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 January 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, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, horror, steampunk, alternate history, post-apocalyptic fiction, lots of young adult SFF, witches, demons, zombies intergalactic conspiracies, alien invaders, were-foxes, magical swords, beleaguered queens, alternate history PIs, Valentine’s Day in space, Victorians in space, increasingly transparent girls, bioengineered jellyfish terrorists and much more.
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:
Emerald Emergent by James Aaron
Emmie’s mother never lets her forget that an obsession with ancient magic killed her father and left Emmie horribly scarred.
When her best friend Bryte offers Emmie a chance to explore an ancient city, Emmie is torn between her father’s sense of adventure and her mother’s common sense. She also can’t deny her fascination with bookish Bryte.
Following her heart, Emmie will face her fears and discover secrets bound to change her life forever. . . once she chooses to stand up and fight.
Book 1 in the Adventures of Emerald of Elegaia, a thrilling new science fantasy series offering a world of action and romance to explore and love.
Welcome to Elegaia, where the past can kill you.
Valentine’s Day on Iago Prime by Cora Buhlert
Kai and Maisie are about the celebrate their first Valentine’s Day on the planet Iago Prime. However, the holiday traditions they established back on Earth such as celebrating Valentine’s Day with a picnic on the beach are impossible to maintain in the hostile environment of their new home. But in spite of the many limitations imposed by living on Iago Prime, Kai pulls out all the stops to give Maisie an unforgettable Valentine’s Day.
This is a science fictional Valentine’s Day story of 2200 words or approx. 10 print pages.
Station 332 by Darcy Coates
For Charles, responding to Station 332’s emergency help request starts out no different than any other mission. She’s been paired with a near-retirement medic, Robin, and a lax mechanic, Jay. Their job is simple: check the station, kill any threats, provide assistance if needed, then return to Central.
But this is unlike any assistance request Charles has been on before.
Someone or something has destroyed the station, smashing the control panel and upending equipment. They find two bodies–murdered–in the bedroom, and the third staff member is missing.
Robin labels it a murder-suicide, but Charles has doubts.
Something is killing Central’s best fighters, leaving humanity defenceless. It’s spreading quickly. And the danger lives closer to home than anyone ever expected…
Station 332 is a short story in the five-part Cymic Parasite Breach series. Each story can be read independently.
The Memory Thief by Sarina Dorie
What would the Victorian era look like if they had “rediscovered” space flight? Would the British really be interested in colonizing the continent of America if they could colonize an entire planet?
Imagine a Neo-Victorian alternate history romance set on a shogun-like planet. Felicity is a young lady betrothed to a British noble of rank and fortune who will someday inherit a space station. Her life should be happy and perfect. Alas, she fears she will never achieve happiness—or wholeness—until her memories have been returned by the man who stole them.
In pursuit of her past, Felicity returns to an alien planet where she once encountered descendants of Japanese colonists from Earth who had settled millennia before. After a seven year absence, she finds the world much changed. The climate and geography have been altered, the planet has been colonized by her own Victorian culture, destroyed by unethical surveyors, and she is told the man she believes may have stolen her memories—a man she once loved and trusted—is dead. Her only hope for finding answers about her mysterious past is performing the Jomon courtship ritual of memory exchange. The idea of trusting another man enough to perform the ritual after what she has been through is too much and she doesn’t know if she can go through with it. Worse yet, she finds herself falling in love with the alien planet’s leader, even though she is already engaged. Only when she learns to let go of her fears can she learn the secrets that may aid in the freedom of the Jomon people—and herself.
One Sunny Night by Charon Dunn
On March 20, 3748, terrorist clones in submarines made of bioengineered jellyfish attacked the stadium where fifteen-year-old Sonny Knight was watching the clashball championship game, kidnapping his family and his two best friends.
But the day wasn’t a total loss. Sonny got to meet one of his favorite sports heroes, he got a new dog, and he ran into an extremely tattooed man who has a really fast ship. Which might have been fast enough to get Sonny safely home in a couple of days if they hadn’t run into the tsunamis, and the pliosaurs, and the cattle stampede, and more clones, and all those other complications.
Complications fly fast and furious in this fast-paced adventure story set in a far future in which the climate has changed significantly, making travel difficult.
The Strength to Serve by Claire Frank
Home after their long absence, Daro and Cecily want nothing more than to pick up the pieces of their life and return to normalcy. But outside events intrude and the memories of what they lived through aren’t so easy to leave behind.
Pathius languishes, an unchained prisoner in a foreign land, doubtful of his place in the world. In Imara, he is offered a chance for a new life, if he can release the ghosts of his past and accept the man he has become.
As an invading army threatens their homeland, Daro, Cecily, and Pathius are drawn back into the political turmoil of Halthas. An assassin wreaks havoc in the city, a dangerous artifact is stolen, a force bent on conquest marches toward their border, and they all must take up arms to defeat an enemy their kingdom is not prepared to face.
Lay Me Down by Tamara Hart Heiner
Life is more than just breathing.
Kylee Mansfield knows what it is to be alone. Her dad left when she was seven, and her mother remarried an abusive alcoholic. Kylee finds ways to escape reality, usually by substituting one pain for another.
Things take a deadly turn when a jagged cut shows up on her arm, and she doesn’t know where it came from. She enlists her neighbor, Price Hudson, to help her uncover the truth. But Price shows her much more than just her past—he shows her what it is to be alive.
A heartbreakingly beautiful teen/young adult paranormal romance that will chill you to the core.
Starfall by John Hegenberger
After rescuing Annette Funicello’s stand-in from the amorous clutches of Guy Williams, Stan Wade, young, LA-based PI, gets a new, but secret, assignment from his number-one client, Walt Disney. The elder cartoonist and filmmaker wants Stan to investigate a death at Edwards Air Force Base. The victim, who drowned while testing an outer-space uniform, was the eighth astronaut candidate for America’s new space agency, NASA. Working out of his cramped office in the back of the Brown Derby restaurant where he’s employed as a part-time “bouncer,” Stan uncovers much more than a suspicious death…putting his own life—and the lives of those closest to him—in danger.
An Alternate History Mystery
Dream Stalker by Amy Hopkins
All Emma wanted was to sell her enchanted teas in peace; instead, she’s caught up in the chase for a killer who’s stalking the streets of London. He’s targeting half-bloods, people with limited magical ability. People just like Emma.
The police are baffled by the long string of deaths, but they’re not willing to put in the legwork to make an arrest. After all, magic users can take care of themselves, right? Except, those with real power don’t give a damn about half-bloods. So, when Emma wakes from a strange dream that nearly gets her killed in the waking world, she knows she has to deal with it herself.
With only her boggart shop-assistant and the two strange men who have offered to help, can she thwart the killer and make the city safe again?
Stop the Sirens by E.E. Isherwood
When the sirens end, "post-apocalypse" begins.
Exhausted after two weeks of rolling chaos since the sirens, Liam and his family prepare for their biggest challenge yet.
Fifteen-year-old Liam Peters starts his day in a muddy creek. The Air Force tried to wipe his subdivision off the map, but luck and fast feet helped him find refuge from the big bombs. When he looks up, he sees his whole life has been swept away by fire. And Grandma? He'd been successful getting her out of the city, and across suburbia, but she was snatched from him minutes prior to the attack. She'd gotten a one-way ticket to a brutal government facility set up to research the cure.
As a studious reader of zombie literature, Liam knows the dangers of being without shelter or direction during the zombie plague. He'd already been attacked by angry looters, malicious refugees, and hordes of zombies. His house had been riddled by a chain gun--twice--before the final bombs fell. He tried to look ahead, but saw little hope. He was bolstered by Victoria, but without Grandma by his side he felt defeated.
And yet, hope was out there. People were coming together to survive and help each other. One such group was at the Beaumont Boy Scout Reservation. It was an enclave of peace within the swirl of zombies and death engulfing all of metropolitan St. Louis. There Liam and his family might find a base from which to search for Grandma Marty.
As book 3 concludes, Liam will learn the origin of the plague, the fate of Grandma, and whether a couple of teenagers have anything to look forward to in a world filled with zombies
The Necromancer’s Daughter by Patty Jansen
One brave woman’s struggle against magical forces.
Queen Johanna’s position in Saardam is fragile. The Barons and Kings of the countries in the hinterland are not happy that she helped the royal family to survive and is now about to ensure the next generation. They vow to teach this little upstart country a lesson for once and for all.
Of course it is not so much about petty rivalry, but about access to the sea port that connects the hinterland with the lucrative ocean trade.
Johanna knows that if it came to a fight Saardam could never survive, so she has invited all the heads of state and other important people for talks to invest in the city’s shattered infrastructure for the benefit of all.
As a congregation of royal families gathers such as the lowlands have never seen, the magicians travelling with the esteemed guests prepare the final and most insidious attempt to get control of the upstart little country and its usurper, commoner queen: through her baby daughter.
Mission: Blackguard Conspiracy by V.A. Jeffrey
The Dark Energy Project, started by a group of far-thinking engineers, scientists and programmers many years ago has come roaring back like a storm!
Meant to catapult human exploration and civilization out to the farthest reaches of space, it centered around the groundbreaking information on how to build working stargates. Except, the information was stolen and its founders and all other humans attached to the project killed by alien loyalists. Thereafter, it was renamed The Blackguard Project, the linchpin of the entire drama between humans, alien rebels and the alien loyalists. It’s a shortcut for the aliens in the approaching Black Fleet who abandoned their dying planet and are heading to the solar system to invade Earth and wipe out humanity.
Bob receives a copy of the Blackguard files by The Boss with a new mission: stop the inaugural activation of the new stargate at the annual Sci-Tech Convention. To most people, this is a momentous year in the history of science and space exploration. However, Bob and his U-net band know that this gate is a Trojan Horse! It must be stopped and the aliens behind this sinister plan exposed, no matter the cost.
The Full Moon by David Neth
Kathy and her sister, Samantha, have always been a team. Throughout their time as witches, they’ve taken out more than their share of bad guys. But after Kathy meets Will, who she learns is a demonic Dark Knight, her loyalties begin to change.
Meanwhile, Samantha doesn’t trust Will or his intentions. Still, Kathy can’t help but feel tempted by the dark side as she falls deeper in love with Will. Crossing over would give Kathy the freedom to do whatever she wanted with her magic. No rules. No limitations. It would also mean breaking the bond she has always shared with her sister, who has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with the dark side.
When Will proposes they take over the underworld, Kathy loves the idea of having power. But it also leaves her with a choice that will change her life: abandon her family and the life she has always known, or give up the love of her life forever.
The Forgotten Engineer by T.S. Paul
Ensign Athena Lee was on her first engineering assignment. She was helping to build a secret space station. There was a war on and this new station was vital. When the engineering fleet was attacked and destroyed she was left lost and alone. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. She was going to have to Engineer her way home.
Desert Planet by Jim Rudnick
“After 55 years of waiting for an answer to the invite to join the RIM Confederacy, the planet Enki has responded with an alternate idea—that the RIM Confederacy join them instead. Captain Tanner Scott is sent on the Diplomatic mission to get the Enkians to reconsider.
What he and the Atlas crew do is to help the new Ambassador to find a way to both diplomatic as well as the Enki into the RIM Confederacy without exposing to them the secret of why that is so important. If the Enkians can be persuaded, the RIM could gain access to the newly discovered metal ores that appear to make a ship invulnerable.
But all of the RIM wants to shortcut the process so the Atlas needs to quarantine the planet as well as maintain full diplomacy with the Enkians. When the Caliphate gets involved and back room deals are made it all comes to a head at the Atlas Adept Officers trial for Terrorism.
Captain Scott will try to defend his officer by acting as his defense counsel—a job that is made even more difficult as the Enkian society and justice system are both hard to learn and hard to navigate within the law…”
Wind Chill by Patrick Rutigliano
What if you were held captive by your own family?
Emma Rawlins has spent the last year a prisoner. The months following her mother’s death dragged her father into a paranoid spiral of conspiracy theories and doomsday premonitions. Obsessing him, controlling him, they now whisper the end days are finally at hand.
And he doesn’t intend to face them alone.
Emma finds herself drugged and dragged to a secluded cabin, the last refuge from a society supposedly due to collapse. Their cabin a snowbound fortress, her every move controlled, but even that isn’t enough to weather the end of the world.
Everything she knows is out of reach, lost beyond a haze of white. There is no choice but to play her father’s game while she plans her escape.
But there is a force far colder than the freezing drifts. Ancient, ravenous, it knows no mercy. And it’s already had a taste…
Foxed by Hollis Shiloh
Wallace Avery, bookworm extraordinaire, is not out at work in either sense, as a gay man or as a fox shifter. He likes his privacy, and he’s quite content in records management, thank you: filing papers and spending his off hours quietly.
When the opportunity he never wanted is thrust into his lap, he has to decide what to do about it. Police work and a pay raise, and probably stress up to his eyeballs, or trying to stay in his old life and pretending he’s not capable of so much more?
Whatever he chooses, he definitely doesn’t want to fall for someone from his workplace. Especially not that cop . . .
Spirit of the Sword: Faith and Virtue by Frances Smith
Michael has survived his battle with the Voice of Corona, and is determined to walk the path of service to the immortal Empress Aegea. But opposing him is none other than his own beloved brother, Felix, who was thought dead but is the chief servant to Michael’s enemy, Quirian.
Meanwhile, the quarrels between the Empire’s feuding factions continue as Miranda finds herself increasingly entangled in the treacherous currents of Imperial politics. As plots multiply, Miranda finds herself increasingly unsure of her loyalties to anyone but her lover Octavia and her dear friend, Empress Portia. But as the Empire hurtles towards civil war the day approaches when she will have to choose a side once and for all.
The roads of Michael, Felix and Miranda entwine in Eternal Pantheia, the Empire’s capital, where betrayals and revelations try their resolve. As the city burns around them the three divided siblings must reunite and put their faith in one another, for only together can they save the Empire, or let the fires of its hubris consume the nation.
The Increasingly Transparent Girl by Matthew Stott
Things live between awake and asleep. In the moment after your eyes grow too heavy to stay open, but before the dreams take you.
One day, Melody May begins to disappear from view. Her hands, her knees, her face, her everything. A monster’s enchantment has ensnared her, and now Melody must travel across a strange and dangerous land between awake and asleep to reclaim herself; otherwise, in 48 short hours, she will never have existed at all…