Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for July 2016

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 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 new releases covering the whole broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have a whole lot of space opera and military science fiction this month as well as funny science fiction, dystopian fiction, Steampunk, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Asian fantasy, young adult fantasy, young adult science fiction, fairytales, horror, vampires, fae, superheroes, blighters, alien invasions, galactic conspiracies, royal weddings, interrupted dinners, cardboard spaceships, haunted houses, time travel and much more.

Don’t forget that Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month is also crossposted to the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a group blog run by Jessica Rydill and myself, which features new release spotlights, guest posts, interviews and link round-ups regarding all things speculative fiction several times per week.

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:

A Threat of Shadows by J.A. AndrewsA Threat of Shadows by J.A. Andrews:

There are decisions that can’t be unmade, paths that cannot be unchosen, choices that change us too much for us to ever change back.

In a desperate attempt to save his dying wife, Alaric has sacrificed everything. He’s abandoned his position as advisor to the Queen, he’s cast aside his role as a Keeper, he’s betrayed his deepest beliefs.

And still he has failed.

Now he’s found one last chance at a cure. Haunted by the choices he has made and surrounded by companions who have dangerous secrets of their own, he returns to the people and land he turned his back on.

But soon the quest to save his wife becomes entangled with a larger quest. Gathering shadows threaten the land, whispering of the return of a dark lord, thought to be defeated.

To fight this enemy, the world needs the Keeper Alaric used to be, not the broken man he has become.

Can he regain what he’s lost? Or do some choices change us too much for us to ever go back?

Alaric must decide or, in the face of all the growing shadows, it may be the darkness he carries within himself that destroys everything.

The Three Quarters Eaten Dessert by Cora BuhlertThe Three Quarters Eaten Dessert by Cora Buhlert

Bertha and Alfred, married for twenty years, enjoy a truly science fictional life in the twenty-first century. But in spite of all the technological marvels surrounding them, an argument about sharing a dessert at an upscale restaurant escalates and threatens their friendship with their neighbours, the Hoppenstedts.

This parodistic piece is a mundane short story of 6000 words or approximately 25 print pages, written in the style of science fiction’s “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s. With bonus recipe.

 

Cleon Moon by Lindsay BurokerCleon Moon by Lindsay Buroker:

Now that she’s retrieved the Staff of Lore, Captain Alisa Marchenko can finally dedicate herself and her ship to finding her kidnapped daughter. Her scant clues lead her to Cleon Moon.

Unfortunately, since the fall of the empire, mafia clans have taken over the domed cities on the harsh moon, and exploring there isn’t easy. Even with the cyborg Leonidas at her side, Alisa struggles to survive vengeful mafia clans, rogue Starseers, and genetically engineered predators. To further complicate matters, she must worry about the ancient relic hidden on her ship, a beacon to anyone in the system who craves its power. If Alisa can’t navigate the moon’s chaos, she may lose her only chance to catch up with her daughter.

The Immortality Cure by Toni CentanniThe Immortality Cure by Toni Centanni:

Henri Dunn was damn good at being a vampire, until her immortality was ripped away from her.

Now she must solve a murder or be executed for a crime she didn’t commit.

Six months ago, Henri was stuck with a syringe full of the poison known as “The Immortality Cure.” Now, after almost a century of being an immortal monster, Henri is human again and she’s not loving it: her body aches, she has too many mortal needs, and the other vampires shun her as a Blood Traitor. All she can do is keep her head down and bide her time until she can find a way to get her immortality back.

When vials of the serum are stolen from the lab and another vampire is murdered, Henri is the number one suspect. With the help of a melodramatic vampire “king” and his mortal groupie, Henri must find the real killer or face the wrath of vengeful vampires.

The Immortality Cure is the first book in The Henri Dunn Urban Fantasy Series, featuring a badass female protagonist and a sardonic sense of humor.

Hollow House by Greg ChapmanHollow House by Greg Chapman:

No one in Willow Street pays it any notice, not the disgruntled Campbell family next door, not Alice Cowley and her suicidal daughter, or Mr. and Mrs. Markham down the road. Not even Darryl, the loner at number seventy, who is abnormal himself, thinks much about it. It is just the old Kemper House, forgotten and abandoned.

Until it makes itself known.

When the stench of death wafts from Kemper House through Willow Street, and comes to the attention of recent resident and newspaper reporter, Ben Traynor, it starts a chain of horrors that brings Kemper House’s curse into their own homes and leads others direct to its door. Kemper House not only haunts its neighbours, it infects them with an evil that traverses time and reality itself.

The Cardboard Spaceship by Matt Snee and Gregg ChirlinThe Cardboard Spaceship by Gregg Chirlin and Matt Snee:

Lewis Darby, a science fiction writer of some repute, is about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

Also known as the Captain, Lewis lives with his mother in modern day Indiana. What nobody knows is that sometimes Captain crawls beneath an old refrigerator box in the basement and pretends it’s a spaceship. And what Captain doesn’t realize is that he has a date with destiny.

One peculiar April morning, Captain crosses paths with Jennifer Pichon, the child of legendary space explorer Marty Pichon and Kitty Malhotra, the Princess of Saturn. They join forces just in time as the terrifying astronomical event called “No-Shape” is poised to ravage the Solar System from Mercury to Neptune and beyond.

Together, Captain and the mysterious Jennifer face such terrors as the jungles of Venus, the perilous Worm Caves, and the decaying, giant insect-ridden wastes of Mars – and perhaps even fall in love along the way.

Their journey is filled with trials, but they alone can save the solar system from certain doom.

War's Reward by Michael ChatsfieldWar’s Reward by Michael Chatsfield:

The Second Kalu War rages across known space.

The newly formed Union undergoes it’s first baptism, the baptism of war.
The Free Fleet is barely holding the line against the Kalu. Salchar and the other commanders of the Free Fleet have one goal. Survive.

As war rages politics and power brokering are at work behind the scenes in the Union.

Even if the Free Fleet survives the war, will they survive it’s aftermath?

Callow Lily by Sara CobbCallow Lily by Sara Cobb:

Countries have fallen only to be replaced by corporations. After spending years in the unclaimed districts of the unemployed; Lily has nearly given up hope that anything will change. When she is told that her Mother is dying and nothing more can be done, Lily is desperate enough to try anything.

When her family is offered a position at Trustmedia, Lily thinks that all of their problems are solved. Until she realizes that her acceptance is conditional. She will have to prove that she has what it takes to stay. If she fails, she will be thrown out and never see her family again.

Lily quickly finds that staying will be harder than she expected, even Father seems intent on seeing her fail. Things become complicated when her Father injects her with an unknown substance and she begins to have intensely vivid dreams. Lily is on the verge of having everything she has ever wanted, but does she have what it takes to keep it?

High Flight and Flames by Kate CoeHigh Flight & Flames by Kate Coe:

The land of Quorl is under attack. S’ian, badly injured when her Glider crashed is trapped in a city under siege. Meanwhile out on the plains, Toru is desperately defending his own city and people from the advancing enemy. The fighting is no longer between men: a battle for the air has started, and new weapons force both sides into desperate measures. Even if Toru succeeds in pushing the enemy back from Meton, what will the cost be? Can Toru reconcile his duty to his country with his own dreams?

 

Woven Peril by Jeffrey CollyerWoven Peril by Jeffrey Collyer:

The Guardian’s forces may have left the forest, but they haven’t departed from Michael’s mind as he struggles to learn what his enemy will do next. Torn between feelings of guilt and love, he must now push ahead to find mythical halls deep in the earth, where secrets from the distant past are spoken of, and new riddles unearthed.

Entering dark paths, Michael must learn to use his growing power if he is to discover that which will save the land, at the same time as trying to protect those now under his care from new and deadly monsters sent to hunt him.

And all while he struggles to understand mysteries surrounding his mother.

Woven Peril is the thrilling second book in the Aylosian Chronicles, and continues the epic tale in a world of unusual magic and unique creatures.

Heartfelt Sounds by C.M. EstopareHeartfelt Sounds by C.M. Estopare:

Orphaned Naia Belle is an apprentice songstress, attached for life to her silkhouse in the illustrious pleasure capital of Sorrel, Felicity. But as the dark clouds of war descend upon Felicity, Naia, ill-prepared and not yet fully trained, is forced from her home and into a nightmare she never imagined.

Driven once more from the haven she finds, posing as a boy and conscripted into a foreign army, Naia struggles to remain hopeful in spite of the trials she faces. Then she discovers there are those who wish to reopen Heaven’s Gate and allow titans to walk the mortal realms once more. Only one power can stop them.

As her friends and allies fall around her, beset by sand wraiths and the soulless dead, with everything she loved now lost to her, Naia faces yet another challenge: the blackened plains of the Void, where she may learn the true power of her voice. A power the necromancers and titans would kill to stop.

HEARTFELT SOUNDS, is the first book in the exciting fantasy coming-of-age trilogy, THE WORLD OF SORREL.

The Cauldron's Gift by Marina FinlaysonThe Cauldron’s Gift by Marina Finlayson:

When Vi and her twin sister CJ started spitting frogs and diamonds with every word, they discovered their parents worked for a secret organisation dedicated to keeping the magical denizens of the world safely locked away. Vi thought life couldn’t get any weirder, but then Dad became a bear, and her world really fell apart. Because it’s starting to look like that’s one spell the warders can’t undo. They’re all too busy trying to unmask the traitor who is secretly aiding the Sidhe.

Vi managed to keep the Sidhe from breaking out of their magical prison, but she couldn’t stop the Morrigan from stealing back the great cauldron of the Dagda. And of course now CJ says the only way to save Dad is to get that cauldron back from fairyland. Talk about a suicide mission. Vi would have to be crazy to consider it, but as time runs out for Dad and the Morrigan threatens everyone Vi loves, craziness starts to look like the only sane option.

Noa's Ark by C. GockelNoa’s Ark by C. Gockel

First contact didn’t go as planned…

Time Gate 8, one of humanity’s portals between the stars, has been overrun by a mysterious alien intelligence, and the planet Luddeccea is now cut off.

Haunted by those she left behind, Commander Noa Sato is on a desperate mission to save her homeworld. Navigating the ancient Ark, she seeks a hidden gate that will transport her ship to Earth and the Galactic Fleet. But the Luddeccean system harbors dangers, and so does her crew.

The only crew member she completely trusts is James Sinclair, but he doesn’t trust himself.

James isn’t the man he once was. He has a hunger that is never sated, kills without regrets, and is fitted with extraordinary augments he doesn’t remember getting. Can James control his augments, or will they control him?

In a future where almost all humans are augmented, James’s answer and Noa’s mission will determine the fate of the human race … and the enemy is already within the gates.

Wrong Side of Time by J.J. GreenWrong Side of Time by J.J. Green:

When the greatest minds in the galaxy can’t solve a problem through logic or reason, they call Carrie Hatchett.

Carrie and her reluctant sidekick, Dave, have succeeded in driving the evil mechanical aliens, the placktoids, to their only remaining hiding place—the past. But the danger isn’t over. The Transgalactic Council suspect the placktoids are trying to change the course of history and re-emerge as rulers of the galaxy.

Carrie and Dave are sent on a mission to defeat them, but even attacks from Carrie’s psychotic cat can’t prepare the two for the challenges they face when they travel back in time to the placktoid planet: searing temperatures, a barren landscape and primitive robots with OCD. And waiting in the wings is the placktoid High Commander, whose 3D printing ability is lethal.

Naively optimistic Carrie needs to recognise what’s staring her in the face if she’s to defeat the placktoids and avoid being trapped in the past forever.

Amped by Kevin HardmanAmped: A Kid Sensation Novel by Kevin Hardman:

Electra – the beautiful, unflappable girlfriend of teen super Kid Sensation – headlines her own adventure for the first time.

A foundling adopted and raised by the Alpha League (the world’s greatest superhero team), Electra has exhibited super powers since infancy. However, her past has remained a mystery for the most part, with those few people with any knowledge of her background being reluctant to talk.

Refusing to remain ignorant of her own origins, Electra embarks on a fact-finding mission intent on discovering who she really is. However, in addition to providing more questions than answers, her investigation causes her to cross paths with a powerful group of supervillains, who see in her a means of furthering their goal of world domination.

Finding herself in the crosshairs, Electra must now find a way to stop those seeking to exploit her unique talents for their own nefarious purposes. Because if she can’t, the world will pay a heavy price.

Autonomy by Jude HoughtonAutonomy by Jude Houghton:

Balmoral Murraine works in a Battery, assembling devices she doesn’t understand for starvation pay. Pasco Eborgersen is the pampered son of an Elite, trying to navigate the temptations of the Pleasure Houses, the self-sacrifice of the Faith, and the high-octane excitement of Steel Ball. They never should have met, and now they will rip the world apart.

What happens when ninety percent of the world lives on skaatch – a jellyfish and insect composite?

What happens when mankind spends more time in alternative life sims instead of in the “real” world?

What happens when economic interest is the sole determinant of global decision making?

What happens when a single secret is discovered that calls into question everything we have ever believed?

Welcome to the Autonomy. Welcome to your future.

Beacon's Spark by Jim JohnsonBeacon’s Spark by Jim Johnson:

Twentysomething Rachel Farran dropped out of college after family pressures drove her to the edge. Now disowned by her parents, the only things going for her are her girlfriend, her bestie, and visits to her ailing grandpa, the only member of her family who even really likes her.

When Rachel stumbles into the mystical Veil separating the mortal and spirit worlds, her world is turned inside-out. She soon discovers that she is a Beacon, a descendant of the ancient Fates and a guide for lost souls who can manipulate magical ley threads. But when the malevolent being known as the Spinner harnesses the ley to drag helpless souls through the Veil to devour them, can Rachel learn to control her newfound abilities before her grandpa and many others are lost forever?

Beacon’s Spark is the first book in Potomac Shadows, a new paranormal fantasy series set in the Washington, DC metro area.

Blighters by Tim MajorBlighters by Tim Major:

Them Blighters are everywhere.

They fell out of the sky last year, great horrible armour-plated slugs with razor-sharp fangs. But ugly as they are, they give the ultimate high to anyone nearby: a blissful, gleeful contentment that people are willing to kill for.
Not Becky Stone, though. All she wants is to drink beer, listen to her dad’s old vinyl, and get her life back to how it was before everything was all messed up.
Blighters? Frankly, she could do without them.

“Contains true craft and substance… You’ll finish this novella and immediately start it over again.”
Urban Fantasy Magazine on Carus & Mitch

Five Kingdoms by T.A. MilesFive Kingdoms by T.A. Miles:

With the Celestial Swords and their bearers united, Xu Liang heads for his homeland. Having lost his spiritual connection with the Empress, he is unprepared for the severity of Chaos’ grip on the land and its people. Fear is spreading throughout Sheng Fan. War is in the air. There is dissension in the ranks of the Empire and Xu Liang’s favor with the Empress seems to be in question, his once influential position now tenuous. The coming together of the Blades seems for naught while enemies from within threaten to tear apart his allegiance with the outsiders he dared to bring into Sheng Fan by spreading dangerous rumors. It seems that Xu Liang can do little more than watch as the Dragon continues to rise, every hour clawing its way deeper into the heart of the Empire, which slowly rends itself apart with the governors of the Five Kingdoms taking up arms against each other, as well as against the Song Dynasty. Those allied by the Swords must put Chaos to rest—be it an actual dragon, or war itself—but first they must find peace within themselves and amongst each other.

The Mercy of Men by S. Hunter NisbetThe Mercy of Men by S. Hunter Nisbet:

The anticipated second installment of the Saint Flaherty series moves from the hills of Appalachia to a city where law no longer prevails.

When Simon Flaherty’s routine of training and fighting is interrupted by a sudden eviction, he never expects his new neighbor to be the one person he thought was long gone from Scioto City: Connor Hall.

It’s been six years since they escaped from Buchell together—six years since Connor walked out of Simon’s life and never looked back. For Connor, it hasn’t been long enough. Trapped in a cycle of debt to the syndicate he works for, he’s barely making it payment to payment while juggling two jobs and university. One more burden will destroy him, and the help Simon is willing to give can’t balance the shadows of their past.

Fighting isn’t all Simon’s been doing in the years since arriving in Scioto, and the crime bosses of the city have their eyes on him. Getting involved with another syndicate’s business isn’t an option. But if Connor doesn’t find a way to pay back his debts, Simon will do anything to make sure Connor doesn’t pay the price for breaking a deal with a syndicate boss.

In a city without mercy, “anything” goes a long way.

Prelude to War by T.S. PaulPrelude to War by T.S. Paul:

With the destruction of the Earth ship Colossus the 3rd interstellar war is about to begin. The Cabal plan to reveal their political intentions to the Galaxy, but before they can, they have to eliminate their enemies first. Athena and her whole family are in their sights along with anyone that stands in the way of progress and control. Who will survive the onslaught and who will die? Only time will tell.

Join Athena, Wilson and the CATTs as they set out to prove that might does not equal right!

 

Brother's Pride by Jim RudnickBrother’s Pride by Jim Rudnick:

While the wrecked alien ship on Ghayth provides some interesting new technology, Admiral Scott has nothing on his mind but his upcoming wedding to the Lady St. August. In only a couple of months, he’ll have vows to pledge and a ring to don as he becomes a Royal himself to take the new title of Lord Scott. And the only thing in his way—even though he doesn’t know it, is his sister Gia who has pledged revenge upon him for the death of their sister, Nora.

With the upcoming release of the Ikarian longevity vaccine, the RIM Confederacy realms are all wanting more and more of the vaccines to double their lifetimes, while the Baroness is purposely chocking off the supply. Added to that is the fact that the Master Adept knows what will happen at the wedding and she is hurriedly training her own replacement and the wedding will be where the assassination attempt is made.

But the Master is not the only wedding party member to die at the altar as the admirals sister takes careful aim and screams out her revenge and Tanner falls as do others—all to pay penance for his crime of decades ago…

Felix R. SavageThe Reluctant Adventures of Fletcher Connolly on the Interstellar Railroad: Skint Idjit by Felix R. Savage:

Fletcher Connolly hasn’t got a lot to lose. Since he, and half the galaxy, signed on to the rat race of the technological relics trade, Fletch has long since come to terms with the idea that he will join the ranks of the unlucky explorers that perish lightyears from home without a dime to his name.

As the first mate of an old, decrepit exploration ship–the Skint Idjit–things can’t get much worse. As if that isn’t enough, he has a hard time convincing himself his luck is bound to change when he finds himself stranded on the planet Suckass, on a remote branch of the Interstellar Railroad. With his new assignment an unlikely candidate to hide alien treasures, true to his personality, Fletch settles down to work on his tan.

But when disaster strikes and a member of his crew is killed, Fletch finds himself torn between loyalty to the surviving crew and the siren song of an unsuspected trove of A-tech.

Can Fletch save the Skint Idjit and her crew from a horrible death? Or will he ignore their dying screams and laugh all the way to the bank?

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