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 February 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. This month, we have urban fantasy, epic fantasy, Asian fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, dystopian fiction, science fiction romance, time travel, horror, dragons, vampires, witches, ghosts, superheroes, aiens, robots, artificial intelligences, cyborg bounty hunters, supersoldiers, mutant assassins, galactic empires, Martian judgements, intergalactic prison breaks, radioactive wastelands, lake monsters, murder mysteries in space 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:
Wisps of Spider Silk - First Thread by Athena Andreadis:
Wisps of Spider Silk, First Thread is a diptych of two interlinked space opera stories (“The Stone Lyre” and “The Wind Harp”) that tell of interplanetary cultures in conflict — and in perilous alliances — over psychic talents and the dominance they can confer.
These two stories are wisps of a vast nebula. In this universe the Minoan civilization partly recovered from the Thera explosion and some of its descendants eventually took to the stars, as did their adversaries. This is the universe of “Dry Rivers” and “Planetfall” which appeared in Crossed Genres in 2009.
Traitor by Krista D. Ball:
Seven years ago, Rebecca St. Martin took the coward’s path to save her skin. She has lived with that decision, eking out a life as an indentured servant on a space station far from home. Only now, fate has decided to give Rebecca another chance. A ghost from her past plans to execute a daring rescue from the prison bowels of the station Rebecca now works.
Rebecca has to face the same decision she made all those years ago. Could she watch her friends be murdered? Or could she, just for once, be a hero?
Aletheia by J.S. Breukelaar:
Deep below the island, something monstrous lies waiting for Thettie, and it knows her name.
“Family and small town desires and secrets simmer in J. S. Breukelaar's melancholy and affecting mix of literary, noir, and horror by the lake. ALETHEIA is a compelling 21st century ghost story. Don't lose your Gila monster!” — Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil's Rock.
The remote lake town of Little Ridge has a memory problem. There is an island out on the lake somewhere, but no one can remember exactly where it is—and what it has to do with the disappearance of the eccentric Frankie Harpur or the seven-year-old son of a local artist, Lee Montour.
When Thettie Harpur brings her family home to find Frankie, she faces opposition from all sides—including from the clan leader himself, the psychotic Doc Murphy.
Lee, her one true ally in grief and love, might not be enough to help take on her worst nightmare. The lake itself.
A tale of that most human of monsters—memory—Aletheia is part ghost story, part love story, a novel about the damage done, and the damage yet to come. About terror itself. Not only for what lies ahead, but also for what we think we have left behind.
Dead World by Cora Buhlert:
Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.
Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eke out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.
When they are hired to retrieve a weapons prototype from an abandoned planet, it seems like a routine job. But it quickly turns out that the planet is not as empty as they had thought. And soon, Anjali and Mikhail find themselves caught in a deadly chase across a radioactive wasteland.
This is a novella of 27500 words or approx. 95 print pages in the "In Love and War" series, but may be read as a standalone.
The Bay of Sins by J.D. Byrne:
The war is over, but nothing is settled.
On the Neldathi side of the Water Road the clans are slowly pulling apart following a sudden murder. Hirrek is tasked with getting to the bottom of a mystery: was this killing the random act of a violent, unstable man? Or was it something more sinister, a hint of what the Neldathi thought they’d defeated during the war? The unity won in blood may be slipping away.
In the rebuilding city of Innisport, life is returning to something like normal. That’s largely due to Mida, given the task of rebuilding the city by Antrey Ranbren herself. After Mida hands power over to the Guild of Politicians, she finds herself on trial for her life, charged with treason and being a collaborator. Along the way she meets someone, a curious remnant of the war, who makes her rethink the way she sees those that destroyed her city.
In the meantime, Antrey returns from exile, escaping to the wilderness of Telebria. She gains new allies, including Rurek, and a new foe, the Sentinel Faerl. He’s best known among the other Sentinels as the man who let Antrey slip away once before, getting all his men killed in the process. Now he has a chance for redemption and revenge. But Antrey is willing to do anything to ensure that her legacy does not slip away.
The chase is on, as the saga of The Water Road barrels toward its explosive conclusion.
The Boy With The Blue Sky by N.C. Davis:
How far would you go to bring back a loved one from the dead?
Theo returned her stare. 'It's not just a program.'
'Then what the hell is it?' she said.
'It's a digital reconstruction of our son.'
On the anniversary of their young son’s death, teacher Eury can only find peace by descending into an electronically-induced world of dreamless sleep.
Her husband Theo, a music lecturer, is at the end of his tether and has tried everything he can think of to drag Eury out of the darkness. So, in a final act of desperation he acquires software that can digitally resurrect their child.
Will it bring Eury back to him or will the shock drive her deeper into a world of endless slumber?
The Boy with the Blue Sky is a story that shines a light on the steady creep of technology, into the most intimate parts of our lives.
Starbound by J.J. Green:
Humanity has colonized Mars and invented interstellar travel—joining the thousands of alien races that explore the deepest reaches of the galaxy.
Jas Harrington is the sole survivor of a Martian colony disaster. After growing up in institutions on Mars and Earth, she travels to Antarctica to train as a deep space security operative. All she wants is to graduate college and escape her past, but it isn’t long before she faces familiar prejudice against returned colonists.
Jas must navigate aggression, bigotry, and the frozen Antarctic wastes if she’s to fulfil her dreams.
For once, fighting her way out of her problems isn’t an option, until it is.
Prequel to the 10-book space opera serial, Shadows of the Void.
Prominence by A.C. Hadfield and Colin F. Barnes:
They tried to destroy our planets. Our way of life. They tried to send us into extinction. But we, the Coalition, fought them and won. That was a decade ago. We had assumed they were beaten for good.
We were wrong.
They’re known as the Host: a cabal of aliens seeking to dominate our sector of space. And they’re back—with help from a powerful new enemy.
Against their wrath, we must stand. We’re outnumbered and unprepared. If we lose, we lose everything.
But there is hope. An ancient race of long-dead but technologically advanced aliens called the Navigators have a ship called the Blackstar that could potentially turn the tide. That is if I, Kai Locke, a humble ship racer, can find it and learn how to harness its power in time.
If I fail, the Coalition will fall, and the Host will consign us to a distant memory. I refuse to let that happen. I will fight to my last breath for the Coalition’s survival.
Simon Rising by Brian D. Howard:
Five years ago, an alien ship crashed into the bay. Since then, vigilantes and criminals with extraordinary powers increasingly dominate headlines.
A man wakes up in the hospital with no memory. He's told he is Steve Ambrose, a serial bank robber who was shot while being arrested. Everything changes when he discovers he has telekinetic powers.
Hunted by FBI Special Agent Rachel Moore, and with unknown enemies around every corner, can he change who he is, or is the dark criminal everyone accuses him of being too deeply a part of his nature to escape?
Ambassador 6: The Enemy Within by Patty Jansen:
Two men went on a surfing trip in a remote area. Only one came back, accused of murdering the other.
Sounds simple, right?
Not quite, because the alleged murder happened on another planet, the accused is a member of the secretive Pretoria Cartel of super-rich business tycoons--with illegal off-Earth ventures--and the only person who can remotely be called a witness is an alien, the elder Abri from the Pengali Thousand Islands tribe.
Diplomat Cory Wilson is asked to accompany Abri to the Nations of Earth court, but when he and his team arrive there, their contacts have been moved to different cases, their rooms are bugged and their movements restricted. No one is answering their questions, but it is when a lawyer is murdered and Cory's team captures a mysterious stalker that things get interesting.
Just as well they are prepared in the usual way: alert and highly armed.
Dances of Deception by J.C. Kang:
An invincible empire threatens to invade Cathay, and only a Dragon Song can ensure peace.
After vanquishing the Last Dragon with the power of her voice, all Kaiya wants is a quiet life of anonymity. Instead, the Emperor sends her to negotiate peace with the aggressive Teleri Empire.
The critical mission reunites her with her childhood friend Tian, now an assassin-spy who loathes killing. He is no longer the adorable, gullible boy from her memories, any more than she is the adventurous, sweet girl from his. Instead of rekindling nostalgia for a youthful innocence they both yearn for, their reunion ignites a mutual hatred.
When the Teleri Empire breaks off talks, Tian must help Kaiya escape. Orcs, Ogres, and enemy soldiers stand between them and home, and their volatile relationship could get them captured… or killed.
Chameleon Uncovered by B.R. Kingsolver
The dark sequel to the best-selling Chameleon Assassin.
Libby has a chance to build a legitimate reputation when she’s hired by one of the world’s most prestigious museums to bolster their security. The gig is in Chicago, where her heartthrob lives, so she hopes for a little romance.
She's on a first-name basis with larceny, mayhem, and death, but Libby's not used to being on the receiving end. Chicago is far darker and more dangerous than her native Toronto. Amidst terrorist bombings, stolen treasure, and murder, a mutant prophet calls for revolution. Away from her family and friends, Libby has nowhere to turn as enemies assault her from all sides.
Their mistake. Libby is a dangerous enemy.
2184: Beneath the Steel City by Ben Lovejoy:
In London 2184, the government monitors every move its citizens make, logs every action, notes every visit, supervises every communication, penalises the slightest transgression with all the warmth and sympathy of a hungry piranha.
Computer tech David Lafferty has grown tired of living beneath the crushing weight of a billion petty rules, and decided it was time to create his own rules in an underground life beneath the steel city.
Aided by Saira, a Self-propelled Artificially Intelligent Robot Assistant, and a small circuit board stolen from the government, all is going well until an unknown adversary appears to have learned his every secret …
The Cosmic City by Brian K. Lowe:
In the conclusion to The Stolen Future trilogy, Keryl Clee finds himself at the center of a crisis which could mean the destruction not only on Earth, but of Time itself. Hostages of a time-traveling madman who is creating an army from the past to conquer the world of the future, before Clee and Lady Maire can defeat him they must come to grips with the shocking truth behind the 300-year-old Nuum invasion of Earth.
Beset by new and powerful enemies, betrayed by the Council of Nobles itself, Keryl Clee has one last chance to unite the peoples of Earth--Nuum and Thoran, human and non-human alike--because even he is powerless against those who are coming from beyond the stars to reach…The Cosmic City.
Insurgence by Lori Ann Ramsay:
Earth's last hope relied on the mission to Xeoron, to save the captive from the horrid alien virus that claimed so many lives and plagued mankind for over three centuries. The mission would also set those bound on the alien planet free, even if it meant giving their own lives. The team had trained most of their lives for the mission, with many entering the Academy of Space Exploration as young as twelve years old. Now the launch propelled their starship into space at warp speed to a planetary system on the other side of the galaxy. The team sought to free the humans held captive there, whether dead or alive and to bring back a cure to save mankind and to save planet Earth from an alien invasion and annihilation. But the underlying possibility of captivity on Xeoron and failure to complete the mission hung in the air, would they succeed in saving Earth and mankind?
Insurgence is the first book of The Realm of Xeoron series. A space opera sci-fi series with genetic engineering, colonization on an alien planet, and contact with aliens.
Prison Break by Jim Rudnick:
The Warlord Noriega, once captured is now being tried for the destruction of the Barony destroyer the Gibraltar with hundreds of casualties. But his lawyers are claiming that the Confederacy does not have jurisdiction and that is the court cases that begin with this tale. Added is the threat from the largest Warlord, Konoe, that if the Confederacy does sentence Noriega to life, then that constitutes a declaration of war with his realm.
The Barony is also now a part of the investigations over on Birdland, where the Duke and Duchess are discovering more about the mysterious ball-birds--and why they seem to be important even though the knowledge about them is scant. This however is also a factor in the new dissolution of the partnership between the Duke, the Baroness and the Caliph. With all the Xithricite that is currently known on the RIM, the Caliph and his new admiral are formidable powers on the RIM.
As the Warlord is sentenced to life on Halberd the lawyers file with the RIM Confederacy Supreme Court and yet the Warlord Konoe will not wait, and tries to break Noriega out of the prison planet--something that has never happened before. Ships clash and battles occur as the breakout rises to Pike Station up above the prison and threaten the security of the RIM Confederacy too...
Blood Hunt by Izzy Shows:
Wizard without a license. Defender of London.
The Hunter in the Darkness. Not a title I wanted, but that's who I am now. Vampires are trying to destroy my city. We're one mistake away from the world knowing about magic, but the vampires don't care. They just crave their next fix. I have to stop them, but I can't risk using the demonic powers I have. Whatever lurks inside me, it's dark, and it's hungry. I will find a way to fight on my own.
Vampires are not the only evil in this world.
Judgment of Mars by Glynn Stewart:
A war fought in the shadows
A conspiracy shattered in fire
A moment of weakness…
When politics are played for blood.
The destruction of the secret archive of the Royal Order of Keepers on Mars has left Damien Montgomery, Hand of the Mage-King, with his enemies defeated, his lover dead—and his questions unanswered.
When he seeks out the remaining Keepers for answers, he discovers only violence and death in their strongholds. Someone else is hunting down the survivors to make sure they never answer Damien’s questions—or anyone else’s.
As a wave of murder sweeps Mars and the consequences of the Keepers’ conspiracy sink home, Damien is summoned before the Council of the Protectorate to answer for the deaths of two other Hands. In the political heart of the Protectorate of Mars, he finds he may be forced to choose between honoring the oaths he swore and preserving the survival of the Protectorate itself!
Team Guardian by Naomi Stone:
This collection includes the three Team Guardian adventures: Sweet Mercy, Safe Haven and Shining Hope.
When a probability bomb exploded in the heartlands of the US, no one couldhave predicted the results. Spreading chaos was the point of using a probability bomb. Thousands died. Others were gifted with strange powers. Ten years later the world had become a different place.
When Rachel Connolly — a Reverse Empath — and Franklin Luke Delano (Fluke) — a Probability Talent — meet in the course of capturing a would-be bomber, they have little time to explore their powerful connection before they must draw a mad Puppet Master into the open.
Beth Talbot’s psychometry Talent is a curse as well as a blessing, making Time for her less a smoothly-flowing river than a storm-tossed ocean. She sees David Connolly as a rock of stability in that maelstrom, with his Talent for neutralizing other Talents like hers. But how can she even try to turn his attention her way when everyone on Team Guardian needs him, especially with amad Talent out to take control of the entire world’s computing - and banking-systems.
Maybe Tom could have called on another Illusionist to help in the hunt, but Sophia Alvarez is the best, and she’s been on his mind since the last mission they worked together. Tom takes on the authority and responsibilities of leading the Team – in time to join the FBI in tracking down a rogue Talent behind a string of killings they believe the work of a vigilante Talent bent on destroying sexual predators.
The Piranha Solution by John Triptych:
In the near future, a new space race begins. Private industry is now pushing the limits of human exploration and colonization. NASA has changed its mandate into a regulatory agency to oversee all US-based corporations and individuals involved in interplanetary expansion.
Stilicho Jones always has his hands full while working as a personal troubleshooter for eccentric trillionaire Errol Flux and his numerous cutting edge space projects. When a mysterious and potentially deadly situation threatens the colonies on Mars, Stilicho must team up with a feisty NASA special agent in a race against time to avert a looming catastrophe that could end any hope of inhabiting the Red Planet.
Check out The Piranha Solution. If you were ever inspired by the NASA Space Program, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, Robert Zubrin's The Case for Mars, or Andy Weir’s The Martian, then have a look at this newest, edge of your seat technothriller!