Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: March 2014

Indie Speculative Fiction of the MonthIt’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 (plus one small press book) 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, all the links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

This time around, we have a lot of science fiction, but we also have urban fantasy, steampunk, werewolves (both historical and military, but always romantic), Norse mythology, gothic horror, post-apocalyptic science fiction and a cool shared world project. Best of all, we have a lot of works by women.

As always, I know the authors at least vaguely, but I haven’t read all of the books themselves, so Caveat emptor.

And now on to the books:

On Bliss by KS AugustinOn Bliss by KS Augustin
Junior Commander Hoara Felin of the Republic’s Space Fleet has crash-landed on a planet. Her ship is inoperable, her shipmates are dead. The only thing that can make a bad situation worse is finding she has crashed on the notorious prison-planet of Bliss–a place where condemned criminals are sent…but never leave.

She finds an unexpected ally in Toh, a caring man who treats her injuries and hides her from those who would hold an officer of the Space Fleet for ransom. But, as Hoara is about to find out, Toh is keeping a terrifying secret of his own.

81t1Z6FuvRL._SL1000_Discovering Aberration by S.C. Barrus
An ancient map stolen. A lost civilization discovered. A terrible secret unleashed.

Set in an alternate Victorian era, this steampunk adventure follows Freddy Fitzgerald, a rebellious writer and ex-scuttler, and Thaddeus Lumpen, a desperate archaeologist with a slew of dangerous rivals. Together they will stop at nothing to make the discovery of a lifetime. But their island destination hides its own dark secrets which can push even the strongest minds into madness.

 

Turned by K.M. CarrollTurned: A Werewolf Romance by K.M. Carroll
A loveless marriage. A werewolf curse.

In the rainy near-Earth land of Grayton, Bernard and Charlotte Preston lead separate lives. An arranged marriage has left them with plenty of money and a cold relationship. She craves social esteem–while she wishes for the love her marriage has never contained.

He is an alchemist who is desperately seeking a cure for the werewolf curse. Yet he, too, is plagued by loneliness and a wistful admiration for his distant wife.

When the werewolves attack Lyedyn City the night of the Spring Ball, Bernard and Charlotte together fall under the curse. Retaining only their sanity, they flee the wolf hunters and hide deep in the forest. Hungry and afraid, the estranged couple work together to survive … and the love they’ve never had begins to blossom.

But their newfound love may be cut short by the ruthless man who controls the werewolves, and never wants a cure discovered.

Taken by Stacy ClaflinTaken by Stacy Claflin
What if you were given a second chance at love?

Not a day has gone by that Samantha Erikson hasn’t regretted her decision to walk away from Tanner Monroe. Thinking she would never see him again, Vince surprises her with the opportunity of spending some time with him. During a carefully executed abduction, Samantha is in charge of Tanner.

She finally has the chance to make things right and win him back. Will he forgive her for leaving without explanation? Or will he even give her the chance to make things right?

This novella is part of the Transformed series, and should be read after Fallen or Deception.

Ilbai Spadebreaker and the Harpy's WildIlbei Spadebreaker and the Harpy’s Wild by John Daulton
Ergo the Skewer and his band of bandits plague the mining community of Three Tents. The locals, trying to scratch bare livings from a stingy mountainside, can’t endure much more. They’ve tried to fight back, but they are not warriors, and the Skewer is brutal and cruel. What was once a proud, if humble, way of life has now become one of desperation and fear. Many have fled. Only the stubborn remain.

Making matters worse, the harpies have returned. Some have been spotted in the skies. People are missing, and a woman is dead. It’s one problem too many. Realizing they cannot save Three Tents on their own, the proud miners send for help, appealing to the army garrisoned in Hast. The army sends Sergeant Ilbei Spadebreaker.

With wit, pickaxe and a bit of brute force, the pot-bellied old veteran begins his work. He soon unearths layers of subterfuge far deeper than anything that can be dug up in a mine. What begins as a hunt for a band of brigands becomes a journey into the cavernous underworld of counterfeiting, corruption and conspiracy.

Ilbei Spadebreaker and the Harpy’s Wild is a stand-alone prequel to the bestselling Galactic Mage series. Whether you are familiar with planet Prosperion or heading there for the first time, the down-home, medieval style of fan-favorite Ilbei Spadebreaker will warm your heart and tickle your funny bone.

Fates by C. GockelFates by C. Gockel
The Leader Who Rules Chaos, Rules the Realms…

Two years ago Loki, God of Mischief and Chaos, destroyed a large chunk of Chicago’s financial district and then vanished into thin air. He still has not been found. Odin, ruler of the Nine Realms, is desperate. To find Loki, he sends his son Thor on a dangerous quest to consult the all-seeing Norns. But Thor needs humanity’s help…

Loki’s former lover, veterinarian Amy Lewis, is carrying all of Loki’s memories–but missing some of her own. Hoping to keep Loki from Odin’s machinations, she agrees to help Thor on his journey.

Bohdi Patel’s memory was wiped by Loki’s mischief. He thinks Amy and Thor are both crazy to want anything to do with Loki. But he needs to find his parents, and he’s been told the Norns will answer any question–for a price.

When Chaos is the goal, only one thing is certain: Amy and Bohdi are about to get into worlds of mischief.

THE I BRING THE FIRE SERIES: I Bring the Fire Part I (free), Monsters: I Bring the Fire Part II, Chaos: I Bring the Fire Part III and In the Balance: I Bring the Fire 3.5

The Cured by Deirdre GouldThe Cured by Deirdre Gould
Henry spent eight years chained to a post. Exposed, starved, infected with the December Plague, and mad. During those eight years, the December Plague consumed most of the world’s human population, causing the infected to become violent and cannibalistic.

But Henry escaped. And now he’s been Cured. He vividly remembers what has been done to him and others. He can also recall the terrible things he did while he was infected. He and his fellow survivors face a world unlike anything they knew before. They are weak, lost and completely alone. Now released from both the madness of the Plague and the cruelty of their captors, they must decide which is more important: survival or revenge.

The Cured is a standalone novel in the world of After the Cure.

Of Shadow Born by S.L. GrayOf Shadow Born by S.L. Gray
The Icarus Unit: Guarding history. Guarding lives.

Eric Kade is one of the Shadow-born: men and women who use the power of shadow to protect mankind. Though he’s recovered from the mission that claimed his father and brother’s lives, he’s not quite ready to rejoin the fight.

But the Unit needs him now. An artifact with the potential to change the course of the future has been unearthed and delivered to a museum in San Francisco. The specialist assigned to repair it doesn’t know what she holds in her hands. Or how it will change her life.

Melanie Kendrick considers herself pretty average. Adventure-seeking isn’t even on her radar, so she’s completely unprepared for living shadows and impossible beasts trying to kill her.

With Kade assigned to protect her, they discover a piece of lost prophecy and a connection that binds them together. He’ll have to teach her to embrace her heritage. She’ll have to put up with him moving in.

And they’ll both have to survive.

Darkness Abides by L. HarcroftThe Darkness Abides, Part 1, by L. Harcroft
Two men lie adrift at sea, castaway in the search for one’s future, and the other in search of his past. When they drift to a land of perpetual darkness designed as an elaborate labyrinth, they begin to realize that they’ve stumbled upon the path toward what they each seek, but the trail may be more hazardous than they anticipated.

Released initially as a series of short installments, the entirety of this story comprises the length of a full-size novel. Readers who enjoy serialized fiction and dark fantasy with a bit of suspense will enjoy this series.

 

The Sphinx Project by Kate HawkingsThe Sphinx Project by Kate Hawkings
Not many people can say their entire existence has been one big lab experiment: poked and prodded by scientists, genetically modified to be the best and endure the worst, subjected to daily tests and trials that would kill a normal human. All Michaela wants is her own life.

When the chance to escape finally comes, Michaela and her sister run, taking their friends with them. But they aren’t the only ones to free themselves from those labs. Following close behind are another breed of creature, one that doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, who exist only to feed their own hunger. The creatures are the least of her problems. As the world begins to fall apart around them, Michaela finds she could lose the very thing she holds dearest.

Convergence by Michael Patrick HicksConvergence by Michael Patrick Hicks
Jonah Everitt is a killer, a DRMR addict, and a memory thief.

After being hired to kill a ranking officer of the Pacific Rim Coalition and download his memories, Everitt finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a terror cell, a rogue military squadron, and a Chinese gangster named Alice Xie. Xie is a profiteer of street drugs, primarily DRMR, a powerful narcotic made from the memories of the dead. With his daughter, Mesa, missing in post-war Los Angeles, Everitt is forced into an uneasy alliance with Alice to find her.

Mesa’s abduction is wrapped up in the secrets of a brutal murder during the war’s early days, a murder that Alice Xie wants revenged. In order to find her, Jonah will have to sift through the memories of dead men that could destroy what little he has left.

In a city where peace is tenuous and loyalties are ever shifting, the past and the present are about to converge.

Flight of the Kikayon by K.E. JamesFlight of the Kikayon by K.E. James
Clones, motherhood, and a luxury spaceliner. What could possibly go wrong?

With five million credits in her pocket and a nanny-clone to take her place, Lydia thought walking away from her marriage would be easier than sipping cocktails at a society party. But Lydia’s plans didn’t include an illegal sport-fishing expedition on an interdicted waterworld, and her husband has a scheme of his own.

FLIGHT OF THE KIKAYON is a classic sci-fi novelette with a side order of adventure.

Innocence Lost by Patty JansenInnocence Lost by Patty Jansen
Johanna is the daughter of a rich merchant in Saardam. As only child and without a mother, she has grown up with notions, such as that she wants to take over her father’s river trade business in her own name. Courtesy of her eastern mother, she has an unusual ability. She sees things in willow wood: whenever she touches wood, it shows her what has happened around the tree or wooden object. Any kind of magic is not common in Saardam, and the Church of the Triune, which rapidly gains influence in the city, forbids it.
While she goes to church, Johanna also maintains a loose network of magic-enabled people. One of those people is Loesie, a farmer’s daughter from out of town.
One day, Loesie comes to town after having been struck mute by magic. She carries a basket made from willow twigs that tells Johanna that a group of bandits with demons is about to attack the city.
But there is no non-magical proof, so she can’t tell anyone or she’d be branded a witch. The time of witch-burnings was not that long ago.
Never mind that the army is still approaching, and there are increasing signs that Saardam’s embattled royal family might have done something that has angered magical forces in the east. Add to this that the royal family seems to have fallen out with the city’s nobility, and that the recent death of the crown princess has left the family with only one heir: the mysterious prince whom no one has seen for years and who has suddenly returned home.
At the annual ball, Johanna’s father has brokered a dance for her with the prince. Johanna just wants to warn people of the impending attack.

Legacy Code by Autumn KalquistLegacy Code by Autumn Kalquist
The last humans fled a dying Earth 300 years ago, but there was something they couldn’t leave behind: the Legacy Code.

Every colonist in the fleet carries mangled genes that damage the unborn, and half of all pregnancies must be terminated.

The day seventeen-year-old Era Corinth is supposed to find out if her baby has the Defect, her ship suffers a hull breach. And it may not have been an accident.
As the investigation unfolds, Era begins to question everything she’s been taught about the fleet, their search for a new Earth, and the Defect. But the answers she seeks were never meant to be found…

Borrowed Souls by Paul B. KohlerBorrowed Souls by Paul B. Kohler
Borrowed Souls is a short story, around 80 pages long.

Jack Duffy is average. He lives an ordinary life with a mediocre job. He is a distracted husband, lives in a comfortable apartment, and is married to an extraordinary wife. That’s how he would explain it.

At the end of an unusually bad day, his life is turned upside down. The only thing that can catch him from falling is the soul collector.

Will he be allowed to keep his soul, or will he have to give it back?

Demon Bonds by Margarita MatosDemon Bonds by Margarita Matos
“If I have to travel halfway across the planet, I will come for you. If I have to decimate an entire army, I will come for you. If I get my limbs sliced off and I have to crawl, I will come for you. That is non-negotiable.”

Ginny Blackwell and her brother live as slaves to humans until the night she gains her psychic demon power and uses it to take their freedom. Despite her raging power, Ginny wants nothing more than to live a normal life with her brother, a husband and a family. Jerry sweeps into her life, promising her everything she wants — protection, love and a home. The trouble is she already bonded herself to the demon Gabriel when she couldn’t control her abilities.

Every day Jerry shows her an ideal life on his New England estate and every night, Gabriel seduces her in a secret garden and teaches her everything she never wanted to know about being a demon. When her life is threatened, will Ginny choose to let Jerry protect her or stand up and fight back as the demon she was born to be?

911T0b4PmdL._SL1500_Martin King and the Space Angels by James McGovern
Martin King is just an ordinary teenage boy in love with a girl… until he gets a superpower.

An evil force called XO5 is looking for something on Earth – something dangerous. Martin King and his friends must find it first.

Martin, Darcy and Tommy soon find themselves caught up in a massive, universal conspiracy.

But who really is the mysterious XO5 – and what does it want with Martin?

Fogland by Lindy MooneFogland: The Harbinger of Gloom Street by Lindy Moone
When a sinister realtor dupes newlyweds into buying a house on Gloom Street, Harold the raven tries to warn them of their whopping, hopping mistake.

THE HARBINGER OF GLOOM STREET (approximately 20 ebook pages) is part of the groundbreaking project known as Fogland–short stories about the mysterious town of Fogland, written by different authors.
Some people say the fog has crept into the psyche of the citizens of Fogland, that they’re not quite of this world anymore. The fog hides things–covers up crimes, hides romances, allows creatures to roam. Strange things do happen here. But it has to be more than the weather. Perhaps the people were already like this, and the fog is attracted to them. Walk down the streets of Fogland, explore its stories, and you will understand…

The Mandala Maneuver by Christine PopeThe Mandala Maneuver by Christine Pope

Alexa Craig is well aware she’s known as “The Ice Queen” — and not out of admiration — but her reputation has served her well in her diplomatic career. Alien ambassador Lirzhan understands his people are viewed with suspicion and curiosity by the members of the Gaian Consortium, but the Zhore do not casually reveal themselves to outsiders — not even to someone as intriguing as Alexa Craig.

But after their ship is attacked during a routine flight, the two strangers must rely on each other to survive on the supposedly uninhabited world where their escape pod has crashed. When Alexa and Lirzhan discover the secret hidden behind Mandala’s wild beauty, they must put duty before desire and risk everything to warn the Galactic Council of a conspiracy that could endanger their lives, their worlds, and the future they have begun to imagine together.

Quantum Tangle by Chris ReherQuantum Tangle by Chris Reher
Dropping out of sub-space into the wrong galactic sector, Sethran Kada wakes up with a headache and an extraordinary alien aboard his ship. She implores him to help stop the abductions of her people, a newly evolved species emerging from sub-space. Their dangerous potential has caught the attention of rebel factions as well as the ruling Commonwealth. When contact with her kind turns pilots into casualties, the Governors fear an imminent invasion engineered by their rebel enemies.

Pursued by Air Command for harboring the alien, Seth heads deep into rebel-controlled territory to recover the stolen entities and keep this deadly weapon from falling into the wrong hands. Things get personal when his alien visitor begins to transform his mind and his life, turning the rescue mission into a fight for survival for all of them.

Quantum Tangle is part of Chris Reher’s Targon Tales series but does not intersect the other stories. Sethran Kada previously appeared in The Catalyst and also in Rebel Alliances.

Three Days of Night by Wren RobertsThree Days of Night by Wren Roberts
Farina has never wanted anything more than to get an education on Earth. She was supposed to go, but a group of religious outsiders took power just before it was her turn to leave the colony. Her best friend, Ezra, got to go but she was forced to stay behind.

In the five years since she missed her chance, things have only gotten worse. The restrictions on girls have gotten tighter, and that was before women started disappearing at night. Farina’s own mother was among the first to vanish.

But now the transport is coming back, bringing with it old friends. She should know better than to go out after dark, but this might be her only chance. Can Farina make it on board before it leaves again, or will she find out, first-hand, what happened the night her mother disappeared?

Three Days of Night is a novella of approximately 21,000 words.

Rachel's Wolf by Lia SilverLaura’s Wolf by Lia Silver
Roy Farrell is convinced that he has no future.

Roy never wanted to be anything but a Marine. But on his last tour of duty, he was bitten by a werewolf. Next thing he knew, he was locked up in a secret underground laboratory. Despite the agony caused by his newly enhanced senses, he managed to escape his captors. Unable to return to the Marines, his entire life shattered, he hid out in the woods of Yosemite.

Laura Kaplan is desperate to escape her past.

Curvy bank teller Laura was acclaimed as a hero for her courage during a bank robbery gone violently wrong. Overcome with guilt over the people she couldn’t save, she fled the city to seek solace in a lonely cabin in Yosemite. But she can’t run forever from the dark secrets of her past.

Can two broken people heal each other?

After Roy is badly wounded saving Laura from a mysterious enemy, they take refuge together in her snowed-in cabin. Forced to depend on each other for their very survival, they must come together to save their lives, face their fears, and find their hearts.

This is a stand-alone, full-length paranormal romance novel in the Werewolf Marines series. The author is a PTSD therapist writing under a pen name.

The Terran Gambit by Endi WebbThe Terran Gambit by Endi Webb
DEFEAT

The Corsican Empire extends the reach of the “Pax Humana” across the thousand worlds, ruling with force and fear. 40 years ago, they returned to Earth, subjugating it and claiming the ancient home of humanity for the Empire.

RESURGENCE

Now, in 2675, Earth fights back.
Lieutenant Jacob Mercer likes fast motorcycles, faster women, and screamin’ fighters. As a reckless space jock in the Resistance fleet he lives for the thrill, and to take out as many Imperial bogeys as he can. At least, more than his buddies.
But with victory in sight, the Imperials thwart the Resistance in a surprise show of devastating force, and Dallas burns from a thermonuclear blast–millions die–a merciless example of what happens to upstart worlds in the Pax Humana.

A DESPERATE PLAN

The Resistance goes underground to rebuild its strength, and in the shadows, the leadership devises a daring plan to strike right at the Empire’s heart in a final, desperate bid for freedom.
A plan that will send Jake Mercer right to where he doesn’t belong: The captain’s chair of the most advanced warship in the galaxy, facing down a psychopathic Imperial Admiral bent on utterly destroying the Resistance, and Earth itself.

But first he has to survive.

***

Found anything you like? Well, with so many fascinating books, there should be something for almost every taste. So happy reading until next month!

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4 Responses to Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: March 2014

  1. Kaz Augustin says:

    Thanks for the mention, Cora. From this post, I’ll take it that you’re feeling much better. 🙂 No more dodgy oysters in the future, eh?

    • Cora says:

      I saw you had a new book out and included it. Hope you get a bit of attention and maybe a few sales out of this.

      And yes, I’m feeling better by now, though not completely mended yet. And since oyster season is about to end anyway, I probably won’t have any until this fall at the earliest.

  2. C. Gockel says:

    Thank you so much for mentioning “Fates.” I’ve always thought of my writing as “speculative fantasy”, so it was great seeing my book listed here.

    For those who are interested, the first book in the series is free on Amazon, Google, B&N, and Apple.

    Thank you so much again.

    • Cora says:

      You’re welcome. Your books caught my eye at KBoards. And since this round-up is for SF, fantasy and horror, i.e. the three speculative sister genres and their various subgenres, they definitely fit here. Hope you get some attention and sales out of this.

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