British Fiction Focus

British Fiction Hitlist: Early February New Releases

A short month February may be, but it’s not short—not at all—on new books, not least Trigger Warning, the great Neil Gaiman’s first collection of short stories since Fragile Things in 2006.

The next fortnight will also see the release of Guns of the Dawn, a standalone fantasy by Shadows of the Apt’s Adrian Tchaikovsky, and my personal pick of the period: Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I can’t put my finger on why, exactly, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

Not only, but also: the second volume of The Shattered Sea is almost upon us. Half the World by Joe Abercrombie is only a few weeks away!

This edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Holly Black, Allan Stratton, Naomi Foyle, Chris Evans, Brian McClellan, Jonathan Barnes, Anna Smaill, Myke Cole, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Dave Bara, Emmi Itaranta, Victoria Aveyard, Mark Stay, Arwen Elys Dayton, Oscar de Muriel, Randy Henderson and John Joseph Adams.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesNeil Gaiman (February 3, Headline)

In this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction-stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013—as well as ‘Black Dog,’ a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods.

Trigger Warning is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explores the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story—a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane—Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year—stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Trigger Warning engages the mind, stirs the heart, and shakes the soul. Neil Gaiman is one of the most original and popular literary artists of our day.

The Darkest Part of the ForestHolly Black (February 5, Indigo)

Near the little town of Fairfold, in the darkest part of the forest, lies a glass casket. Inside the casket lies a sleeping faerie prince that none can rouse. He’s the most fascinating thing Hazel and her brother Ben have ever seen. They dream of waking him—but what happens when dreams come true?

In the darkest part of the forest, you must be careful what you wish for…

The DogsAllan Stratton (February 5, Andersen)

Cameron and his mom have been on the run for five years. His father is hunting them. At least, that’s what Cameron’s been told.

When they settle in an isolated farmhouse, Cameron starts to see and hear things that aren’t possible. Soon he’s questioning everything he thought he knew and even his sanity.

Rook Song (The Astra Chronicles #2)Naomi Foyle (February 5, Jo Fletcher)

Astra Ordott is in exile. Evicted from Is-Land for a crime she cannot regret, she has found work in an ancient fortress in Non-Land: headquarters of the Council of New Continents, the global body charged with providing humanitarian aid to the inhabitants of this toxic refugee camp.

Recovering from a disorienting course of Memory Pacification Treatment, Astra struggles to focus on her overriding goals—to find her Code father and avenge the death of her Shelter mother, Hokma.

But can the CONC compound director, the ambiguous Major Thames, protect her from the hawk-eyed attentions of her old enemies? And who in this world of competing agendas can she trust? The deeper Astra ventures into this new world, the more she realises her true quest may be to find herself.

Of Bone and ThunderChris Evans (February 6, Titan)

Apocalypse Now meets The Lord of the Rings in a bold new fantasy from the acclaimed author of the Iron Elves trilogy.

Channelling the turbulent period of the Vietnam War and its ruthless pitting of ideologies, cultures, generations, and races against each other, military historian and acclaimed fantasy writer Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, right and wrong, country and honour, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.

In this strange, new world, deep among the shadows under a triple-canopy jungle and plagued by dangers real and imagined, soldiers strive to fulfil a mission they don’t understand and are ill-equipped to carry out. And high above them, the heavy rush of wings slashing through the humid air herald a coming wave of death and destruction, and just possibly, salvation.

The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3)Brian McClellan (February 10, Orbit)

Field Marshal Tamas has finally returned to Adopest, only to find the capital in the hands of a foreign power. With his son Taniel presumed dead, Tamas must gather his beleaguered forces and formulate a plan to defeat the Kez—no easy task when you’re outnumbered and can’t tell friend from foe.

With their enemy bearing down on them, the Adran command is in disarray. Someone, it seems, is selling secrets to the Kez. Inspector Adamat is determined to flush out the traitor, but as the conspiracy unravels, he will learn a horrifying truth.

Taniel Two-Shot, the powder mage who shot a god in the eye, is on the run. He possesses the sole means of defeating the Kez, but to do so he must evade treachery at every turn. If he fails, Adro will fall.

CannonbridgeJonathan Barnes (February 12, Solaris)

Flamboyant Matthew Cannonbridge was touched by genius, the most influential mind of the 19th century, a novelist, playwright, the poet of his generation. The only problem is, he should never have existed, and recently-divorced 21st-century don Toby Judd is the only person to realise something is wrong with history.

Cannonbridge was everywhere: he was by Lake Geneva when talk between Byron, Shelley and Mary Godwin turned to the supernatural; he was friend to the young Dickens as he laboured in the blacking factory; he was the only man of note to visit Wilde in prison. His extraordinary life spanned a century. But as the world prepares to toast the bicentenary of Cannonbridge’s most celebrated work, Judd’s discovery leads him on a breakneck chase across the English canon and countryside, to the realisation that the spectre of Matthew Cannonbridge, planted so seamlessly into the heart of the 19th-century, might not be so dead and buried after all…

The ChimesAnna Smaill (February 12, Sceptre)

A boy stands on the roadside on his way to London, alone in the rain. No memories, beyond what he can hold in his hands at any given moment. No directions, as written words have long since been forbidden. No parents—just a melody that tugs at him, a thread to follow: a song that says if he can just get to the capital, he may find some answers about what happened to them. The world around Simon sings, each movement a pulse of rhythm, each object weaving its own melody, music ringing in every drop of air.

Welcome to the world of The Chimes. Here, life is orchestrated by a vast musical instrument that renders people unable to form new memories. The past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is blasphony.

But slowly, inexplicably, Simon is beginning to remember. He emerges from sleep each morning with a pricking feeling, and sense there is something he urgently has to do. In the city Simon meets Lucien, who has a gift for hearing, some secrets of his own, and a theory about the danger lurking in Simon’s past.

Gemini Cell (Shadow Ops #4)Myke Cole (February 12, Headline)

US Navy SEAL Jim Schweitzer is a consummate professional, a fierce warrior, and a hard man to kill. But when he sees something he was never meant to see on a covert mission gone bad, he finds himself—and his family—in the crosshairs. Nothing means more to Jim than protecting his loved ones, but when the enemy brings the battle to his front door, he is overwhelmed and taken down.

That should be the end of the story. But Jim is raised from the dead by a sorcerer and recruited by a top secret unit dabbling in the occult, known only as the Gemini Cell. With powers he doesn’t understand, Jim is called back to duty… as the ultimate warrior. As he wrestles with a literal inner demon, Jim realises his new superiors are determined to use him for their own ends and keep him in the dark—especially about the fates of his wife and son.

Guns of the DawnAdrian Tchaikovsky (February 12, Tor UK)

Denland and Lascanne have been allies for generations, but now the Denlanders have assassinated their king, overthrown the monarchy and marched on their northern neighbour. At the border, the war rages; Lascanne’s brave redcoats against the revolutionaries of Denland.

Emily Marshwic has watched the war take her brother-in-law and now her young brother. Then comes the call for more soldiers, to a land already drained of husbands, fathers and sons. Every household must give up one woman to the army and Emily has no choice but to join the ranks of young women marching to the front.

In the midst of warfare, with just enough training to hold a musket, Emily comes face to face with the reality: the senseless slaughter; the weary cynicism of the Survivor’s Club; the swamp’s own natives hiding from the conflict.

As the war worsens, and Emily begins to have doubts about the justice of Lascanne’s cause, she finds herself in a position where her choices will make or destroy both her own future and that of her nation.

Half the World (The Shattered Sea #2)Joe Abercrombie (February 12, Harper Voyager)

Desperate to avenge her dead father, Thorn lives to fight. But she has been named murderer by the very man who trained her to kill.

Fate traps her in the schemes—and on the ship—of the deep-cunning minister Father Yarvi. Crossing half the world to find allies against the ruthless High King, she learns harsh lessons of blood and deceit.

Beside her on her gruelling journey is Brand, a young warrior who hates to kill. A failure in his eyes and hers, he has one chance at redemption.

Will Thorn forever be a tool in the hands of the powerful or can she carve her own path? Is there a place beyond legend for a woman with a blade?

Impulse (The Lightship Chronicles #1)Dave Bara (February 12, Del Rey UK)

A remote solar system. A fragile galactic alliance. An interstellar war is on the brink of eruption…

When the Lightship Impulse is attacked without provocation, Lt. Peter Cochrane, son of the Grand Admiral, is sent to investigate.

His first deep space mission, this isn’t what Peter has spent three years in training for. Surrounded by strangers and following secret orders, is he willing to do what it takes to keep the alliance together? Even mutiny?

Memory of WaterEmmi Itaranta (February 12, Voyager)

“You’re seventeen, and of age now, and therefore old enough to understand what I’m going to tell you,” my father said. “This place doesn’t exist.”

“I’ll remember,” I told him, but didn’t realise until later what kind of promise I had made.

When Noria Kaitio reaches her seventeenth birthday, she is entrusted with the secret of a freshwater spring hidden deep within the caves near her small rural village. Its preservation has been the responsibility of her family for generations.

Apprenticed to her father, one of the last true tea masters, when Noria takes possession of the knowledge, she become much more than the guardian of ancestral treasure; soon, she will hold the fate of everyone she loves in her hands.

Red QueenVictoria Aveyard (February 12, Orion)

This is a world divided by blood—red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance—Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

Robot OverlordsMark Stay (February 12, Gollancz)

Three years ago, Earth was conquered by a force of robots from a distant world. They have one rule: stay in your homes. Step outside and you get one warning before you’re vaporised by a massive robot Sentry, or a crawling Sniper, or a flying Drone. That’s if the vast Cube doesn’t incinerate you first.

But Sean Flynn is convinced that his father—an RAF pilot who fought in the war—is still alive. And when he and his gang figure out a way to break the robots’ curfew, they begin an adventure that will pit them against the might of the Robot Overlords.

Seeker (Seeker #1)Arwen Elys Dayton (February 12, Corgi)

The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honour.

As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world. And she’ll be with the boy she loves—who’s also her best friend.

But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes. Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it’s too late to walk away.

Signal to NoiseSilvia Moreno-Garcia (February 12, Solaris)

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. 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, reviving memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? Is there any magic left?

The Strings of MurderOscar de Muriel (February 12, Penguin)

Edinburgh, 1888. A violinist is murdered in his home. The dead virtuoso’s maid swears she heard three musicians playing in the night. But with only one body in the locked practice room—and no way in or out—the case makes no sense.

Fearing a national panic over another Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey’s new boss, Detective ’Nine-Nails’ McGray, actually believes in such supernatural nonsense.

McGray’s tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond reason. And once someone loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next…

Finn Fancy NecromancyRandy Henderson (February 13, Titan)

Found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit in 1986, fifteen-year-old Finn Gramaraye was exiled to the Other Realm for twenty-five years. But now he’s back in the mortal world and is disappointed to discover that he’s middle-aged, DeLoreans can’t fly, and he’s been framed for murdering someone with dark necromancy—again.

He has three days to clear his name and win back his high-school crush, but his nuclear family is something of a disaster: his father has gone mad, his mother’s a ghost, his sister is allergic to magic, one brother thinks he’s a werewolf, and the other is busy running the family necrotorium business, and seems most disappointed that Finn is back on the scene…

Forced to team up with the ex-partner of the enforcer he’s accused of killing, Finn encounters a host of supernatural creatures as he struggles to regain his memories and figure out who wants him gone, before it’s too late.

Wastelands 2: More Stories of the Apocalypse—ed. John Joseph Adams (February 13, Titan)

For decades, the apocalypse and its aftermath have yielded some of the most exciting short stories of all time. From David Brin’s seminal ‘The Postman’ to Hugh Howey’s ‘Deep Blood Kettle’ and Tananarive Due’s prescient ‘Patient Zero,’ the end of the world continues to thrill.

This companion volume to the critically acclaimed Wastelands offers thirty of the finest examples of post-apocalyptic short fiction, with 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. Award-winning editor John Joseph Adams has once again assembled a who’s who of short fiction, and the result is nothing short of staggering.


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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