Science Fiction stays strong in August with twenty-nine books hitting the virtual and real shelves. Look for new titles from, among others, Melinda Snodgrass, N.K. Jemisin, R.M. Meluch, Stephen Baxter, Michael Swanwick, Ben Bova, and Ann Aguirre, and the continuation of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.
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.
Space opera and romance on a grand scale in a galaxy full of interstellar trading clans. The Liaden Universe® novels are treasured by space opera aficionados for their wit, world-building, strong characterizations, tender romance, and edge-of-the-chair action. Since 1995, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller also created shorter tales, illuminating additional facets of the Liaden experience. Here is a vast tapestry of tales of the scouts, artists, traders, priestesses, sleight of hand magicians, and pilots who fill the Liaden Universe® with the excitement, action, and romance. Omnibus.
Young Adult. On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to megacities and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day she comes across a beautiful boy named Rose struggling to cross the river, a boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet. But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart after the Magistrate’s son is murdered and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do Deedra and Rose know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet.
UFOlogist Harold Flint is heartbroken and depressed that the aliens that have landed on the White House lawn appear to be straight out of an old B movie. They wave to the television cameras in their jumpsuits, form a nonprofit organization offering new age enlightenment, and hover their saucers over the streets of New York looking for converts. Harold wants no part of this kitschy invasion until one of the aliens, named Asket, begs him to investigate the saucers again and write another UFO book. The aliens and their mission are not as they seem. Asket isn’t who she seems either. Tracking down her true personality leads Harold and his cowriter through a maze of identity and body-swapping madness, descending into paranoia as Harold realizes that reality, or at least humanity’s perception of it, may be more flexible than anyone will admit.
Insidious alien forces conspiring to enslave humanity grow increasingly dangerous and defiant. Willing to do whatever it takes to defeat these ancient invaders, the Cerberus rebels carry on the fight for freedom. The Cerberus fighters embark on an urgent quest to discover what happened to expeditions lost in Italy, on land that once belonged to the Etruscan empire. On site they encounter the monstrous Charun, armed with the hammer of the gods, and Vanth, the angelic winged huntress with a heart of evil. These alien gods are intent on opening a portal to bring their kind to earth, harnessing the power of victims’ minds while using their bodies as shock troops. As the river Styx is poised to flow again, the Cerberus team must prevail or an invasion from a barbaric dimension will lay siege to Europe, and beyond.
Young Adult. Like every child in Is-Land, all Astra Ordott wants is to have her Security Shot, do her National Service and defend her Gaian homeland from Non-Lander “infiltrators.” But when one of her Shelter mothers, the formidable Dr Hokma Blesser, tells her the shot will limit her chances of becoming a scientist and offers her an alternative, Astra agrees to her plan. When the orphaned Lil arrives to share Astra’s home, Astra is torn between jealousy and fascination. Lil’s father taught her some alarming ideas about Is-Land and the world, but when she pushes Astra too far, the heartache that results goes far beyond the loss of a friend. If she is to survive, Astra must learn to deal with devastating truths about Is-Land, Non-Land and the secret web of adult relationships that surrounds her. (U.S.)
Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. These are the people who defied the megacorporations and saved a colony by selling the platinum mining rights and relocating ten thousand colonists somewhere safe. They take refuge on Crossways Station with the remnants of their team of renegade psi-techs and the Solar Wind, their jump-drive ship. They’ve made a promise to find a missing space ark with thirty thousand settlers aboard. Alphacorp and the Trust: separately they are dangerous, united they are unstoppable. They want to silence Ben and Cara more than they want to upstage each other. If they have to get rid of Crossways in order to do it, they can live with that. This might be the excuse they’ve been looking for.
Wren is living in Greenstone under the temporary care of Charles and Mol, and the protection of Chapel. Unable to determine the fate of his mother and those he left behind in Morningside, Wren believes there is nothing left to do but wait for Asher’s final blow, until a man named Haiku walks into the Samurai McGann, looking for Three. After learning of Three’s fate, Asher’s ascension, and Wren’s gift, Haiku offers his help, and together they set out to find the remnants of House Eight and convince them to help. As Cass and the few who survived the fall of Morningside face overwhelming odds to escape Asher and the Weir, they realize it is impossible, until their daring and probably suicidal plan to strike turns out to have surprising results and unexpected discoveries.
With a chip in his head and hundreds more throughout his body, sixteen-year-old Carl Freeman was turned from an orphan with impulse control issues into a super-soldier. Forced into the mercenary Phoenix Force group, he begins to fear he’ll never escape. Sent to a volcanic island to fight for them, he’ll compete in a combat tournament that awards teens with survival for merciless brutality. But just when all looks lost, he spies a friendly face, and possibly a way out.
Doomed by overpopulation, environmental degradation, and war, Earth has become a fetid swamp. Mars represents humankind’s last hope. In six clustered towers on the red planet’s surface, the colonists are attempting to make a new life unencumbered by the corrupting influences of politics, art, and religion. These pioneers have chosen an unalterable path that winds through a landscape as terrible as it is beautiful, often forcing them to compromise their beliefs in order to survive. The gravest threat to the future is not the settlement’s dependence on foodstuffs sent from distant Earth, or the events that occur in the aftermath of the miraculous discovery of native life on Mars, it is the fact that in the ten years since colonization began, every new human baby has been born dead, or so tragically deformed that death comes within hours. (U.S.)
Special operations officer Jason Thanou of the Temporal Regulatory Authority must once again plunge into Earth’s blood-drenched past to combat the plots of the Transhumanist underground to subvert that past and create a secret history leading up to the fulfillment of their mad dream of transforming humanity into a race of gods and monsters.
Lonely and overwhelmed after a series of terrifying, catastrophic global and personal events, Richard is still determined to save the world from the horrific Old Ones. He goes undercover in a Christian fundamentalist compound, playing house with an attractive FBI agent. This only serves to increase his loneliness, missing his real family. He discovers another unique human who can use the paladin’s weapon, one who might be able to join him. Mosi is a nine year old Navajo girl. Their enemies are trying to kill both Richard and Mosi, and have already killed Mosi’s family. Richard becomes her guardian, but an error in judgement leads to disaster and betrayal. The odd pair will need to summon all their strength to survive the coming battle. The paladin and his ward try to stay in front of their enemies, but the world is at stake, and time is running short.
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. Across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. There will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun will break world apart herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
Young Adult. On the night Emma Garton’s supposedly boring parents are kidnapped, she is forced to face the truth: they’ve been lying to her about many things, including the Pyxis, a mysterious amulet that holds the key to saving another world, and worse, they aren’t even from planet Earth. To find her parents, Emma and her best friend, Herbie, must leave Earth and enter the Strands, the waterways of space, where huge galleons ply the intergalactic seas. But a journey through the constellations won’t be easy, not with evil Queen Virgo and every scoundrel in the galaxy determined to find them. This interstellar adventure transports readers to a vast, magical universe filled with fantastical creatures, merciless villains, and fearless heroes.
Forests of the Night: Set in Cleveland 100 years in the future, this is the story of Nohar Rajasthan, Private Eye, who’s a moreau, descended from genetically manipulated tiger stock. When Nohar is hired by a being illegally created from human stock to look into a murder, he finds himself caught up in a conspiracy of awesome proportions. Fearful Symmetries: This is the story of Nohar Rajasthan, a private eye descended from genetically manipulated tiger stock to become a moreau, a second-class humanoid citizen in a human world. Nohar retired from the private eye business ten years ago, and just wants to spend his remaining time in the peace and quiet of his wilderness homestead. Then a human lawyer asks him to take on a missing moreau case, and suddenly all hell breaks loose.
In the year 2448, the interstellar Empire of Rome spans an area almost as wide as the far-flung colonial worlds of the United States of America. Caesar Numa Pompeii is rebuilding his empire after the catastrophic war that his predecessor, Caesar Romulus, waged against the United States. War’s end left Romulus in a nanovirus-induced coma, captive of Caesar Numa. Numa has a powerful living weapon, a patterner, an augmented man capable of synthesizing vast amounts of data into actionable intelligence. Numa has lost his prisoner, and his patterner may have turned on him. Fanatical devotees of Romulus rescue their fallen leader from captivity and fashion him into the most capable patterner ever created. Admiral John Farragut returns to the space battleship Merrimack in an attempt to head off the impending temporal catastrophe. Past and future hinge on a critical moment when time broke once before in the distant star cluster, Myriad.
On the planet of Per Ardua, alien artifacts were discovered, hatches that allowed humans to step across light-years of space as if they were stepping into another room. But this newfound freedom has consequences. As humanity discovers the real nature of the universe, a terrifying truth comes to light. We all have countless pasts converging in this present, and our future is terrifyingly finite. There are minds in the universe that are billions of years old and now we are vulnerable to their plans for us. It’s time to fight back and take control. (U.S.)
Features novellas by Seth Chambers, James S.A. Corey, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, Nancy Kress, John P. Murphy, K.J. Parker, Mary Rickert, Patrick Rothfuss, and Genevieve Valentine.
In the distant future, Surplus arrives in China dressed as a Mongolian shaman, leading a yak which carries the corpse of his friend, Darger. The old high-tech world has long since collapsed, and the artificial intelligences that ran it are outlawed and destroyed. Or so it seems. Darger and Surplus, a human and a genetically engineered dog with human intelligence who walks upright, are a pair of con men and the heroes of a series of prior Swanwick stories. They travel to what was was once China and invent a scam to become rich and powerful. Pretending to have limited super-powers, they aid an ambitious local warlord who dreams of conquest and once again reuniting China under one ruler. And, against all odds, it begins to work, but it seems as if there are other forces at work behind the scenes.
Dr. Jake Ross came to Washington, D.C., to make a difference. As the science advisor to a newly-elected freshman senator, Jake has crafted a comprehensive energy plan that employs innovative new technologies to make America the world’s leader in energy production while simultaneously boosting the economy and protecting the environment. The facts, and the science, are on Jake’s side, but his plan soon runs afoul of entrenched special interests, well-funded lobbies, and one very powerful U.S. Senator. To keep his plan alive and secure a sustainable future for America, Jake needs a crash course in the way Washington really works. Everyone keeps telling him that his plan has no hope of succeeding, but Jake is determined to prove them wrong even if it kills him, something that certain hostile parties may be all too happy to arrange.
The Dark Forest (Three Body #2)—Cixin Liu (August 11, Tor)
Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion, in just four centuries’ time. The aliens’ human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth’s defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he’s the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead. (U.S.)
Humans expanded into space, only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. The Colonial Union is living on borrowed time, a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness. A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other, and against their own kind, for their own unknown reasons. CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the Colonial Union diplomats he works with race to discover who is behind attacks on the Union and on alien races, to seek peace with a suspicious, angry Earth, and keep humanity’s union intact, or else risk oblivion, and extinction, and the end of all things.
Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew, save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin. Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test, and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.
Five hackers, an Anonymous-style rabble-rouser, an Arab Spring hacktivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll, are detained by the U.S. government, forced to work as white-hat hackers for Uncle Sam in order to avoid federal prison. At a secret complex known only as “the Lodge,” where they will spend the next year working as an elite cyber-espionage team, these misfits dub themselves “the Zeroes.” But once the Zeroes begin to work, they uncover secrets that would make even the most dedicated conspiracy theorist’s head spin. And soon they’re not just trying to serve their time, they’re also trying to perform the ultimate hack: burrowing deep into the U.S. government from the inside, and hoping they’ll get out alive.
When a mysterious force known only as the Shadow infiltrates history, it has a suspicious target: the date October 29 in six different years spanning 999 to 1980. The Time Patrol must send its highly skilled members into the past with only twenty-four hours to stop the destruction each time. Each targeted date features a significant event, including Sir Walter Raleigh’s beheading in 1618, the American stock market crash of 1929, and the first Internet message sent in 1969. The missions are never as clear-cut as they seem, leading the team straight into the dangerous paths of adversaries, such as yetis, krakens, and Vikings. The Time Patrol learns that no amount of training and experience can prepare them for the enemies they battle and the alternate realities they face. Six changes to history could lead to the ultimate catastrophe: the end of existence.
The prison ship Perdition has become a post-battle charnel house with only a handful of Dred’s soldiers still standing and now being hunted by Silence’s trained tongueless assassins. Forging an uneasy alliance with mercenary commander Vost, who is their only chance at escape, the Dread Queen will do whatever it takes to end her life sentence on Perdition and keep the survivors alive long enough to cobble together a transport capable of getting them off station. If Dred and her crew can win the deadly game of cat and mouse, the payoff is not only life but freedom, a prize sweeter than their wildest dreams. Yet the sadistic Silence would rather destroy Perdition than let a single soul slip from her grasp.
A government bio-lab experiment goes hideously wrong, infecting people with scientifically-programmed madness. Random kidnappings of women and girls proliferate throughout the land. Some people suddenly succumb to horrifically virulent viruses while others become able to read minds. Mysteriously summoned to confront these frightening questions, three people are thrown together on a bizarre cross-country quest: Cheryl Gibson, an LA cop; Billy Howahkan, a Lakota Sioux with seeming supernatural gifts, and Bhakti Singh, a distinguished space scientist. They must track down a pair of children with extraordinary powers. These two young people will determine humanity’s fate, obliteration or salvation. As the three set out across America, the blood-dimmed tide is terminally unleashed. Anarchy, terror, and death stalk the land.
In the jungles of Makaum, the Terran military is locked in a critical standoff over the planet’s resources with the hostile Phrenorians, even as both species maintain uneasy relations with the locals. Tensions could ignite at a moment’s notice. Master Sergeant Frank Sage has just stumbled upon the spark plug. Alongside trusted Makaum scouts, Sage is running recon on what is possibly an unsanctioned Phrenorian military base deep in the savage wilderness, Sage recognizes the renowned Phrenorian warrior arriving on-site: Zhoh GhiCemid. As Sage knows firsthand, Zhoh’s presence could mean trouble. A mysterious faction of Makaum insurgents breaks the fragile peace with a reckless attack on the Terran base. Before the situation devolves into chaos, Sage must learn to think like his adversaries, devious friends and deadly foes alike.
Young Adult. Zeke Reynolds comes from a long line of proud science fiction geeks. So it’s a dream come true when he learns the science fiction he loves so much is based on reality, and that he’s been selected to spend a year on a massive space station. The Confederation of United Planets has hand picked three of Earth’s most talented young people, and then there’s Zeke. He’s the random. When he saves his transport ship from an enemy attack, he’s labeled a war criminal. Despised by the Confederation, rejected by his fellow humans, and pursued by a ruthless enemy, Zeke befriends the alien randoms: rejected by their own species, but loyal to each other. Their presence in the Confederation may not be so random after all. Zack’s knowledge of science fiction might be the only thing that can save himself, his friends, and Earth itself.
Lexi was an exceptional woman living an average life. Marred by the pain of a neglectful mother and the early death of her father.The one person she loved and trusted was her younger sister, Carey, but even their relationship was strained. She was on a path that would lead nowhere. Then the lights went out and life changed, for everyone. In the early morning a spectacular attack against the United States was carried out. It was the fulfillment of a grand conspiracy that would leave millions dead and many more millions on a trajectory towards a fate worse than death. The super-EMP would destroy the power grid and leave most electrical devices useless. With the infrastructure devastated and the government incapacitated, Lexi would find her purpose, but the cost would be greater than she could have ever imagined. (Digital)
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, and, as Susannah Sandlin, the Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors thriller series. You can find Suzanne on Facebook and on her website.