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 and small press 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 urban fantasy, epic fantasy, portal fantasy, grimdark fantasy, sword and sorcery, fantasy mystery, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, science fantasy, space opera, military science fiction, dystopian fiction, LitRPG, speculative poetry, starships, space marines, alien empresses, alien invasions, deadly plagues, crime-busting witches, granny gamers, highway angels 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:
Complete Poems 1965-2020 by Michael Butterworth:
Across Michael Butterworth’s work, elements are reiterated but endlessly transfigured – hitchhiking girlfriends, elm trees, the moon, astronauts, the space race, collage artists, misophonia, marriage, divorce, beached whales, clifftops, the sea, the seasons, mental block, ale houses, the chemical laboratory, ambition, madness, pain, death and impermanence, silver birch trees, suicide, Zazen, riots, train seating indicators, camping, the Welfare State, crows and seagulls, the racist English and Canada geese… are some of his subjects. The subjects of destruction – war, the consumer society, ‘progress’, humanity’s inhumanity, the doings of men (and the necessity of a new woman), galactic war, drug wars, hunting – are never far away, hopefully countered by the tone of optimism found in his later poems inspired by Buddhist philosophy. The effect is at once familiar and yet profound, in language that has the confessional qualities and simplicity of early influences such as Sylvia Plath and the Beats, and the later influence of Zen poets such as Ry?kan. Occasionally the writing is startlingly radical – a reminder of the poet’s beginnings in the New Wave. A collection such as this one from Space Cowboy Books is overdue, and Complete Poems: 1965-2020 brings to more deserving attention a less heard voice in modern poetry.
Tale of the Uncrowned Kings by Steve Dilks:
Sorcery in Uhremon! It is a world of shadows and jewels, forbidden crypts and deathless gods.
A world where science vies for supremacy against blackest necromancy.
In these chaotic times, legends arise…
Erich Von Tormath, exiled prince turned freebooter and mercenary.
Zaran, thief and assassin.
Together, they dare plunder the sanctum of the most powerful necromancer in Uhremon.
Their prize? Gold and glory.
Should they fail… An unspeakable death!
When Ben first bought his starship, he expected to spend the rest of his days joyriding through the universe with his best friend.
As the most wanted criminal in a galaxy that’s about to be crushed in the iron fist of an evil tyrant, it’s fair to say things haven’t gone according to plan. Caught up in the middle of a looming intergalactic conflict and rejected by both sides, there’s only one thing left for him to do.
Take the biggest risk of his life…
And prepare for war.
Divine Revivification by Rachel Ford:
The pen may be mightier than the sword, but can a lowly junior scribe really be the key to ending a war among the gods?
Retiree and barbarian fighter Barbara Callaghan is building an alliance capable of defeating Odin, king of the Norse gods. At least, she’s trying to. But as the local populations shy from the cause, and even Loki seems to forget about her, she realizes she’s missing something.
Army veteran Caleb Dunn, meanwhile, didn’t expect his summer job to turn into a new life, and a quest to save humanity from vengeful gods. And yet, with the shadow of Odin’s wrath looming large in the North, that’s the mission.
Fair enough – except that Caleb was tricked into starting The Old Gods as a junior scribe, a glorified writer and tax collector with no martial skills. Now he’s stuck playing a build that taps into none of his strengths, and all of his weaknesses.
Caleb is the key she’s been missing. Unfortunately, he is a noob. Some rapid leveling is required, and the services of a barbarian brawler, to ensure he survives the process.
With Barbara’s brawn and Caleb’s brains, these two fish out of water just might build an alliance powerful enough to put an end to the chaos.
The Birthplace of Mankind Rediscovered
The Ganog have arrived. Their fleets are endless. Their will implacable. They cannot use magic, but that isn’t stopping them from wiping out mages.
Behind them lurks a worse foe, the Gorthians, those holding the Ganog’s leash. They have devoured countless galaxies, harvesting them over and over to create more monstrosities.
If we are to survive, then we need allies. We need powerful magic. I can find both if I’m able to locate Terra, the ancient birthplace of mankind. Assuming we get there first. If not?
Our galaxy burns just like all the others…
Live Like You Were Scrying by Lily Harper Hart:
The weather in Casper Creek has yet to turn and Hannah Hickok is determined to take advantage of her downtime to engage in a bit of romance with her fiancé Cooper Wyatt. Unfortunately for her, the world has other plans.
An eerie howl draws Hannah and Cooper to Main Street during a snowstorm, and what they find confuses them. There’s some sort of monster stalking the downtown area, and a woman has appeared out of nowhere in the creature’s wake only to collapse in front of them.
Before Hannah can call for help, the woman disappears, leaving a mystery and a monster hunt on the menu.
Casper Creek’s history is long and storied. This time, however, the trouble can be traced back to Hannah’s own family. It seems the woman who disappeared has ties to her grandmother…and Abigail doesn’t want to share the details with anybody, including her own family.
Frustrated, Hannah keeps digging, but what she finds is a mystery for the ages. It seems the stories she always heard, the ones about her late grandfather being a saint, might’ve been more fiction than reality. The truth of his past is about to collide with Hannah’s future.
And nobody will ever be the same again.
They hunt angels on the highway.
Amanda’s road trip across the USA is a reward for graduating from college—and an opportunity to record her traveler podcast. On her drive, she gets the adventure she’s seeking after nearly being knocked off the highway. There she has a chance encounter with a shadowy man wearing shades.
Danger follows. A devil named Lilith directs her motorcycle gang to crash into Amanda’s car. The stranger in shades saves her. He calls her an angel, destined for ascension to heaven. That doesn’t sound so bad, until he explains that it means she’s going to die on this trip if she stays on the road.
Well, Amanda won’t disappoint her podcast fans. And as she drives in search of adventure, the devils won’t stop pursuing her. Not before they steer her into even more danger. There’s more trouble in store for her, all set as a trap to bring the man she’s falling in love with closer to damnation.
Content warning: This novel contains sexual scenes, adult situations, and profanity.
Tomorrowville by David T. Isaak:
“A cautionary tale of a cruel, authoritarian America of the future that’s leavened by barbed wit and irreverence.” — Kirkus Reviews
Gen-X computer hacker Toby is a classic American: impulsive, irreverent, intelligent, and inventive. And, after a silly accident in 2008, he can add “inanimate” to the list—because Toby is dead.
But only for a while. Eighty years later, medical science has advanced enough to bring Toby back to life.
Welcome to Southern California, 2088. The skies are clean, but the rich-poor social gulf has widened. The biggest industries are entertainment and the prison system. Taxes have been cut — because the main source of government revenue is the confiscation of property. Many new, designer recreational drugs are legal, and many other drugs are mandatory. And while the US leads the world in cosmetic surgery, in most technologies America lags far behind…
America has changed. Toby hasn’t. And in the collision between America 2008 and America 2088, Toby brings the system to its knees—just by being his freedom loving, problem solving self.
Read now and join Toby in Tomorrowville for love, sex, politics, and cyberspace—plus the occasional turbocharged wheelchair and robotic rat.
It had been thirteen years, but my heart skipped a beat. My brain was bursting with things I wanted to say—many of them contradictory—things I had thought I might say if I ever saw him again. So, I said nothing.
He pulled a leather bag out of an inside pocket of his cloak, opened the drawstrings, and turned it upside down over a display tray on the counter. A flood of rubies—smooth but uncut—poured out. “I need you. There’s probably a whole mountain full of them. But I can’t find the vein myself. Come with me, and we’ll split the take.”
What I had—what he wanted—was a talent for earth magic. I sifted them through my fingers. The quality was extraordinary, the feel of them electric as they touched my magic.
Freaky Crush by Amanda M. Lee:
Poet Parker is living a new reality now that she knows what she is. Unfortunately for her, she still doesn’t know what she can do … and she doesn’t think she’s going to figure it out in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Since her uncle Sidney is in tow, Poet is hopeful for a quiet week. Little Rock has never been a hotbed of activity. Quiet isn’t what she gets, however.
What started as an irritation on the pedestrian bridge turns into a full-blown attack. It seems Little Rock has a seedy underbelly after all, and it’s something Poet was never expecting.
There’s a craven on the loose, a woman who can control actions and emotions … and she’s set her sights on Kade. The craven has a specific type, and Kade fits it to a tee. Unfortunately for him, the craven’s victims all end up dead.
Poet is determined to keep her loved ones safe, but it’s proving to be more difficult than she anticipated. With half her army vulnerable to the craven, Poet has to fight her own people, even as she desperately tries to protect them at the same time.
Poet’s new powers are necessary for the fight, but is she ready to embrace them? When the loas join the party and make things worse—because that’s what they do—things spiral.
It’s up to Poet to fix what’s been broken. That is if she can.
Hultichia by Marshall Ryan Maresca:
A mysterious and disturbing summons brings Aurien Pemmick, an untested deacon of the Church of Druthal, across the border to a peculiar and disquieting kingdom: Kellirac.
Despite being in this antiquated and superstitious place, Pemmick is determined to root out the truth behind the summons. But Kellirac proves to be a place of dangers beyond the natural realm, especially since Pemmick arrives on the eve of Hultichia: a sacred night where the locals claim the dead will walk.
To go back, he must go forward…
Sam Sharp has never been what people would call sociable. Affected profoundly by his father’s death when Sam was very young, he developed into a solitary and self-sufficient person. When he finds himself transported to Gythe, a world that is completely different from his home, yet strangely familiar, he is forced to seek help. Sam’s nature wars with his need to rely on the strangers he meets—a warrior, a scholar, a monk, and a telepathic creature—to help him find a way back to his own world.
When Sam finds that he has an affinity for the peculiar vibrational energy that exists in Gythe, he realizes it is his only chance for going home. But there is only one person who may have the knowledge to help him: the Gray Man, a tyrannical vibrational energy master with plans to rule the world. Can Sam trust others to aid him and to prepare him for the ultimate confrontation with the Gray Man, to learn the secrets of this mysterious adversary? If so, will he even be capable of using the vibrational energy himself to return home, or will he die in this strange new world?
The Secret Within by Sean Platt and David W. Wright:
Delaney West, a tough-as-nails private investigator who’s not afraid to break the rules, operates out of an apartment she shares with her grumpy orange tabby named Pumpkin. Clients come to Delaney for her unique gifts — talents that helped her put away some of the city’s most dangerous criminals. But when Delaney takes on a case to find the missing Jay Sutherland — a 20-something playboy with a rap sheet and a penchant for beating women — Del realizes this case is much more than it seems.
With the help of her father, who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s, in a nursing home, Del discovers that the truth behind Jay’s disappearance is linked to a group called The Night Society. But they’re no ordinary villains. Anika, Jay’s girlfriend, is the only person who may know his whereabouts, but she harbors a dark secret that could pit Del against an enemy she hasn’t seen since her childhood.
As she delves deeper into this web of mystery and danger, can Del put aside her commitment issues long enough to save Jay and herself?
The Gus Ascendancy by Jack Ravenhhill:
Sympathizin’ with aliens makes about as much sense as government cheese.
When Gus and the other alien sympathizers are granted psionic powers as acolytes of the hive mind, Sam realizes something needs to change – and that something is him. So he gives in to Ronan’s personality, which was imprinted onto him as Ronan died, letting it take over entirely.
Ronan had none of Sam’s people-pleasing tendencies, so the imprint gives Sam a confidence boost. But it also makes him headstrong and foolhardy. He goads Gus into a hasty attack on the hive that results in Gus starting his own break-away faction: The Gus Ascendancy.
Before Sam’s consciousness is completely overwhelmed by Ronan’s personality, Journey finds a way to psionically scour most of Ronan’s imprint away. Sam has just enough confidence left to negotiate a compromise with Gus.
But can Gus be trusted when so much power is almost in his grasp?
Nemesis of Mars by Glynn Stewart:
A failed attempt on the Mage-Queen
An old friend from the gutter
An enemy that should be dead…
When a kidnapping attempt on the Mage-Queen of Mars is thwarted by luck, leaving thousands dead in its wake, Prince-Chancellor Damien Montgomery returns to field operations one more time. The evidence leads to one place: Tau Ceti.
In Tau Ceti, Mage-Commander Roslyn Chambers finds herself without a posting as her teaching tour ends. Before she can take any kind of vacation, an old friend from her pre-Navy days shows up claiming to have information about the attempt on the Queen.
Montgomery is the Mage-Queen’s adoptive father and right hand man. Chambers is one of her few true friends. Neither will let the blood of innocents go unpunished.
Neither believes the traitors called Nemesis are dead – but finding them may cost more than either of them can pay!
The Bridge to Magic by Alex Thornbury:
The Blight. The end of Mankind. The Bridge that may be salvation or the final betrayal.
In this grimdark fantasy, Elika, an orphan on Terren’s streets, hates and fears the bridge that spans the great chasm to the Deadlands. Like everyone else, she clings to the hope that purging every lingering echo of magic from the world can stop the Blight.
Then she discovers that magic is hiding within her, and through her it seeks to enact the will of its own. Everything Elika knew about her past shatters, as long-buried secrets about her true birth emerge. Accused of being a mage, many doubt her loyalties. Her gang turns against her. The one man she thought she could trust and love, abandons her. Elika must soon decide: Either destroy the magic inside her or cross the bridge to her own uncertain end. But what awaits them in the Deadlands where the enemy of mankind roams wild? Her future or her end?
The Bridge to Magic is a story of a life between two deaths and an impossible choice to make. It is a story of finding hope, love and survival in a world where none seems possible.
Alien Empress by James David Victor:
Bringing humanity together to face a greater danger should be the easiest of tasks in a war that threatens to exterminate the human race. Or maybe not…
Holly and her team are facing enemies on all fronts, some alien and some not. Their only chance of defeating the Thaal is to cast aside their differences and fight for all of humanity. The only problem: the human factions hate each other as much as they hate the alien invaders. Can they defeat the alien Empress and save mankind?
Alien Empress is the ninth and final book in the Star Breaker series. If you like fast-paced space adventures with interesting characters who battle aliens, evil corporations, and space pirates, Holly Cropper and her team of Marines are ready to share their epic adventure with you.