This month's selection of fantastical science fiction and fantasy reads includes 12 stories that will entertain, including ones about evil twin gods trying to take over the world, a snarky superheroine, a space heist and a disease that threatens human extinction (Happy Holidays!)…

King of the Road by R. S. Belcher

In the gritty urban fantasy series of Belcher's Brotherhood of the Wheel, a mysterious society of truckers descended from the Knights Templar are charged with keeping the roads safe for travelers. These modern-day knights take the guise of truck drivers, bikers, taxi hacks, state troopers and bus drivers to explore the dark, unmapped corners of America while protecting the innocent from the monsters that live there. In King of the Road, the supernatural menaces include a pair of rival biker gangs (one of which is an all-female pack of werewolves) and killer clowns. Y'know…just another day of the road for the Brotherhood.

Splintered Suns by Michael Cobley

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Splintered Suns Cobley's exciting Humanity's Fire space opera series is based on the premise that mankind has seeded a small handful of faraway colony worlds as a last-chance effort at survival after the Earth was attacked by aliens. The latest outing, Splintered Suns, is equal parts heist and adventure. Pyke and his crew aim to break into a museum on a backwater desert planet, steal a tracking device, and use it to locate a ship buried in the planet's vast sandy wasteland. Sounds simple except the museum vault is a tough bio-engineered nut to crack and a rival group of treasure hunters is also after the same device. But the prize is mighty: aboard the ship is a relic to unlock all the treasures and technologies of a lost civilization.

Stronger Faster Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton

What would you do to become the perfect human? How would you even define a "perfect human"? Is it some particular idea of beauty? Do they have high intelligence? Strength? Or some combination of all of these? These are some of the questions explored in Dayton's futuristic story, told as a sequence of six interleaved narratives. Genetic manipulation has been perfected, accepted and finally commonplace, but there are still ethical and legal complications, as the book's characters and readers will come to discover. This title also earned a spot on Kirkus’ list of the Best Young Adult Books of 2018!

#Herofial #Herofail by Lexie Dunne

Across the arc of the Superheroes Anonymous series, snarky protagonist Gail Godwin has gone from editorial assistant to perennial hostage, to fledgling superhero "Hostage Girl", but always lands in trouble. She's currently working as an intern to the Raptor, the world's most famous superhero—fetching coffee by day and fighting crime at night. As usual for Gail, things go south when the Raptor gets knocked out of commission and it's up to Gail to save the day from two supervillains who are competing to see which of them is the evilest.

The Shattered Sun The Shattered Sun by Rachel Dunne

This is the exciting conclusion to the Bound Gods dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a pair of malicious twin gods, exiled by the Divine Mother and Almighty Father to the center of Earth, are threatening to break free. The best of hope of stopping them lies with a ragtag band of mortals: "a laconic warrior, a pair of street urchins, a ruthless priestess, and an unhinged sorcerer". But they must act fast, before the twins can consolidate their returning power. If they don't, the world will remain plunged in darkness forever.

The Disasters The Disasters by M. K. England

Described as "The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy," this action-packed adventure concerns a group of young people who fail out of the elite Ellis Station Academy. Before they are shipped back to Earth, the space colony is attacked by terrorists. Hotshot pilot Nax Hall and his new friends witness the biggest crime in the history of space colonization but unfortunately become the scapegoats. Now, on the run, Nax and his fellow failures plan to pull off a dangerous heist to spread the truth.

Kingdom of Needle and Bone Kingdom of Needle and Bone by Mira Grant

You've likely heard the saying "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Wise words indeed, especially as it pertains to past diseases that have been eradicated hundreds of years ago. In Mira Grant's new chapbook, an 8-year-old girl gets red spots on her back—a symptom connected with Morris's disease. But by then, it's too late. This long-lost disease is now running rampant across the world. For Dr. Isabella Gauley, whose niece is Patient Zero, the search for a cure is personal. It won't be easy, especially when the only way appears to be highly unethical.

A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy by Alex White

Can't decide between science fiction or fantasy? Try both! In White's universe, technology and magic co-exist. Think of A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy as a planet-hopping science fiction space adventure with a touch of magic thrown in for good measure. Here, the crew of the legendary Capricious continue to protect the galaxy from danger, though they are hindered by the past lives of some of the crew. Their latest challenge is to infiltrate a mysterious cult that may have links back to an ancient, all-powerful magic.

 

 

SHORT FICTION

In addition to the titles mentioned above, here are this month's top short fiction releases:

  • War on Christmas edited by Sandra Kasturi & Craig Wolf
  • Sunspot Jungle: The Ever Expanding Universe of Fantasy and Science Fiction edited by Bill Campbell
  • The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis edited by Julie E. Czerneda
  • Tell Me Like You Done Before: And Other Stories Written on the Shoulders of Giants by Scott Edelman

Happy reading!

John DeNardo is the founding editor of  SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal.