Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month: September 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 newly published this month, though some August books I missed the last time around snuck in as well. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by author. So far, most links only go to Amazon.com, though I may add other retailers for future editions.

Once again, we have a broad spectrum of titles, featuring hard science fiction, space opera, Steampunk, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, Wuxia fantasy, Arabian Nights retellings, demons, werewolves, vampires, shape-shifting dragons, superheroes, immortals 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 Heidi Garrett, 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:

Voyage by Ellisa BarrVoyage by Ellisa Barr

In this harrowing companion novel to Ellisa Barr’s book, Outage, the devastating effects of an EMP attack are experienced all over again, only this time the story unfolds on a cruise ship far out to sea.

Sena Morgan has just begun the voyage of a lifetime, but she’ll never reach her destination. A terrorist-launched EMP destroys the ship’s power and communication systems and starts a fire onboard, leaving thousands of passengers stranded in the cold, northern Pacific.

As food and water dwindle, strangers with a deadly secret are brought aboard the ship. Sena’s only hope of survival is to get as far from them as possible. At sea, there’s nowhere to run.

Sena meets a couple trying to get home to their daughter in a small town in Washington. Together they will face unspeakable challenges as they try to reunite with their families despite a terrifying new reality.

Written for all fans that love apocalypse stories, Voyage is a Young Adult survival novel that mixes an action packed story with themes of family, hope, and determination.

Murder of Crows by Annie BelletMurder of Crows by Annie Bellet

They say you can never go home again. If only that were true…

Game store owner and nerd sorceress extraordinaire Jade Crow knows death stalks her in the form of her murderous ex-lover, Samir, a sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her power. With the help of her friends, and sexy tiger-shifter Alek, Jade trains for the inevitable confrontation.

Until her estranged father shows up begging for help. Someone or something is murdering the crow shifters of Three Feathers ranch and her father believes sorcery is the only way to stop the killings.

Faced with an unknown foe, a family that exiled her decades before, a deepening relationship with Alek, and Samir’s ever-present threat, Jade will need all the power she’s gained and then some to stop the Murder of Crows.

Murder of Crows is the second book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series, following Justice Calling.

The Disillusioners by Adam BishopThe Disillusioners by Adam Bishop

Jarvis is an investigative journalist with a penchant for making ill-advised sarcastic remarks to powerful government officials. He works for a small, rebel newspaper called The Disillusioners whose approach to tackling the news is explained in their motto: “Dispelling the Illusions of power.” A large amount of money from the government’s budget has mysteriously gone missing, and Jarvis is trying to figure out why. But the Hammers – the aristocrats who control Cirilia’s government – are determined to make sure the story never comes out.

A political mystery set against the backdrop of a magically-powered industrial revolution, The Disillusioners chronicles the economic upheaval sweeping across Cirilia. Small, family-owned businesses struggle to keep up with the ruthless efficiency of the magicorporations. The old order is overthrown as money, not magic, becomes the dominant form of social control. And a few powerful men believe the changes are a signal that progress must be brought to every corner of the globe, by force if necessary.

As Jarvis races to uncover the fate of the missing money, he will confront the role that magic has played in determining who has power and how they get to wield it. He will be challenged to figure out where the line is drawn between luck and intention. And he must fight to reveal his government’s secrets and hope that in the absence of power, truth is enough.

Lokte by K.J. BryenLokte by K.J. Bryen

Marianne Garcia is a struggling actress in New York City. With a dead career and her mother dying of cancer, she begins to lose faith in a better life.
That is, until Logan Lokte shows up.
The mysterious Logan offers her everything she has dreamed of, promising that he can not only make her a famous actress, but can stop the cancer spreading in her mother’s body. All Marianne has to do is sign a contract.
Marianne doesn’t believe in magic, and she has lost all faith in miracles. So why does she find herself strangely drawn to him? Who is Logan Lokte? And if she were to sign the contract . . . what would the consequences be?

In this tale of passion, murder, and deceit, Marianne’s decision thrusts them both into a spiral where choices are crucial, and evil comes from within.
But they also must learn that, in life, not every door is locked.

Chronocrime by K.M. CarrollChronocrime by K.M. Carroll

Indal, chronomancer and werewolf, has been in exile for six months, and survived everything the desert could throw at him.

Now he has to survive multi-world gangsters.

His friends, Carda and Michelle, drag him home and present him with Michelle’s corpse–sent back in time from the near future. But Indal’s efforts to check out the timeline reveals that the corpse is a killer construct, out to murder them all.
While trying to discover who sent it, Indal stumbles into a crime ring of smugglers, blind alchemists, magic-stealing elves, and breakdancing gravity mages. They want him and his friends dead.

Because plans are in motion to that will shake the entire multiverse. And only Indal and his friends can stop them.

This is book 2 in the Spacetime Legacy series, following Storm Chase.

Mindguard by Andrei CherascuMindguard by Andrei Cherascu

I have always disagreed with his following into my father’s footsteps and becoming a mindguard. I said to him, ”Son, the mind can be a very powerful enemy.” He never listened, though. I remember his answer was always, ”It might be your enemy, father – he never called me dad – it might be your enemy, but it isn’t mine!”
– Robert Ayers, father of suspect Sheldon Ayers – Enforcement Unit Archives, File number 986697714, Investigation of Ayers-Ross Thought-Protection Agency on one count of treason against the IFCO, with intention to overthrow the Council of Presidents.

In a future world where telepathy has left the human mind exposed and mindcrimes are a constant threat to information and privacy, powerful telepaths specialize in protecting their clients’ thoughts.
Before his mysterious early retirement, Sheldon Ayers had been the world’s most accomplished mindguard, a legend in the field of thought-protection. Now, he is merely an eccentric recluse.
When influential businessman Horatio Miller requests his services, Sheldon is convinced by his former partner to come back for one more mission.
The assignment is to protect an information package located inside the mind of a young woman who claims the knowledge she holds is vital to the future of mankind. Sheldon and his team must help her cross the most dangerous territory in the man-inhabited universe – the Djago Desert.
Meanwhile, Tamisa Faber, a tough and determined army cadet with a troubled past, struggles to climb the ranks of the Enforcement Unit and become the first successful female enforcer in over two decades. When she is granted her first field command, she sees an opportunity to finally prove herself. Her orders: stop the delivery of Horatio Miller’s information package.
Threatened by the brutal Desert Dwellers and relentlessly hunted by Tamisa and the enforcers, Sheldon’s team must fight to keep the carrier alive and guard the integrity of her mind. But nobody suspects that Sheldon also has a dark secret, and it could end up changing the fate of the mission.

Kill It With Magic by J.A. CiprianoKill It With Magic by J.A. Cipriano

Sixteen-year-old Lillim Callina is good at two things: running away and magic.

Now, Lillim’s half-demon ex-boyfriend is contacting her for help, she has somehow gotten herself mixed up in a kidnapping, and her long-dead rival has risen from the grave.

So when a dragon plotting to take over the world offers her a choice- work for him or else-

Lillim Callina is going to choose else.

Puck you, Mr. AshburyPuck you, Mr. Ashbury by Cian Garrett

Puck You, Mr. Ashbury is a 8300-word light comic fantasy novelette.

When hired to track down a delinquent vampire, Mr. Ashbury tries to untangle the fallout of that job while trying to get out of his forced partnership with the trickster fairy Puck. But will he succeed when a troll crashes Puck’s morning shopping, their friend is kidnapped, and Oberon calls in an ancient favor?

 

The Sunken by S.C. GreenThe Sunken by S.C. Green

In the heart of London lies the Engine Ward, a district forged in coal and steam, where the great Engineering Sects vie for ultimate control of the country. For many, the Ward is a forbidding, desolate place, but for Nicholas Thorne, the Ward is a refuge. He has returned to London under a cloud of shadow to work for his childhood friend, the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Deep in the Ward’s bowels, Nicholas can finally escape his strange affliction – the thoughts of animals that crowd his head. But seeing Brunel interact with his mechanical creations, Nicholas is increasingly concerned that his friend may be succumbing to the allure of his growing power. That power isn’t easily cast aside, and the people of London need Brunel to protect the streets from the prehistoric monsters that roam the city.

King George III has approved Brunel’s ambitious plan to erect a Wall that would shut out the swamp dragons and protect the city. But in secret, the King cultivates an army of Sunken: men twisted into flesh-eating monsters by a thirst for blood and lead. Only Nicholas and Brunel suspect that something is wrong, that the Wall might play into a more sinister purpose–to keep the people of London trapped inside.

Return to Innocence by Travis HillReturn to Innocence by Travis Hill

An unexpected visit from Davis, Elian’s closest companion, reveals a frightening tale that is impossible to believe. Except Davis is becoming mortal again, and The Ellensburg Group, the ancient enemies of night walkers, are behind the “infection” that goes far beyond any threat immortals have faced before. When Davis comes up missing, Elian travels to the Ellensburg’s compound near Missoula, Montana to exact revenge.

The Ellensburgs have laid numerous traps, but Zedira, Elian’s maker and an original Priestess of Alem, along with a small group of other immortals in the area, arrive to lend a hand, hoping to destroy their mortal enemies once and for all. Zedira’s display of true supernatural power evens the odds, but The Ellensburg Group has always played the long game…

Survival in Shades of Orange by Patty JansenSurvival in Shades of Orange by Patty Jansen

Humanity has expanded. Interstellar colonies exist in the far-flung frontiers of space.

After an interstellar war, Mauro and Gabriela arrive at the frontier base on the world Vittoria. But before their arrival, the space fleet commander shares a secret: The previous settlers were not victims of the war, but they have mysteriously disappeared.

Alone in a hostile environment, they have to find out why…

A hard science fiction short story first published in Analog, November 2012

Elevated by Daniel S. KaplanElevated by Daniel Solomon Kaplan

Rose doesn’t want to be an Elevated. She refuses to have her power unlocked on Elevation Day, unlike her other classmates. The irreversible treatment reveals powers that range from a benefit or a nuisance. For her father, it transformed him into an Unsound, forcing him to a life of exile.

Her hand is forced after a chance encounter with a previously undiscovered power activates her ability. Living as an Undocumented Elevated, Rose needs the help of others who hide under the government’s radar to learn to control her unwanted power. Among them, she unravels secrets about the treatment, the powers, and what happened to her father. Fed up with lies, Rose wants nothing more than to learn the whole truth–even if it means accepting her fate as an Elevated.

Flower's Fang by Madison KellerFlower’s Fang by Madison Keller

In the Kin-Jegera Empire the strength of your magic or your claws determines your destiny – too bad our heroes are short on both!

Prince Se’ls, one of the magical flower Kin and only child of Queen Se’uan, has a terrible secret – he has no magic. Forced by his mother, the Queen, to tour the empire to search for his magical companion, Se’ls is terrified of returning home empty handed.

Arara, long-furred runt and joke of her pack, is dreading the upcoming hunt, where the young Jegera show off their strength by taking down one of the fearsome armored hukra by claw alone. Arara is terrified that her superstitious pack will tear her apart if they learn her secret, that she was born telepathic and telekinetic.

With assassins and dark plots threatening the empire, Prince Se’ls and Arara must band together to save it, or perhaps to destroy it.

Danny Dirks by S.A. MulraneyDanny Dirks and the Heir of Pendragon by S.A. Mulraney

Danny Dirks wants nothing more than to play baseball in his father’s orchard now that school is out, but he’s finding out that he is no ordinary boy. With the approach of his fifteenth birthday, Danny’s begun hearing voices and seeing visions of his dead mother. He’s also fairly certain that the cute girl next door is really a shape-shifting dragon. All of these things lead Danny to the discovery that he is the heir of the legendary Arthur Pendragon and the linchpin in a pact established between man and dragon centuries ago. Now, rogue dragons threaten that pact and the peace that comes with it. They aim to reopen the portal through which they originally came to Earth in order to bring back a rebel dragon army. It’s up to Danny to learn to channel the power that is Excalibur and, with his new friends, prevent the portal from being opened.

A Chronetic Memory by Kim O'HaraA Chronetic Memory by Kim O’Hara

In 2215, the science of chronography allows researchers glimpses of the sights, sounds, and smells of the past, as recorded in chronetic energies. But these promising explorations have become mired in politics and greed. When seven-year-old Jored Wallace goes missing, only one person, chronography intern Danarin Adams, realizes he’s gone. Soon she finds out that Jored’s disappearance is only the first of many timestream disturbances. Who can she trust to help her set things right?

 

Little Gou and the Crocodile PrincessLittle Gou and the Crocodile Princess by Robyn Paterson

“Every last member of the Mao family will die by the Hour of the Rat a fortnight from now.”

With these words begins a race against time, as the roguish martial artist called Little Gou hunts across the back roads and waterways of Old China to find a young bride-to-be who has become a pawn of the mysterious Lady Moonlight. He must outwit friends and foes alike, all of whom are dancing to the Lady’s song, and unravel a scheme that could see thousands dead or enslaved and the Middle Kingdom aflame with rebellion if he fails. But, worst of all, he has to face the woman who abandoned him in the name of family duty- the love he can never be with, or forget.

Influenced by Legendary Wuxia novel writers Gu Long and Jin Yong; and in the spirit of movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Little Gou and the Crocodile Princess is a martial arts action & adventure thriller set in the Jianghu martial underworld of Old China. Through a combination of wits, swordplay and kung fu, the martial artist Little Gou, and his companion the warrior nun Sister Cat, must uncover the truth behind a deadly plot to bring the martial underworld to its knees, or die trying.

One Thousand Nights by Christine PopeOne Thousand Nights by Christine Pope

Lyarris Deveras, Crown Princess of Sirlende, takes a leap of faith and accepts an offer of marriage from the ruler of the far-off kingdom of Keshiaar, although she knows it means she will never see her family or her homeland again. Betrayed by his first wife, her new husband has vowed never to love again. But with a little luck — and a bit of magical intervention — Lyarris plans to melt her new husband’s stony heart in this novel inspired by the Thousand and One Nights, set in the world of the Latter Kingdoms.

 

Heir Expectant by B.J. PriestHeir Expectant by B.J. Priest

WAR IS COMING
Ten days have passed with no sign of the rebellion.
Alone, Asher waits
as new Knights are made
and festivities are raised.
Hannah’s coronation approaches,
and the Queendom makes ready,
but everyone knows
the Scion is coming.

Book #4 in a series of fantasy novellas.

Novum: Exile by Joseph RheaNovum: Exile by Joseph Rhea

Beneath the surface of a distant water planet in the last human colony of Civica, fears of an ancient enemy walking among them have brought tension levels to a boiling point.

Captain Jacob Stone wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life aboard his ship, the Rogue Wave, but while on a routine cargo haul, he and his crew discover a dark secret that could unravel the fabric of their society and ignite civil war.

When an act of sabotage kills thousands and throws the colony into chaos, Jake is caught in the middle, and must seek answers in a place no one believes exists. Can he find them before it’s too late?

Exile is the second book in the Novum series and sequel to Novum.

Outlaw by Edward W. RobertsonOutlaw by Edward W. Robertson

IN THE YEAR 2010, an alien virus nearly wiped out the human race. A thousand years later, mankind has recovered and ventured into space. There has been no sign of the aliens since. Humanity remains confined to the Solar System.

All that is about to change.

Mazzy Webber is a lowly janitor on a third-rate cargo ship. Deeply in debt, when his captain decides to turn pirate, he leaps at the chance.

A modern Robin Hood–minus the part where he gives back to the poor–Webber lays down a few ground rules. No attacking manned ships, and no stealing from anyone who can’t afford it. Within months, he and the crew are out of debt. Their next target will make them rich.

But the attack goes all wrong. The target’s cargo could be the death of them–or it could be the key to reaching the stars.

The Plains of Kallanash by Pauline M. RossThe Plains of Kallanash by Pauline M. Ross

Thousands of years after a magical catastrophe reshaped the world and pulled the moons out of alignment, the secret of magic has seemingly been lost. At the centre of the vast, forbidding Plains of Kallanash lies a land ruled by a secretive religion, whose people fight a never-ending war against the barbarians in the wilderness beyond the border.

Amongst the nobility, double marriages are the norm. Junior wife Mia always dreamed of attracting the attention of the dashing lead husband, but never dared to compete against her lively older sister. Hurst has spent ten frustrating years as junior husband, longing to test his skill with a sword in battle, longing for his beloved Mia to turn to him.

The mysterious death of Mia’s sister thrusts the marriage into turmoil. As Mia and Hurst struggle to adjust and find out what happened, they uncover sinister truths about the ruling religion. But the gods are unforgiving; even Mia’s innocent questions carry a terrible punishment. Hurst is prepared to risk everything to save her, even if it means taking up his sword against the barbarians, his own people, and the gods themselves.

The Alukah by Jessica RydillThe Alukah by Jessica Rydill

When student Jim Hopkins gets the bus home to Stoke Newington one night, he has an encounter that changes his life – and his views on magic and vampires.

 

 

 

 

Robert and Louie by Hollis ShilohRobert and Louie by Hollis Shiloh

Hired to redecorate the Skeffield country home, Louie is both attracted to Robert Skeffield and abashed by him in equal measures. Louie, who favors bright clothing and has never been called butch in his life, has little in common with gorgeous, masculine, and closeted army officer Robert. But not everything is as it appears, at Skeffield Manor or in their hearts…

Takes place after “Wes and Kit”

This story contains some minor steampunk elements, magical elements, mysterious elements, flirting, a dog, and a strawberry-colored waistcoat.

Sensual rating: very low
Length: 30,500 words

What Follows, edited by April Steenburgh and C. LennoxWhat Follows, edited by April Steenburgh and C. Lennox

How would an Immortal deal with the End Times?

The world will inevitably come stumbling into apocalypse, and They will be there to witness it. Dryads, demi-gods, deities of every pantheon- is it possible for the Eternal to handle an ending with grace?

Should it come through disease, disaster, or religious fervor, discover What Follows…

Stories by Lyn Thorne-Alder, M.J. King, Joyce Chng, Kate Larking, Nina Waters, K Orion Fray, E.V. O’Day, Crystal Sarakas, Sarah Lyn Eaton, and Ross Bennett.

Buddy by Jeff TanyardBuddy by Jeff Tanyard

Kevin just wants to finish his senior year of college and graduate.

Before he can do that, though, he must finish his summer internship. When his boss’s genetic engineering experiment goes awry, Kevin gets sucked into an adventure he never wanted.

It will change him forever… if it doesn’t kill him first.

Buddy is a 10,000-word story. It contains some violence and adult situations.

Strangers in Flight by Joe VasicekStrangers in Flight by Joe Vasicek

FATE HAS BROUGHT THEM ACROSS TIME AND SPACE, BUT WAR WILL DRIVE THEM FARTHER

For countless ages, Reva Starchild has slept in perfect cryostasis. Frozen in secret to escape a catastrophic death, she awakens only to find herself the sole survivor of a people whom history never remembered. Light-years from her homeworld, among a culture she finds both perverse and obscene, she must somehow build a new life for herself where misplacing her trust could be fatal.

With nowhere safe to run, she finds refuge on a small starship with a mysterious young man who seems to be fleeing something as well. Where others have sought to enslave her, though, he treats her with unexpected kindness. As they slowly open up to each other, she learns that he too carries a burden—one she can barely comprehend.

Isaac Deltana indeed carries a burden. The failure of his mission at Colkhia has brought untold calamity to the Outworld forces and almost certainly led to the death of his brother. Now, he flees from the Gaian Imperials to prevent them from obtaining the secret technology he carries—one that will change the face of interstellar war forever.

Little does he know, the Imperials aren’t the only ones hunting him in

This is book 3 of the Sons of the Starfarers series, following Brothers in Exile and Comrades in Hope.

Facade by R.M. WebbFacade by R.M. Webb

Claire Jacoby is desperate to remember who she is and where she comes from. Isolated by the fact that she can’t remember her past, she builds a life, however hollow, out of the fragments of herself that remain. In the seven years since awaking alone and confused in the woods, she’s learned to hide behind social customs, creating a facade to protect the secret she hides from the rest of the world.

Claire is struggling with disconcerting flashes of information, unsettling thoughts and images that she fears are memories. When William Foley comes into Claire’s favorite cafe, his very presence demanding her attention, she’s overcome by the sense that she knows him. He sweeps into her bitter, colorless little life, unconcerned about hiding his unnaturally quick movements and cold skin, and starts putting Claire back together piece by piece.

William knows Claire and has the answers to questions she’s been asking for seven years. He also knows she has dangerous enemies. William must protect Claire as she learns more about herself, each piece of the puzzle bringing her ever closer to those who have sworn to see Claire dead.

1/2986 by Annelie Wendeberg1/2986 by Annelie Wendeberg

“A girl deeply wounded, more afraid of life than of death, may just be the best hope for mankind’s survival.”

Remnants of humanity are scattered high in the mountains, far from the deadly disease that wiped out ten billion lives. While everyone claws for survival, Micka cuts lines and numbers into her skin. The day she decides to press the blade deeper, a stranger steps into her life and makes an offer she finds hard to decline.

Warning: This book is not for the faint of heart. Do not buy if you abhor violence, intense language, and non-explicit sex.

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