Indie Speculative Fiction of the Month for December 2015

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 November 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 space opera, military science fiction, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, weird westerns, Steampunk, cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic science fiction, fairy tales, werewolves, dragons, aliens, empaths, ice maidens, doomed knights, demon hunters, transgender time travellers, black magic outlaws, monkey queens, spaceships next door, Wild West mummies, South East Asian steampunk 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:

Second Skyn by Damien BoyesSecond Skyn by Damien Boyes:

If it weren’t for his Digital Life Assurance, Toronto Police Detective Finsbury Gage would be dead—smeared across the highway by a crazed man in a stolen urban assault vehicle. Finsbury hung together long enough for the recovery team to arrive. His wife wasn’t so lucky.

Now, six months later, his mind restored to a prosthetic brain, wrapped in a healthy new body, and technically immortal, Finsbury is back to a life that no longer exists. He’s all alone, his home a shrine to everything he lost. He’s been reassigned, knocked from Homicide to busting bit-heads and chasing after lost minutes of the idle rich. And his thoughts connect directly to the internet.

The only thing keeping Finsbury from blowing his plastic brains out is the memory of his wife’s death. It’s 2.57 seconds long and plays on repeat, every time he closes his eyes. But from within this loop of pain and grief he discovers a reason to go on—the haunting glimpse of the wild-eyed man responsible for his wife’s death.

Finsbury’s gonna find this guy, no matter what he has to do.

But Finsbury isn’t the only one on the hunt. Something is coming for him. Something like the world has never seen. Something that will force Finsbury Gage to abandon everything he believes—everything he is—to survive.

Kiss of Ice by Cora BuhlertKiss of Ice by Cora Buhlert:

The Winter Knight is sent out to execute the Ice Maiden who has already killed countless men. So far, none of those sent to bring the Maiden to justice have ever returned. But the Knight is confident that he will succeed where they failed, for he is protected by powerful magic.

When the Winter Knight finally reaches the castle of the Ice Maiden, she is strangely calm in the face of death and does not even try to resist. But has the Winter Knight truly succeeded where so many before him have failed or does the Ice Maiden still have a trick or two up her sleeve?

This is a dark and wintery fairytale of 4700 words or approximately 16 print pages altogether.

Redblade by Robert DahlenRedblade by Robert Dahlen:

“I want to be a hero. Like the Monkey Queen.”

Michiko Koyama, the hero known as the Monkey Queen, and her partner in adventure Beth McGill are happily adjusting to finally being more than friends. But Beth has made a new friend, student and fellow geek girl Abigail Main-Drake, and Michiko is trying very hard not to be jealous.

Meanwhile, a rise in assaults by ogres is putting Emigre communities in danger. A hero has risen to help defend them, the swashbuckling sorceress who calls herself Redblade. Michiko is thrilled to have a new ally, but Beth is feeling left out, unneeded.

But what Michiko and Beth don’t know is that Abby is Redblade. And that secret, and the magic sword Abby carries, could spell doom for the Monkey Queen.

Join the adventure with Michiko and Beth in this fifth book in the Monkey Queen series, written with new readers in mind! Fantasy with heroines, humor and heart!

The Spaceship Next Door by Gene DoucetteThe Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette:

The world changed on a Tuesday.

When a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts, everyone realized humankind was not alone in the universe. With that realization, everyone freaked out for a little while.

Or, almost everyone. The residents of Sorrow Falls took the news pretty well. This could have been due to a certain local quality of unflappability, or it could have been that in three years, the ship did exactly nothing other than sit quietly in that field, and nobody understood the full extent of this nothing the ship was doing better than the people who lived right next door.

Sixteen-year old Annie Collins is one of the ship’s closest neighbors. Once upon a time she took every last theory about the ship seriously, whether it was advanced by an adult ,or by a peer. Surely one of the theories would be proven true eventually—if not several of them—the very minute the ship decided to do something. Annie is starting to think this will never happen.

One late August morning, a little over three years since the ship landed, Edgar Somerville arrived in town. Ed’s a government operative posing as a journalist, which is obvious to Annie—and pretty much everyone else he meets—almost immediately. He has a lot of questions that need answers, because he thinks everyone is wrong: the ship is doing something, and he needs Annie’s help to figure out what that is.

Annie is a good choice for tour guide. She already knows everyone in town and when Ed’s theory is proven correct—something is apocalyptically wrong in Sorrow Falls—she’s a pretty good person to have around.

As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.

Twiceborn Endgame by Marina FinlaysonTwiceborn Endgame by Marina Finlayson:

Half human, half dragon, all vengeance.

No one said being half dragon would be easy, but Kate O’Connor’s life has gone completely off the rails. She thought she’d won the succession war between the daughters of the dragon queen, until a shocking betrayal changed everything.

Now seven new sisters have joined the fray, a sinister government taskforce is gunning for her, and the Japanese queen has hit town, bent on snatching the throne for herself. Worst of all, her beloved son has been abducted.

The shifter world has never seen a proving like this one, but then, there’s never been a dragon quite like Kate before. She’ll need her human ingenuity as well as her dragon magic to save her son and everyone she holds dear. The final moves in the deadly endgame take her from goblin caves to Japanese palaces as she races against the clock to snatch victory from the dragon jaws of defeat.

Twiceborn Endgame is the third book in the urban fantasy trilogy The Proving.

Dead Man by Domino FinnDead Man by Domino Finn:

I’m Cisco Suarez: necromancer, shadow charmer, black magic outlaw. Sounds kinda cool, doesn’t it? It was, right until I woke up half dead in a dumpster.

Did I say half dead? Because I meant 100% dead. Full on. I don’t do things halfway.

So here I am, alive for some reason, just another sunny day in Miami. It’s a perfect paradise, except I’m into something bad. Wanted by police, drenched in the stink of dark magic, nether creatures coming out of the woodwork, and don’t get me started on the Haitian voodoo gang. Trust me, it’s all fun and games until there’s a zombie pit bull on your tail.

I’m Cisco Suarez: necromancer, shadow charmer, black magic outlaw, and totally screwed.

The Bizarre Half Life of John Fortune by James GideonThe Bizarre Half-Life of John Fortune by James Gideon:

John Fortune is a street kid made good. Thanks to a genius for maths and physics, he carves out a successful career in interstellar engineering. But there’s something not quite right about John. Something not quite human. His one true friend, Frank Patterson, is sure he knows the secret. Frank can’t afford to be wrong. Mankind’s survival depends on it.

This 10,000 word short SF story/novella is perfect for fans of Ray Bradbury and Mike Resnick.

 

Omega Baggage by Eileen GlassOmega Baggage by Eileen Glass:

Liam doesn’t have a plan, but he’s got the basics covered. As far as food, shelter, and clothing are concerned, he does right by his omega. But still the smaller wolf flinches from him, never speaks. And every mild suggestion is obeyed to the letter. Something’s not right, he knows that, but maybe it’s for the best.

Skye wouldn’t stay if he learned the truth.

Baggage is a novella of about 26,000 words.

 

The Sea is OursThe Sea is Ours: Tales from Steampunk South East Asia, edited by Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng:

Steampunk takes on Southeast Asia in this anthology

The stories in this collection merge technological wonder with the everyday. Children upgrade their fighting spiders with armor, and toymakers create punchcard-driven marionettes. Large fish lumber across the skies, while boat people find a new home on the edge of a different dimension. Technology and tradition meld as the people adapt to the changing forces of their world. The Sea Is Ours is an exciting new anthology that features stories infused with the spirits of Southeast Asia’s diverse peoples, legends, and geography.

Mission Improbable by J.J. GreenMission Improbable by J.J. Green:

In the deepest reaches of the galaxy there are places and beings that aren’t impossible, just very, very improbable.

Carrie Hatchett is a low-achieving daydreamer, and the last person on Earth who should be resolving disputes for the Transgalactic Council. After providing a good home for her butt-ugly dog and psychotic cat, her biggest challenge in life is to avoid being fired, again.

But a strange green mist sucks her beneath her kitchen sink, and an unusual clerical error leads to an offer she foolishly doesn’t refuse.

In settling a conflict between the mechanical placktoids and the mysterious oootoon, Carrie reveals a threat to the entire galaxy.

Mission Improbable is Book One in the light-hearted, fast-paced Carrie Hatchett Space Adventures series.

Flowers in a Dumpster by Max Allan GunnellsFlowers in a Dumpster by Max Allan Gunnells:

Seventeen Tales to Frighten and Enlighten

The world is full of beauty and mystery. In these 17 tales, Gunnells will take you on a journey through landscapes of light and darkness, rapture and agony, hope and fear.

A post-apocalyptic landscape where it is safer to forget who you once were… An unusual support group comprised of cities dying of a common illness… A porn star that has opened himself up to demonic forces… Two men battling each other to the death who discover they have much in common… A woman whose masochistic tendencies may be her boyfriend’s ruin… A writer whose new friendship proves a danger to his marriage and his sanity.

Let Gunnells guide you through these landscapes where magnificence and decay co-exist side by side.

The Fredorian Destiny by Adair HartThe Fredorian Destiny by Adair Hart:

The timeline is wrong. This is discovered when Dr. Albert Snowden and his niece, Emily, travel with Evaran to a galactic cultural exhibition event on Kreagus, the capital home world of the Kreagan Star Empire and galactic superpower near Earth. The Fredorians should be presenting an ancient artifact, known as the Arkaron, to the Kreagan emperor. The problem is they aren’t. Evaran has decided to step in and help the Fredorians achieve their destiny while stabilizing the timeline.

They must find the three lost Arkaron crystals in order to assemble the Arkaron. To make matters worse, Seeros, a powerful industrialist, has a bounty on their heads, causing bounty hunters to harass them each step of the way.

As if that weren’t enough, an unknown faction is hiring freelance mercenaries to hunt them down as well. Evaran is joined by others, and together, they will have to navigate these perils to assemble the Arkaron and achieve the Fredorian destiny.

Choosing You by Jaylee JamesChoosing You by Jaylee James:

Collin is in high school when he is visited by a time traveler – a woman who claims to be his wife in a hypothetical future… only the timeline has been disrupted, and the two will never meet unless he makes four key choices in his life that will guide them together again.

“Choosing You” is a short story in a conversational, first-person voice, about what happens when deciding to love someone becomes a literal choice. It’s 7300 words long and features a transgender protagonist.

 

House of the Healer by Jim JohnsonHouse of the Healer by Jim Johnson:

The Scales Are Out of Balance

After surviving a brutal cultist attack on her village, Ruia led the other survivors to the safety of Fort Sekhmet with the help of Tjety, a Ranger of Mayat. With Tjety’s life now hanging in the balance, can Ruia gather enough help and learn to use her newfound hekau magic to heal Tjety before the forces of darkness close in and snuff out all hope?

House of the Healer is the third episode in PISTOLS AND PYRAMIDS, a monthly series best described as an ancient Egyptian-themed weird western with magic. And mummies. Lots of mummies.

The Fourth by Floyd LooneyThe Fourth by Floyd Looney:

Tara is “The Fourth”.

She woke up inside of a cylinder in an underground chamber with no memories. She is told that the world has been devastated by war, disease and mutations. Humankind had evacuated Earth and fled to hundreds of different worlds far away. A quarantine was declared, but this did not prevent pirates and slavers from raiding the villages of the remnant left behind.

Tara feels strangely compelled to “fix” Earth, knowing this could take decades and generations. She is “The Fourth”.

Greyson was born and raised as the only child of a high government official on the world called Roma, which modelled itself after the Roman Empire. The women of Roma are created artificially and have no rights. Thus, Roma is a pariah among civilized worlds.

As a young man Greyson is framed for a crime and his own father exiled him from his home world.

Tara wants to find out what it means to be “The Fourth” and to bring Earth back from the dead. Greyson wants to go home and clear his name. Their paths are destined to cross.

Chaos in the Starless Nights by J. Alex McCarthyChaos in the Starless Nights by J. Alex McCarthy:

Time is relative.

For one person, time flies by at a rapid pace. In a blink, hundreds of years pass. A life begins and ends, a million-year-old traitor returns to the place he once betrayed, an eyeless assassin questions his mission as he takes an innocent life.
In a flicker, an omnipotent leader’s rule crumbles beneath his feet, a treacherous woman revels in her plans as they come together to bring down those around her.
In a single second, four paths cross. As each story ends, the next begins in A Universe Without Stars.

Of One Skein by P.J. PostOf One Skein, Part 1 by P.J. Post:

This romance brought to you by the end of the world…

Emily.

Samantha.

Cam.

Lost children.

Treachery.

Biological weapons.

Hostages.

The Cart People.

and…

A puppy.

Forgiveness has never been so far away.

This is episode 3 of Feral, an ongoing serialized story.

Snowberry Blossom by Missy SheldrakeSnowberry Blossom by Missy Sheldrake:

Follow the knight Azaeli and her best friend Rian the Mage on a quick adventure to seek the Snowberry Blossom, a bloom that holds magic only if picked at midnight on Midwinter’s Eve.

Grab a cup of cider and sit back to read this tale of romance, adventure, and fantasy told Mya, Bard of His Majesty’s Elite of Cerion.

This short story takes place in between Call of Sunteri, book 2 and book 3 of the Keepers of the Wellsprings series, but there are no spoilers and it reads as a stand-alone tale.

KEEP by Hollis ShilohKEEP by Hollis Shiloh:

Pete might always know when people are lying, but that doesn’t make him a good judge of character. Will he ever find a man who wants to keep him?

Pete’s the kind of guy who gets on people’s nerves. He can’t sit still. He talks too much. He doesn’t know when to shut up. And he always knows when people are lying.

While his talent wasn’t strong enough to get an empath rating from the ESRB, he now has a second chance with the new testing system they’re using. If he makes it, he’ll have some well-paying job offers from people who actually appreciate his gifts.

Maybe this time things will work out. Maybe his life will finally take a turn for the better. With some hot guys in it, too.

The Prime Rift by Veronica SicoeThe Prime Rift by Veronica Sicoe:

Taryn has risked everything to free the first human colony from the tyranny of the TMC. With the help of her mind-linked ally, the alien warlord Amharr, she has finally succeeded.

Now Taryn must free the other colonies too, before the Ascendancy’s world-crushing ships reach human space.

But when she needs him most, Taryn must let Amharr go, or their Link will kill him. The others who stood by her side have seemingly turned against her. And the sadistic TMC General Hurst, who craves the power of Taryn’s Link, is now hunting her down.

With time running out, Taryn is about to face her greatest challenge yet, and she must do so alone.

Grand Master's Mate by Aurora SpringerGrand Master’s Mate by Aurora Springer:

Young empath, Violet Hunter, and her crafty Grand Master, Athanor Griffin, tackle the villains threatening civilization.

Their worst enemy, the Red Queen, rampages across the galaxy evading capture, while blocked portals restrict normal commerce among planets. Compounding their problems, half the Grand Masters on the Council fear Violet is the agent of their doom as her father foretold, and vow to eliminate her. To restore peace, Violet and Athanor embark on a hazardous quest for a weapon hidden by the ancient psychic masters on one of four planets. But, the weapon proves elusive, dangers lurk in the ancient sites, and new alliances forged with bizarre entities may not be sufficient to foil their enemies and save the galaxy.

Reminiscent of science fiction stories by Frank Herbert and Andre Norton, this rollercoaster adventure offers weird characters and deadly horrors balanced by lighthearted moments. Grand Master’s Mate is Book 3 of the Grand Master’s Trilogy.

Echoes of a World Gone by Elliott WebberEchoes of a World Gone by Elliott Webber:

After finding a mysterious radio signal, Luke and his sister, Ada, journey through the deadly environment of the post-apocalyptic desert, risking everything for a chance of a better life.

 

 

 

 

Nameless by Mercedes M. YardleyNameless: The Darkness Comes by Mercedes M. Yardley:

Luna Masterton sees demons.

She has been dealing with the demonic all her life, so when her brother gets tangled up with a demon named Sparkles, ‘Luna the Lunatic’ rolls in on her motorcycle to save the day.

Armed with the ability to harm demons, her scathing sarcasm, and a hefty chip on her shoulder, Luna gathers the most unusual of allies, teaming up with a green-eyed heroin addict and a snarky demon ‘of some import.’

After all, outcasts of a feather should stick together…even until the end.

This is volume one in The Bone Angel Trilogy by Mercedes M. Yardley,

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