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 June 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 a broad spectrum of titles, featuring science fiction, space opera, grimdark fantasy, Steampunk, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, urban fantasy, Asian based fantasy, fairytale retellings, the ever popular vampires, the ever popular zombies, the not quite so popular selkies, dinosaurs, gladiators, superpowers, soul thieves, funeral gatecrashers, the afterlife and much more. We even have a non-fiction essay collection
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:
The Heretic by Lucas Bale
Earth is gone.
Centuries have passed since the First Cataclysm ended life on the blue planet. Humanity’s survivors are now dispersed among distant colonies, thousands of light years from the barren, frozen rock that was once their home.
A new Republic has formed – one in which freedom no longer exists. In return for the protection of the Consulate Magistratus, citizens must concede their rights. The Magistratus controls interstellar travel, access to technology – even procreation. Organised religion is forbidden. All crime is punished by banishment or a lifetime of penal servitude on the Kolyma prison fleet.
And humanity’s true history survives only in whispers of a secret archive.
Yet there are those who preach a new religion and who want to be free.
A revolution is coming…
Wrathlight by Christopher Barrieu
The Bathel: A race of psychopaths and murderers, consuming worlds and cultures with terrible sadistic joy. They have conquered every race they have found.
Now they have found mankind.
Scott Shaw, soldier, widower, and father, is the best warrior humanity has. He is trained in the alien combat of humanity’s new universe. But compared to the Bathel, he is a mere novice.
The Bathel demand a ritual combat: should Scott win, the Bathel will leave the small colony of mankind alone. Should he lose, everything and everyone he knows will suffer beyond the imaginations of humanity.
But no one has ever won, and Scott knows he heads to certain death on a foreign world.
Yet the natives speak of Wrathlight, the ultimate power, the power of judgement, wielded by powerful spirits with sky-blue eyes. An old myth, but can a mere man perhaps embody such a thing? Can he strike back for all the suffering races and save his own?
Scott is about to find out.
Steel and Song by Ani Bolton
Airwitch Tova Vanaskaya’s choices are few: use her magic to fly an elite aircraft in the Grand Duchy’s army or be shipped to the trenches. But invoking too much magic can kill the wielder, and her Cossack captain has a hell-bent-for-leather streak that pushes her to the brink. It’s a good thing she’s not afraid to push back.
Airship captain Piers Dashkov lost his friends, family ties and self-respect in a rash act years ago, so it’s fine by him if the odds of surviving a dogfight are slim to none. His goal is simple: find redemption through valor and regain his lost honor in death if not life. He needs the smart-mouthed airwitch to achieve that impossible goal, but he never thought she would prove to be his salvation.
While the enemy is on the move, and whispers of revolution echo from the salons of the noble Cossack Houses to the tenement slums of Muscovy, one reckless night of passion creates a connection that will reverberate fatally for nations as well as for Tova and Piers.
Degenerated by S. Elliot Brandis
Humanity is divided.
In the tunnels, beneath the city…
Flynn was imprisoned at birth, spurned by society because of his differences. By age thirteen he was ready to die. By all accounts he should have.
Now he lives amongst those who’d wish him dead, struggling to understand the affliction that saved his life. Life in the tunnels is dark and twisted. He must find a way to make things right.
On the surface, in a sun-scorched wasteland…
Pearl lives in a camp of survivors, learning to adapt to the hostile climate. The mood has begun to darken. Bad habits and dangerous ideas are infiltrating her people.
When the camp decides to attack the tunnels, she faces a choice: will she do as she’s told and stay safe, or risk her life to save a society of people she doesn’t understand.
DEGENERATED is the second novel in The Tunnel Trilogy, following Irradiated.
Zombie Town by Griffin Carmichael
From city to suburbia, zombies are all the rage as they rampage on their quest for sustenance, taking down strangers, friends and neighbors alike, without pity or remorse.
Here are nine short stories about the times when the dead walk and the living fear.
MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: What better place to be when the dead rise than the local fitness center.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CAROL: Suburban life can be deadly dull. Or maybe just deadly.
FIGGY PUDDING: Holidays are known for feasting and jubilation, but one restaurant manager comes to regret keeping the doors open one Christmas eve.
NEITHER RAIN NOR: Public servants are said to be a dedicated lot, but carrying on with business as usual after the zombie apocalypse is taking it a bit too far.
SILENT: Little children look forward to a visit from Santa with great anticipation, but there’s nothing good coming down the chimney this year.
DARKNESS FALLS: Even a sturdy fallout shelter isn’t any protection when the super flu everybody’s been predicting lays waste to the world.
FLASHLIGHT: All she wanted was a flashlight so she could see what all the ruckus outside was about. Sometimes it’s better to remain in the dark.
IN THE MEADOW: Winter has come to a small Nebraskan town, bringing huge snowfalls. But nobody is in the mood to build a snowman.
RITUALS FOR THE LIVING: Long after the dead have risen, the survivors learn to cope with new ways of living and dying.
Selkie by Claire Chilton
She just lost her heart to the ocean…
Ex-hacker, Cassie Easton, has just made out with her boss—mistake #1. And he’s just told her he’s engaged—mistake #2. She thinks her heart might have just been shredded for good.
The idea of going back to work with him after that is humiliating enough, but things just keep getting worse. Sean’s not acting like the man she knows and loves. She barely recognizes him anymore. Something fishy is going on, and Cassie reverts to her criminal ways to find out why sexy Sean O’Callaghan is dating an old trout and running scared.
When it turns out to be the mystic forces of the ocean that’s screwing up her love life, she wonders if she’s finally lost her mind. If she can just survive a wasted wizard, a jealous sea witch and Selkie lore, maybe she’ll get to fall in love, assuming she doesn’t get arrested first.
Selkie is the first book in The Celtic Witches series.
Hidden Intentions by Stacy Claflin
Fun-loving Clara is keeping a dark and deadly secret from William, the love of her life.
Not because she wants to hide things from him, but because her story is so unbelievable he will probably think she’s crazy.
If she tells him, she could lose him. If she doesn’t tell him, she will.
This is a standalone novel loosely connected to The Transformed series. And yes, it’s speculative fiction.
Hunted by A.J. Colby
Vampires, werewolves, and serial killers, OH MY!
Eight years after the attack that changed her life forever, Riley Cray is confronted with something she never thought she’d have to face again: Samson Reed, the werewolf who nearly killed her, has escaped from prison. With the help of Special Agent Darius Holbrook, Riley is racing against time to stay one step ahead of the crazed werewolf. But Reed isn’t the only monster with his eyes on Riley and as the bodies are piling up she’s beginning to wonder how long it will be before she’s one of them.
Fight or Flight by Chele Cooke
A single secret might change a war, but a lie can destroy those fighting it.
Georgianna Lennox’s biggest fear has become reality: she has been sold as a slave. Caught in the middle of the brewing war between the Adveni oppressors and Belsa rebels, she is recruited to be the rebels’ eyes behind enemy lines.
As the Belsa make bolder attacks against the cruel Adveni, Georgianna finds that the lies she is tasked to tell her owner are nothing compared to the secrets she must keep from her friends – secrets that could change the war in their favour, and lies that might destroy them all.
Part 2 in the Out of Orbit series, following Dead and Buryd, which is free right now.
The Girl Who Believed in Fairy Tales by Heidi Garrett
Heidi Garrett has written a lyrical collection of short stories woven with the threads of three very poignant fairy tales that pull this literary tapestry together to create a shimmering picture of love and acceptance.
THE GIRL WHO WATCHED FOR ELVES desperately needs to find her elf–it’s her only hope for happiness and, ultimately, survival.
THE GIRL WHO DREAMED OF RED SHOES is slowly dying inside until she learns that nothing is right until it’s the right fit–and in vivid, living color.
Lastly, THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T SING has to step out into her dream or she’s going to die with her song hidden inside her heart.
Anyone who misses these tales, will miss the experience–no, transformation of a lifetime. It’s time for everyone to get their real on!
The Wish by Judy Goodwin
Jodi is in love. The problem is that she’s in love with her best friend, Tanya. And her best friend is in love with Roger. Even worse, they’re getting married. As her friend prepares for a big wedding combining her Japanese and American traditions, Jodi finds herself praying to a long lost Japanese goddess for help.
When the goddess answers, Jodi is faced with a terrible choice. She can either have passion and heartache, or she can have friendship and loneliness.
Wishes always come with strings attached.
Bonus short story: Reflections of Chi
Geneva Lin runs a respectable interior decorating business. Her orderly world turns to chaos when a woman barges in, insisting that her house is rearranging itself. Geneva only hopes a little Feng Shui will solve the problem.
The question is, what do you do with a house that may want to kill you?
Warbound: The Shield Maiden by C.P.D. Harris
A LOST CONTINENT. A LEGION IN PERIL. THE FATE OF TWO EMPIRES.
In the Domains of the Chosen magic is power.
The Grand Championships are over. Two Gladiators have joined the ranks of the immortal rulers of the Domains. As Gavin and Sadira learn their way as Chosen, their friend, Vintia sets sail with an expedition that will reshape the future of the empire. Chosen Brightloch has found the way to Ithal’duin, a continent lost since The Reckoning. New allies, and new dangers await. Fortunes will be made and the balance of power will shift. It is up to Vintia and the Ninth Legion to safeguard this expedition. Yet, while the Legions faces strange foes, the politics of the Chosen might present an even greater danger.
This is the third book in the Domains of the Chosen series, following Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale and Bloodlust: Will to Power.
The Abnorms by Gregory Hoffman
The world thinks they are useless.
Society thinks they are freaks.
They are Abnorms.
People born with special powers that set them apart from normal humans. Abnorms with useful or dangerous powers are snatched up by the government and never seen again, those with powers deemed useless are set free, back into a population that hates and shuns them. This is a story about a group of so-called useless Abnorms but these teens must do their best to make their useless powers useful as they try to rescue one of their own from the clutches of the government, and maybe fall in love along the way.
Heir’s Revenge by Patty Jansen
If Miran had princesses, Ellisandra Takumar would be one. Smart, pretty, engaged to a high-profile man, everything a high-class Mirani woman should be. But things are not well in Miran. Many years of boycotts have taken their toll on society, and the regime becomes more desperate to keep its citizens under control. Revolt is brewing. As director of the state theatre, Ellisandra has been asked to stage a violent traditional play which stands stiff with threatening political messages for the populace. She hates it, but speaking out would risk that she’d be cast out from the only world she’s ever known.
Next to her house is the burnt ruin of the house of another high-class family, the Andrahar family. They fled Miran for political reasons when Ellisandra was a little girl and the house has lain untouched ever since. One night, she spots a mysterious young man walking around the yard, putting out pegs and pieces of string. He’s re-building the house. That makes no sense, because the family is no longer welcome in Miran, and who is he anyway?
She is curious and investigates. He seems too good-natured and naïve for his own good, so rather than telling her brothers, she tries to shield him from her own society. And so starts the slide that leads to her being cast out from the only life she’s ever known.
This is the final book in the Return of the Aghyrians series, following Watcher’s Web, Trader’s Honour and Soldier’s Duty.
Mission: Flight to Mars by V.A. Jeffrey
Bob Astor is a Quality Assurance agent working at Vartan Inc. Lately his days have been stressful, to say the least. Butting heads with upper management has put his career on life support. A surprising change in circumstance has Bob going on a business mission to the moon city, Langrenus. On the way, he meets one of the delegates on board the Starbird, a desperate man with a dark past and a very dangerous secret. Through a mysterious series of events Bob finds himself in the middle of an interplanetary crises that no one knows about. These secrets could change – or destroy – all human life on Earth. The key to the answer of the crises is on the Red Planet, Mars. It’s up to Bob, the burnt-out Q. A. agent to rise to the occasion and stem the dangerous tide coming from beyond the solar system.
The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones
They came for the coffee and wound up in the Cretaceous.
A ticking sound fills the air as Tim MacGregor enters The Daily Edition Café, hoping to meet his new girlfriend for coffee. Moments later, the café is transported 67 million years back in time, along with everyone inside.
As Tim and the others try to find out what caused the disaster and how to get home, one survivor plots to keep the group trapped in the past, in a world filled with prehistoric monsters.
Dark Legion by Paul Kleynhans
Once a Prince, now a slave. Once a torturer, now a liberator. But still his transformation is nowhere near complete…
Saul Baz Sharmoun has been holding onto something lost to many of his fellow slaves: hope and a desire for justice. A fire was set ablaze within him, growing brighter with each of the twelve years since the Emperor slaughtered his family, and he knows the time to escape his shackles – and to free his people – is now. With his hunger for retribution fueling him, Saul begins an epic journey, searching for his brother and looking to rebuild a world that would allow the crown in his family’s name to rise from the ashes.
But the road to justice is never a straight one. Saul and the uncertain allies fighting alongside him find themselves up against a much greater enemy than they could have imagined. If he is to emerge victorious, he must fan the flames in his heart, and never allow himself to forget that he will stop at nothing to see this done…no matter how much blood must be spilled along the way.
She Who Fights Monsters by Kyoko M.
Jordan Amador. 23. New Yorker. Waitress. Investigator for souls with unfinished business, also known as a Seer. Michael O’Brien. 25. New Yorker. Lead guitarist. Commander of Heaven’s Army. The dynamic supernatural duo is in the middle of trying to solve a deadly case. Someone is methodically hunting down and murdering Seers one by one. After six months with no leads on the killer, Jordan and Michael are forced to work with their worst enemy—the archdemon Belial: a self-professed Prince of Hell who is dead set on stealing Jordan for himself. However, with the archdemon’s help, they pick up on the trail of the serial killer and plan to stop him no matter what the cost. When the shocking truth behind the murderer’s identity is revealed, Jordan begins asking herself if she is still fighting for the good guys or has she become one of the monsters she is desperately trying to stop?
This is the third part in a series, following The Black Parade and The Deadly Seven.
Masque of Shadow by T.A. Miles
Heartbroken over the premature death of her young sister, Estelle conceives a dark plan to recover Lunette’s innocent soul from the thief she witnessed taking it. The price is higher than she anticipated, reaching far beyond the loss of her own innocence when she enters voluntarily into the realm of the Lord of Shadows, into a theater of madness constructed by the souls of the dead.
This is a short story. Contains violence, mild gore, sexuality, and thematic elements
A Brief History of the Future – Collected Essays by Sunny Moraine
As an author, scholar, and essayist, Sunny Moraine has mused on a variety of things in a variety of ways. In this collection, spanning over two years of work, they make their way through thoughts on the form and business of writing, the nature and meaning of games, the interweaving of society and technology, and the anxieties, awkwardnesses, and hopes of the everyday.
Gently humorous, self-deprecating, and occasionally painfully honest, these essays offer a journey through a process of body, heart, and mind, and hints of what waits beyond.
The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman by Michael Alan Peck
“Paul Reid died in the snow at seventeen. The day of his death, he told a lie—and for the rest of his life, he wondered if that was what killed him.”
And so begins the battle for the afterlife, known as The Commons. It’s been taken over by a corporate raider who uses the energy of its souls to maintain his brutal control. The result is an imaginary landscape of a broken America—stuck in time and overrun by the heroes, monsters, dreams, and nightmares of the imprisoned dead.
Three people board a bus to nowhere: a New York street kid, an Iraq War veteran, and her five-year-old special-needs son. After a horrific accident, they are the last, best hope for The Commons to free itself. Along for the ride are a shotgun-toting goth girl, a six-foot-six mummy, a mute Shaolin monk with anger-management issues, and the only guide left to lead them.
Three Journeys: separate but joined. One mission: to save forever.
But first they have to save themselves.
Strangers at a Funeral by Phronk
Brandon notices them at his grandpa’s funeral first: a pair of men in sunglasses who nobody seems to know. They’re not family, they’re not friends, they’re just … there. No big deal, until they show up again at the next funeral. Drawn into a world of funeral selfies and burial crashers, Brandon needs to know what these strangers want from the dead.
Only problem is, nobody gives a crap except him, and his school frowns upon skipping classes to watch people get buried. His sanity can’t take many more funerals, and those bulges under the strangers’ coats probably aren’t concealing anything pleasant.
Strangers at a Funeral is a 5500 word (22 page) short story.