Twenty-nine new releases appear on the science fiction shelves this month, with space making a comeback and the young-adult takeover continuing. (Missing a favorite? Check tomorrow’s “Genre-Bender” column.)
Look for new series releases from, among others, Ann Leckie (Imperial Radch), Jack Campbell (The Lost Stars), Dan Krokos (The Planet Thieves), Ramez Naam (Nexus), and Mike Shepherd (Kris Longknife). Also check out new anthologies edited by Rick Wilber (Field of Fantasies: Baseball Stories), Ellen Datlow (Nightmare Carnival), and Hank Davis (The Baen Big Book of Monsters).
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.
A Call to Duty (Honorverse: Manticore Ascendant #1)—David Weber and Timothy Zahn (October 7, Baen)
Travis Uriah Long yearned for order and discipline in his life. When Travis enlisted in the Royal Manticoran Navy, he thought he’d finally found that structure. The Star Kingdom of Manticore is a minor nation among the worlds of the Diaspora, its closest neighbors weeks or months away, with little in the way of resources. With only modest interstellar trade, no foreign contacts to speak of, a plague-ravaged economy to rebuild, and no enemies looming at the hyper limit, there are factions in Parliament who want nothing more than to scrap the Navy and shift its resources and manpower elsewhere. Those factions are mistaken. The universe is not a safe place. Travis Long is about to find that out.
A Vision of Fire—Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin (October 7, Simon451)
Child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father, but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient, and perhaps the world.
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2)—Ann Leckie (October 7, Orbit)
The Lord of the Radch has given Breq command of the ship Mercy of Kalr and sent her to the only place she would have agreed to go, to Athoek Station, where Lieutenant Awn’s sister works in Horticulture. Athoek was annexed some six hundred years ago, and by now everyone is fully civilized, or should be. But everything is not as tranquil as it appears. Old divisions are still troublesome, Athoek Station’s AI is unhappy with the situation, and it looks like the alien Presger might have taken an interest in what’s going on. With no guarantees that interest is benevolent.
Brood—Chase Novak (October 7, Mulholland)
Adam and Alice are reaching the age when some of the children created by the fertility treatment that spawned them begin to turn feral. Will they succomb to the same physiological horror that destroyed their parents? Every change brings on terror, the voice cracking as it changes, the swelling of the breasts, the coarsening of down into actual hair. Their aunt, Cynthia, oversees renovations to the Twisden family’s Manhattan residence, torn apart by the children’s parents at their most savage, and struggles to give her niece and nephew the unconditional love they never had. Meanwhile, in the world outside, the forces of good and evil collide as a troop of feral offspring threatens to invade the refuge Cynthia is so determined to construct behind the Twisdens’ walls.
Emergent (Annex #2)—Rachel Cohn (October 7, Disney-Hyperion)
Young Adult. When Zhara plays, she plays to win. She thought she had escaped the horrors of Doctor Lusardi’s cloning compound. Elysia has taken everything from Zhara, an inescapable reminder of all she’s failed at in her life. The man Zhara loves has replaced her with Elysia. Elysia has finally learned the truth: she has a soul. Her First is alive. The genetically-perfected Aquine has chosen her as his life mate, and their days together are limited. Elysia can’t remain in the Rave Caves off the shores of Denesme forever. Hundreds of soulless clones remain imprisoned like Elysia once was. As a group of clones and humans, led by Alexander, plot an insurrection, Elysia knows her place is fighting by his side. Nothing can prepare Elysia for the ticking time bomb built into her own programming.
Endgame: The Calling—James Frey and 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.
Field of Fantasies: Baseball Stories of the Strange and Supernatural—edited by Rick Wilber (October 7, Night Shade)
Of all the sports played across the globe, none has more curses, superstitions, or supernatural events like baseball, America’s National Pastime. While some of these can easily be explained, there are just as many that cannot. Field of Fantasies delves right into that superstition with short stories written by several authors about baseball and the supernatural. Whether it’s a frozen curveball, a robot pitcher, or fantasy outcomes (the Cubs winning the World Series!), these terrific stories are ones that fans of science fiction will enjoy while fans of baseball will find strangely believable. Included in this anthology as stories from such prolific authors as: Stephen King, Jack Keroac, Karen Joy Fowler, Rod Serling, W. P. Kinsella, and many more.
Nightmare Carnival—edited by Ellen Datlow (October 7, Dark Horse Books)
A boy’s eleventh birthday heralds the arrival of a bizarre new entourage, a suicidal diva just can’t seem to die, and a washed up wrestler goes toe-to-toe with a strange new foe. All of these queer marvels and more can be found at the “Nightmare Carnival.” A new anthology of insidious and shocking tales in this horrific and irresistible offering.. Contributing authors include: Terry Dowling, Joel Lane, Priya Sharma, Dennis Danvers, and Nick Mamatas.
Orbs II: Stranded—Nicholas Sansbury Smith (October 7, Simon451)
The thrilling story of Dr. Sophie Winston and her team of survivors continues. The Organics continue to drain the oceans, raising temperatures worldwide, and the few remaining humans have been herded into farms, where the water in their bodies is harvested to support the growing alien army. Humanity’s last chance lies with the biospheres that the mysterious New Tech Corporation has planted across the globe. With resources dwindling, and a new, more terrifying alien form hunting them down, not all the biospheres will make it. But there is still hope. In Sophie’s biosphere, her team has managed to create a magnetic weapon that just might give the human resistance a fighting chance, if they can live long enough to use it. (Digital)
The Baen Big Book of Monsters—edited by Hank Davis (October 7, Baen)
Featuring a mix of classic science fiction reprints and original stories all filled with Really Big Monsters! Includes legends such as Arthur C. Clark, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, David Drake and more, as well as Baen regulars Larry Correia, Wen Spencer, Sarah A. Hoyt, and more. From the dragons of legend to Jack the Giant Killer’s colleague to King Kong and Godzilla, people have found the idea of giant creatures both scary and fascinating. Why so many should find accounts of a critter big enough to gulp down a puny human like an insignificantly small hor d’oeuvre or step on said human and leave a grease spot might be explained by the psychologists, but such yarns are undeniable fun, and here’s a book crammed full of things that you can’t outrun because they take big steps, by writers with equally large reputations.
The Chaplain’s War—Brad R. Torgersen (October 7, Baen)
The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all? More than he thinks. While the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. He embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.
The Invisible (Brokenhearted #2)—Amelia Kahaney, (October 7, HarperTeen)
Young Adult. Taking up where The Brokenhearted ended, the sequel finds Anthem Fleet attempting to return to a normal life after an experimental surgery that left her with a bionic hummingbird heart and a terrifying new strength. But she can’t shake her suspicions about her father’s connection to the Syndicate and she can’t ignore the cries of help in the crime-ridden city of Bedlam. She finds new promise in her relationship with Ford, but after his lifesaving surgery, the Ford Anthem knew slips away. When a mysterious new group called “The Invisible” starts attacking the privileged North Siders, Anthem has to step up and be the New Hope that Bedlam needs, or Bedlam will fall, once and for all.
The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword (The Lost Stars #3)—Jack Campbell (October 7, Ace)
President Gwen Iceni and General Artur Drakon have successfully liberated the Midway Star System, but the former rulers of the Syndicate Worlds won’t surrender the region without a fight. The dictatorial regime has ordered the ex–Syndicate CEOs terminated and the system’s citizens punished for their defiance. Outnumbered, Midway’s warships are no match for the fleet massing and preparing to strike. Another former CEO has taken control of the Ulindi Star System, the first calculated move toward establishing his own little empire. With Drakon’s ground forces dispatched to Ulindi, Midway erupts in violence as Syndicate agents and others stoke a renewed revolt against Iceni’s power, leaving both her and Drakon vulnerable to trusted officers waiting for an opportune moment to betray them.
The Twin Powers—Robert Lipsyte (October 7, Clarion)
Young Adult. In this stand-alone sequel to The Twinning Project, thirteen-year-old twins Tom and Eddie, aware that their homes are at risk, have been waiting for a chance to save their planets. The sudden appearance of an alien both in Tom’s school lunchroom and on Eddie’s baseball field tells them that now is the time. The stakes are high, and sinister U.S. government agents want their piece of the pie. Can Tom and Eddie persuade the alien council to preserve their worlds, or will both troubled planets just go up in smoke? Middle grade space adventure? Check. Aliens who quote Mark Twain? Check. Suspense? Check. Blast off.
Valhalla—Robert J. Mrazek (October 7, Signet)
Along the Greenland ice cap, an expedition team makes an astounding discovery. Buried five hundred feet below the ice cap is the wreckage of an ancient ship, and nine perfectly preserved Vikings. Rune markings indicate it went missing in 1016 BC. Energized by the find, retired Air Force general Steven Macaulay assembles the foremost scholars of Norse archaeology, including Harvard academic and master decoder Lexy Vaughan. But the mission is violently sabotaged, because this discovery holds the key to a mystery that will change the human race. To put together the pieces of the puzzle, Macaulay and Lexy plunge headlong into a web of chaos and betrayal, all the while hunted by a covert primeval society that will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.
White Sands: An Orbs Prequel—Nicholas Sansbury Smith (October 7, Simon451)
Jeff and his little brother David were normal kids; they loved video games, fighter planes, and learning to hunt with their Dad. Little did they know, their lives were about to change. The boys and their father find themselves stranded in the desert when a military jet comes careening out of the sky and crashes directly into their car. Out of contact with the rest of the world, the trio must make the perilous journey back to civilization. But, downed aircrafts, stalled out cars, and mysterious glowing blue orbs litter the desert landscape. Slowly they come to realize that the world is under attack and the civilization they once knew may no longer exist. Now the boys and their father are in a fight to survive across a barren landscape, a fight that not all will win. (ebook only)
BZRK Apocalypse (BZRK #3)—Michael Grant (October 14, EgmontUSA)
Young Adult. The conclusion to the BZRK trilogy. The members of BZRK are preparing for their final stand. Noah and Sadie have seen death, and it holds no fear for them. Madness does, though. And losing each other. But they will not sit back, the only witnesses to an invisible apocalypse. The world is being destroyed from the inside out. It’s time for them to fight to the last, in the streets and in the nano. This is a story with both thrills and heart, packed with jaw-dropping set pieces and pace. Join them. (U.S.)
Strike (The SYLO Chronicles #3)—D.J. MacHale (October 14, Razorbill)
Young Adult. Once again, Tucker Pierce and friends must fight for their lives against the better-equipped SYLO. All bets are off in Strike, with twists so big readers will never see them coming, while the action and pulse-pounding suspense remain as high as ever. Fans will be sure to devour this incredibly satisfying conclusion.
The Black Stars (The Planet Thieves #2)—Dan Krokos (October 14, Starscape)
Mason Stark has a problem with minding his own business. This worked to his advantage when he helped bring peace between humans and the alien Tremist. With the new peace treaty on shaky ground, Mason is called upon to infiltrate the Tremist school for soldiers. Mason’s bound to find trouble, but when his new classmates begin to disappear under mysterious circumstances, trouble might find him first. The Tremist are working on a secret project, but what Mason discovers goes beyond that, to an ancient, powerful enemy. With that very enemy threatening to invade, Mason must call on his friends, both human and Tremist, to fight. They call him a hero, and now that’s what he must be, even if it requires the ultimate sacrifice.
The Terminals: A Novel—Royce Scott Buckingham (October 14, Thomas Dunne)
When Cam Cody is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he expects to spend the rest of his shortened life in an adjustable bed. A mysterious man offers Cam one chance to join a covert unit of young “terminals.” They are like him, only they spend the last year of their lives executing exciting and dangerous missions. A helicopter flies Cam to a secret tropical location. He meets his nine teammates. The other terminals don’t seem sick. He learns that they’re enhanced with an experimental super steroid TS-8. It’s also fatal if taken for more than a year. Cam joins this extreme spy team, and they begin pulling dangerous operations in multiple countries. He starts to receive cryptic messages from a haggard survivor of last year’s class hiding in the forest. She reveals that the program isn’t what it seems, leading Cam to question whether any of them are really sick at all.
War Dogs—Greg Bear (October 14, Orbit)
They made their presence on Earth known thirteen years ago. Providing technology and scientific insights far beyond what mankind was capable of. They became indispensable advisors and promised even more gifts that we just couldn’t pass up. We called them Gurus. It took them a while to drop the other shoe. You can see why, looking back. It was a very big shoe, completely slathered in crap. They had been hounded by mortal enemies from sun to sun, planet to planet, and were now stretched thin, and they needed our help. And so our first bill came due. Skyrines like me were volunteered to pay the price. As always. These enemies were already inside our solar system and were moving to establish a beachhead, but not on Earth. On Mars. (U.S.)
Bathing the Lion—Jonathan Carroll (October 21, St. Martin’s Press)
Five people who live in the same New England town go to sleep one night and all share the same hyper-realistic dream. Some of these people know each other; some don’t. When they wake the next day all of them know what has happened. All five were at one time “mechanics,” a kind of cosmic repairman whose job is to keep order in the universe and clean up the messes made both by sentient beings and the utterly fearsome yet inevitable Chaos that periodically rolls through. After a certain period all of them are retired and sent to different parts of the cosmos to live out their days as “civilians.” Their memories are wiped clean and new identities are created for them that fit the places they go to live out their natural lives to the end. For the first time all retired mechanics are being brought back to duty: Chaos has a new plan, and it’s not looking good for mankind.
The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers #1)—Peter F. Hamilton (October 21, Del Rey)
The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel, self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void. Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics, the Fallers, that are intelligent but merciless killers. Yet these same aliens may hold the key to destroying the threat of the Void forever. As the Fallers’ relentless attacks continue, and the fragile human society splinters into civil war, Nigel must uncover the secrets of the Fallers, before he is killed by the very people he has come to save. (U.S.)
Apex (Nexus #3)—Ramez Naam (October 28, Angry Robot)
Global unrest spreads as mass protests advance throughout the US and China, Nexus-upgraded riot police battle against upgraded protestors, and a once-dead scientist plans to take over the planet’s electronic systems. The world has never experienced turmoil of this type, on this scale. They call them the Apex, humanity’s replacement. They’re smarter, faster, better. And infinitely more dangerous. Humanity is dying. Long live the Apex.
Catalyst (Insignia #3)—S.J. Kincaid (October 28, Katherine Tegen)
Young Adult. Tom Raines and his friends are eager to return to the Pentagonal Spire to continue training for the elite Intrasolar Forces, but they soon discover troubling changes: strict new regulations and the revelation that the Spire is under new military control. Those now in control are aligned with corporate sponsors and their ruthless agendas. When the military academy begins welcoming new cadets with suspicious neural processors, Tom is desperate to stop it, even if it means keeping secrets from his allies. A mysterious figure, the other ghost in the machine, begins fighting against the corporations, but with methods even Tom finds shocking. When the enemy comes for Tom, how much can Tom endure in the battle to save himself? He must decide if he can still fight when the odds of success seem to be sliding from his grip.
In the Afterlight (The Darkest Minds #3)—Alexandra Bracken (October 28, Disney-Hyperion)
Young Adult. Ruby and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. With them is a prisoner: Clancy Gray, son of the president, and one of the few people Ruby has encountered with abilities like hers. They are armed only with a volatile secret: proof of a government conspiracy to cover up the real cause of IANN, the disease that has killed most of America’s children. Reunited with Liam, the boy she would sacrifice everything for to keep alive, Ruby must face the painful repercussions of having tampered with his memories of her. She turns to Cole, his older brother, to provide the training she knows she will need to take down Gray and the government. But Cole has demons of his own, and one fatal mistake may be the spark that sets the world on fire.
Kris Longkife: Tenacious (Kris Longknife #12)—Mike Shepherd (October 28, Ace)
There’s no rest for a Longknife, even if you’re a newlywed. Vice Admiral Kris Longknife’s honeymoon gets cancelled when she hears that the space raider’s home world may have been discovered. Finding where the raiders came from could be the key to saving humanity. If only uncovering their secrets was that easy. As Kris returns home, she ends up tangling with a mutinous crew determined to take off on their own. The dissident group leads Kris straight into a new mess, a system filled with strange, deadly enemies poised to wipe another sentient civilization out of existence. Kris and her squadron are ready to prevent total annihilation, but the mutineers have other plans.
The Book of Strange New Things—Michel Faber (October 28, Hogarth)
Peter, devoted pastor, dedicated missionary, and loving husband to his wife, Bea, has just accepted a demanding and perilous new job. He’s to travel to a new planet, Oasis, to work for a mysterious corporation called USIC. He’s tasked with reaching out to the indigenous race, to make sure they are as peaceful. The Oasans are shockingly open to his teachings, but things start to unravel when Bea’s missives from Earth take a dark tone. Earth appears to be coming apart at the seams. The hospital where she works has ceased to function. USIC might be hiding its true motives in developing Oasis, and the Oasans themselves are frustratingly opaque. Bea’s letters are fomenting his doubt. Peter is suddenly faced with an impossible decision: to follow his faith, or follow his heart. His life depends on it.
The Peripheral—William Gibson (October 28, Putnam Adult)
Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran’s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC’s elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but there’s a job he’s supposed to do, a job Flynne didn’t know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little bug-like things turn up. He’s supposed to get in their way, edge them back. That’s all there is to it. He’s offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isn’t what Burton told her to expect. It might be a game, but it might also be murder.
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. You can find Suzanne on Facebook and on her website.