It’s that time of the month again, time for “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”.
So what is “Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month”? It’s a round-up of speculative fiction by indie authors newly published this month, though some August books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.
Once again, we have new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have science fiction, space opera, science fantasy, paranormal romance, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, near future science fiction, YA science fiction, YA fantasy, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, fairytale retellings, alternate history, time travel, intergalactic prison breaks, interplanetary wars, interactive zombies, fallen angels, dashing spies, super-mathematicians, wizards, witches, werewolves, aliens, robots, immortal demon hunters, cryogenic freezing, magical Vegas weekends, death in love, lots of LGBT characters and much more.
As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books, so Caveat emptor.
And now on to the books without further ado:
Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose:
A soldier wakes, possibly the last survivor of a brutal attack by machines intent on destroying humanity, but all is not as it seems in this thrilling futuristic tale with a twist that will make you want to read it all over again.
ZeQuest by Dhayaa Anbajagane:
Armorica was an ancient planet filled with luscious fields, towering forests, and crystal clear streams.
And now, it was going to be destroyed.
When Armorica's very existence is threatened by an enemy planet, Q is left with no other choice but to take matters into his own hands and prevent a inter-planetary massacre from breaking out. But one question remained unanswered : How was he supposed to take down an entire planet?
Thrilling, Plot-twisting and mysterious, ZeQuest explores the nature of a selfish world, where nothing is ever what it seems to be.
This is book 2 of the Quest Saga, following ConQuest.
Children of the Grave by Tonia Brown, Alex Laybourne, Aurelio Lopez III, Joe McKinney, Joe Mynhardt and Armand Rosamilia:
Six talented zombie authors take on the Afterlife in an interactive shared-world zombie anthology.
Welcome to Purgatory, an arid plain of existence where zombies are the least of your problems. It’s a post-mortem Hunger Games, and Blaze, a newcomer to Purgatory, needs your help to learn the rules of this world and choose the best course of action.
Purgatory is escapable, so aid Blaze to win the favor of the ruling Gatherers by earning this right. But what’s waiting outside Purgatory, is beyond what the human mind can fathom.
His fate. Your choices.
Your six different choices are penned by Joe McKinney, Armand Rosamilia, Tonia Brown, Joe Mynhardt, Aurelio Lopez III, and Alex Laybourne.
A History of the New Ice Age by Cora Buhlert:
The cryogenic freezing of the dead in hope of a eventual revival has long been the province of cranks and crazies. However, when two frozen mountain gorillas are successfully revived, cryogenics suddenly becomes a viable medical technology. The first humans are revived soon thereafter and though most of them have financial difficulties not to mention problems adjusting to the new world in which they find themselves, their successful revival nonetheless sparks a run on cryogenic freezing with unforeseen social and financial consequences…
This short story of 2300 words chronicles the cryogenics boom of the mid to late twenty-first century.
Alliance by Timothy L. Cerepaka:
His allies are not always who they seem to be.
The law enforcement robot known as J997 travels to the magical and mystical world of Dela after a criminal wanted on his homeworld of Xeeo. His mission is simple: Find the criminal and bring her back to his world to be judged for her crimes. With an entire database in his head that contains information on everything in the two worlds, and an unflappable desire to pursue the criminal, J997 is certain that this job will be quick.
But the mission becomes more complicated when J997 is caught between two secret organizations whose conflict goes back to the dawn of the two worlds themselves. J997 must now avoid getting caught in the crossfire if he is going to return home to Xeeo in one piece. Unless the two organizations have anything to say about it.
Destiny Abounds by Annathesa Nikola and Shei Darksbane:
On the prison world of Urebai, a notorious Prisoner breaks free of her chains once more. On primeval Fade, a decorated warrior flees her home for the stars to escape her past. And under the light of a distant star, a solitary pilot prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice for her people.
This is how the tale begins.
Branwen Hawke left behind the swords and castles of her homeworld to take solace from the war that consumed most of her life. After stumbling into the role of captain of a one-of-a-kind starship with an unlikely crew, she must find a way to keep them together and thriving. But even with years of experience commanding troops, Branwen has her hands full with a lost pilot from a distant world, an engineer with crippling anxiety, an innocent young medic with a secret, a renowned Kala, and her insanely dangerous baggage.
Now tasked with an important mission that could make or break the crew’s reputation, Branwen must face her inner turmoil and find some sort of peace despite the struggles she can’t escape, while safeguarding the lives that have fallen so fatefully into her hands.
Driven by Shei Darksbane:
Dakota Shepherd never thought learning to drive could be such a pain. It seems like every truck she touches ends up dead, but Raelya kindly offers to teach her anyway. Her first lesson in a secluded lot seems to be going pretty well, until someone ends up dead there too.
A sleepless night. An untold tale. A deadly betrayal.
Dakota stumbles upon a long-held secret that could tear the pack apart. Tasked with settling a decades-old score, Dakota is driven to seek justice and set things to rights before an unforgivable crime goes unpunished forever.
Of Books, and Earth, and Courtship by Aliette de Bodard:
In a Paris that never was, a city of magical factions where Fallen angels mingle with magicians, alchemists and witches...
Emmanuelle is the Fallen archivist of House Silverspires, and only wants a quiet life with her books. But when Selene, the latest student of Lucifer Morningstar, walks into the library, Emmanuelle finds herself drawn in an adventure to steal from another House. It's a thrilling and dangerous task, but the most dangerous thing about it might just be Selene herself--aloof and resourceful, and unexpectedly attractive...
Set in the universe of the critically acclaimed The House of Shattered Wings.
Quartz by Rabia Gale:
A sunless world. The lost Tower of Light. And the race to find it.
Rafe Grenfeld, diplomat and spy, has problems.
He’s just learned of the discovery of a legendary quartz pillar: his world’s most precious resource. But his informer died before revealing its location, and Rafe’s on the run in the hostile state of Blackstone.
Once, quartz powered magical devices, but the mages who created them are long gone. Now, veins of quartz give light to a dying world, and Rafe has competition.
Karzov, the notorious chief of Blackstone’s secret police, is also hunting for the pillar. Determined to claim it for his own country, Rafe forms an uneasy alliance with the mysterious and maddening Isabella. As dangerous magical artifacts resurface and dark forces close in, Rafe must tap into the lost powers of the mages to find and secure the quartz—before his world is torn apart by famine and war.
Model #37 by Judy Goodwin:
Baby has lived a privileged life—her father always said she was “special.” And Baby knows she’s not like normal humans. She’s only 47 inches tall, even though she’s eighteen years old. She can live off tiny amounts of food. And she’s got a dorsal fin in the middle of her back.
Today’s the big day. She’s supposed to model for the world, and make her father proud. The only questions are why is she so nervous, and why won’t her father let her out of the lab? Most of all, Baby, also known as Model 37, wants to see the world.
Maybe even meet another “special” person like her.
Bonus short story: The Nannypod
It’s Monday morning, and Chris has to get to work. The only problem is, his Nannypod, the device strapped to his wrist that runs his life, just died. He doesn’t even know which bus to get on.
How will he live without it?
The Awakening by Adair Hart:
A heavily damaged alien research vessel in the Andromeda galaxy is hurtling toward a planet. The aliens should not be there. They have been traveling through space and time, abducting apex predators and sticking them in virtual simulations for research. The problem is the virtual simulations are powering down, unleashing the specimens on the ship.
Dr. Albert Snowden and his niece, Emily, were abducted by the aliens. They are visited by a mysterious being named Evaran in the last minutes of the virtual simulation.He has decided to interfere in this timeline-changing event and rescue them.
Stopping the ship from crashing into the planet before getting to Evaran's ship is one issue. Navigating the apex predators on the loose is another. To make matters worse, Jerzan Graduul, infamous leader of the Bloodbore mercenary pack, has boarded the ship in search of salvage opportunities, and has noticed Evaran's ship. The hunt begins.
Hartshire Noble Council by R.D. Henderson:
Luigi Darkhawk is a mage and head of the Hartshire Noble Council which is a mysterious and anonymous civic organization that metes out justice to and for the city’s criminal underworld.
As the head of the noble council, he takes advantage of his position by doing favors for criminals in exchange for bribes and other illicit considerations which enables him to have a very nice life and own very nice things, including a penthouse suite in the most expensive hotel in the city.
While he enjoys the benefits of his position on the noble council, an assassin is killing members of the noble council and innocent by-standers with black bolts each containing magic-based explosive component. (Could these black bolts be the same black bolts stolen from Nambroc, the black elf city in the Nether Realm?) The city’s criminal underworld as well as the constables are scouring the city to find the person responsible for all the death and carnage.
At the same time of the assassinations, rumors are swirling about that there could be black elves hiding among the populace of the city. (Could the assassin be a black elf?)
Luigi wants to keep the status quo in the city because he wants to maintain is very nice life, but he knows the assassins needs to be stopped.
If the assassin is not caught, not being able to maintain his very nice life would be the least of his worries. Luigi could be the next victim of the assassin, and certainly does not want that to happen.
Hartshire Noble Council is the fifth novella in the Nambroc Sequence, a fantasy series.
The Fuller's Apprentice by Angela Holder:
All Josiah wants is a little excitement. His work as an apprentice fuller is boring, and playing in the mill’s machinery isn’t that dangerous. Everything goes fine—at first.
All right, he’s lucky the wizard Elkan and his familiar, a donkey named Sar, are there to save his life. Even better, when his furious master fires him, Elkan offers him a job as his assistant. Josiah jumps at the chance. Traveling around Tevenar for a year, meeting all sorts of interesting people, helping the dedicated young wizard and clever donkey serve them with the Mother’s healing magic—what could be more fun?
But Josiah soon learns that while matters of life and death may be exciting, they’re seldom fun. Impulsive actions, even when taken with the best of intentions, can have devastating consequences. And some choices have the power to change the future of Tevenar forever.
Root of Unity by S.L. Huang:
Cas Russell has always used her superpowered mathematical skills to dodge snipers or take down enemies. Oh, yeah, and make as much money as possible on whatever unsavory gigs people will hire her for. But then one of her few friends asks a favor: help him track down a stolen math proof. One that, in the wrong hands, could crumble encryption protocols worldwide and utterly collapse global commerce.
Cas is immediately ducking car bombs and men with AKs -- this is the type of math people are willing to kill for, and the U.S. government wants it as much as the bad guys do. But all that pales compared to what Cas learns from delving into the proof. Because the more she works on the case, the more she realizes something is very, very wrong . . . with her.
For the first time, Cas questions her own bizarre mathematical abilities. How far they reach. How they tie into the pieces of herself that are broken -- or missing.
How the new proof might knit her brain back together . . . while making her more powerful than she's ever imagined.
Desperate to fix her fractured self, Cas dives into the tangled layers of higher mathematics, frantic for numerical power that might not even be possible -- and willing to do anything, betray anyone, to get it.
Jacks Are Wild by Monique Martin:
From the world of Out of Time comes the first book in a new series with Jack Wells!
Former OSS officer Jack Wells’s first assignment for the Council for Temporal Studies sounds deceptively simple—stop a murder before it happens. But as Jack soon finds out, there’s nothing simple about 1960 Las Vegas, especially when the woman you’re sent to save is a mobster’s wife.
Jack is joined by Simon and Elizabeth Cross as he struggles to stay alive long enough to stop Susan’s murder and protect a very fragile timeline.
Lunar Discovery: Let the Space Race Begin by Salvador Mercer:
When a Chinese rover discovers an alien technology on the dark side of the moon, it is up to Richard ‘Rock’ Crandon and his NASA team of scientists and engineers to devise a way to return before the Chinese and Russians.
With pressure mounting, the world is pushed closer to conflict and potential war as the NASA team finds itself seriously behind in the newly initiated space race. The future of mankind, its ideological and technological advances are at stake, as the space race begins.
A Contemporary Sci-Fi, Techno-Thriller, by Salvador Mercer, Author of the Claire-Agon Fantasy World Books.
Polarized by Bedrich Pasek VIII:
Scientists told Sebastian Collier that freezing a man for the trip to Triangulum was a simple procedure. Little more than a nap. But when the systems performing routine bodily maintenance go to great lengths to keep him alive, it’s debatable what emerges from his cryogenic chamber could be called a man at all.
Years after Sebastian’s mysterious death, his descendant Colonel J.D. Boskie is deployed to Triangulum to quash rebellion.
Fervent political discord has the planet eerily united in its antagonism toward mother Earth. Slick thieves are heisting so much of Triangulum’s resources that Earth’s economy is in ruins from the fallout. The planet’s as heartless as its automated factories. If they’re building an army, well…
Boskie’s men think he’s too young. His heavy-handed commanding officer Luna "The Lunatic" doesn’t trust him. And Boskie needs the help of Lucia Meduse Rimbaud, the powerful Triangulese executive with dark eyes that the cherubim drew. She’s argumentative. Forbidden fruit. Infuriating. Doesn’t want anything to do with him.
Boskie believes something big’s about to happen. He also believes he’s slipping into madness just like his ancestor did. He may be right.
Mutation Z: Closing the Borders by Marilyn Peake:
Eviscerated bodies are found along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Military security is stepped up on both sides of the border. However, journalists are given free rein to explore the devastation. As more and more bodies are found, people begin to panic. Meanwhile in The Liberia Treatment and Research Camp of West Africa, Emma Johnson and Chibueze Koroma continue to receive experimental doses of Mutation Z. They also begin to remember the horrific things they’ve done. As journalist Hunter Morgan’s investigation leads him to that same Camp, his own little girl falls sick with fever.
MUTATION Z: CLOSING THE BORDERS is the second book in the MUTATION Z series, following The Ebola Zombies.
What Happened in Vegas by K.L. Phelps:
Her mother warned her not to go. It was supposed to be a carefree girls' weekend in Vegas, but what Katrina got was magic, murder, and mayhem.
Swept off her feet by cute but geeky wizard Andrew Parker, Kat is caught in an age-old feud between vampires and lycans. The problem? If things go wrong, it could mean not only the end of her life, but every life in Vegas.
With a kidnapping, a magic carpet ride, and a quickie wedding, this Vegas weekend might be too wild even for Elvis.
Threads of Gold by Christine Pope:
Unexpected help can lead to unexpected consequences...
When Annora Kelsden's father gets her family into financial trouble, it's up to her to save them. Unable to truly spin straw into gold, Annora despairs for her life. When a mysterious stranger offers to help, Annora desperately agrees to his terms, thankful for his assistance.
After the king receives the gold he desires, Annora believes she's safe from harm, only to realize that she's spun herself a trap with seemingly no end. But can the consequences lead her where she never expected — into the arms and heart of her mysterious savior?
A Rumplestiltskin tale spun with sweet sensuality….
Her Eyes Match the Sky by P.J. Post:
This romance brought to you by the end of the world...
She was looking forward to her junior year of high school, obsessing about prom, getting her driver's license and maybe even meeting her first boyfriend, but September finds her on the run, from the bombings, from looters and much, much worse.
No more homecoming.
No more homeroom.
No more home.
The United States of America is dying, dragging civilization down with it. No electricity, no cars, no phones, no infrastructure, nothing but anarchy remains. The survivors, families and struggling communities are migrating west, away from the invading armies. Some are praying for the lights to come back on, but others are embracing the New World Order, living for today and taking what they need, but mostly, what they want.
Among them are the orphaned children, scraping by in the shadows with fewer and fewer surviving the cold nights of the approaching winter. But they don't have to be the forgotten generation.
All they need is a leader.
And she's found him. If she can keep him alive, they may all have a chance.
Feral is an ongoing serialized story. Episode 2, The Mark, is also available.
The Magic Mines of Asharim by Pauline M. Ross:
A fallen empire. A woman with dark secrets. A strange magical weapon.
The glorious Akk’asharan Empire was torn apart by treachery two hundred years ago, its water supply cut off. Now its people are enslaved and humiliated, but they have never forgotten the past, and dream of one day restoring their former greatness.
Allandra's dreams are more immediate: how to control the powerful magical abilities that are ruining her life. After a disastrous outbreak of power, she’s desperate to escape from justice and find a place to grieve and recover. Perhaps the hidden mines of Asharim can provide a safe haven.
The mines can provide much more than that: not only a way to control her dangerous magic, but a magical weapon that might even restore the fallen empire to its rightful place. But with enemies on her trail, and powerful factions who will do anything to stop her, she will only get one chance. If she fails, the empire's last hope will be lost forever.
From the magic mines of Asharim, no one emerges unchanged.
Sleeper Ship by Jim Rudnick:
As penance for not being honest with his Admiral, Captain Tanner Scott has been sent on a boring routine maintenance mission of checking the RIM boundary buoys one after another and that lets him enjoy his Scotch in peace.
Imagine his surprise when a Sleeper ship suddenly arrives on the RIM and he learns that the thousands of alien Sleepers are all children! While making that known has already gotten RIM Confederacy realms fighting, the real hidden problem is the secret that a virus infects the alien Sleepers.
Finding out the Sleeper’s secret is one thing but the news of what that virus could bring to the RIM and what it might do is the real reason that a powerful RIM Royal realm wants to enslave the alien Sleepers.
When Captain Scott realizes that another RIM planetary realm has also learned what the virus could be worth, they too try to take over the Sleeper ship and that means that Tanner can’t as per usual self-medicate with Scotch but instead has to overcome the RIM’s adversaries and somehow save the alien Sleepers too!
The Immortals by S.M. Schmitz:
Colin and Anna have been hunting demons for a long time. But something is different in Baton Rouge. The rules are being broken and they're powerless against some of the greatest forces Hell can assemble. If they can't stop these demons from manipulating every rule of this war, then Heaven may lose the only battle that's ever really mattered.
Swords of Silver by Hollis Shiloh:
Together at last, Holin and Kale are on the run from magicians and dragon-slayers alike, but utterly happy because they have each other.
Then one night, soldiers arrive and capture them both. Kale escapes with Holin's help—and vows to return and rescue his beloved. But that might not be as easy as it sounds, even for a man like Kale.
Unrevelations by Rissa Watkins:
The apocalypse has begun.
Death stalks Sara and not in a metaphorical way. More like the literal, move out of your house and get a restraining order kind of way. When Sara reveals she has the ability to see him, he becomes fascinated. Unfortunately, Death shows his interest by trying to kill her. Repeatedly. Each failed attempt only increases his enthusiasm.
Sara soon realizes the news reports of werewolves, zombies, and plagues can mean only one thing: The Heavenly Seals in the Book of Revelations have been broken.
All this happens just when her wasteland of a love life seems to be showing signs of improving. Matt, the cute cop who responds to her 911 calls, gives her fantasies of a happy future. Maybe one that involves handcuffs. Before she can build a new life, she has to survive Death’s infatuation and stop him from unleashing the End of Days, Biblical style.
Speak by R.M. Webb:
Witches and Warlocks. Hidden magic and conspiracies.
Zoe’s shy. Like really shy. Even simple conversations with her best friend, Becca, can have her lost in her head, worrying about all the things she might have said or done wrong. But there’s this part of Zoe that’s as ferocious as a tiger, this part that paces in frustration whenever Zoe gets quiet, and urges her to do things that push her out of her comfort zone - her very small comfort zone.
The tiger gets its way when Zoe meets Noah at her favorite bar, because Zoe is so not comfortable. First, Noah’s absolutely gorgeous. Second, every time he touches her, she feels these golden pings of … something … that calm her and soothe her and make her feel like the answers to all her questions are right around the corner. And third, it looks like Becca is keeping a dangerous secret, a secret that Noah is in on and isn’t happy about at all.
With Noah’s help, Zoe’s gonna have to learn to speak, because her words hold power … more power than she ever dreamed possible.