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 January 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, a whole lot of space opera, military science fiction, post-apocalyptic science fiction, dystopian fiction, science fiction romance, alternate history, Cyberpunk, LitRPG, horror, dragons, aliens, werewolves, cyborgs, supersoldiers, galactic empires, FBI witches, Appalachian monsters, zombie insects, revenge of nature, The King in Yellow 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:
After the End - Stories of Life After the Apocalypse by Cora Buhlert
When the apocalypse has come and gone, life still goes on for the survivors struggling to adapt to the new normal.
In a drowned world, the descendants of surface dwellers remember the cities that were lost, the inhabitants of ocean floor colonies cling to outmoded customs and scavengers search the flooded ruins for anything that might be of use. In a world ravaged by droughts, two college students come face to face with how the other half lives. A lone explorer traverses the icy wasteland that used to be Europe. A group of children travels across a zombie-infested America in search of shelter and safety. After a robot uprising, a police officer is assigned to clean-up duties and finds an unexpected miracle among the ruins. And in a world blasted by electromagnetic solar storms, a nineteenth century technology suddenly becomes the sole means of long distance communication.
This collection contains eight stories of life after the apocalypse of 24500 words or approximately 85 print pages altogether.
Cyborg Legacy by Lindsay Buroker:
Former Cyborg Corps soldier Jasim Antar was relieved to come out of the war alive and looked forward to switching to a less violent line of work. But nobody wants to hire a brawny cyborg to do anything that doesn’t involve brutalizing people on a daily basis. Stuck working as a debt collector alongside an eccentric pilot who enjoys knitting gifts for her grandkids when she isn’t blowing people up, Jasim longs to find a more peaceful existence.
Coalescence by Zen DiPietro:
Fallon's back, and ready to settle things with Blackout once and for all. If she and her team can't take control, the PAC will splinter and galactic war will decimate the populace.
Can one little rebellion save an empire? Avian Unit--and their friends--are sure as hell going to try.
Sieging Manganela by Charon Dunn
When you’re waging war against the people who sold your ancestors those multigenerational bioengineered supersoldier enhancements, you can pretty much predict they’re not going to meet you face-to-face, especially if they happen to have an endless supply of remote controlled drones.
The city of Manganela has been sending drones after the army camped outside for the past several years, and now it looks like the war might be ending soon, and Corporal Turo Berengar might even get to meet that city girl he’s been surreptitiously texting. Assuming he can survive the drones.
Heretic by C. Gockel:
The day of reckoning is coming …
Commander Noa Sato has almost reached the Kannukah Cloud. Within hours her crew may be able to reach Sol System through a hidden time gate. If they make it, she and her crew won’t just save their own lives--they’ll save millions from genocide at the hands of Luddeccean fanatics.
But the Luddeccean "fanatics" may not be as mad as Noa believes.
If the Ark reaches Sol, Professor James Sinclair will be revealed as the imposter he is. Designed to be the perfect spy, James's love for Noa seems to be the only thing truly his own. But what can love be to an agent of the gates?
When the final confrontation occurs, and the truth of the gates is revealed, James and Noa will have choices to make ... Choices that may divide them forever and lead to the destruction of the human race.
The Final Reconciliation by Todd Keisling:
Thirty years ago, a progressive rock band called The Yellow Kings began recording what would become their first and final album. Titled “The Final Reconciliation,” the album was expected to usher in a new renaissance of heavy metal, but it was shelved following a tragic concert that left all but one dead.
The sole survivor of that horrific incident was the band’s lead guitarist, Aidan Cross, who’s kept silent about the circumstances leading up to that ill-fated performance—until now.
For the first time since the tragedy, Aidan has granted an exclusive interview to finally put rumors to rest and address a question that has haunted the music industry for decades: What happened to The Yellow Kings?
The answer will terrify you.
Inspired by The King in Yellow mythos first established by Robert W. Chambers, and reminiscent of cosmic horror by H. P. Lovecraft, Laird Barron, and John Langan, comes The Final Reconciliation—a chilling tale of regret, the occult, and heavy metal by Todd Keisling.
Continue Online Together by Stephan Morse:
Since stepping through the gateway to Continue, Grant has been many things: a dying hero, a malevolent imp, a robotic space explorer, and felon seeking redemption. Now he’s added a new role to the list—married man to a virtual woman. In his mind, nothing could be more perfect, but his newlywedded bliss is in jeopardy.
Trillium pulled the trigger on a digital Armageddon and the games have changed. Virtual people are being hunted down then deleted forever. Players’ characters are removed if they die three times. The AIs have a plan to fight back and protect their citizens by storing as much data as possible into a haven, including Xin’s.
To help secure the survival of his friends and wife, Grant will seek the secrets to salvation left behind from the game’s first heroes and programming team. Along the way, Grant reunites with old companions, sets aside past grudges, and pulls out every trick he’s ever been taught to help him in the race against digital death.
Failure means Grant will lose Xin a second time, but success may cost him even more.
Age of Order by Julian North:
In a world where all people are not created equal, Daniela Machado is offered the rarest commodity: hope.
For a girl from plague-infested Bronx City, the opportunity to attend the elite Tuck School in Manhattan is too tempting to turn down. There, among the so-called highborn, Daniela discovers an unimaginable world of splendor. But her opportunity soon turns into peril as Daniela discovers that those at society’s apex will stop at nothing to keep power for themselves. She may have a chance to change the world, if it doesn’t change her first.
Age of Order is a dystopian thriller filled with intrigue and unexpected relationships. It explores the meaning of merit and inequality in a world where the downtrodden must fight for a better future.
Recon: A War to the Knife by Rick Partlow:
Tyler Callas is the pampered heir of a high-level Corporate Council executive, groomed from birth to take a seat beside her as a member of the ruling class of the Commonwealth society. But the bloody war with the alien Tahni has hit close to home and Tyler wants to join the military, something his powerful mother won’t allow.
Desperate to escape her control, Tyler changes his identity to Randall Munroe, a product of the poverty-stricken Underground, and enlists in the Marines. There he flourishes, becoming a member of an elite Force Recon unit and striking deep behind enemy lines. But when his platoon is assigned to take back the colony on Demeter from the Tahni, the mission falls apart, most of his comrades are killed and Munroe is wounded, separated from his unit and left for dead on an enemy occupied world.
With no other choice, he organizes the civilian colonists into a resistance movement and begins fighting against the occupation with limited supplies and no support. As the situation becomes more and more desperate, what began as a high-tech, interstellar conflict will become a war to the knife…
Special Agent in Charge by T.S. Paul:
The Magical Crimes Division of the FBI has a new boss!
Agatha Blackmore's Probationary period is over and she has been promoted to Special Agent in Charge. Now armed with a new team of Paranormal investigators she is setting out on a new adventure.
An innocent Werewolf child has been murdered. Local FBI Investigators have discovered that Slavery still exists in the modern world. The new team must combat deceit and corruption in their pursuit of Justice and Salvation for the Paranormals of the Midwestern United States.
What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted?
Fruiting Bodies by Guy Riessen:
It’s 1979 and a secret all-out war between science and nature has erupted in the forests of the eastern United States.
Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, also known as the Zombie Fungus, infects the brains of ants. A daring military mission has recovered samples and it looks like the fungus just evolved into humanity’s worst nightmare.
A Sci-Fi Horror Short Story of 5500 words.
Greenwood Cove by Celia Roman:
I had three loves in my life: my daddy, him what my mama killed in cold blood; my son Henry, God rest him; and tall as an oak Riley Treadwell.
I lost all of 'em, one way or t'other, 'til Riley showed up on my stoop with a monster problem and tried to wiggle his way back into my life.
Only, weren't no monster bothering him; was the one bothering his ex-girlfriend what'd stirred up a hornet's nest out on Lake Burton amongst the muckity mucks. Weren't no never mind to me, see? I was fine letting well enough alone, 'cept curiosity got the best of me, and Riley, well. He weren't above using that silver tongue of his to persuade me 'round to his way of thinking. If I'da listened to my gut, maybe I woulda avoided stepping knee deep into somebody else's trouble.
Then again, I ain't never been one to heed a warning when monsters come a-calling.
Author's Note: Greenwood Cove was written in the native dialect of the narrator, found in the rural areas of the Southern Appalachians. The grammar, spelling, and syntax are not standardized American English.
Mercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson:
Riptide, Oregon, 1983. A sleepy coastal town, where crime usually consists of underage drinking down at a Wolf Point bonfire. But then strange things start happening—a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park and mutilated animals begin appearing, seemingly sacrificed, on the town's beaches. The Mercy of the Tide follows four people drawn irrevocably together by a recent tragedy as they do their best to reclaim their lives—leading them all to a discovery that will change them and their town forever. At the heart of the story are Sam Finster, a senior in high school mourning the death of his mother, and his sister Trina, a nine-year-old deaf girl who denies her grief by dreaming of a nuclear apocalypse as Cold War tensions rise. Meanwhile, Sheriff Dave Dobbs and Deputy Nick Hayslip must try to put their own sorrows aside to figure out who, or what, is wreaking havoc on their once-idyllic town.
Keith Rosson paints outside the typical genre lines with his brilliant debut novel. It is a gorgeously written book that merges the sly wonder of magical realism and alternate history with the depth and characterization of literary fiction.
Chronicles of the Last Days by Amelia Smith:
Myril doesn't need prophecy to see that her world is going to end – the city is sinking before her eyes. Foreign ships fill Anamat harbor, bringing traders bent on pillaging the city’s treasures – with help from the governor – as its people flee to hostile lands.
Her guildmaster calls on her to help save the Chronicles of Anamat from the pillagers. Meanwhile, her old friend Darna needs healing, Iola wants to go to her death in the dragons’ realm, and the Defenders are airing their secrets at just the wrong time.
How will any of them survive when the waters rise again?
Duchess of Terra by Glynn Stewart
When Terra knelt to an alien Imperium
They guaranteed our safety and our future
But now their enemies are coming for us
To preserve humanity’s survival and freedom in a hostile galaxy, Annette Bond tied her world to the A!Tol Imperium, taking on the mantle of Duchess of Terra to rule humanity in the Imperium’s name.
The A!Tol have provided technology, ships, and money to uplift the new Duchy of Terra, but those gifts come with strings attached. The Imperium has their own plan for Terra—but Bond has tricks of her own.
With enough time, she can build Earth a place in the galaxy. But as Bond’s many enemies gather their forces, the clouds of war threaten not only the recovering Terra but the entire Imperium.