British Fiction Focus

British Fiction Hitlist: Late November New Releases

From the fold of the British Fiction Focus springs the British Fiction Hitlist: your biweekly breakdown of the most notable new releases out of the United Kingdom’s thriving speculative fiction industry.

There might be fewer books due in the next few weeks than usual, but they’re all such big hitters that I had a hard time deciding which to hit on in this intro. Eventually, however, I found something like a signal amongst all the noise: this, folks, is a fortnight of sci-fi sequels! Leading the pack, Ultima by Stephen Baxter. Picking up where Proxima left off, as past and present collide, this novel promises to reveal nothing less than “the true nature of the universe.” Symbiont, the sequel to last year’s divisive Parasite, doesn’t have such lofty ambitions, but if you’re on board for a bit of high concept body horror, book now. There’s also The Dark Defiles—the long-awaited last act of Richard Morgan’s marvellous science fantasy—and lest we forget The Peripheral by William Gibson. Not a sequel, no, but I could hardly let a fiction about two futures from the byzantine mind behind Neuromancer pass without remark.

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, Justin Richards, Ben Aaronovitch, George R. R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, Gavin Deas, John Connolly, Jennifer Ridyard, Gardner Dozois, Trisha Telep, William Gibson, Stephen Jones, Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kenner.

The Bane Chronicles (Mortal Instruments)Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan & Maureen Johnson (November 13, Walker)

Ever wanted to know why Magnus Bane is banned from Peru? Or what he got up to during the French Revolution? Or what he bought Shadowhunter Alec Lightwood as a birthday present? This book has the answers!

Originally released as individual, digital-only short stories by bestselling young adult authors Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan, The Bane Chronicles brings all ten into print for the first time and includes an exclusive eleventh tale in addition to new illustrated material.

The Blood Red City (Never War #2)Justin Richards (November 13, Del Rey UK)

The alien Vril are waking, and the Never War is heating up. Colonel Brinkman and his team at Station Z desperately need answers—they have to discover exactly what they are facing and how the attack will come. But the information doesn’t come easily. With a major Vril offensive imminent, the Nazis step up their own project to exploit Vril weapons and technology.

Leo Davenport finds himself fighting with the Greek resistance as he struggles to solve an ancient mystery. Major Guy Pentecross must travel to the ruined deathtrap of the most dangerous city in the world to track down the one man who can help.

From a spaceship crash in Bavaria in 1934 to the rat-infested devastation of Stalingrad, from the ancient ruins of occupied Greece to the bombed-out streets of London, the second book of the Never War series continues a secret history of the Second World War in which humanity itself is fighting for survival…

Foxglove Summer (Rivers of London #5)Ben Aaronovitch (November 13, Gollancz)

In the fifth of his bestselling series Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London—to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London, you can’t take the London out of the copper.

Travelling west with Beverley Brook, Peter soon finds himself caught up in a deep mystery and having to tackle local cops and local gods. And what’s more: all the shops close at 4PM!

Lowball (Wild Cards #22)—ed. George R. R. Martin & Melinda Snodgrass (November 13, Gollancz)

Decades after an alien virus changed the course of history, the surviving population of Manhattan still struggles to understand the new world left in its wake. Natural humans share the rough city with those given extraordinary—and sometimes terrifying—traits. While most manage to coexist in an uneasy peace, not everyone is willing to adapt. Down in the seedy underbelly of Jokertown, residents are going missing. The authorities are unwilling to investigate, except for a fresh lieutenant looking to prove himself and a collection of unlikely jokers forced to take matters into their own hands… or tentacles. The deeper into the kidnapping case these misfits and miscreants get, the higher the stakes are raised.

Edited by New York Times bestselling author George R.R. Martin and acclaimed author Melinda M. Snodgrass, Lowball is the latest mosaic novel in the acclaimed Wild Cards universe, featuring original fiction by Carrie Vaughn, Ian Tregillis, David Anthony Durham, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Mary Anne Mohanraj, David D. Levine, Michael Cassutt and Walter Jon Williams.

The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit For Heroes #3)Richard Morgan (November 20, Gollancz)

Compared to Michael Moorcock and Joe Abercrombie alike, Richard Morgan’s fast-moving and brutal science fantasy saga comes to a conclusion as Ringil arrives at his final reckoning and sees the world tipping into another war with the dragon folk. Meanwhile, most terrifying of all, the prophecy of a dark lord come to rule may be coming true very close to home…

Encounter the artifacts of an ancient race, learn the true story of the ghostly Dwenda and follow three old friends as they face their greatest test yet in The Dark Defiles, a gargantuan yet tight tale that both shines a light on ambiguities from earlier volumes and reveals still deeper mysteries.

Empires: ExtractionGavin Deas (November 20, Gollancz)

This groundbreaking collaboration between two Gollancz authors tells of the invasion of Earth by two different alien races… at the same time. Two men become aware of the threat, and must work to sabotage the invasion plans and see off the aliens.

Each book follows one hero, uncovering the threat to humanity and the world from their point of view. Each book can be read on its own, and will give the reader a complete, kinetic, fast-paced military SF story. But read both books and the reader gets something else: another view of (some of) the same events and crossover points, culminating in a bloody battle at Canary Wharf.

The two books can be read in any order, but together they tell the story of humanity caught in the crossfire between two deadly alien races, who have made Earth their battleground…

Empires: InfiltrationGavin Deas (November 20, Gollancz)

This groundbreaking collaboration between two Gollancz authors tells of the invasion of Earth by two different alien races… at the same time. Two men become aware of the threat, and must work to sabotage the invasion plans and see off the aliens.

Each book follows one hero, uncovering the threat to humanity and the world from their point of view. Each book can be read on its own, and will give the reader a complete, kinetic, fast-paced military SF story. But read both books and the reader gets something else: another view of (some of) the same events and crossover points, culminating in a bloody battle at Canary Wharf.

The two books can be read in any order, but together they tell the story of humanity caught in the crossfire between two deadly alien races, who have made Earth their battleground…

Empire (Chronicles of the Invaders #2)John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard (November 20, Headline)

Syl Hellais was the first of her kind, the Illyri, to be born on Earth after their invasion. Paul Kerr has dedicated his life to the human resistance movement, his people’s struggle to be free. Brought together by chance they formed the strongest of bonds. But now they will be punished for that love, and exiled to the outermost reaches of the universe.

For Syl, this means a journey to the centre of the Illyri empire, to the horrors of the Marque. Surrounded by murderous teens, gifted with terrifying abilities, she must penetrate to the heart of the power that lies there and uncover the darkness behind it.

As leader of a band of human conscripts and Illyri refugees on a distant planet, Paul too must discover the truth about the race that rules his people. The very existence of an entire solar system has been hidden and the future of Earth itself is uncertain. As the Illyri begin to leave the ancient planet, it seems it will be abandoned. But to what?

The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 27—ed. Gardner Dozois (November 20, Robinson)

For decades now Gardner Dozois has been presenting his annual selection of the very best of recently published SF stories, both by undisputed masters of the genre and by outstanding up-and-coming writers. It has been voted Year’s Best Anthology by the readers of Locus magazine an unparalleled eighteen times and remains the definitive anthology for both diehard sci-fi fans and newcomers to the genre.

Without fail, Dozois pinpoints the previous year’s most exciting and ambitious science fiction, showcasing truly exceptional contemporary writing. This year’s collection is better than ever, comprising 33 fantastic stories by writers of the calibre of Robert Reed, Aliette de Bodard, Alastair Reynolds, Carrie Vaughn, Ian R. MacLeod and Jay Lake.

The Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance—ed. Trisha Telep (November 20, Robinson)

Set in a lush, steamy world of ceaseless rain, swamps, alligators, overgrown cemeteries, and home-grown magic, these are dark and scary, yet pleasurably thrilling stories that unfold sinister secrets at every turn. These paranormal, suspenseful Southern Gothic romances are by both bestselling authors and bright up-and-coming talents, including Erin Kellison, Jessa Slade, Laurie London, Shelli Stevens, Coreene Callahan, Bec McMaster, Jill Archer, Elle Jasper, Angie Fox, Kait Ballenger, Tiffany Trent, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Shiloh Walker/JC Daniels, J. D. Horn and Dianne Sylvan.

The PeripheralWilliam Gibson (November 20, Viking)

Flynne Fisher lives down a country road, in a rural near-future America where jobs are scarce, unless you count illegal drug manufacture, which she’s keen to avoid. Her brother Burton lives, or tries to, on money from the Veterans Association, in compensation for neurological damage suffered in a Marines elite unit. Flynne earns what she can by assembling product at the local 3D printshop. She used to make more as a combat scout in an online game, playing for a rich man, but she’s had to let the shooter games go.

Wilf Netherton lives in London, seventy-some years later, on the far side of decades of slow-motion apocalypse. Things are pretty good now, for the haves, and there aren’t many have-nots left. Wilf, a high-powered publicist and celebrity-minder, fancies himself as a romantic misfit in a society where reaching into the past is just another hobby.

Burton’s been moonlighting online, secretly working security in some game prototype, a virtual world that looks vaguely like London, but a lot weirder. He’s got his sister taking over shifts, promised her the game’s not a shooter. Still, the crime Flynne witnesses there is plenty bad.

Flynne and Wilf are about to meet one another. Her world will be altered utterly, irrevocably, and Wilf’s, for all its decadence and power, will learn that some of these third-world types from the past can be badass.

Endgame (Zombie Apocalypse! #3)Stephen Jones (November 20, Robinson)

Human Reanimation Virus (HRV) has spread around the globe and most of the major cities have fallen or been destroyed. As a new race of intelligent zombies rise to power, the remaining pockets of human resistance make a last, desperate stand in the ruins of a world on the brink of unimaginable change.

With the final pieces of the epic puzzle falling into place, a centuries-old Endgame is revealed through a series of interconnected documents—emails, articles, reports, diaries and eyewitness accounts—as past and future hang in the balance.

In this third and final volume of the bestselling Zombie Apocalypse! trilogy, Thomas Moreby’s plan for world domination is finally revealed in all its mad glory, as the very fabric of time and space is ripped apart and history itself is about to be changed forever…

Symbiont (Parasitology #2)Mira Grant (November 25, Orbit)

SymboGen’s parasites were designed to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world’s population began attacking their hosts, turning them into a ravenous horde.

Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the parasites are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is and how they can be stopped.

Dead But Not Forgotten—ed. Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kenner (November 27, Gollancz)

Charlaine Harris’ smash-hit Sookie Stackhouse series may have come to its conclusion, but Bon Temps, Louisiana lives on in this all-new collection of fifteen stories brought to life by a killer line-up of authors including New York Times bestsellers Seanan McGuire and Mary Janice Davidson.

Dead But Not Forgotten puts your favourite characters, written by some of your favourite authors, centre stage.

Ultima (Proxima #2)Stephen Baxter (November 27, Gollancz)

Fresh from his latest collaboration with Terry Pratchett on The Long Earth sequence, Stephen Baxter returns to the mysteries and challenges first hinted at in his acclaimed novel Proxima.

In Proxima we discovered ancient alien artefacts on the planet of Per Ardua—hatches that allowed us to step across light years of space as if we were stepping into another room. The universe opened up to us. Now the consequences of this new freedom make themselves felt. We discover that there are minds in the universe that are billions of years old and they have a plan for us… for some of us.

But as we learn the true nature of the universe we also discover that we have countless pasts all meeting in this present and that our future is terrifyingly finite. It’s time for us to fight to take back control.


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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