British Fiction Focus

British Fiction Hitlist: Early October New Releases

It’s almost October, I’m told. That means we’re this close to the spooky season—and there are a couple of spooky books coming. Most, however, have been held for Halloween, which leaves us looking lustily at a solid fortnight of science fiction and fantasy.

The most notable new releases of the next two weeks include Clariel, Garth Nix’s greatly anticipated return to The Old Kingdom; Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, the sequel to the only novel ever to win the Hugo, the Nebula and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and my personal pick of the period; alongside A Vision of Fire by Jeff Rovin and Gillian Anderson—yes, that Gillian Anderson; and The Abyss Beyond Dreams, the first volume of a new duology by Britain’s bestselling sf author, Peter F. Hamilton.

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Madeline Ashby, Ferrett Steinmetz, Marcus Sedgwick, Katherine Howe, Susan Murray, Becca Fitzpatrick, James Frey, Nils Johnson-Shelton, J. R. Ward, Justin Richards, Jonathan Strahan, Jem Roberts, Douglas Adams, Alexander Maskill, Megan Spooner, Christopher Fowler, Rebecca Alexander, Tricia Sullivan, Scott K. Andrews, David Thomas Moore, Kim Harrison and Kim Newman.

Clariel (The Old Kingdom #4)Garth Nix (October 2, Hot Key Books)

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid to the sinister Guildmaster Kilip.

Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating. With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape.

But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her—and it is herself she must question most of all.

Company TownMadeline Ashby (October 2, Angry Robot)

They call it Company Town: a Family-owned city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes.

Meet Hwa. One of the few in her community to forego bio-engineered enhancements, she’s the last truly organic person left on the rig. But she’s an expert in the arts of self-defence, and she’s been charged with training the Family’s youngest, who has been receiving death threats—seemingly from another timeline.

Meanwhile, a series of interconnected murders threatens the city’s stability. The work of a serial killer? Or something much, much worse?

FlexFerrett Steinmetz (October 2, Angry Robot)

Flex is distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.

Flux is the backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.

Paul Tsabo is an obsessed bureaucromancer who has turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.

But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before… and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.

The Ghosts of HeavenMarcus Sedgwick (October 2, Indigo)

The spiral has existed as long as time has existed.

It’s there when a girl walks through the forest, the moist green air clinging to her skin. There centuries later in a pleasant green dale, hiding the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who they call a witch. There on the other side of the world, where a mad poet watches the waves and knows the horrors they hide, and far into the future as Keir Bowman realises his destiny.

Each takes their next step in life.

None will ever go back to the same place.

And so their journeys begin…

The Penguin Book of Witches—ed. Katherine Howe (October 2, Penguin)

The Penguin Book of Witches is a treasury of chilling historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, this volume provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft.

Carefully collated and with illuminating annotations, The Penguin Book of Witches demonstrates how witchcraft was not just a medieval superstition, but a crucial marker of the boundaries of normativity in early modern society.

The Waterborne BladeSusan Murray (October 2, Angry Robot)

The citadel has long been the stronghold of Highkell. All that is about to change because the traitor, Vasic, is marching on the capital. Against her better judgement, Queen Alwenna allows herself to be spirited away by one of the Crown’s most trusted servants, safe from the clutches of the throne’s would-be usurper.

Fleeing across country, she quickly comes to learn that her pampered existence has ill-equipped her for survival away from the comforts of the court. Alwenna must toughen up, and fast, if she is even to make it to a place of safety. But she has an even loftier aim, for after dreaming of her husband’s impending death, Alwenna knows she must turn around and head back to Highkell to save the land she loves, and the husband who adores her, or die in the attempt.

But Vasic the traitor is waiting. And this was all just as he planned.

Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2)Ann Leckie (October 7, Orbit)

Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she only has a single body and serves the emperor she swore to destroy.

Given a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to the only place in the galaxy she will agree to go: to Athoek station, to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew—a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.

Black IceBecca Fitzpatrick (October 7, Simon & Schuster)

Britt Pfeiffer has never been that adventurous, but that’s about to change. In an attempt to impress her ex-boyfriend, Britt convinces her best friend, Korbie, to take a trekking trip with her. But when a freak storm leaves the girls stranded they seek shelter in a cabin, where they find two knights in shining armour. Or so they think…

Britt quickly realises that the girls need to get off the mountain, fast. In exchange for her life, she is forced to guide the boys down, and as they set out on a harrowing journey through the cold and snow, Britt realises the only way to escape with her life is to pretend she is on their side.

The Calling (Endgame #1)James Frey & Nils Johnson-Shelton (October 7, HarperCollins)

Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality… until now. Twelve meteorites have just struck Earth, each meteorite containing a message for a Player who has been trained for this moment. At stake for the Players: saving their bloodline, as well as the fate of the world. And only one can win.

Endgame is real. Endgame is now. Endgame has begun.

Google Niantic is building a mobile location-based augmented reality videogame inextricably tied to the books and mythology, a major prize will be tied to a puzzle in each book, and Twentieth Century Fox has bought the movie rights.

Read the Books. Find the Clues. Solve the Puzzle. Who will win?

Immortal (Fallen Angels #6)J. R. Ward (October 7, Piatkus)

The Creator invented the game. The stakes were nothing less than the immortal fate of mankind. Yet when fallen angel Jim Heron was challenged to play, he had no idea the voracious demon Devina would be so formidable an adversary—or that the carnal depths to which he was willing to go could prove so fatal.

Devina’s more than ready to claim victory in this war and has her next scheme already underway: Sissy, a defenceless woman under the influence and an unwitting player in the fight for Heron’s heart.

At the defining crossroads between salvation and damnation, Heron is ready to do anything it takes to succeed-a suicide mission that will take him into Heaven and Hell, and into the darkest and most sensual shadows that lie in wait at the end of the world…

The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Chronicles of the Fallers #1)Peter F. Hamilton (October 9, Macmillan)

When images of a lost civilization are ’dreamed’ by a self-proclaimed prophet of the age, Nigel Sheldon, inventor of wormhole technology and creator of the Commonwealth society, is asked to investigate. Especially as the dreams seem to be coming from the Void—a mysterious area of living space monitored and controlled because of its hugely destructive capabilities. With it being the greatest threat to the known universe, Nigel is committed to finding out what really lies within the Void and if there’s any truth to the visions they’ve received. Does human life really exist inside its boundary?

But when Nigel crash lands inside the Void, on a planet he didn’t even know existed, he finds so much more than he expected. Bienvenido: a world populated by the ancestors of survivors from Commonwealth colony ships that disappeared centuries ago. Since then they’ve been fighting an increasingly desperate battle against the Fallers, a space-born predator artificially evolved to conquer worlds. Their sole purpose is to commit genocide against every species they encounter. With their powerful telepathic lure—that tempts any who stray across their path to a slow and painful death—they are by far the greatest threat to humanity’s continued existence on this planet.

But Nigel soon realizes that the Fallers also hold the key to something he’d never hoped to find—the destruction of the Void itself. If only he can survive long enough to work out how to use it…

Doctor Who: The Secret Lives of MonstersJustin Richards (October 9, BBC Books)

Ignorance is not bliss. It is the alien invader’s greatest advantage.

Tales of unearthly beings have long circulated among us, from legends of intelligent life on Earth before Homo Sapiens to conspiracy theories about what really happened at the Battle of Canary Wharf. But the truth is that alien life exists—and here, at last, is proof.

Based on exclusive access to classified government files, The Secret Lives of Monsters collects evidence that has been suppressed for centuries—notes from clandestine meetings, reports of eyewitness accounts, never-before-seen images and documents, secrets provided by a mysterious agent known only as the Doctor, and more. It reveals all we know about aliens who are already here, and provides essential information to survive future invasions.

So don’t panic. You are not weaponless. The Secret Lives of Monsters will give you the greatest weapon of all: knowledge.

Fearsome Magics (The New Solaris Book of Fantasy #2)—ed. Jonathan Strahan (October 9, Solaris)

Award-winning editor takes up the mantle once again for the latest edition of The New Solaris Book of Fantasy: Fearsome Magics brings together some of the best and brightest names in fantasy fiction and allows their imaginations to run riot in an outpouring of awe, wonder and—of course—magic.

From the creeping corridors of ‘Dream London Hospital’ to the omniscient tower of ‘The Safe House’ and across the archaic rural of ‘The Changeling’, Fearsome Magics paints a vivid tapestry of the fantastical world that sit just outside our reality, in which mathematics and magic are interchangeable and the wildest of dreams are realised.

Fearsome Magics: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy includes new short stories by Tony Ballantyne, Genevieve Valentine, Justina Robson, Robert Shearman and many other authors.

The Frood: The Authorised and Very Official History of Douglas Adams and The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the GalaxyJem Roberts (October 9, Preface Publishing)

As a wise ape once observed, space is big—vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly so. However, if you look too closely at space, it becomes nothing but lumps of rock and sundry gases. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back, and let a few billion years go by, before any of the true wonder and scope of the cosmos becomes apparent.

Similarly, the late 20th century author, humourist and thinker Douglas Adams was big—vastly, hugely and thoroughly mind-bogglingly so, both in physical terms, and as a writer who has touched millions of readers, firing up millions of cerebellums all over planet Earth, for over 35 years—and for nearly half of that time, he hasn’t even been alive.

It would be ridiculous to pretend that Douglas Adams’s life and work has gone unexamined since his dismayingly early death at 49, but throughout the decade since the last book to tackle the subject, the universes Adams created have continued to develop, to beguile and expand minds, and will undoubtedly do so for generations to come.

An all-new approach to the most celebrated creation of Douglas Adams is therefore most welcome, and The Frood tells the story of Adams’s explosive but agonizingly constructed fictional universe, from his initial inspirations to the posthumous sequels and adaptations, bringing together a thousand tales of life as part of the British Comedy movements of the late 70s and 80s along the way. With the benefit of hindsight and much time passed, friends and colleagues have been interviewed for a fresh take on the man and his works.

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: The Nearly Definitive Edition—Douglas Adams (October 9, William Heinemann)

First a legendary radio series, then a sequence of bestselling books, and most recently a blockbuster movie, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the greatest fictional enterprises of the twentieth century.

Reissued in time for the first novel’s thirty-fifth anniversary, this hardback omnibus edition includes all five parts of the trilogy, along with a wealth of extra material prefaced and contextualised by Jem Roberts, the official biographer of Douglas Adams, to complete the canon.

This unique hardback edition, introduced by Richard Dawkins and Nick Harkaway, is indispensable for any would-be galactic traveller, and a must-read for all Douglas Adams fans.

The Hive ConstructAlexander Maskill (October 9, 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.

When a devastating new computer virus begins to spread through the poorest districts, shutting down the life-giving implants that enable so many to survive, the city begins to slide into the anarchy of violent class struggle.

Hiding out amidst the chaos 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 before the city destroys itself.

Lark Ascending (Skylark #3)Megan Spooner (October 9, Corgi)

Lark returns to the city within the wall, only to discover that mass rebellion has broken out against the Institute. She is even more shocked to find that her brother Caesar is the leader of the revolution.

Bur rebellion is not the only problem. The city is running out of magic and once it’s gone, nothing can protect the citizens from the Shadows that lurk outside the wall.

Nothing, except Lark…

NyctophobiaChristopher Fowler (October 9, Solaris)

There are two things you need to know about haunted houses:

One, there’s never been an actual authenticated haunted house.

Two, it’s not the house that’s haunted, but the person.

Callie is a young architectural student who marries Mateo, a wine importer, and moves to a grand old house in Southern Spain. Hyperion House is flooded with light, it also has a mute gardener, a sinister housekeeper and a sealed, dark servants’ quarters that nobody has the keys for. And although initially happy, and taking care of Mateo’s daughter, Callie can’t help being drawn to the dark empty rooms at the back of the house, and becomes convinced that someone is living in there. Uncovering the house’s history, she discovers the shocking truth.

As Callie’s fear of the darkness returns, she comes to understand the true nature of evil…

The Secrets of Blood and Bone (Secrets #2)Rebecca Alexander (October 9, Del Rey UK)

Venice, 16th Century. Having undertaken a mission of the upmost discretion, occultist and scholar Edward Kelley finds the answers he seeks are more perilous than can be believed, and his ultimate salvation means confronting the darkest deeds of his past.

England, 21st Century. Running from her past and hiding from her future, Jackdaw Hammond buys a new home in the middle of nowhere. But her fresh start is threatened by a wild magic similar to her own. The legacy of Edward Kelley remains, and with their fates inexorably entwined, the battle for Jackdaw’s soul has just begun.

Shadow BoxerTricia Sullivan (October 9, Ravenstone)

Jade Barrera is a 17-year-old champion martial arts fighter; when she’s in the case she dominates her opponents—but in real like she’s out of control. After a confrontation with a Hollywood star that threatens her gym’s reputation, Jade’s coach sends her to a training camp in Thailand for an attitude adjustment.

Hoping to discover herself, she instead uncovers a shocking conspiracy. In a world just beyond our own, a man is stealing the souls of children to try and live forever.

As Jade’s world collides with that of 10-year-old refugee Mya, can she keep her cool and remember the training camp’s lessons when she enters the ring for the fight of her life? A fight that will seal not only her own fate, but Mya’s too…

Time BombScott K. Andrews (October 9, Hodder & Stoughton)

New York City, 2141: eighteen-year-old Yojana Patel throws herself off a skyscraper, but never hits the ground. Cornwall, 1640: fourteen-year-old Dora Predennick, newly come to Sweetclover Hall to work, discovers a badly-burnt woman at the bottom of a flight of stairs. When she reaches out to comfort the dying woman, she’s knocked unconscious, only to wake, centuries later, in empty laboratory.

On a rainy night in present-day Cornwall, seventeen-year-old Kaz Cecka sneaks into the long-abandoned Sweetclover Hall, determined to secure a dry place to sleep. Instead he finds a frightened housemaid who believes Charles I is king and an angry girl who claims to come from the future. Thrust into the centre of an adventure that spans millennia, Dora, Kaz and Jana must learn to harness powers they barely understand to escape not only villainous Lord Sweetclover but the forces of a fanatical army… all the while staying one step ahead of a mysterious woman known only as Quil.

Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets—ed. David Thomas Moore (October 9, Abaddon)

From the mirror balls of Studio 54 to the heart of a bloody Wizard war, this is Holmes and Watson as you’ve never, ever seen them before. In Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets Abaddon Books editor has brought together the finest celebrated and new talents in sf and fantasy writing to create a new generation of Sherlock stories that will confound everything you thought you knew about the most famous figures of Doyle’s fiction.

Featuring witch trials, fan fiction and a host of grisly murders, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets is a contemporary look at the world of Sherlock Holmes that will go far beyond delighting fans of the books, films and TV series, and provide a challenging new world for genre lovers to explore.

A Vision of FireGillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin (October 9, Simon & Schuster)

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mum trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lacklustre love life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts having violent visions.

Maanik’s parents are sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when children start having similar outbursts around the world, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a stranger force at work.

With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe and uncover the supernatural links between these seemingly unrelated cases in order to save her patient… and perhaps the world.

The Witch with No Name (The Hollows #13)Kim Harrison (October 9, Harper Voyager)

Rachel Morgan has come a long way since her early days as an inexperienced bounty hunter. She’s faced vampires and werewolves, banshees, witches, and soul-eating demons. She’s crossed worlds, channelled gods, and accepted her place as a day-walking demon. She’s lost friends and lovers and family, and an old enemy has unexpectedly become something much more.

But power demands responsibility, and world-changers must always pay a price. Rachel knew that this day would come—and now it is here.

To save Ivy’s soul and the rest of the living vampires, to keep the demonic ever-after and our own world from destruction, Rachel Morgan will risk everything…

An English Ghost StoryKim Newman (October 10, Titan)

A dysfunctional British nuclear family seeks a new life away from the big city in the sleepy Somerset countryside. At first their new home, The Hollow, seems to embrace them, creating a rare peace and harmony within the family. When the house turns on them, however, it seems to know just how to hurt them the most—threatening to destroy them from the inside out.


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.

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