New and Notable Books in Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

The speculative fiction genre—a term I use to encompass science fiction fantasy and horror—has so much to offer readers, whether they are looking for simple escapism, thought-provoking situations, or a little taste of the weird. Are you looking for something new to read? You're sure to find something in the following eclectic selection of recent speculative fiction releases.

Steal the Stars by Nat Cassidy

Steal the Stars was born as a science fiction podcast from Tor Labs written by Mac Rogers. Debut novelist Nat Cassidy has adapted this exceptional noir science fiction thriller and expanded upon it to create this novelization. It's about a government agency tasked with hiding the existence of a crashed UFO, its gray alien pilot, and the advanced technology which is now being studied. Keeping such a big secret is hard enough, but when Matt Salem joins Dakota Prentiss' security team, it's love at first sight. Unfortunately, their contracts forbid employee fraternization of any kind. They are thus faced with a choice: ignore their love or cut loose and run. Luckily for the reader, they choose the latter. But being on the run means they will be hunted because of what they know, so they devise a heist to steal the alien and sell off the secret. That's when the fun really begins.

Until the Last Dog Dies by Robert Guffey

In this unconventional dark comedy, a young stand-up comedian faces the worst kind of personal apocalypse: a virus is unleashed that affects people's sense of humor. Elliot Greeley is said stand-up comic, and he's doing his best to make ends meet by working his way through the comedy clubs of Los Angeles. It's a tough life, to be sure, but at least he has a chance at making people laugh. That is, until the virus is unleashed. This viral plague, while not fatal to human life, is potentially fatal to Elliot's career: it specifically eradicates a person's sense of humor. Elliot and his group of comedian friends thus experience their own private apocalypses.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades, the first book in a new superhero duology, is a story of ill-fated love between a superhero and a supervillain. It's set in a world where some humans (called prodigies) have extraordinary abilities, and a group of prodigies (who call themselves Renegades) have emerged from the crumbling ruins of a society taken down by chaos. The Renegades position themselves as heroes, and as such, they have enemies. Once of them is Nova, a super-villain who seeks revenge against the Renegades using her powers of sleep control. Nova meets and falls for Adrian, who also believes in justice. However, he also happens to be a Renegade, her mortal enemy. Cinematic action scenes punctuate this novel of archenemies in love.

Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin

In this haunting young adult horror novel, fifteen-year-old Jules sees her life stolen from her before her very eyes. It all starts when Jules's psychiatrist mother agrees to let one of her patients stay with her family. That simple, kind gesture allows their young guest, Mae, to slowly impede on Jules's life. It isn't long before Mae is wearing Jules's clothes, sleeping in her bedroom, taking her place at the school paper, and even flirting with Jules's crush. When Jules inadvertently sees the pentagram carved into Mae's back, she pieces together Mae's story: she's the survivor of a strange cult located in a nearby town. And now the cult wants her back.

Inside out Man cover The Inside Out Man by Fred Strydom

What would you do if get the chance to live a life of luxury? If you're Bentley Croud, a struggling jazz pianist living from gig to gig, you take that chance. That golden carrot is dangled in front of Bentley by the enigmatic Leonard Fry, who initially hires Bentley to play at a party, but afterward offers him a Faustian deal too good to pass up. Leonard will let Bentley live in his home and have access to all his money and possessions for one year, in exchange for fulfilling a most unusual request. Bentley is to lock away Leonard in a room, providing him only 3 meals a day, for the year. The psychological horror aspect of the story emerges when Leonard's true intentions become known and Bentley descends into the realm of madness.

Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer

The sword opposes the supernatural opposes against the backdrop of Victorian high society in Creatures of Will and Temper. Evadne Gray is a fencer who is sent to London to chaperone her younger sister, Dorina, an aspiring art critic. Dorina comes under the wing of Lady Henrietta Wotton, a local aristocrat with a secret or two. Meanwhile, Evadne meets George Cantrell, an experienced fencing master who Evadne sees as mentor and teacher. George has a secret, too. By day, he's a fencing master; by night, he dedicates his life to eradicating the demons and diabolists. George takes Evadne under his confidence because he needs help to fight evil. Then Evadne learns that Lady Henrietta Wotton is herself a diabolist, and she's enlisted her own assistant: Evadne's sister Dorina.

The Nine by Tracy Townsend

In this gaslit dark fantasy, Rowena Downshire is a black-market courier just trying to pay off her mother's debt. A seemingly routine delivery of a book goes terribly wrong when Rowena encounters a creature out of nightmares. The book she was meant to deliver is stolen, but Rowena escapes with her life. She shows up at the door of the book's intended recipient, a man known as The Alchemist, who knows more than most about the dark underworld and needed the book to help fight the creatures. What's so special about a book? This particular one may be a fabled text written by the Creator Himself and is used to track the nine human subjects of His Grand Experiment.  The Alchemist enlists the aid of Rowena and a former mercenary named Anselm Meteron to recover the book before it can be used for evil.

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


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