Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for March 2018

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 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 epic fantasy, urban fantasy, dark fantasy, paranormal mystery, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, funny science fiction, science fantasy, horror, weird fiction, weird western, dragons, dragon thieves, elves, werewolves, shifters, superheroes, aliens, mercenaries, starship mages, killer asteroids 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:

Last Dragon Standing by Rachel AaronLast Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron:

Dear Reader,

There is no way to write a blurb for this final book without spoiling all of the others. Suffice it to say, mysteries resolve, dragons war, pigeons abound, and no one is safe as Bob’s grand plan finally comes to fruition.

But the Great Seer of the Heartstrikers isn’t the only one whose schemes are nearing completion. The Nameless End is coming, and even the machinations of the world’s most brilliant dragon seer might not be enough to stop it. As everything comes crashing down, it’s up to Julius to prove what he’s always known: that seers can be wrong, and Nice Dragons don’t always finish last.

Baptism of Fire by Cora BuhlertBaptism of Fire by Cora Buhlert:

Cadet Anjali Patel had hoped for something more exciting than guard duty for her first mission with the legendary Shakyri Expeditionary Corps, the best fighters in the Empire of Worlds.

However, this boring job quickly turns hot, when an enemy convoy comes up the mountain pass Anjali is supposed to guard.

This is a prequel story of 4500 words or approx. 18 print pages to the “In Love and War” series, but may be read as a standalone.

Gold Dragon by Lindsay BurokerGold Dragon by Lindsay Buroker:

Now that Trip’s siblings are safely back in the capital, he would like it if life got back to normal. As normal as possible for a half-dragon army officer learning to use his magical powers when he isn’t busy piloting with Wolf Squadron.

But trouble keeps popping up, and the capital isn’t the safe haven Trip had hoped. More and more dragons are working together, with attacks growing frequent as they scheme to claim the country for themselves. Equally daunting, Rysha wants to introduce Trip to her parents, parents who want a proper nobleman for their daughter, not some odd commoner sired by a dragon.

If Trip is to have any chance of bringing peace to the country—and impressing Rysha’s parents—he’ll have to finally and fully embrace what he is and what he can do. Before time runs out.

Right Ascension by Nicole ClaireRight Ascension by Nicole Claire:

“This is Captain Anderson. Brace. Brace. Brace.”

Sophia Anderson has a heritage she should be proud of, but to those onboard the AUS Corvus, she’s not earned her position like the rest of them.

Every day she has to prove herself to the Anderson Universal crew onboard her ship. And then the worst thing happens.

The captain is killed in battle and Sophia, as First Officer, must take his place.

Teaming up with the unflappable Lieutenant Commander Leo Sait?, Sophia finds her footing onboard the beleaguered vessel as well as something much more precious.

Intimacy and destiny align amongst the planets and stars, but can the chief science officer and captain overcome the pressures of command when falling in love and still save their fleet?

And can any of them hope to survive the treacherous voyage to New Earth unscathed?

When humanity reaches for the stars in a race for survival, only the most daring amongst them will succeed.

Going for Broke by Zen DiPietroGoing for Broke by Zen DiPietro:

There’s no place like home.

Cabot’s adventures have brought him all the way around to his home planet.

Ditnya Caine has turned on the PAC, even as it continues to battle the Barony Coalition.

At least Cabot’s on a familiar battleground.

He’ll dig up some old connections and forge some new ones to figure out what Ditnya and Barony are plotting. In the process, he’ll even have to deal with some personal unfinished business.

They say you can never go home, but Cabot’s about to prove them wrong.

This book concludes the Mercenary Warfare series, but fear not—Cabot, Nagali, and Omar will continue in the overarching Dragonfire Station series. It’s always a good day to be a trader.

Berserker by Dyane FordeBerserker by Dyane Forde:

“Love…can destroy, it can build, or it can do both at once…”

With the Papilion’s whereabouts unknown, the Shadow pursues its plan for Marathana’s destruction. In control of the Northern tribes and strengthened by allies in the Deep Southernlands, the Shadow prepares to unleash its ultimate weapon, the berserker.

Jeru’s sudden reappearance reveals the presence of a powerful, new will at work. Blessed by the Lightbearer and supported by a ragtag group of survivors and unexpected allies, Jeru prepares to lead the small army into enemy territory.

As war breaks, Kelen and Jeru clash one last time. One brother seeks to destroy, the other to save. The strongest will prevail, sealing Marathana’s ultimate fate.

Double Trouble by Simon HaynesHal Spacejock 8: Double Trouble by Simon Haynes:

Hal Spacejock dons a flash suit, hypershades and a curly earpiece for a stint as a secret agent, while Clunk is invited to a ‘unique business opportunity’ by a pair of rusted friends.

Inevitably, things turn sour, and it’s all hands to the pumps as the good ship Spacejock springs leaks from stem to stern.

 

The Empire of Dust by Robert I. KatzThe Empire of Dust by Robert I. Katz:

Michael Glover survived every mission the Empire assigned him and then he survived the revolution that ended it all.

But can he survive when everything he knew and held dear has vanished into the past?

Awakened after 2000 years to find a new Empire rising to replace the old, Michael is given a second chance to make a difference. Can he take advantage of that chance? Does he even want to?

Trouble is brewing among the stars. Ships are vanishing. Military bases are being attacked. Chaos is spreading. Is this random piracy or a wide-spread conspiracy?

Naval intelligence is desperate to find out and Michael Glover, a soldier without a country, a man thought dead for over 2000 years, reluctantly decides that he cannot stand by when duty calls.

It’s a new Empire but the same old mission, and Michael Glover, deep in his soul, is still a soldier who can be counted on.

But Michael Glover has an independent streak. He’ll carry out the mission but he’ going to do it in his own inimitable way, whether naval intelligence likes it or not.

Gods and Demons by B.R. KingsolverGods and Demons by B.R. Kingsolver:

Life’s tough as an Elf girl stranded in Earth’s realm. Humans don’t believe in Elves or magic, so I try to stay low key.

Then a jaguar shifter drops in out of nowhere and tells me about an ancient blood-magic statuette, powerful enough to blow holes in reality. She needs an Elf to track it down, and I’m the only Elf available.

But every blood mage in the world also wants it. Enter stalker werewolves in a black Mercedes, a master magician leaving a calling card on my door, and demons every time I turn around. It wouldn’t be so bad, but some of them are really rude.

Time for a lesson in manners.

Not a Mermaid by Madeline KirbyNot a Mermaid by Madeline Kirby:

It’s July in Houston, and when heat waves and storm warnings finally give way to flooding rains, Jake Hillebrand’s strange dreams take a sinister turn. When the flood waters recede, the body of a young woman is found on the banks of Buffalo Bayou – a young woman whose life overlaps with that of Detective Victoria Perez.

With Perez on the sidelines, maybe she and Jake can finally come to an understanding. Or not.

Petreski’s working with a new partner, Jake’s declared a major, Jennifer Katz is moving on with her life, and Don has no idea that the new cat hanging around his apartment is not what she appears.

Contains even more carbs than “Not a Werewolf”, plus all you can eat shrimp!

Dragon Lost by Lisa ManifoldDragon Lost by Lisa Manifold:

I’m Aodan. A thief. A really good thief.

My best friend Margrite and I are nearly out of this crappy city. With this last job, we’ll have enough to disappear on an island somewhere. We’re so close I can practically smell the rum drinks.

But then all hell breaks loose when I wake up as a dragon. You know, teeth, claws, blue scales, furniture exploding under my massive form. The feeling of smoke is a permanent fixture in my throat. The dragon appears when it wants to, and I black out.

I don’t have time for this.

To add to all this drama, I think someone is trying to kill me. My home is gone. I have nowhere to hide while I sleep off the crazy dragon hangover that comes after each appearance of the beast. As if the dragon scales weren’t enough, I’m now plagued by this new voice in my head – some annoying guy wanting to talk, and meet, and who knows what else? All I want is for me and my best friend to get out of town alive.

If I could stop sprouting a tail at inappropriate times, that would be pretty great too.

Dragon Lost is the first book in the Dragon Thief series.

Oblivion by David NethOblivion by David Neth

Ethan still doesn’t know what happened to his missing brother four months ago. No idea where he went, who took him, or where to find the answers. But then he discovers Fizz, a mutant whose acid spit can melt off a man’s face, and he has a new lead.

Meanwhile, Carlo Martelli is in a rage. His cousin’s murder can only be a threat to his rule in the local mafia. The immediate suspect is the traitorous Michael Bello who ratted him out to the police. As the mob war erupts, Fuse finds himself in the cross-hairs, which may have been a trap for him all along.

Frozen Shadows by Gene O'NeillFrozen Shadows And Other Chilling Stories by Gene O’Neill:

Hitch a ride with the master of setting as he blends and bends genres with science-rich, thought-provoking short stories. “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

“A maestro of the field, Gene O’Neill’s stories are consistently well-executed. He writes with authority, depth, and loads of worldly and writerly experience, and delivers fascinating stuff.” – Darren Speegle

Along the way you will travel to the top of Mt. George, up and down Napa Valley, through Sacramento, and into the heart of the Bay Area, to the ‘Loin in San Francisco, Hotel Reo, Chapel of the Chimes, the back streets of Oakland, and other familiar dark places. The stories explore quantum entanglement, Visual Migraine Events, electro-shock treatment, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome experimentally treated with Temporary Deep Brain Stimulation. And as you read you may start to notice all these stories are connected in a way.

Includes:

“Frozen Shadows” – Coming of age autobiographical
“The Algernon Effect” – A transgressive love story
“Transformations at the Inn of the Golden Pheasant” – A damaged vet describes a bizarre transformation
“On the Right Side of the Road” – An ex-con suffering from Visual Migraine Effects may just save the world
“Black Tar/Red Alien” – A heroin addict’s confrontation with a horrific alien
“Broken Lady” – An aging singer pays a terrible price for defending herself during a rape
“The Shaking Man” – An ex-con receives an experimental treatment for his Tourette’s Syndrome with unexpected results
“3-Dot People” – An amnesiac man drops literally into the Tenderloin of San Francisco
“A Faint Scent of Musky Lime” – A fan of the writer Tom Really finds himself experiencing one of Reamy’s horrific stories
“At the Lazy K” – A historic epic of a ghost plaguing a rehab clinic on an old ranch

High Barrens by Alice SaboHigh Barrens by Alice Sabo:

Seeing into a soul is easy for Flint.

She can change a life or even the world with her words.

She should have kept her mouth shut.

Flint thought that having six older brothers and growing up in a dangerous frontier town would prepare her for anything. She soon discovers that the world is a lot more complex than she expected, and it’s going to take more than a strong back and good intentions to achieve her goals.

When it comes to magic, all the wishes in the world won’t change who you really are. And sometimes that’s okay.

300 Degree Days and Other Stories by Deborah Sheldon300 Degree Days and Other Stories by Deborah Sheldon:

‘Sheldon’s stories lift the skin of small, suburban lives to expose the raw nerves beneath. Her writing is intimate, compelling and alarming…’ – The Short Review, UK.

Sometimes, the ties that bind are sharp enough to cut. In these eleven stories, set in contemporary Australian suburbia, Deborah Sheldon examines the darker side of family relationships. Unsettling and incisively written, each story of betrayal, envy, loss or bad blood resonates for a long time after reading.

Pursuit by Val St. CrowePursuit by Val St. Crowe:

The war between the humans and the aliens is over. The humans lost.

Gunner Jisse captains the Star Swallow, a ship that takes whatever job it can, from running guns for the Resistance to smuggling food to hidden human outposts. If the aliens discover what he’s doing, he and his crew are dead.

Eve Harlowe sees visions. She’s always known her future is to be the mother of a champion, who will finally defeat the aliens and set humans free. The first step toward her fate is setting foot on Gunner’s ship. He’s destined to be the father of this champion.

Gunner’s not interested in any of that. He thinks seeing the future is hogwash until Eve sees an attack that comes to bloody fruition. If it weren’t for annoyances like busted rescav thrusters and firefights in space, he’d have gotten Eve off his ship already.

Because the aliens have visions as well, and they’ve identified Eve as a threat. The aliens will chase her to the dark corners of the galaxy with one goal. Destroy.

Mage Provocateur by Glynn StewartMage Provocateur by Glynn Stewart:

Vengeance hunts them.
Rebellion seeks them.
Loyalty commands them.
The shadows will fear them.

Captain David Rice and Mage Maria Soprano have made their choice, signing up with the Martian Interstellar Security Agency and converting Red Falcon into a covert operations ship for the Protectorate.

Their new duties drag them back into the very underworld they once strove to escape, intentionally provoking the Azure Legacy into a renewed conflict. They find unexpected allies with secret agents from Legatus’s rebellion against Mars as they seek to stop Mikhail Azure’s Blue Star Syndicate from being reborn.

The Azure Legacy wants revenge. Legatus wants blood. David and Maria are bound by the overriding duty of all officers of the Mage-King’s Protectorate:

Protect the innocent.

Spacer by J.A. SutherlandSpacer by J.A. Sutherland:

Jon Bartlett’s path is clear before him: finish his last year of schooling, then off on the family’s ships to learn the intricacies of interstellar trade. But a message of tragedy at home comes for him, and his expected life is flung far out of reach and he’s cast into a role he never wanted.

A portion of Spacer was previously published as the short story Wronged, by J.A. Sutherland

 

 

The Promise of a Battered Moon by Jack TengThe Promise of a Battered Moon by Jack Teng:

A planet-killer asteroid is hurtling to Earth and everyone is freaking out. But not Manon Fontaine. She knows what the asteroid really is and it’s hers. Once she controls it, she’ll revive the world’s post-war economy and also her mother’s mining company. But first, she needs to navigate family betrayals and kidnapping attempts before she can finally determine her own fate.

Meanwhile, Ann Wilson, an augmented Union super-soldier, has been having problems (beyond the mental strains of indiscriminate killing): her last targets were blown up with fractional deuterium devices, and made things very messy. Ann hates messes. What she hates more is a commanding officer who jerks her around and then sends her, of all places, to Luna City. Little does she know she’s conducting illegal missions to gain control of the asteroid.

In the middle of it all, is Eric Lin, a Union-born-Chinese thruster mechanic. Because of the war with the PPA, he’s been ostracized and forced off-planet to Luna City and the orbital colonies. All he wants is to be accepted and left in peace. This apparently is too much to ask, as both the Union and the PPA send soldiers to drag him away for the-hell-knows what. The reason is in fact that he holds the key to controlling the asteroid.

Amidst traitorous double-agents and assassinations, Manon, Ann and Eric’s paths collide, leaving a wake of destroyed orbital stations and rampaging mobs, ultimately leading them into a confrontation on the moon.

Sparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn ThomasSparks Fly by Llinos Cathryn Thomas:

After twenty-five years of single-minded determination, Marianne Gordon has finally achieved her ambition and been promoted to Principal of the Vesper School for Zero-Gravity Artistic Display.

But her moment of triumph is cut short when she discovers that she must share her position with Josephine Knight, a celebrated zero-gravity performer who doesn’t know the first thing about teaching. Deeply insulted, Marianne does her best to carry on as though Jo isn’t there, but Jo has a way of making her presence felt.

When the future of Marianne’s beloved school is threatened, Jo may be the only person who can help – but only if Marianne can learn to let her in.

Nepenthe Rising by John TriptychNepenthe Rising by John Triptych:

In the far future, two major factions are locked in a galactic cold war. As tensions mount between the technocratic Union and the genome-harnessing Concordance, both sides anxiously watch for a chance to conquer the other.

The Nepenthe is a pirate vessel, loyal to neither. Led by the enigmatic Captain Dangard, her rough and ready crew includes the cat-like alien Commander Creull, Zeno the immortal synthetic, the dashing Garrett Strand, and Duncan Hauk, a promising young recruit.

Hired by a cryptic employer, the crew waylays a transport ship carrying a mysterious passenger. In due time, this incident sparks the beginnings of an interstellar conflict that could threaten the state of known space.

The first of an epic new sci-fi series, Nepenthe Rising delivers what today’s fans want: detailed world-building, thrilling action, and mind-blowing adventure on a grand scale.

Dusthunter by Dean F. WilsonDustrunner by Dean F. Wilson:

Nox is a wanted man.

While searching for a criminal, the fabled Coilhunter wanders into a tribal village massacre. He didn’t do it, but that doesn’t matter. The clues point to him, and he’s made a lot of enemies over the years. Many would happily see the tables turned.

His pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears. No sooner does he try to find the real killers than posters go up across the Wild North—posters with his face and his name. He isn’t the only bounty hunter out there. Dozens assemble to cash him in.

Tasked with finding out who’s framed him, Nox must also survive the constant onslaught of frontier law. He’s used to hunting others. He’s not so used to life on the run.

This is a standalone book in the Coilhunter Chronicles series, which can be read in any order.

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