is an animal that can talk? Where does its intelligence end at its machine intelligence begin? And where might its soul reside?
As we place more and more pressure on the natural world and become more and more divorced, Adam Roberts’ new novel posits a world where nature can talk back; can question us and our beliefs.
Day 21 (The 100 #2)—Kass Morgan (September 25, Hodder)
In this pulse-pounding sequel to Kass Morgan’s The 100, secrets are revealed, beliefs are challenged, and relationships are tested. And the hundred will struggle to survive the only way they can: together.
It’s been 21 days since The 100 landed on Earth. They’re the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries… or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.
Goth Girl and the Fete Worse Than Death (Goth Girl 2)—Chris Riddell (September 25, Macmillan Children’s)
Preparations for the Ghastly-Gorm Garden Party and bake-off are under way. Celebrity cooks are arriving at the hall for the big event and, true to form, Maltravers, the indoor gamekeeper, is acting suspiciously.
Elsewhere at Ghastly-Gorm, Ada’s wardrobe-dwelling lady’s maid Marylebone has received a marriage proposal. Ada vows to aid the course of true love and find out what Maltravers is up to, but amidst all this activity, everyone, including her father, appears to have forgotten her birthday!
The Hive Construct—Alexander Maskill (September 25, Doubleday)
Situated deep in the Sahara Desert, New Cairo is a city built on technology—from the huge, life-giving solar panels that keep it functioning in a radically changed, resource-scarce world to the artificial implants that have become the answer to all and any of mankind’s medical problems. But it is also a divided city, dominated by a handful of omnipotent corporate dynasties.
And it’s when a powerful new computer virus begins to spread through the poorest districts, shutting down the life-giving implants that enable so many to survive, that the city begins to slide into the anarchy of violent class struggle. Hiding out amidst the ruins and underground resistance is Zala Ulora, a gifted hacker and fugitive from justice. She believes she might be able to earn her life back by tracing the virus to its source and destroying it before it destroys the city… or the city destroys itself.
Rooms—Lauren Oliver (September 25, Hodder)
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself-in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide… with cataclysmic results.
J—Howard Jacobson (September 25, Jonathan Cape)
Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn’t ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?
Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe—a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.
The Royalist (William Falkland #1)—S. J. Deas (September 25, Headline)
A Royalist dragoon who fought against Parliament, he is currently awaiting execution at Newgate prison. Yet when he is led away from Newgate with a sack over his head, it is not the gallows to which they take him, but to Oliver Cromwell himself.
Cromwell has heard of Falkland’s reputation as an investigator and now more than ever he needs a man of conscience. His New Model Army are wintering in Devon but mysterious deaths are sweeping the camp and, in return for his freedom, Falkland is despatched to uncover the truth.
With few friends and a slew of enemies, Falkland soon learns there is a dark demon at work, one who won’t go down without a fight. But how can he protect the troops from such a monster and, more importantly, will he be able to protect himself?
The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctrine #2)—James Dashner (September 25, Corgi Children’s)
Michael completed the Path. What he found at the end turned everything he’d ever known about his life completely upside down. He thought he’d been helping VirtNet Security to track down the cyber-terrorist Kaine. He thought the VirtNet would be safe for gamers once more. But the truth is more terrifying than he could ever have imagined.
Kaine is in fact a Tangent, a computer program that has come alive. And Kaine’s master plan is to populate the earth entirely with human bodies harbouring Tangent minds. Unless Michael can stop him…
Star Wars: A New Dawn—John Jackson Miller (September 25, Century)
The stage is set for the coming Rebellion against the Empire: Kanan is a Jedi survivor of Order 66. Refusing to wield his lightsaber ever again, he makes a living as a freelance pilot, keeping his head down to avoid any Imperial attention. But when the beautiful Hera Syndulla sweeps into his life at the same time his friends and his livelihood are being threatened by an Imperial plot, he faces the biggest choice of his life: keep hiding… or make a stand and risk the wrath of the Empire.
Unmade (Lynburn Legacy #3)—Sarah Rees Brennan (September 25, Simon & Schuster Children’s)
Kami Glass has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town. Sorry-in-the-Vale has a new master, and he demands a death.
Kami must use every resource to try and stop him, and together with friends Rusty, Angela and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility, and a painful choice… a choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of all those she loves most.
A Sudden Light—Garth Stein (September 30, Simon & Schuster)
When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.
In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.
But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.
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.