Twenty-two books defy genrification in February, including new dystopian and time-travel anthologies and new steampunk titles from Elizabeth Bear, Leanna Renee Hieber, Kristin Bailey, and Viola Carr.
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.
As Time Goes By—edited by Hank Davis (February 3, Baen)
Time travel tales of love and the future, alternate realities, and the worlds of fantasy. “Love’s not time’s fool,” Shakespeare wrote, though he might have added that men and women can be both love and time’s fools. For time and love are universally experienced, yet mysterious and only dimly understood. Here’s a collection of stories with both transcendental mysteries in high gear, as lovers, happy and otherwise, are caught in bizarre twists of time. On hand to twist time into pretzel shapes, if not into Moebius strips, are authors such as Poul Anderson, John Wyndham, Christopher Priest, Richard McKenna, Michael Swanwick, Charlie Jane Anders, Tony Daniel, Sarah A. Hoyt, and more, as cupid hops aboard a time machine and the course of true love not only may not run smooth, but may run backwards and even sideways.
Young Adult. It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a POW camp, ruled by Rolladin and her warlords. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage. For Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility. Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the war’s outbreak. After a group of strangers arrives at the POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s secrets. The strangers hail from England, supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel. The sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past.
In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural North Carolina serves as uneasy caretaker to the visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a onetime teen idol takes a disturbing trip to the Florida swamp where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a ghost-hunting reality show. In “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn, and a teenage friendship is tested, when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present: a life-size animated doll. Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, “The Wizard of Oz, ” superheroes, the Pyramids. As fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty, and the hidden strengths, of human beings.
A steampunk novel set in Seattle in the late 19th century, an era when the town was called Rapid City, when the parts we now call Seattle Underground were the whole town, when airships plied the trade routes and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront. Karen is a “soiled dove,” a young woman on her own who is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts into her world one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, seeking sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. The next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap, a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
Young Adult. Meg has come a long way from her days as a lowly housemaid, driven to learn the truth behind her parents’ murder. She’s since discovered that they were part of the Secret Order of Modern Amusementists, an underground society of inventors. She joined the Amusementists as an apprentice, but that hasn’t brought her closer to the person responsible for the loss of her family: the man in the clockwork mask. Now he is coming for her. Meg is tired of being hunted and she intends to become the hunter. With help from Will, the boy who holds her heart, Meg embarks on an adventure that takes them far from the cold London winter and into the heart of France. There’s a plot afoot that could turn the tides of a terrible war, and cost the lives of millions, that is, if it doesn’t take the lives of everyone Meg holds dear, including her own.
A deadly spirit is killing off the faerie, and it has mysterious ties to Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. The only one who can stop it is the immortal Cross, a charming rogue who also happens to be a drunk, a thief, and an angel killer. He is no friend of the faerie since they stole his daughter and made her one of their own. When it appears she may be the next victim of the haunting, he must race against time to save her. He encounters an eccentric and deadly cast of characters along the way: the real Witches of Macbeth, the undead playwright/demon hunter Christopher Marlowe, an eerie Alice from the Alice in Wonderland books, a deranged and magical scholar, and a very supernatural William Shakespeare. When Cross discovers a startling secret about the origins of “Hamlet” itself, he finds himself trapped in a ghost story even he may not be able to escape alive.
London, 1882: Queen Victoria appoints Harold Spire of the Metropolitan Police to Special Branch Division Omega. Omega is to secretly investigate paranormal and supernatural events and persons. Spire’s chief researcher is Rose Everhart, who believes fervently that there is more to the world than can be seen by mortal eyes. Their first mission: find the Eterna Compound, which grants immortality. Catastrophe destroyed the laboratory in New York City where Eterna was developed, but the Queen is convinced someone escaped, and has a sample of Eterna. Also searching for Eterna is an American, Clara Templeton, who helped start the project after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln nearly destroyed her nation. She is determined that the Eterna Compound will be controlled by the United States, not Great Britain.
Rand al’Thor and his companions have at last been reunited. Their journey in search of the Eye of the World nears its climax as they dare the otherworldly Ways, guided by an Ogier, Loial, and narrowly escape the menace of the soul-stealing Machin Shin. When the group reaches the realm of the Green Man, they believe themselves safe. Two of the Forsaken are waiting for them, ready to attack and to guide their dark lord, Ba’alzamon, to the ones he has been seeking. When the three young men left Emond’s Field, they were untried blades. Their long journey has stolen much of their innocence and made them seasoned warriors, given them powers and gifts they did not seek and are still learning to use. Not until the final moments are they sure which of them the Dark One intends to claim, and whether that one is strong enough to fight back and survive.
Unwillingly thrust into marriage to England’s King Æthelred, Emma has given the king a son and heir, but theirs has never been a happy marriage. It’s 1006 when a beleaguered Æthelred, still haunted by his brother’s ghost, governs with an iron fist and a royal policy that embraces murder. As tensions escalate and enmities solidify, Emma forges alliances to protect her young son from ambitious men, even from the man she loves. In the north there is treachery brewing, and when Viking armies ravage England, loyalties are shattered and no one is safe from the sword.
Dominic Lancaster hoped to prove himself to his family by excelling in the Navy during World War II. Instead he is wounded while serving as a gunner, and loses his leg. Dominic finds himself shuffled off to the countryside by his family, along with his partially deaf sister, Octavia. The crumbling family estate on the shores of Ullswater doesn’t seem to promise much in the way of happiness or recovery. Something more than a friendship begins to flourish between Dominic and his nurse Rose. Another thing that’s flourishing is Octavia’s hearing. Sinister forces seem to be materializing around Octavia, who is hearing voices of children. With Octavia’s help, Dominic sets out to find the truth behind the voices that have haunted his sister. In doing so, he uncovers an even older, darker evil that threatens not only Octavia, but Rose and himself. (U.S.)
Matthew Cannonbridge was touched by genius, the most influential creative mind of the 19th century, a prolific novelist, accomplished playwright, the poet of his generation. The only problem is, he should never have existed and beleaguered, provincial, recently-divorced 21st Century don Toby Judd is the only person to realize something has gone wrong with history. All the world was Cannonbridge’s and he possessed, seemingly, the ability to be everywhere at once. Cannonbridge’s life and career spanned a century, earning him a place in the English canon. As bibliophiles everywhere prepare to toast the bicentenary of the publication of Cannonbridge’s most celebrated work, Judd’s discovery will lead him on a chase across the English canon and countryside, to the realization that the specter of Matthew Cannonbridge, planted so seamlessly into the heart of the 19th Century, might not be so dead and buried after all.
Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you”; with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends, Sebastian and Daniela, and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love. Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?
In an electric-powered Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll is a crime scene investigator, hunting killers with new technological gadgets. A new killer is splattering London with blood, drugging beautiful women and slicing off their limbs. Catching “the Chopper” could make Eliza’s career, or get her burned. Eliza has a dark secret. A seductive second self, set free by her father’s forbidden magical elixir: wild, impulsive Lizzie Hyde. When the Royal Society sends their enforcer, the mercurial Captain Lafayette, to prove she’s a sorceress, Eliza must resist the elixir with all her power. As the Chopper case draws her into London’s luminous, magical underworld, Eliza will need all the help she can get. Even if it means getting close to Lafayette, who harbors an evil curse of his own. Even if it means risking everything and setting vengeful Lizzie free.
Skinheads. Drug dealers. Cops. For two brothers-of-circumstance navigating the violent streets of this industrial wasteland, every urban tribe is a potential threat. Yet it is amongst the denizens of these unforgiving alleys, dangerous squat houses, and underground nightclubs that the brothers, and the small street tribe to which they belong, forge the bonds that will see them through minor cruelties, the constant grind of poverty, and savage boot culture violence. Friendship. Understanding. Affinity. For two brothers, these fragile ties are the only hope they have for salvation in the wake of a mutual girlfriend’s suicide, an event so devastating that it drives one to seek solace far from his steel city roots, and the other to a tragic-yet miraculous-transformation, a heartbreaking metamorphosis from poet and musician to street prophet, emerging from a self-imposed cocoon an urban shaman, mad-eyed shaper of (t)ruthless reality.
Kell is one of the last Travelers, rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back. Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ’proper adventure’. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive.
The moment just before Radar Radmanovic is born, all of the hospital’s electricity mysteriously fails. Lights back on, the staff sees a healthy baby boy, with pitch-black skin, born to the stunned white parents. No one understands the uncanny electrical event or the unexpected skin color. Deep in arctic Norway, Norwegian schoolteachers are imprisoned during the Second World War. Founding a radical secret society that will hover on the margins of history for decades to come, these schoolteachers steal radioactive material from a Nazi nuclear reactor and use it to stage a surreal art performance. This society appears again in the aftermath of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime, when another performance takes place but goes horrifically wrong. All of these stories are linked by Radar, now a gifted radio operator living in New Jersey, who struggles with love, a set of hapless parents, and a medical affliction that he has only just begun to comprehend.
Luke Ballard has dedicated his talents to protecting the throne. As Henry IX’s Privy Inquirer and Dominus Elemancer, his loyalty is no longer in question. When Queen Madeline’s coronation is interrupted with the news that Arthur, the baby Prince of Wales, has been abducted, Luke is given an ultimatum: retrieve the royal heir and prevent future threats to the royal family or lose his head. The evil sorcerers of Custodes Tenebris will not rest until they hold power in England with Catholic Mary as a puppet Queen. Luke has bested them before, but he’s never needed to defeat evil while falling in love, Arthur’s nursemaid, the beautiful Blanche Oliver, has won him over with her seductive charms. As Luke’s investigation leads into the dark recesses of his own family’s past, Blanche’s hold on him deepens. Luke will need to draw upon untested strength and sort truth from feminine fiction, for the enemy’s reach is long and time is running out. (Digital)
Young Adult. Faith Daniels and Dylan Gilmore are in love, and they have a special ability called a pulse: they can move things with their minds. They’re caught in the middle of a deadly war with two other pulses: Clara and Wade Quinn, who have joined forces with Hotspur Chance, the most wanted man in the world. Faith and Dylan are holed up in a mountain lodge and their Intel friend Hawk leaves them in the middle of the night. Hawk’s plan is to penetrate the Western State and make contact with a sleeper cell working on the inside that will give them valuable information about Hotspur’s violent plan. Faith and Dylan are still fighting on the outside. In a series of hair-raising battles, the second pulses duel it out. Faith and Dylan discover an even greater strength: the power of their combined love. Faith and Dylan might just be able to save the world with a quake that is big enough to change the course of history.
From the deeply unsettling to the possibly supernatural, these thirty-one border-crossing stories from around the world explore the uncanny in literature, and delve into our increasingly unstable sense of self, home, and planet. The collection opens with “The Sand-man,” E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1817 tale of dopplegangers and automatons. Following are stories by 19th– and 20th-century masters of the uncanny, including Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, and Shirley Jackson, as well as sixteen contemporary authors whose work blurs the boundaries between the familiar and the unknown.
They never meant to be heroes. For seventy years they guarded the British Empire. Oblivion and Fogg, inseparable friends, bound together by a shared fate. Until one night in Berlin, in the aftermath of the Second World War, and a secret that tore them apart. But there must always be an account, and the past has a habit of catching up to the present. Now, recalled to the Retirement Bureau from which no one can retire, Fogg and Oblivion must face up to a past of terrible war and unacknowledged heroism, a life of dusty corridors and secret rooms, of furtive meetings and blood-stained fields, to answer one last, impossible question: What makes a hero? (U.S.)
Thirty examples of post-apocalyptic short fiction, including works by: Ann Aguirre, Megan Arkenberg, Paolo Bacigalupi, Christopher Barzak,Lauren Beukes, David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Junot Díaz, Cory Doctorow, Tananarive Due, Toiya Kristen Finley, Milo James Fowler, Maria Dahvana Headley, Hugh Howey, Keffy R. M. Kehrli, Jake Kerr, Nancy Kress, Joe R. Lansdale, George R. R. Martin, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire, Maureen F. McHugh, D. Thomas Minton, Rudy Rucker & Bruce Sterling, Ramsey Shehadeh, Robert Silverberg, Rachel Swirsky, Genevieve Valentine, James Van Pelt and Christie Yant.
A world of corruption, decay, political intrigue, and bile-inducing detail in this novella. After introducing Agonistes, an imperfect creation of God who hears the pleas of the wronged and remakes them in the most horrific manner imaginable, Barker focuses on the fictional ancient city of Primordium, where hit man Zarles Kreiger ends up in a romantic affair with Lucidique, the daughter of his latest victim. They’re both transformed by Agonistes, changing the balance of power in the city and leading to the creation of more abominations. Primordium is fully fleshed out with small details, but much is left for readers to wonder (and have nightmares) about, like just how the mad scientist Talisac managed to make himself pregnant with one of the monsters.