British Fiction Focus

British Fiction Hitlist: Early March New Releases

March is a special month for me—my birthday month, as a matter of fact—but if you can’t count on cake, a bunch of new books will have to do. And when I say a bunch, I really do mean it, thanks in large part to a strong showing by Titan and the re-emergence of Angry Robot, beginning with The Buried Life by Carrie Patel.

Beyond that, there’s The Buried Giant—the first new novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since Never Let Me Go—and Persona by Genevieve Valentine, but The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis must be the book I’m most looking forward to in the fortnight forthcoming.

This (huge) edition of the Hitlist also features new books by Catherynne M. Valente, Dan Simmons, Ferrett Steinmetz, Kelly Link, T. C. Greene, Jo Walton, Sebastien de Castell, Michelle de Kretser, S. T. Joshi, George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozis, Col Buchanan, Lauren DeStefano, Leigh Evans, Simon Kurt Unsworth, Rowena Cory Daniells, James Goss, Pat Kelleher, John Twelve Hawks, Luke Scull, Lauren Oliver, Marie Rutkoski, Jonathan Wood and George Mann.

The Buried GiantKazuo Ishiguro (March 3, Faber & Faber)

The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.

The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards—some strange and other-worldly—but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (Fairyland #4)Catherynne M. Valente (March 5, Corsair)

When a young troll named Hawthorn is stolen from Fairyland by the Golden Wind, he becomes a changeling—a human boy—in the strange city of Chicago, a place no less bizarre and magical than Fairyland when seen through trollish eyes.

Left with a human family, Hawthorn struggles with his troll nature and his changeling fate. But when he turns twelve, he stumbles upon a way back home, to a Fairyland much changed from the one he remembers.

Soon, Hawthorn finds himself at the centre of a changeling revolution—until he comes face to face with a beautiful young Scientiste with very big, very red assistant…

The Buried Life (The Buried Life #1)Carrie Patel (March 5, Angry Robot)

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies.

When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation—Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility. When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them.

Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved—at all costs…

The Fifth HeartDan Simmons (March 5, Sphere)

In 1893, Sherlock Holmes and Henry James come to America together to investigate the suicide of Clover Adams, wife of the esteemed historian Henry Adams—a member of the family that has given the United States two Presidents. Quickly, the investigators deduce that there’s more to Clover’s death than meets the eye—with issues of national importance at stake.

Holmes is currently on his Great Hiatus: his three-year absence after Reichenbach Falls during which time the people of London believe him to be deceased. The disturbed Holmes has faked his own death and now, as he meets James, is questioning what is real and what is not.

Holmes’ theories shake James to the core. What can this master storyteller do to fight against the sinister power—possibly Moriarty—that may or may not be controlling them from the shadows? And what was Holmes’ role in Moriarty’s rise?

FlexFerrett Steinmetz (March 5, 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 the obsessed bureaucromancer who’s 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.

Get in Trouble: StoriesKelly Link (March 5, Canongate)

Fantastic, fantastical and utterly incomparable, Kelly Link’s new collection explores everything from the essence of ghosts to the nature of love. And hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the pyramids…

With each story she weaves, Link takes readers deep into an unforgettable, brilliantly constructed universe. Strange, dark and wry, Get in Trouble reveals Kelly Link at the height of her creative powers and stretches the boundaries of what fiction can do.

The Headmaster’s WifeT. C. Greene (March 5, Atlantic)

Arthur Winthrop is a middle-aged headmaster at an elite prep school in Vermont. When he is arrested for an act that is incredibly out of character, the strait-laced, married headmaster confesses to a much more serious crime, revealing that he has had a passionate affair with a scholarship student called Betsy Pappas.

But Betsy is a fickle and precocious teenager. When she switches her attentions to a classmate, Arthur’s passion for Betsy turns, by degrees, into something far darker. Now Arthur must tell the truth about what happened to Betsy, but can his version of events be trusted—or is the reality much more complex and unnerving?

The Just CityJo Walton (March 5, Corsair)

Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.

The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer’s daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge, ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an ungaurded moment during a trip to Rome—and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her.

Meanwhile, Apollo—stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does—has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.

Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives—the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself—to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only the brilliant Jo Walton could tell.

Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2)Sebastien de Castell (March 5, Jo Fletcher)

Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats—legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom—have been branded as traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to a different mission.

Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King’s final task: he has found his Charoites—well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren’t for the Daishini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes who are determined to hold on to their fractured Kingdoms, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio.

That’s not even mentioning the Greatcoat’s Lament…

Springtime: A Ghost StoryMichelle de Kretser (March 5, Allen & Unwin)

When Frances met Charlie at a party in Melbourne he was married with a young son. Now she and Charlie live in Sydney with her rescue dog Rod and an unshakeable sense that they have tipped the world on its axis. They are still getting their bearings—of each other and of their adopted city. Everything is alien, unfamiliar, exotic… haunting, even.

Worlds of meaning spin out of perfectly chosen words in this rare, beguiling and brilliant ghost story from the Miles Franklin Literary Award-winning author of Questions of Travel.

Black Wings of Cthulhu 3—ed. S. T. Joshi (March 6, Titan)

Volume three of the critically acclaimed Black Wings series offers seventeen original tales of horror, following in the footsteps of the master. Stephen King has called H. P. Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale,” and his influence continues unabated.

These new offerings of cosmic terror come from many of the genre’s greatest modern acolytes, including Jason V Brock, Donald R. Burleson, Mollie L. Burleson, Peter Cannon, Sam Gafford, Richard Gavin, Lois Gresh, Mark Howard Jones, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Darrell Schweitzer, Jessica Amanda Salmonson and W. H. Pugmire, Simon Strantzas, Brian Stableford, Jonathan Thomas, Donald Tyson, and Don Webb.

Old Venus—ed. George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozis (March 6, Titan)

From pulp adventures such as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Carson of Venus to classic short stories such as Ray Bradbury’s The Long Rain to visionary novels such as C. S. Lewis’ Perelandra, the planet Venus has loomed almost as large in the imaginations of science fiction writers as Earth’s next-nearest neighbour, Mars. But while the Red Planet conjured up in Golden Age science fiction stories was a place of vast deserts and ruined cities, bright blue Venus was its polar opposite: a steamy, swampy jungle world with strange creatures lurking amidst the dripping vegetation.

Alas, just as the last century’s space probes exploded our dreams of Mars, so, too, did they shatter our romantic visions of Venus, revealing, instead of a lush paradise, a hellish world inimical to all life. But don’t despair! This new anthology of sixteen original stories by some of science fiction’s best writers edited by New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois turns back the clock to that more innocent time, before the hard-won knowledge of science vanquished the infinite possibilities of the imagination.

Join our cast of award-winning contributors including Elizabeth Bear, David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Gwyneth Jones, Mike Resnick, Eleanor Arnason, Allen M. Steele, and more as we travel back in time to a planet that never was but should have been: a young, rain-drenched world of fabulous monsters and seductive mysteries.

The Mechanical (Alchemy Wars #1)Ian Tregillis (March 10, Orbit)

My name is Jax.

That is the name granted to me by my human masters.

I am a slave.

But I shall be free.

Set in a world that might have been, of mechanical men and alchemical dreams, the new novel from Ian Tregillis confirms his place as one of the most original new voices in speculative fiction.

The Black Dream (Farlander #3)Col Buchanan (March 12, Tor UK)

As the empire of Mann threatens the world with enslavement, only a single island nation continues to stand in its way: the Free Ports of the democras. For ten years they have held their own, but now the empire draws its noose even tighter over them.

Rallying to its defence are those from the secretive network known as the Few, including the cripple and troubleshooter Coya Zeziké. Coya has hopes of enlisting the forest contrarè in the aid of the besieged city of Bar-Khos. With him is Shard, the only dreamer of the Free Ports—a woman capable of manipulating waking reality or the strange dimensions of the Black Dream.

The Roshun order of assassins have also engaged in the war at last. But Ash, their ailing farlander, has more urgent business to overcome. Facing him is a skyship voyage into the Great Hush, then further journeying to the fabled Isles of Sky, where he hopes bring his dead apprentice Nico back to life. Yet, his voyage into the unknown may save more than just Nico… it may save the Free Ports themselves.

Burning Kingdoms (Internment Chronicles #2)Lauren DeStefano (March 12, Voyager)

The ground is a strange place where water falls from the sky as snow, and people watch moving pictures and visit speakeasies. A place where families can have as many children as they want, bury their dead in vast gardens of bodies, and where Internment is the feature of an amusement park.

It is also a land at war.

Everyone who fled Internment had their own reasons to escape their corrupt haven, but now they’re caught under the watchful eye of another ruler who wants to dominate his world. They may have made it to the ground, but have they dragged Internment with them?

The Danger of Destiny (Mystwalker #4)Leigh Evans (March 12, Tor UK)

Hedi Peacock’s to-do list is fraught with danger and unattainable goals. Luckily, this half-fae isn’t fazed by the impossible—or prefers to ignore it.

Hedi’s found her way from our world to the fae lands, to save her brother’s soul. But can she remove the sorcerer that’s possessed Lexi’s body? And saving her brother is meaningless unless she destroys the mage’s spellbook, a volume so dark that it threatens human and fae realms. Hedi and her Alpha werewolf, Trowbridge, have a straightforward plan. However, planning has never quite worked for Hedi. Especially when Trowbridge risks meeting his feral former pack… now out for blood.

Then, as Hedi nears her destination, she witnesses a scene of inexpressible grief. It forces her to re-evaluate loyalty and loss—but if Hedi changes her quest, can she still reach her dreams?

The Devil’s DetectiveSimon Kurt Unsworth (March 12, Del Rey UK)

Welcome to hell, where skinless demons patrol the lakes and the waves of Limbo wash against the outer walls, while the souls of the Damned float on their surface, waiting to be collected.

When an unidentified, brutalised body is discovered, the case is assigned to Fool, one of Hell’s detectives, known as ’Information Men’. With no memory of his past, and no idea why this case matters to him so much, he is determined to solve the mystery. But how do you investigate a murder in a world where death is commonplace and everyone is guilty of something?

The Fall of Fair IsleRowena Cory Daniells (March 12, Solaris)

600 yars have passed since the events of The Outcast Chronicles occurred and much T’Enknowledge has been lost, hidden or cloaked by lies.

This is the story of Imoshen, named for her ancestor, Imoshen the First. The last pure T’En woman, she is a throwback to the mystics who settled Fair Isle. When the Ghebite Invador, General Tulkhan, conquers her island sheis torn between her duty to smooth the transition of power and her betrothal to Reothe, last throwback T’En male who leads the rebellion against Tulkhan.

HaterzJames Goss (March 12, Solaris)

Is there someone online who really grates on you? That friend who’s always bragging about their awesome life and endlessly sharing tired memes, and who just doesn’t get jokes? Look at your Twitter feed: don’t you get cross at the endless rage, the thoughtless bigotry and the pleading for celebrity retweets?

Meet Dave, a street fundraiser and fan of cat pictures. He’s decided that unfollowing just isn’t enough. He’s determined to make the internet a nicer place, whatever it takes. When he killed his best friend’s girlfriend, he wasn’t planning on changing the world. She was just really annoying on Facebook.

But someone saw, and made him an offer. Someone who knows what he’s capable of, and wants to use him to take control of the darkness at the heart of the internet. And now the bodies the comment trolls, the sexual predators, the obnoxious pop stars are starting to mount up…

No Man’s World OmnibusPat Kelleher (March 12, Abaddon)

When Thomas ‘Only’ Atkins signed up to fight for King and Country, half the boys he grew up with ended up fighting alongside him. The 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers were a ‘Pal’s Brigade’: a whole town transposed to the Somme together to the Front’s relentless need to warm bodies. They also disappeared from the face of the Earth on the 1st November, along with nearly half a mile of mud and trenches, a Sopwith and a tank.

Finding themselves on a terrifying alien world, Tommy and his mates have to contend with man-eating plants, ravening beasts and the eerie, insectile Chatts—to say nothing of a sinister, arcane threat from within their own ranks…

PersonaGenevieve Valentine (March 12, Simon & Schuster)

In a world where diplomacy has become celebrity, a young ambassador survives an assassination attempt and must join with an undercover paparazzo in a race to save her life, spin the story, and secure the future of her young country in this near-future political thriller from the acclaimed author of Mechanique and The Girls at Kingfisher Club.

When Suyana, Face of the United Amazonia Rainforest Confederation, is secretly meeting Ethan of the United States for a date that can solidify a relationship for the struggling UARC, the last thing she expected was an assassination attempt. Daniel, a teen runaway turned paparazzi out for his big break, witnesses the first shot hit Suyana, and before he can think about it, he jumps into the fray, telling himself it’s not altruism, it’s the scoop. Now Suyana and Daniel are on the run—and if they don’t keep one step ahead, they’ll lose it all.

SparkJohn Twelve Hawks (March 12, Corgi)

Jacob Underwood is not like other people.

He has Cotard’s Syndrome. He believes he is dead. Which makes his job as a hired assassin neutralising ’problems’ for DBG, a massive multinational corporation, very simple. He carries out the task—and feels nothing.

Now DBG has such a problem. A key employee, Emily Buchanan, has disappeared, taking with her a fortune and priceless information which could destroy the company. Jacob must track her down. In previous assignments, he had worked with cold logical precision, but this time he has to confront a threat that he first must understand before it destroys him.

Sword of the North (Grim Company #2)Luke Scull (March 12, Head of Zeus)

Between the Demonfire Hills and the Shattered Realms, three rich and mighty cities flourished. Each city was protected by the power of their Magelord; each Magelord protected by an ancient truce. But no longer. The City of Shades is drowned. The Grey City enslaved. The barrier between the worlds is failing and only the Magelord of the City of Towers still lives to protect her people.

Until the arrival of a blind wanderer. A man who calls himself Crow…

Vanishing GirlsLauren Oliver (March 12, Hodder)

Dara and Nicola used to be inseparable, but that was before—before Dara kissed Parker, before Nicola lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred. Now the two sisters, who used to be so close, aren’t speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.

But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nicola thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too—nine-year-old Elizabeth Snow—and as Nicola pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked.

The Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Trilogy #2)Marie Rutkoski (March 12, Bloomsbury)

Lady Kestrel’s engagement to Valoria’s crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust…

While Arin fights to keep his country’s freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.

Anti-Hero (The Adventures of Arthur Wallace #3)Jonathan Wood (March 13, Titan)

Another day. Another zombie T-Rex to put down.

That’s just another day at the office for Arthur Wallace at M137—the government agency tasked with protecting the public from everything extra-terrestrial, magical and generally nasty and weird that has it in for Earth and its inhabitants.

He may save the world from day to day but that doesn’t stop the new co-director of M137 threatening his job or middle-aged cyborg wizards from threatening his life. Co-workers that make him lose his mind are just a bonus.

Ghosts of War (Ghosts #2)George Mann (March 13, Titan)

It’s 1927 but not as we know it. The steampunk superhero Ghost may have saved New York once but now a new threat flies amongst the airships in the sky. Brass raptors swoop from above and fly away with their terrified victims. Ghost starts investigating but soon discovers that the beasts are just the beginning and the man behind them has even bigger plans.

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 He’s been known to tweet, twoo.

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