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 July 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 a whole lot of space opera this month, but also epic fantasy, urban fantasy, portal fantasy, military science fiction, dystopian science fiction, science fiction romance, time travel, vampires, witches, demons, dragons, aliens, nanitechnology, starship mages, disasters in space, intergalactic mercenaries, turncoat princes, outlaw swordfighters, FBI witches, psychedelic coffee 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:
Graveyard Shift by Cora Buhlert
While docked at the civilian space station Unity for repairs, the Republic of United Planets battlecruiser Great Endeavour undertakes a trial flight with an inexperienced bridge crew. Disaster strikes and the Great Endeavour crashes into Unity's shopping concourse, killing more than three hundred people.
A tragic accident, but in times of war, the public is not willing to accept tragic accidents. And so the Republic's government sends its best troubleshooter, Colonel Brian Mayhew of the Republican Special Commando Forces to initiate a cover-up.
This is a novelette of 14100 words or approx. 48 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone.
Courting Trouble by Cora Buhlert
Once, Anjali Patel and Mikhail Grikov were soldiers on opposing sides of an intergalactic war. They met, fell in love and decided to go on the run together.
Now Anjali and Mikhail are trying to eek out a living on the independent worlds of the galactic rim, while attempting to stay under the radar of those pursuing them.
But when Anjali and Mikhail stumble upon a protection racket during a routine shopping trip, they have to make a choice: Lay low to avoid attracting attention or stay true to their personal ethics and intervene?
This is a story of 6700 words or approx. 23 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone.
Arkadian Skies by Lindsay Buroker
With the man who kidnapped her daughter imprisoned aboard her ship, Captain Alisa Marchenko is closer than ever to reuniting her family. But her new guest has been in a coma for weeks, with the secret to her daughter's location locked away in his mind. She must find a way to sneak him into a state-of-the-art hospital on Arkadius, a planet in the heart of Alliance territory. Not an easy task when she and the cyborg Leonidas, her most trusted ally, are wanted by the Alliance army.
As if that mission weren’t daunting enough, the Staff of Lore has appeared on the planet. As has the man who stole it: Alisa’s father.
Bloodless by Tori Centanni
Henri Dunn would love to avoid all vampire bullshit for the foreseeable future, but the universe has other plans.
When an exsanguinated corpse is left in the dumpster behind her workplace, Henri knows it's a some kind of twisted message meant for her. It's just not one she can decipher.
In addition to that terrifying puzzle, Henri's new ex-vampire roommate is not adapting well to human life and a Cure-obsessed vampire is stalking her. And of course, her enigmatic vampire sire, Sean, is being his usual elusive and infuriating self.
When a second body that's been drained of blood is left in front of Henri's apartment building, it becomes clear that a vicious serial killer is fixated on her. Using her ability to read memories in blood, Henri must figure out who's behind these terrible killings and stop them before she becomes the next victim.
Bloodless is the second installment of The Henri Dunn Urban Fantasy Series, which features a snarky protagonist, intriguing mysteries, a captivating cast of characters, and elements of humor. Book 1, The Immortality Cure, is also available.
Osdal by Michael Chatfield
Masoul wasn’t just an uprising, it was the starting of a war. Harmony didn’t start on Masoul; they were using it as a testing ground.
Moretti has a lead on where Harmony might have come from. First they need to defeat Harmony’s forces in Osdal.
Nerva’s not going to throw his people at Harmony, this is not just a colonist uprising, this is a well-armed and backed military. They need more information. It comes down to the Triple-Two’s to find out that information.
Once again the Victor brothers and their platoon will be right at the heart of Harmony.
Nothing will be the same after Osdal.
Blooded by Shei and Annathesa Nikola Darksbane
Dakota Shepherd gained Hellfire from a demoness on the day she Awakened. She never asked for that power, but it worked out well...until the deadly fire turned against her, forcing her to strike a deal with her even deadlier benefactor.
A bloody quest. A score unsettled. A lesson finally learned.
Dakota must recover the demoness’ stolen blood before a thief with unparalleled power can turn it to his own dark purposes. Even with her wealthy and powerful girlfriend on her side, Dakota is way out of her league.
But when a demoness calls, only a dead girl says no.
Repulsive Origins - The Captain by Brian W. Foster
When a supervillain attacks civilians, the US Army is first on the scene. Lieutenant Samuel Shields is given the impossible task of protecting lives and property. His weapons won’t hurt a three-story tall enhanced hostile, and even if he could figure out a way to take the enemy out, he’s not allowed to engage under any circumstances. Instead, he must wait for the so-called superheroes to show up.
Leave it to the politicians to create such a FUBAR situation.
Two children are put in danger, and Samuel is forced to make a life-altering decision. If he follows orders, he’ll have the deaths of two kids on his conscience. But if he disobeys, he risks his life and, worse, a court martial.
The Night Watch by Chris Gerrib
In the chaotic and crime-ridden settlement of Boxtown on Mars, Minty Storey witnesses a bar fight she has no idea will change the course of her life.
Halfway across the planet, Janet Pilgrim and the Volunteer Space Rescue Service struggle to do something about the pirate menace on the spaceways between Earth and Mars.
But the problems both face are much bigger than pirates and bar fights. When a leader of Earth's Manifest Destiny movement makes an appearance on Mars, events begin to roll to a climax that will hold the fate of the planet in the balance.
One Down by Bryce T. Hughes:
An impenetrable barrier keeps Earth's ships from leaving. Teams of specially-trained heroes fly the limited allowed space wiping out the debris specialists suspect offended an alien force. Separated from her lover, Jane treasures her team and performs her duty, but she suspects a lie fuels the international sport. With her friend Julio's life hanging in the balance, she faces the deadly force penning her planet and battles the hypocrisy of her government.
This is a LGBT short story with lesbian and gay content, and mild swearing.
True Colors of Betrayal by J.C. Kang
The world knows Kaiya as the Dragon Charmer.
After vanquishing the Last Dragon with the power of her voice, all she wants is to return to a quiet life of anonymity. Instead, the Emperor assigns her an onerous task: negotiating with the aggressive Teleri Empire for the extradition of her cousin, who tried to murder the imperial family and usurp the Dragon Throne.
The mission reunites her with her childhood friend Tian, now an assassin-spy who loathes killing. He is no longer the adorable, gullible boy from her memories, any more than she is the adventurous, sweet girl from his. Instead of rekindling nostalgia for a youthful innocence they both yearn for, their reunion ignites a mutual hatred.
When the Teleri Empire breaks off negotiations, Tian must help Kaiya escape. Orcs, Ogres, and enemy soldiers stand between them and home, and their volatile relationship could get them captured… or killed.
Stem by Aaron D. Lamb
After escaping the extermination of everyone they loved, Rome and Mae seek revenge.
However, the world outside their city sized prison is too busy to care. They form a desperate friendship with an unlucky Zoo guide, caught in the wrong place at the right time. Together they face the forces of a corrupt government, a sensationalist media, and an apathetic public.
And they only have a week left to live.
Suspenseful, political and awash with colourful characters and epic set pieces. Stem the sequel to sci-fi hit Pollen, builds to a finale that pits hero against hero.
Cargo by V.M. Law
On the Age of Discovery, a massive cargo hauler, Kasey Lee works as a Custodial Technician, essentially a glorified janitor.
When the Ides, a hostile alien race, attacks Earth's outposts, the Age must assist in the war effort.
But Kasey discovers that there is a conspiracy on board, one which led the Ides straight to the outposts, and is now pointing them right at Earth.
You Don't Belong Here by Tim Major
Daniel Faint is on the run with a stolen time machine. As the house-sitter of a remote Cumbrian mansion, he hopes to hide and experiment with the machine. But is the Manor being watched by locals, his twin brother or even himself? Daniel is terrified about what the future may hold but, as he discovers, there can be no going back.
Dragon's Trail by Joseph Malik
"I didn't come here to sell my soul. I came here to buy it back."
Once dubbed "The Deadliest Man Alive," Jarrod Torrealday is a former Olympic saber hopeful and medieval weapons expert banned from competition for killing another fencer in a duel. Despondent, volatile, alcoholic, yet still one of the greatest swordsmen alive, he now works for third-rate fantasy films as a technical consultant and stuntman.
When Jarrod accepts the gig of a lifetime from a sorcerer looking for a hero, he finds himself facing an invading army in a world inhabited by creatures from Earth's mythical past. He soon learns that the enemy mastermind is also from Earth, and has laid the foundations for a new kind of war.
Born a Witch... Drafted by the FBI by T.S. Paul
Agatha Blackmore came into her powers early as a child. Her first spell was a thing of beauty and wonder. It brought terror into the hearts of her family. Who wanted to accidentally become a pink chicken? Now that she's older her magic is out of control. She needs a teacher and none of the Witch Schools will take her. How about a career in law enforcement? The FBI needs serious help in catching law breaking Paranormals. It's a match made in heaven or is it in Hell? God only knows what happens next.
The Unmasking Engine by Ian W. Sainsbury
An experiment that began 2.8 billion years ago is about to end…
Seb Varden is starting to get used to life as a World Walker. With a body full of alien nanotechnology, the ability to travel anywhere instantly and - most surprising of all - a steady relationship with Meera Patel, things are finally looking up.
Until Seb has his first blackout, starts meeting aliens and discovers a plan that threatens the entire human race. And, of course, Mason, the most dangerous Manna user, picks this particular moment to come after him and Meera.
Scariest of all, Seb is learning his transformation into a World Walker is far from complete…
Monkeys, aliens, technology, parallel universes, music, psychopaths, A.I., a magic tech spider, The Unmaking Engine has it all, including the explanation of how all life on earth began. Did I mention monkeys?
The Unmaking Engine is book 2 in the The World Walker Series.
The Turncoat Prince by Amelia Smith
Darna is just a guildswoman, or so she’d like to think, but her alleged father was the prince of a backwater province. Her uncle assassinated him to claim the throne, and now he's coming after her.
With assassins on her heels, Darna takes on a job in the remote province of Slaradun. The prince is irate to find that this limping woman has replaced the able-bodied man he hired, but according to the contract, he’s stuck with her for the season. Darna finds the prince arrogant and high-handed, but he’s also intelligent and well-read. As winter closes in on Slaradun keep, late night conversations turn from sea walls to more intimate territory, and the province’s lost dragon reappears.
This book is the second in the Dragonsfall trilogy. To enjoy it properly, read The Defenders' Apprentice first, and perhaps also the beginning of Darna’s story in the prequel novels, Scrapplings and Priestess.
Phobos Eclipse of the Heart by Colin Spindler
Colin Spindler's CULT Group Coffee Sequence is a mystical space yarn for lovers of psychedelic science fiction.
Phobos Eclipse of the Heart picks up the wild tale where Of Bots and Beans left off.
Follow the mysterious Participant's continuing misadventures in Sequencing. Learn about The Scullythorne Thesis, an authoritative document which can be twisted into providing support for any and every argumentative perspective. Uncover a nefarious plot to bring down the Dos Boletos facility. Mourn the tragic end of Sir Francis Buildobare and the loss of the Vladimarino Gripebagger Expedition. Puzzle over the controversial Alley Cat Initiative.
Revel in the mysteries of the nanobot-haunted Cosmos!
Alien Arcana by Glynn Stewart
An alien ruin
A murdered archeologist
An ancient secret—and a conspiracy that will kill to keep it!
When a scientist is murdered after finding signs of alien magic in an archeological dig, Mage Damien Montgomery, Hand of the Mage-King of Mars, is sent to investigate both the murder and the alien runes.
His investigation is interrupted when a mysterious ship attacks the ruins with weapons only available to the Martian Navy. Despite saving the dig site, Montgomery is left with more questions than answers.
His investigations reveal questions about the origin of his magic and his nation—and lead him back to the one place that should be safe: the court of the Mage-King of Mars.