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 December 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 space opera, military science fiction, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic science fiction, dystopian fiction, young adult fiction, short fiction anthologies, shapeshifters, demons, time travel, questing knights, captive princes, wish granting djinni, drug-smuggling gnomes, hospital ships, were-squirrels, adventures on Mars, the battle of the sexes 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 Part 3: Revelations by Eamon Ambrose:
The acclaimed post-apocalyptic saga continues as our two heroes continue their journey, but it soon becomes clear that the odds are against them. Will they reach the Facility and find the answers they need?
Caught in the Rush by Eva Chase:
Fiona Wilde has always lived up to her last name, but a night in the emergency room was more than she bargained for. Now six months clean and sober, she's thrown herself back into the only job she feels qualified for—guarding the emerging stars of L.A. from the demonic Glowers—while getting the rush she craves from casual encounters, always leaving before anyone can leave her. When her teen TV star client's hot older brother Will arrives home for spring break, she sees the perfect opportunity for a fling with a built-in end date.
Then the Glowers launch an unexpected attack, leaving Fiona scrambling to keep her client safe even as Will steals past the walls around her heart. With the demons closing in and the starlet rebelling, the stability Fiona has clung to is slipping away. Her growing connection with Will might be the thing that saves her—or the thing that tears her apart.
The second book in The Glower Chronicles, a steamy New Adult paranormal series.
Each book in The Glower Chronicles contains a stand-alone romance, but it is recommended that you read them in order to best appreciate the ongoing subplots.
Singularity by Taitrina Falcon:
The Temporal Response Unit (TRU) has one purpose: find time travelers and stop them in their tracks. It's not because there is a timeline to protect, for the future is unwritten. The time travelers can't change their past, but their actions impact our future in ways we can only guess.
TRU Agent Lucas Weiss is on his first case, charged with finding the time traveler and stopping him. Within an hour of the time traveler’s arrival, the town has its first murder of the year. On the eve of announcing a new cancer miracle drug, the victim is none other than prominent Leomins BioTech cancer researcher Dr. Lowe.
Finding the time traveler and learning his motives will require more ingenuity and know-how than Weiss may be prepared for, especially when the clues lead him to an even more elaborate scheme with far more operatives at play. As the TRU team searches, a showdown begins with potentially devastating consequences.
The Nexus has been formed.
Wit Fallo by R.D. Henderson:
Wit Fallo, a white gnome, is a shiftless and lazy boat captain who loves money, but hates working.
The boat captain thinks he is presented with an opportunity of a life time to live the free and easy life when a drug kingpin hires him to be part of his narcotics trafficking operation. All Wit has to do is a four or five drug smuggling runs a week between three islands in the Brown Triangle on the Earth Realm, and in no time he would have more than enough money to do whatever he wanted without any worries or consequences.
Unfortunately, things do not work out as well as Wit hoped when three of the drug kingpin’s more senior people are killed in his office and he is the only survivor.
Instead of seeking revenge, the drug kingpin decides to retire and sells his narcotics trafficking network to Tom Bolden, a halfling, and crime lord based in the Fairy Realm.
Wit realizes with the retirement of the drug kingpin that the possibility of the free and easy life will not become a reality, and he will remain a boat captain in the Brown Triangle.
Tom Bolden, however, has other plans for the white gnome. Tom paid a lot of money to acquire the narcotics trafficking network, and someone has to pay him back. Wit is the person who has to pay Tom back because of what happened in his office.
Wit has no choice but to agree to become a messenger and enforcer for Tom as a way to pay him back.
The problem is Wit is ill-equipped and does not have the necessary skills and talent to be of any use for Tom.
The even bigger problem for Wit is despises living in the Fairy Realm because everything is based on magic. He hates magic. Pixies, brownies, fairies, and other types of fairy folk because they are made of magic and use magic. He hates pixies, brownies, fairies, and the rest of the fairy folk because of their connection to magic. Wit, unfortunately, has to work these fairy folk because they are trusted members of Tom Bolden’s organization.
The biggest problem for Wit, even with how he hates living in the Fairy Realm, is he still has to pay the money he owes Tom Bolden.
Nuts About You by Kate Lowell:
Nathan’s been crushing on one of his regular Bulk Mart customers for a while now. In squirrel form, he sits on Vince’s bird feeders, munching on seeds and enjoying the eye candy. Until the day Vince notices him raiding the feeder…
Three Wishes by Lisa Manifold:
Who wouldn't want a do-over?
That is the question that twenty-six year old Tibby Holloway is asking herself. After a long night of eating too much ice cream and going over all her missed chances, she's surprised by a visitor. A free-lancing djinn who makes her the offer of a lifetime. He'll give her three chances, three wishes, to go back and change her life. She can change her career, find the man she loves.That could be a problem as there's at least two in the "man she loves" category.
There's also a catch. A Really Big Catch.
She can't stay in any of these new lives her wishes create. Once she's gone back three times, the djinn will decide where she ends up. He's firm on this - she'll have no say in the matter. After deciding which points in her life she wants to do over, she must then decide if it's worth risking all she may achieve. Because to find out what might have been, she has to give up all control over what will be. Would it be better to not even know?
It will all come down to her
Valley of the Shadow by Christina Ochs:
A captive prince. A desperate princess. An alliance that will shake the foundations of an empire.
In the wake of battle, Kendryk finds himself the prisoner of Empress Teodora. As war ravages Terragand, Kendryk’s guilt is matched only by his fear that he will never see his family again. Gwynneth, in possession of a valuable captive but sworn to keep him close, faces Teodora’s wrath as she waits in anguish for relief.
But when Gwynneth’s rescue comes, the empire will never be the same again.
A tide of religious upheaval sweeps across the land, bearing men and women toward their fates. The delicate joy shared by Janna and Braeden will be shattered; the king of a neighboring kingdom will walk the edge of madness; and an oath of vengeance will bind three unlikely allies together in a desperate attempt to curb Teodora’s ambitions once and for all.
The Desolate Empire, Christina Ochs’ epic fantasy series, continues in Book 2:Valley of the Shadow.
Of One Skein, Part 2 by P.J. Post:
This romance brought to you by the end of the world...
The Del Ray Motor Inn isn't real.
Zombies, they aren't real either.
But Jem and Pixie, they're real, and so is their pain.
Last night he was torn between saving the lost children, and selfishness, ignoring everything and racing back to Emily, to Sam, but none of that matters now.
He's infected and isn't ever going to see his friends again, his reason, his love.
But now, in his last days, Fate has given him one final chance at redemption; to get Jem and Pixie somewhere safe before the fever comes, before the black-eyed sickness comes - before he comes for them.
Author's Note: Feral is an ongoing serialized story.
The End of the Trail by Louis Rakovich:
A barren land of salt and snow; a castle where underground paths twist and turn in endless circles and a reclusive king has not shown his face in years; a forest where few things are what they seem. An unnamed hero must navigate through these places as he takes on the task of tracking down a supposed witch, in a story that blends dream and reality, rumor and truth, danger and hope.
Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Tricia Reeks:
Twenty-six brilliant speculative fiction stories about love, and the pain that so often accompanies it. Enjoy a cornucopia of imaginative tales, wondrous settings, and unforgettable characters—such as the disillusioned time traveler who visits ancient Japan to experience a “Moment of Zen,” the young woman from planet Kiruna who can only communicate in song when the moonlet Saarakka is up, and the sorcerer who loses their happiness in a bet with a demon.
Rich and wonderfully diverse, this collection spans many speculative fiction genres: from SciFi to Dystopian, from Fantasy to Magical Realism, from Steampunk to Superhero, from Horror to Weird. Sometimes funny, occasionally happy, frequently gut-wrenching—these stories will take your heart on a wild emotional ride.
Stories by Jeff VanderMeer, Hugh Howey, Karin Tidbeck, Charlie Jane Anders, Holly Phillips, Aliette de Bodard, A. Merc Rustad, Steve Simpson, Mel Paisley, J. D. Brink, Matt Leivers, Michael Milne, Michal Wojcik, Carla Dash, Terry Durbin, Michelle Ann King, Kyle Richardson, Leah Brown, G. Scott Huggins, Dan Micklethwaite, Victoria Zelvin, Shannon Phillips, Keith Frady, Jody Sollazzo, David Stevens, and Morgen Knight.
Hospital Ship by Jim Rudnick:
"After exploding with rage and injuring some Caliphate marines, Tanner is sent to the Barony Hospital ship on a ninety day observation to see if he's really sane. At the same time, he is challenged by his doctors and psychiatrist to see if he can defeat his alcohol addiction and to combat his PTSD too.
Also on the ship is the Barony Secure labs where the research teams are trying to find the Ikarian virus vaccine to give longevity to the RIM—and the Baroness is interested in their success.
While the Caliphate continues to try to find a way to steal the vaccine, they end up using a vacjumper—someone who can go right out into outer space with no suit and attempt to break into the lab that way.
Called on to forget about his illness, Tanner must rise to heed the call to defeat the vacjumper and to do that he must jump out into space on his own. Death, virus vaccines and love all play a part for him and his quest…"
The Last Giant by Frances Smith:
Corona is besieged. Princess Ameliora can see her enemies gather beyond the walls. It has been many years since Ameliora abandoned the Captain-Generalcy of the Corona Firstborn, years since she donned her armour or took up her sword. Now, with all the warriors dead and the city gripped by terror, the aged warrior must take up arms and armour one last time, and usher an age of heroes to its close.
A story of 10,000 words.
Fusion by Phil Stern:
With Aydia lurching ever closer to a general war, old loyalties are being stretched to the breaking point, even while radical new allegiances are taking shape.
Now on the run together, Rayson and Saira desperately strive to form a coalition opposing the dark forces sweeping their planet. Forced to work directly with both the Kax and the Alliance governments, the two former lovers must also finally acknowledge the scandal of their high-profile past.
Meanwhile, the details of that history continue to assert themselves. Fifteen years before, the Save Saira movement nearly destroyed the young Srendian. How can Saira possibly hold everyone at bay, even as the most damning fallout from her innocent college liaison remains secret?
Fusion is the second book in The Aydian Series, with the story picking up right where it left off at the end of Aydia.
Gen by H.S. St. Ours:
Gen was angry and she knew it. Angry about her overprotective parents, angry about the way she was teased about her height, and angry about the dirt and grime that infested every corner of Mars. But soon, she'd be on rotations. Too few went Outside on purpose anymore, just to shiver against the icy cold or feel the pressure in the slowly thickening air. But an ancient prophecy of destruction came to her in haunting visions, and now it's up to Gen to warn them all - and maybe even save worlds.
Falling As She Sings by C.J. Sursum:
In the not-so-distant future, the rise of terrorism leads to a new and chilling subjugation of women. But as civilization breaks down, one wealthy woman builds a massive, walled-in enclave, and outfits it with the technology to be completely self-sustaining.
Her sole stipulation: only women are allowed in. Within the enclave walls, these women—Vestals—lead lives of culture and ease, free of the burden of husbands and children. Outside the walls, men have devolved into feral, violent Brutes roaming the surrounding wilderness. The Vestals need them for one purpose only—to reproduce themselves.
But Menna, a beautiful Vestal scientist in charge of breeding, makes a disastrous mistake while extracting one captured Brute's seed. Disturbing interactions with him shatter her preconceptions of Brutes, and her image of herself. Ultimately, she is forced to choose between her comfortable, sterile existence and a harsh, brutish unknown.
Powerful and profound, Falling as She Sings is at once science fiction adventure, spiritual thriller, and visionary love story. It's a searching, funny commentary on the eternal, yet ever fresh and compelling forces driving relationships between the sexes.
Burned by Magic by Jasmine Walt:
In the city of Solantha, mages rule absolute, with shifters considered second-class citizens and humans something in between. No one outside the mage families are allowed to have magic, and anyone born with it must agree to have it stripped from them to avoid execution.
Sunaya Baine, a shifter-mage hybrid, has managed to keep her unruly magic under wraps for the last twenty-four years. But while chasing down a shifter-hunting serial killer, she loses control of her magic in front of witnesses, drawing the attention of the dangerous and enigmatic Chief Mage.
Locked up in the Chief Mage’s castle and reduced to little more than a lab rat, Sunaya resists his attempts to analyze and control her at every turn. But she soon realizes that to regain her freedom and catch the killer, she must overcome her hatred of mages and win the most powerful mage in the city to her side.
Reckoning in the Void by J.T. Williams:
The world falls towards darkness.
Magic is awakening in the north and the Grand Protectorate retreats after its bloody defeat at Srun. Sviska stands with the Island Nation against the evils of The Order and the Itsu Priest as the allies of magic make plans for their push against the capital city of their enemy. But all is not as it seems.
The Itsu Priest is tightening his grip on the legions of the north changing them from men to unholy beasts. The Saints of Wura must move quickly to save Garoa's daughter from his evil clutches but some fear she could already be dead. Furthermore, hundreds have been kidnapped as sacrifices for a dark ritual and the time for the incantation draws near.
Sviska is moving closer to unlocking the powers of his Dwemhar ancestry but as the blood curse ensnares his mind, he can only pray he is powerful enough to resist the will of The Order.
He made a stand against a dark evil in the icy mountains of Elinathrond but now his life, and that of those he has grown to call friends, may be forfeit.