Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for June 2020

Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month
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 May 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, cozy fantasy, dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, paranormal mysteries, science fiction romance, space opera, military science fiction, near future science fiction, alternate history, steampunk, time travel, non-fiction, dragons, ghosts, sea monsters, magicians, vampires, fae, superheroes, space outlaws, dinosaurs, capramancers, crime-busting witches, time-travelling taxmen, time-travelling detectives, killer clowns, stolen colonists 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:

The Attic Tragedy by J. Ashley-SmithThe Attic Tragedy by J. Ashley-Smith:

Sylvie never called them ghosts, but that’s what they were—not that George ever saw them herself. The new girl, Sylvie, is like a creature from another time, with her old-fashioned leather satchel, her white cotton gloves and her head in the clouds. George watches her drift around the edge of the school playing fields, guided by inaudible voices.When George stands up for Sylvie, beating back Tommy Payne and his gang of thugs, it brings her close to the ethereal stranger; though not as close as George would have liked. In the attic of Sylvie’s father’s antique shop, George’s scars will sing and her longing will drive them both toward a tragedy as veiled and inevitable as Sylvie’s whispering ghosts.

Black Sheep by Rachel AuckesBlack Sheep by Rachel Auckes:

An alien ship. Stolen colonists. All Throttle wanted was a vacation…

Fifteen years into a twenty-year voyage, war veteran Captain Throttle Reyne is looking forward to taking a break from dealing with malfunctions, glitches, and the hassles of monitoring a thousand colonists in cryo-sleep.

But when her colony ship breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Throttle and her crew must leave the colonists behind to search for help. They find a ship that’s not only missing a crew… it’s clearly not from their star system.

It’s the discovery of a lifetime. All they need to do is tow the mysterious vessel back to their colony ship for further study and
Throttle won’t ever have to work again. One problem. While they’re away, the colony ship is stolen—with the colonists still on board.

Throttle gives chase to a lawless star system on the outer rim. To get their colonists back, they must take on the pirates and ganglords who will do anything—and sell anyone—to make a buck.

They play dirty. But Throttle and her crew play dirtier.

The Beast from the Sea of Blood by Richard Blakemore and Cora BuhlertThe Beast from the Sea of Blood by Richard Blakemore and Cora Buhlert:

They seek a treasure and find a monster…

Thurvok, the sellsword, and his friends Meldom, thief, cutpurse and occasional assassin, the sorceress Sharenna and Meldom’s sweetheart Lysha are on the hunt for a legendary pirate treasure, when they find themselves marooned on a desolate isle. To add insult to injury, there is no treasure on the island. There are, however, monsters…

This is a short story of 5400 words or 20 print pages in the Thurvok sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.

False Security by Lindsay BurokerFalse Security by Lindsay Buroker:

I never thought I would date a dragon, or feed him chicken strips late at night, but life has gotten interesting.

My steady dragon—you may know him as Lord Zavryd’nokquetal, but I get to call him Zav—is offering to take me to the elven homeland to meet my father and learn to harness the magic in my blood.

Sure, I’m wary about his plans to force the elves to train me, but I need every advantage I can get. Especially when vampire attacks start cropping up all over Seattle, and my friend and business partner, Dimitri, disappears.

Unfortunately, my training will have to wait. If I don’t find my friend in time, I may never see him alive again.

Cold Case in Spell by J.L. CollinsA Cold Case in Spell by J.L. Collins:

Charming Springs – Where every day is colder than a witch’s kitty!

After ditching her cheating fiancé, Indie Warren hits the road in her trusty old truck, refusing to settle for anyone or anywhere.

But all that changes after Indie gets stuck in the frozen ghost town of Charming Springs, North Carolina.

In the middle of July.

This secret magical town was struck by a curse that brought on eternal winter and cast a barrier around it with no way in or out.

And Indie knows this because the talking owl told her so, obviously.

Suddenly Indie’s thrown into a world of magic, mayhem, and murder. And when she stands accused of the deadly deed, she’ll have to use her wits to prove her innocence… if she can keep her newfound magical powers under control!

Even with the help of her feathered friend and the mysterious reaper with his own secrets, she’ll need to find her own way out of this cursed place—dead or alive.

The Daedalus Job by M.D. CooperThe Daedalus Job by M.D. Cooper:

Jax Bremen is an outlaw… sort of…

Within the L, a tri-star system located inside the Aquilian Nebula, Jax makes a living trading and smuggling whatever goods pay the best. So far, he’s avoided being caught with anything too damning in his ship’s holds, but when he takes a job for Korinth, an infamous arms dealer, all that changes.

The haul is worth ten times his ship, and when the contents gets him embroiled in a tug of war between the major political factions of the L, Jax has to keep the criminals he works for from discovering that he’s playing both sides. Hell, he just might have to play all the sides to navigate the tangled web he’s in.

Every move he makes to get free of the quagmire draws him in deeper until Jax finds himself on the hook to run the hardest job he’s ever undertaken: rob the Daedalus, a military cruiser escorting a convoy through the Maelstrom.

Sure. Cakewalk, right?

The Hugosauriad by Camestros FelaptonThe Hugosauriad: A Dinographic Account of the Hugo Awards by Camestros Felapton:

A Dinographic Account of the Hugo Awards. Featuring essays on every Hugo finalist dinosaur story from 1952 to 2019, plus many more. This book traces a dual history. It is an account of how dinosaurs have been represented in notable science fiction stories from the 1950s onwards but is also an examination of the history of the Hugo Science Fiction Awards. Mixing humour and analysis, The Hugosauriad is a unique look at pop-culture over sixty-seven years.

 

Mountain Witch by Rachel FordMountain Witch by Rachel Ford:

From the mountains, a witch will rise.

Knight Protector Brynja knows why the people of her village never wander too far. There’s a witch who lives deep in the heart of the mountain. Some say she’s one of the last elves, who will have her vengeance on mankind. Some say she’s a myth, meant to frighten wandering children.

But Brynja knows better, because she was one of those wandering younglings. And she saw the witch as a child. She still sees her, in her nightmares.

When an army of dragon riders shows up at Brynja’s doorstep, the knight protector has to warn her queen. But the only way to the capital is through the impenetrable wall of riders.

The only way, except through the mountain caves. The only way, unless she’s willing to revisit her nightmares.

Contacts and Tax Cons by Rachel FordContacts and Tax Cons by Rachel Ford:

An alternate universe. A dystopian nightmare. A sinister plot.

When agents of the Interdimensional Bureau of Temporal Investigations start vanishing, IRS senior analyst and IBTI agent Alfred Favero is assigned to the case. His mission? Track down a mysterious contact known only as Krasnaya.

In a world where every word is overheard, every thought policed, and every action monitored, Alfred must stay off the radar long enough to find his quarry – and get back home before the brutal politsiya or the shadowy rebels get their hands on him.

Otherwise, the intrepid lawman may have pursued his last lead…

Android General 1 by C. GockelAndroid General 1 by C. Gockel:

The Darkness will strike again …

The last time Carl, Volka, and 6T9 fought the Dark, 6T9 failed Volka. If he wants her and all the carbon based life forms that he loves to survive, he needs to change. Change for an android is as easy as flipping a switch, but dealing with the consequences is not so simple.

To save Volka, he’ll have to give up part of himself that Volka adores. He’ll need to become something an innocent, peace loving sex ‘bot was never designed to be, something he despises.

To save Volka and the galaxy he’ll need to become … Android General 1.

Black Dawn by K. GormanBlack Dawn by K. Gorman:

Genetic engineering. Conspiracy. An unstoppable attack.

Karin Makos lives a lie. Genetically engineered from birth and raised in a scientific compound to gain unnatural powers, she has since escaped and built another life, hidden from those who created her. For her, the chance to pilot a small-time scrounging vessel to remote corners of space is the dream. After years on the run with her sister and enduring the constant paranoia of living planet-side, going off-radar gives her exactly what she wants: freedom.

That dream is shattered.

A system-wide attack decimates humanity and leaves the survivors scraping for clues. And Karin might know where to look.

But digging into her past comes with a whole new set of secrets and consequences, none of which she wants to face. Plagued by strange dreams of her sister and a sense of growing danger, Karin and the crew of the Nemina must race desperately across space to find their loved ones—and answers.

The Monstrous Seven by Lily Harper HartThe Monstrous Seven by Lily Harper Hart:

Life is going well for Hannah Hickok. Her business – a cosplay western town in Kentucky – is thriving and she’s even interviewing bartenders so she can finally take on different duties in her new world. All that comes to a screeching halt when a guest grabs what’s supposed to be a prop gun and fires it at another guest during an altercation.

Suddenly, death is calling in Casper Creek … and it’s wearing many masks.

Hannah is thrown by the brutality of the action. She’s also confused why her boyfriend Cooper Wyatt was acting out of sorts right before it happened. The questions about exactly what happened are only compounded when the coroner comes back with a shocking report: There was no bullet found in the body and the manner of death is undetermined.

In short order, an FBI agent is put in charge of the case, Casper Creek is shut down, and Hannah and Cooper are plunged into a sundry world of magical creatures with death and destruction on the brain. Thanks to a tip from local witch Astra, Hannah soon realizes she’s grappling with something bigger than she’s ever dealt with before … and it will be seven times as deadly.

War is coming. Hannah’s magic is still a work in progress but she’s going to be put through the paces on this one. She has a new family. It will be up to her to save them when magical forces collide

Is she up to the challenge?

Blood and Fire by D.N. HoxaBlood and Fire by D.N. Hoxa:

My name is Ruby Monroe, but most people know me by my other name: the One-eyed Hawk.

Back in the day, I wanted to be a superhero, hunt down bad guys and make them pay for doing bad things. Four years later, I’m still paying the price for thinking that there is such a thing as justice in the world. The only thing I have left of that life is a blind eye and the stupid nickname.

When the woman who raised me goes missing, I have no choice but to go back to my old home to find her. As if that wasn’t bad enough, some supervillain-wannabe starts kidnapping the most powerful magians in the city, and I somehow always end up in the wrong place, at the wrong time. The authorities are looking for someone to blame, and who better to take the fall than an already wanted murderer?

Lucky for me, I don’t give two shits about what people think. With the help of a walking, talking flame-thrower named Logan, who just so happens to be as hot as the fire he makes with his hands, I’m going to have to do the impossible and bring justice to this lawless city for once.

Better watch out, Mr. Bad Guy. Ruby Monroe is in town, and she’s coming for you.

Kwelengsen Storm by David M. KellyKwelengsen Storm by David M. Kelly:

You can turn your back on war, but sometimes it refuses to let you go.

When Logan Twofeathers takes on the job of head of engineering on Kwelengsen, the first habitable planet discovered by Earth, he thinks he’s leaving conflict far behind. But when he investigates the loss of a deep-space communications relay, his ship is attacked and crash-lands back on the planet.

With his new home destroyed by the invaders, Logan is stranded deep in the frozen mountains with an injured sergeant who hates him almost as much as the enemy. Against the ever-present threat of capture, he must battle his way through icy surroundings in a treacherous attempt to find his wife.

And when he’s forced to ally himself with a disparate group of soldiers and their uncompromising captain, Logan must face the reality that he may have lost everything—and everyone—he loves. Will he choose to fight? And what will it cost him?

Kwelengsen Storm is the first in a gripping, new sci-fi thriller series from the author of the Joe Ballen novels.

Knights Magica by B.R. KingsolverKnights Magica by B.R. Kingsolver:

If the Knights Magica want a war, I’m willing to give them one.

I damned my soul long ago. What I do from this point forward is about redemption. If I burn in Hell because of fighting for others, for shouldering their sins, so be it.

The Knights are powerful, and they have taken control of the Universal Church. All across the world, the Knights find themselves in conflict with other paranormals and supernaturals. Human governments scramble to cope with the new reality of magic. Cities become battlegrounds.

And in Westport, Rosie O’Grady’s Bar and Grill becomes a center for organizing the Resistance.

Then the Fae decide it’s time to act.

Gravity is Heartless by Sarah LaheyGravity is Heartless by Sarah Lahey:

What will the world look like in thirty years’ time? How will humanity survive the oncoming effects of climate change? Set in the near future and inspired by the world around us, Gravity Is Heartless is a romantic adventure that imagines a world on the cusp of climate catastrophe.

The year is 2050: automated cities, vehicles, and homes are now standard, artificial Intelligence, CRISPR gene editing, and quantum computing have become a reality, and climate change is in full swing—sea levels are rising, clouds have disappeared, and the planet is heating up.

Quinn Buyers is a climate scientist who’d rather be studying the clouds than getting ready for her wedding day. But when an unexpected tragedy causes her to lose everything, including her famous scientist mother, she embarks upon a quest for answers that takes her across the globe—and she uncovers friends, loss and love in the most unexpected of places along the way. Gravity Is Heartless is bold, speculative fiction that sheds a hard light on the treatment of our planet even as it offers a breathtaking sense of hope for the future.

The Killer Clown Calamity by Amanda M. LeeThe Killer Clown Calamity by Amanda M. Lee:

Charlie Rhodes’ life is in turmoil. Her relationship with her boyfriend Jack is going well but Casey, the newest member of the Legacy Foundation, has dropped a bombshell and Charlie feels as if things are spinning out of control. While waiting for DNA results to prove (or disprove, for that matter) Casey’s identity, the team gets called out on a weird case.

It seems sadistic clowns with magical abilities are killing people in the suburbs surrounding Nashville, and the deaths are bloody and horrible. Upon arriving on the scene, Charlie and Jack stumble across an entire cadre of clowns hanging out at the fairgrounds and the game is afoot.
Mystic Caravan Circus isn’t what it appears to be on the surface. Poet Parker, second in command for the circus, is front and center as Jack and Charlie start digging for answers. It seems both sides are keeping secrets, though, and discovering the truth isn’t going to be easy.

Charlie has always zealously guarded her supernatural secret and it seems she’s not the only one, because the moment she crosses the threshold to the circus she senses she’s surrounded by a magical group of otherworldly individuals.

Trust takes time but that’s a precious commodity as the clowns ramp up their attacks. It’s going to take everyone working together to figure out what’s happening … and who is behind it.

Poet and Charlie make a fearsome twosome but they might not be enough to take on this particular threat. Everybody hates a clown, and when this trio declares war, the horror that follows will haunt an entire city.

Charlie is determined to deal with the clowns before focusing on her personal life. She has to survive to find answers, though, and it’s going to take every ounce of power she has to come out safely on the other side.

Fear is the name of the game, and two heroes are about to collide.

The Influencer by R.T.W. LipkinThe Influencer by R.T.W. Lipkin:

His secret was that he created her. Her secret is much bigger.

Beautiful. Mysterious. Unreachable.

Broadcasting from her perfectly curated room, she’s an instant sensation. Everyone wants to buy what she has. Wear her jewelry. Use her makeup. So they can be like her. Look like her. Feel close to her. Know her.

But no one can really know Ash. She’s just an illusion. A string of code I created to sell things and make money.

It was the perfect plan.

Until she starts going off script, saying things I didn’t program her to say.
Knowing things she can’t know.
Feeling things she can’t feel.
Or can she?

Phyllis Wong and the Crumpled Stranger by Geoffrey McSkimmingPhyllis Wong and the Crumpled Man by Geoffrey McSkimming:

When Phyllis Wong, that brilliant young magician and clever sleuth, discovers a mysterious stranger who keeps appearing by the rotunda in City Park, little does she know that the Time he brings with him will lead her into a world of danger, intrigue and undiscovered threats from the past!

Will Phyllis’s magic be enough to save her from the perils that will cross her path? Will she be able to solve the riddle of the stranger and the place from which he comes?

A haunting story, swirling through the world of words and the ticking of time!

The seventh Phyllis Wong: Time Detective mystery.

Free Fall by T.S. PaulFree Fall by T.S. Paul:

Mars is doomed!

While the idea of breaking away from the tyranny of Earth might sound like a good idea in practice it sucks. Riddled with quislings, the Martian government cannot hide from the inevitable. When the fleets away the warships play. Invasion of the worst kind.

Trapped aboard the Einstein space station Rowan Wolf is out of options. Should he fight the good fight or return home to save his family?

The Wounded Ones by G.D. PenmanThe Wounded Ones by G.D. Penman:

Demons and serial killers are Iona “Sully” Sullivan’s bread and butter, but nothing could have prepared her to face off against the full weight of the British Empire at the height of its power. With the War for American Independence in full swing, she finds even her prodigious talents pushed beyond their limits when citizens of the American Colonies begin vanishing amidst rumors of crop circles, hydra sightings and worse. Through a wild and lethal adventure that will see her clashing with the Empire around the world and beyond, the only constants in Sully’s life are an undead girlfriend, a giant demon crow that has taken a shine to her, regular assassination attempts by enemies on all sides, and the cold certainty that nothing and nobody is going to make it out of the war in one piece.

A Touch of Ice by Nita RoundA Touch of Ice by Nita Round:

To have a future, they must face their past.

Magda, Ascara and Lucinda must draw upon the strength of their trinity to seek out the truths of the past that hold the key to their future.

They travel north, to Magda’s place of birth amongst the Oceanics. For Magda, this is an unwelcoming place, a reminder that she was banished and dealt a cruel fate. Named Stoner and landlocked, for an Oceanic this is a dishonour and a fate worse than death. To return to the float again would place her life, and those with her, at risk.

In the freezing waters of the far north, Magda finds herself defending her honour and birth right. She must succeed as their fate depends upon it. Failure is not an option, the costs are too high.

If you like a mash-up of steampunk and fantasy, with strong willed and quick-witted women, then you’ll love Nita Round’s imaginative series.

Will Magda allow the past to hold her back, or will she find her destiny?

Hollis Whittaker by C.B.S. ShanahanHollis Whittaker by C.B. Shanahan:

It changed the course of WWII. In 1945, it was stolen. Now a ten-year-old boy has found it, and the government will kill him to get it.

When ten-year-old Hollis Whittaker picks up a strange medallion he stumbled upon at the edge of a stream, he suddenly begins exhibiting signs of brilliance, even discovering the solar system’s Planet X and astounding the astronomical community. The awkward, overweight fifth grader with heart problems is an instant media sensation, but all is not well. The genius-making medallion bonds to only one person for life and the U.S. government has been searching for it since World War II, which means they’re prepared to kill Hollis to acquire it so they can exploit the medallion’s immense power.

After a thwarted hit job by two military agents, Hollis treks cross-country with the aid of his best friend Kirby and a Navajo woman, Cha’Risa, whose family possessed the medallion—the Ní?ch’i—more than seventy years ago. They are hoping Cha’Risa’s aged grandfather will be able to help them. Unfortunately, the whole country believes she has kidnapped the boys, and the agents who are trying to kill Hollis have the system on their side.

The Peacekeeper Initiative by Glynn StewartThe Peacekeeper Initiative by Glynn Stewart:

Amidst the ruins of a broken empire
A new warlord rises to power
The worlds in his path call for help
And the United Planets Alliance answers!

The Kenmiri Empire has fallen, broken against the might of the Vesheron rebels and the United Planets Space Force. The alliance between the Vesheron and the UPSF has collapsed in turn, leaving the former empire as worlds without governance or leaders.

Amidst the chaos, the UPSF has launched a valiant effort to reach out to the weak and protect the defenseless. As part of the Peacekeeper Initiative, Colonel Henry Wong leads the battlecruiser Raven deep into once-hostile territory.

There, an old ally has begun to forge a new empire from the old slave worlds. As starvation forces worlds to surrender, Henry prepares a desperate plan to bring food to the hungry—and defeat to those who conquer!

Duelist by John TriptychDuelist by John Triptych:

Interstellar war has been outlawed, and all conflicts are now determined by single combat. The fate of entire planets rests upon the actions of a duelist—specialized gladiators trained and modified with the latest technology to win a death match against their equally formidable rivals.

Dyron Dyrge is an upstart who rises in power and prestige with each victory. Yet he shuns the limelight, for his secrets would tear the galaxy apart if they were ever revealed. Alix, an orphaned concubine with mysteries of her own, also begins her ascent within a corrupt, class-based society that rewards only the most cunning and ruthless of them all.

Together, these two individuals will eventually determine the fate of known space… unless their enemies kills them first.

The Capramancer Next Door by Danielle WilliamsThe Capramancer Next Door by Danielle Williams:

Down-to-earth mage Will Schafer has her hands full moving into a new house while keeping her mischievous herd of magical goats in line. Meeting handsome gardener Rickert Nash takes the sting out of moving…until his shadowy past comes roaring back to bite him in the butt.

Now Will and the herd must step in to save their neighbor from getting mulched—but can a girl and her goats defeat a formidable hunter…or are they all about to buy the farm?

Called “A wonderful read!” by the owner of GoatsLive.com, The Capramancer Next Door is an upbeat fantasy adventure sure to leave you smiling.

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