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 June 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 epic fantasy, urban fantasy, grimdark fantasy, YA fantasy, paranormal mystery, science fiction mystery, science fiction thriller, space opera, space western, military science fiction, science fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, horror, Steampunk, Mannerpunk, Cyberpunk, Steampunk romance, LitRPG, zombies, witches, dragons, superheroes, vengeful ghosts, deadly videogames, reincarnation, worldending disasters, alien pets, clockwork dogs, space deputies, renegadesm exiles 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:
Melvin Morrow has become a barbarian warrior maiden. Will he be able to escape this new, dangerous world and the chainmail bikini he foolishly chose as his armor or will he and his friends be stuck living their lives as their game avatars?
Melvin’s a teenage boy not used to being ogled or the real world consequences of wearing a steel bikini. But the real world has shifted… him, his friends Jason and Rich, and his big brother Mike are stuck in character, in a place where danger doesn’t lurk because it prefers to boldly stride out in the open.
Mages import game players like Melvin via the Rift Pendulum. The reason: the work’s suicidal and pendulum heroes are insanely powerful. Usually. Melvin and his friends can be, too, if they’re in the right emotional state to trigger into character. Melvin’s a one-man, uh, one warrior maiden army when he’s angry but anger’s hard to find with all that mortal danger striding around everywhere.
The road back home’s at the end of a suicidal quest. Melvin better find something to rage about… because being genre-savvy only gets you so far.
Pendulum Heroes, James Beamon’s debut novel, is an adrenaline fueled adventure for anyone who’s spent a little too much time on the character creation screen instead of playing the game, those of us who have thought just how godmode we’d be with mage power, but mostly it’s for all of us who have wondered who the heck installs a portal to another world in a wardrobe. Fans of Ernest Cline and Scott Meyer better be prepared to fall in love with a new series..
“It was all fun and games until a vengeful ghost threw a washing machine at your head.”
Three weeks after his disastrous showdown with Abarta, Vincent Whelan is well on his way to recovering from the fight and putting the whole nightmare behind him. But when a standard stretch recovery job comes to an end with an angry ghost slinging heavy objects, Vince discovers a thread he left hanging has frayed beyond repair.
For almost two months, random people in Kinsale have been mysteriously vanishing. Now their shades, damaged by terrible deaths, have begun to plague the city. Spurred by the growing list of victims, Vince goes on the hunt for the person or creature responsible for the kidnappings. Only to get more than he bargained for when one of his own friends is snatched before his very eyes.
In a race against time, Vince puts together a ragtag team to venture into the Otherworld and rescue the remaining victims before they all succumb to a horrible fate. But the path to victory is fraught with peril, and the mastermind at the end of the road may just be unbeatable.
A vault protecting a powerful relic. Merciless enemies at every turn. And countless lives at risk.
All Vince wanted was a little peace and quiet. Now he’s got the fate of the world resting in his hands.
What Man Defies is the second novel of The Frost Arcana, an action-packed urban fantasy series set in a post-apocalyptic world.
Max, a rather plain guy, finds himself inside a post-apocalyptic survival roleplaying videogame. He has no idea how he has ended up in the virtual reality or how to quit it. He has no choice but to play the game.
Shortly afterward, he learns that the game is quite harsh and cruel. Max finds out that in order to survive he has to scavenge, gather various resources, craft warm clothes and armor, upgrade weapons and vehicles, and so on.
Moreover, the entire game world is a full-on PvP zone. So Max has to not only fight brutal mutants but also protect himself against gamers who have teamed up in order to ratchet up their chances of survival as well as against high-leveled players who take great pleasure in murdering newbies.
And all the while Max has been trying to find out what has befallen him, how he has gotten in the videogame, and whether or not there is any chance of exiting the game. Bit by bit he gleans more and more information about the game. He finds out that the game is full of bugs. Later on he also learns that he himself is some kind of a glitch. Unlike all the other players, he feels pain in the game and can interact with some game objects while all the other players cannot…
Let’s say you’ve just gotten out of prison, and your old boss wants to rehire you. Sounds great! But what if your old boss is the Frozen Avenger? His last job was the attempted kidnapping of an acclaimed astrophysicist in order reinstate Pluto as a full-fledged planet, and now he wants you to help him steal a set of precious meteorites to fund his obsession. Still sound great?
And what if an elite team of superheroes forces you to take the job and work for them as a double agent? Do these superheroes want to put away criminals, or are they just looking for a way to get these meteorites for their own mysterious purposes? Maybe these superheroes aren’t heroes after all.
What if all of the Frozen Avenger’s old goons are turning up murdered and it looks like you might be next? What if sinister corporations are taking an interest in your work history, and you’ve got a seductive cat woman, whiskers and everything, knocking on your door at all hours?
What are you going to do?
If you’re Zach Hernandez, professional henchman, you better forget about the dream of getting a normal job, having a normal life. You better learn not to follow orders. Then you do what it takes to stay alive.
Cinnamon Mercy Claus has been a witch for two years. At least that’s how long it’s been since her grandmother let her in on their little secret. She’s in the process of picking up her life and starting over, searching for something that means more to her than her mundane existence. Then a fairy drips down out of her bathroom faucet and tells her the moon’s gone all wonky and it’s up to Cinnamon to figure things out.
Since there’s nothing like a threat to the earth’s very existence to give your new life a kick into high gear, Cinnamon heads out across the country—with a talking dog and a woman who absolutely terrifies her—to figure out a mystery she doesn’t have a clue about.
A mage clan torn apart…
Evil deeds avenged…
Dark magic awakened…
Carina Lin escaped from captivity and freed her mage brothers and sisters, but she is quickly caught again. Her captors are the last people she wants to meet—the Dirksens. Carina defied this proud, vindictive clan when she rescued her kidnapped brother.
Carina’s siblings are lost on a frontier planet. She must escape and find them before the Dirksens realize who and what she is.
Meanwhile, a galactic war rages. Dark magic is stirring and about to join in the conflict. Carina is one of the few who can prevent the triumph of evil, if she chooses.
When the dark mage rises, who shall stand in his way?
Dark Mage Rises is book two in the dark, exciting space fantasy, Star Mage Rises.
A boy remembers the woman he was.
She was a brilliant scientist on a different planet, living a life of misery.
Jay Shipman is now a good student in a small town under a sky with two moons. Jay, his family, his friends, and everyone on his planet are much like us. Actually, at one time they were us—each has vivid memories of their first life back on Earth.
Memories from a previous life can be enlightening and empowering. They can be the foundation of a successful second life. They can help develop the world.
For Jay, though, memories from the woman he was on Earth are downright dangerous.
Grab yourself a second life!
Jake, Petreski, and the rest are back for another installment of caffeine, snark, and a touch of romance.
It’s the start of a new semester and familiar faces are popping up all over – most of them unwelcome.
Jake knows Petreski’s not going to like his new study buddy and Don has a big decision to make. Jake’s mother will no longer be denied, and it’s meet the parents time. Miss Nancy’s past comes calling in an all too literal way. And to top it all off, Petreski’s ex shows up and it turns out there’s someone out there who Perez hates even more than Jake.
Oh, and somebody gets murdered.
Now with fewer carbs and more caffeine!
Physics isn’t easy. Rule number one should always be ‘Don’t Destroy The World’. Sometimes science doesn’t follow the rules.
An experiment gone wrong means the Earth only has days left before it is torn apart by an invisible parallel world. Everyday activities become waves of destruction as the influence of the parallel world devastates the planet. Unstoppable, invisible cars plough through buildings, flocks of unseen birds tear people apart. When death is round every corner, what hope does anyone have?
Physicist Mia Green finds herself stuck in Paris, in the middle of the unnatural disaster. With calamity only ever a step away, she has to get home to England to find her family and stop the experiment that’s ending the world, but that’s easier said than done when the entire world has become an invisible and unpredictable puzzle filled with unseen danger?
Welcome to Eternal Springs, home to more than a thousand “normal” people and four feisty witches. Just a tip, the witches are more fun.
Especially Skye Thornton, an air witch about town who would rather be on the mainland than a touristy island that’s home to four climate zones and a gaping hole under the local school that allows monsters to creep through and wreak havoc on the community.
A reporter, Skye likes to be in the thick of things – she’s a busybody and proud of it – until she quite literally trips over a dead body at the island resort. In quick order, she finds herself fighting off monsters while trying to discover one of the human variety.
Since she can’t keep clear of trouble, Skye is determined to track down a murderer, fight off a wishing well beast and stay away from a local security chief who she’s always hated … or has she?
It’s a full slate of activity for Skye and her witchy friends. The laughs and insults will be flying fast and furious. Of course, so will the danger.
Look out world, here come four witches with attitude, and they’re not taking any prisoners.
A loyal soldier. A sadistic witch. A battle to the brink of madness.
Corporal Tyson Gallows would confront any danger to keep his fiancée out of harm’s way. After his elite squadron falls to an enemy ambush, he wakes to find his hands chained and his mind held captive by a demented witch.
Tortured to the verge of insanity, he wages war in the battlefield of his subconscious and scouts for his opportunity to strike back. With his fellow soldiers’ tormented cries ringing in his ears, Gallows misfires his attack and exposes the source of his strength—his deep devotion to the woman he loves. If he can’t break free of the witch’s stranglehold soon, he’ll lose something far more precious than military secrets—he’ll lose his soulmate.
The Fury Yet To Come is a grimdark fantasy novella. If you like fierce battles, black magic, and psychological thrillers, then you’ll love Steven McKinnon’s action-packed prequel to Symphony of the Wind.
Strange things happen when a crazy alien can’t get you out of his mind. Antaska wants to forget about Marroo the slave hunter, but she can’t stop thinking about him. Marroo wants to forget about Antaska too. So he plans to kidnap another Earth female, experience her love, and move on. But it’s not working out like he expected. Just out of space school, Earth girl Pweet can’t wait to take off from Earth. But she runs into some problems. And Potat the psychic cat is miffed when another semi-humanoid cat follows Antaska home. The first chapters of Alien Pets and hypnoSnatch are included in this version.
Alien Pets – Life gets weird when you’re adopted by an alien. One million years in the future, Antaska, a young human, and her psychic cat are adopted as pets by a gigantic alien. Traveling in outer space, she becomes telepathic in a world where that’s dangerous. Then she gets into a love triangle that’s even more dangerous. Her cat tries to tell Antaska what she’s doing wrong, but will she listen?
hypnoSnatch – Is it love, or is it alien abduction? Antaska is trying to deal with life as the pet of a gigantic alien. But things keep getting weirder as she travels in outer space with the alien and her psychic cat. Mischievous but evil part-reptile humanoids team up with Antaska’s nemesis, a genetically enhanced fitness instructor, to take revenge on her to the ends of the universe. Her unexpected alien abduction spoils their plans.
A fragile peace, a suspicious death, and secrets that could destroy everyone.
Oath-bound to the arrogant Erith in exchange for her life, Arrow’s freedom is days away when they set her one last task; investigate the death of a high-ranking shape-changer, one of their old enemies.
The shape-changers suspect the Erith of murder and Arrow nearly becomes the first victim in a new war between races, her life spared so she can seek answers. Except someone does not want their secrets uncovered. Not only is her freedom at risk, but so is her life. It will take all of her training and skill with magic to live long enough to find the answers in time to avert a bloodbath.
The price of truth is blood and death
The Sage and The Warmaster. Names whispered by dying lips, the true power controlling the demons hiding among mankind.
And now, the Hunter has climbed the highest mountain peak to put an end to their reign. Facing a secret sect of professional torturers and the descendants of a long-dead race, his skills as an assassin will be put to the ultimate test.
But the twin temples of Kara-ket harbor more than just his enemies. Built by a long-dead race, they house secrets that could not only give him the answers he seeks, but unleash a whirlwind of chaos and bloodshed across their world.
He must make a choice: will he obtain the answers he seeks at any cost, or sacrifice himself for the sake of those who rejected him?
An ancient organization has created a psychic with untold power. Raising the boy in secret, they hope to make him a world leader. But he escapes and heads for Texas to find his father, Gerald Bryce, the empathic detective. When someone tries to warn Bryce, a criminal mastermind uses the latest technology from neural immersive video games to kill the informant. Now Bryce and his partner must race the clock as a level three psychic terrorist battles the military for control of the city, and perhaps the world.
When Vesta Bartlett, a wealthy alchemist and inventor, arrives in England to finalize an arranged marriage and help overhaul a family friend’s outdated ironworks, she never expects to find the family so secretive, nor to develop feelings for her fiancé’s younger brother, Henry.
But the growing attraction between Vesta and Henry is just the beginning of their troubles. Things really heat up when they’re drawn into a secret project for Queen Victoria’s military, one that requires Vesta’s knowledge of clockwork and Henry’s iron.
An epidemic has wiped out all the dogs in Britain, and beyond. If the military fail in their effort to restore the species, a clockwork creation may be all that stands in the way of a world without canine companionship.
Are Vesta and Henry up to the challenge?
A hidden past. An uncertain future.
In Angel Fire, all Andie wants is acceptance, a task made difficult thanks to the nightmare that’s plagued her for the past fifteen years. Then she learns it’s a terrifying memory of the night she lost her identical twin. When Angel’s spirit calls to her, begging to be saved, Andie is determined to discover what really happened the night her sister died.
The story continues in Wild Lightning, when Celeste wakes in a mental institution with no memory of who she is or why she can shoot lightning from her fingertips. Spurred on by a vision of Angel, Celeste escapes and searches for answers as her captors close in.
Andie and Celeste must battle ruthless adversaries as they seek to uncover the truth, but will this lead to a future more dangerous than what they’ve left behind?
Arcane Awakenings – a fast-paced paranormal fantasy novella series.
A millennium into the future, the Saloon Sector is where the Wild West meets the 1950s, in space, with robots. It’s where careers go to die.
Thelma Bach graduated top of her class after four years at the Galactic Justice academy. But she’s a Rock Sector citizen. The core worlders were never going to let her transcend her background. So she’s been assigned to serve her seven years as a deputy in the Saloon Sector. The message for the Federation’s out-world citizens is clear: you’ll never be our equal, so don’t even try.
The stuffy bureaucrats of the Galactic Justice service chose the wrong person to push around. Thelma will subvert her interstellar sheriff, charm artificial intelligences, fight bandits and hunt the legendary Eldorado Cache. But with the frontier region holding secrets of its own, she needs to choose her new allies wisely because a scary, business-suited enemy is hunting her.
“Space Deputy” is a fast-paced, offbeat space adventure.
Some renegades are born rebels, some forced into it to survive, while others make the choice on principle.
The Renegade is an anthology of eleven science fiction short stories by writers from across the globe. It is part of the Newcomer series of scifi anthologies.
The stories are:-
Conscience – Alasdair Shaw
First – Nate Johnson
Atonement – Rick Partlow
The Stepford Florist – JT Lawrence
Tyrant – Mark Gardner
Live by the Ten, Die by the Gun – Milo James Fowler
S.A.D. – Jody Wenner
Chameleon – C Gold
Learning Curve – John Triptych
A Pirate’s Life – Al Macy
Needs of the Many – Troy McLaughlan
When a Marine turned video gamer is recalled for the world’s first virtual war, he finds he’s unable to escape the simulation and that his fellow Marines are being killed off both in the sim and in real life. This was supposed to be impossible.
In his struggle for survival, he discovers the sim has been hacked. What follows is a crazy adventure of one Marine searching for survivors, battling mechs, and finding abnormalities in the sim that tie back to his old-school days as a gamer. His only help comes in the form of three badass warrior ladies. He’s not sure he can trust them, but is willing to try.
It’s up to him and his new friends to win this war, or die trying.
Experience the thrilling conclusion to this spy urban fantasy series
Jesse Talon wants Wyatt Flint. But it’s complicated. Because he’s got some weird connection to Morgan Steele, the woman who absorbed his arch nemesis the Green King.
Which is fine, really, because who wants to be distracted by annoying romantic entanglements when trying to hunt down a megalomaniac with godlike powers?
(Apparently, Connor and Duke do. Wow, is that some hot guy-on-guy PDA.)
But not Jesse. She’s all about work.
Once Wyatt kills Steele, then they’ll see.
If Wyatt kills the Steele.
It’s maybe a teensy problem that they can’t find her.
A shackled Earth, ruled by an unstoppable tyrant
An exiled son, and a one-way trip across the galaxy
A perfect world, their last hope for survival
Vice Admiral Isaac Gallant is the heir apparent to the First Admiral, the dictator of the Confederacy of Humanity. Unwilling to let his mother’s tyranny stand, he joins the rebellion and leads his ships into war against the might of his own nation.
Betrayal and failure, however, see Isaac Gallant and his allies captured. Rather than execute her only son, the First Admiral instead decides to exile them, flinging four million dissidents and rebels through a one-shot wormhole to the other end of the galaxy.
There, Isaac finds himself forced to keep order and peace as they seek out a new home without becoming the very dictator he fought against—and when that new home turns out to be too perfect to be true, he and his fellow exiles must decide how hard they are prepared to fight for paradise…against the very people who built it.
In a society that lives in fear of beasts and the curse they carry, imprisoning victims is the only thing to do.
Convoy captain Jonathan has a guilty secret: he killed a traveller who was cursed while under his protection. The killing wasn’t to defend the innocent, but to hide governmental employment of curse victims—like Jonathan—who have developed paranormal powers.
To assuage his guilt, he bends the rules to help another, younger victim. His growing fatherly affection for her leaves him vulnerable to pressure from an unethical researcher. Can he navigate the bureaucratic web, do his duty and still keep his conscience intact?
It’s dangerous out there…on the road.
The highways, byways and backroads of America are teeming day and night with regular folks. Moms and dads making long commutes. Teenagers headed to the beach. Bands on their way to the next gig. Truckers pulling long hauls. Families driving cross country to visit their kin.
But there are others, too. The desperate and the lost. The cruel and the criminal.
Theirs is a world of roadside honky-tonks, truck stops, motels, and the empty miles between destinations. The unseen spaces.
And there are even stranger things. Places that aren’t on any map. Wayfaring terrors and haunted legends about which seasoned and road-weary travelers only whisper.
But those are just stories. Aren’t they?
Find out for yourself as you get behind the wheel with some of today’s finest authors of the dark and horrific as they bring you these harrowing tales from the road.
Tales that could only be spawned by the endless miles of America’s lost highways.
So go ahead and hop in. Let’s take a ride.
Introduction by Brian Keene
doungjai gam & Ed Kurtz — “Crossroads of Opportunity”
Matt Hayward — “Where the Wild Winds Blow”
Joe R. Lansdale — “Not from Detroit”
Kristi DeMeester — “A Life That is Not Mine”
Robert Ford — “Mr. Hugsy”
Lisa Kröger — “Swamp Dog”
Orrin Grey — “No Exit”
Michael Bailey — “The Long White Line”
Kelli Owen — “Jim’s Meats”
Bracken MacLeod — “Back Seat”
Jess Landry — “The Heart Stops at the End of Laurel Lane”
Jonathan Janz — “Titan, Tyger”
Nick Kolakowski — “Your Pound of Flesh”
Richard Thomas — “Requital”
Damien Angelica Walters — “That Pilgrims’ Hands Do Touch”
Cullen Bunn — “Outrunning the End”
Christopher Buehlman — “Motel Nine”
Rachel Autumn Deering — “Dew Upon the Wing”
Josh Malerman — “Room 4 at the Haymaker”
Rio Youers — “The Widow”
Proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths.