Featuring the first three chapters from six incredible SFF novels released in 2019.
The Fall of Io by Wesley Chu: the superb aliens-in-your-head SF sequel to the wildly popular The Rise of Io, by the author of The Lives of Tao series.
The Ingenious by Darius Hinks: the squalid, bloody tale of desperate political exiles seeking a way home from the impossible city that imprisons them.
The Bayern Agenda by Dan Moren: a new Cold War threatens the galaxy, in this fast-paced and wisecracking thriller of spies and subterfuge.
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley: soldiers are broken into light and sent to the frontline of a brutal interplanetary war, in this brilliant military SF from the Hugo Award-winning author of The Stars Are Legion.
Shadowblade by Anna Kashina: a young sword prodigy must impersonate a lost princess and throw her life into a deadly political game, in this kinetic epic fantasy novel by the author of the award-winning Majat Code series.
The Outside by Ada Hoffman: humanity’s super-intelligent AI gods brutally punish breaches in reality, as one young scientist discovers, in this intense and brilliant space opera.
File Under: Preview [ Future Thrills | Taste of 2019 | Get Ready | Impending Joy ]
|Sold by:||Penguin Random House Publisher Services|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
WESLEY CHU was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Chicago, Illinois when he was just a pup. His debut, The Lives of Tao, earned him a Young Adult Library Services Association Alex Award and a Science Fiction Goodreads Choice Award Finalist slot. Chu is currently co-writing Shadowhunters tie-in fiction with Cassandra Clare.
DARIUS HINKS works and lives in Nottinghamshire, England. He spent the nineties playing guitar for the grunge band, cable but when his music career ended in a bitter law suit, he turned to writing. His first novel, Warrior Priest, won the David Gemmell Morningstar award and, so far at least, none of his novels have resulted in litigation.
DAN MOREN is a novelist, freelance writer, and prolific podcaster. A former senior editor at Macworld, his work has appeared in the Boston Globe, Macworld, Popular Science, Yahoo Tech, and many others. He co-hosts tech podcasts Clockwise and The Rebound, writes and hosts nerdy quiz show Inconceivable!, and appears on the award-winning The Incomparable. Dan lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he plays ultimate frisbee, video, and tabletop games.
KAMERON HURLEY is an award-winning author, advertising copywriter and online scribe. She has won the Hugo Award, Kitschy Award, and Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer; she has also been a finalist for the Arthur C Clarke Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, BFS Award, the David Gemmell Morningstar Award, and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her non-fiction has been featured in The Atlantic, Locus, and the game-changing collection The Geek Feminist Revolution.
ANNA KASHINA is inspired by her diverse backgrounds as a Russian-born scientist, a competitive ballroom dancer, and a fan of martial arts, history, and folklore. She is the author of the award-winning Majat Code series featuring adventure fantasy, medieval politics, assassins, and romance. She lives in the US Northeast, where she combines her career in biomedical research and her passion for writing.
ADA HOFFMANN is a Canadian graduate student trying to teach computers to write poetry. Her critically acclaimed speculative short stories and poems have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, Uncanny, and two year's best anthologies. Ada was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at 13, and is passionate about autistic self-advocacy. She is a former semi-professional soprano, a tabletop gamer and an active LARPer, she lives in southern Ontario with a very polite black cat.
Read an Excerpt
Wesley Chu - The Fall of Io - Chapter One - Retirement
The announcement for the emergency all-hands meeting came right as Josie Perkins sat down to eat her crème brûlée without the burnt caramelized sugar on top, which honestly made it just a rather mediocre custard. Gourmet was not an accusation anyone had ever leveled at the kitchen here at the Prophus Academy in Sydney. The nearest dessert shop, however, was a good hour’s drive away, so this place was it. Beggars, choosers, and all that. Josie stuck a spoonful in her mouth and scowled at the blinking notification on her phone. Nothing in the world was important enough to skip dessert, but here it was.
Josie hated emergency meetings; no good news ever came from someone telling you to drop whatever you were doing to listen to them talk. Her first emergency meeting had been when she was six years old. Her parents had brought her and Parker to the dining room and told them that dad was moving to Perth while mum was staying in Sydney. Both had decided that they couldn’t stand the other, and that Josie and Parker weren’t good enough reasons to try to make things work. Her life had been pretty much a mess ever since.
Since then, every emergency meeting had steered her life in a worse and worse direction. Josie had been ordered to an all-hands emergency meeting when the Alien World War broke out. She had been called into another when Parker’s spy plane went down behind enemy lines in Thailand, and he was presumed captured or dead. Josie found out a year later that he had been tortured and killed at the hands of Thanadabouth, a Genjix Laotian general wanted for war crimes.
She was summoned for an emergency meeting to cancel her operation the night before she was to lead an attack on Thanadabouth’s stronghold. The war had ended one day too early. Australia, along with every other country involved in this global disaster, signed the armistice. All the humans were sick of fighting. The only ones who wanted to keep killing each other were the Prophus and Genjix. Everyone else just called it a draw, packed up their toys, and went home. Josie was informed that General Thanadabouth, vacationing less than two klicks away in his summer villa, had immunity and was now completely off-limits. She had to be physically restrained and dragged out of that meeting.
Josie quit the Australian Defense Force the next day and joined the Prophus. One dead Laotian general and nearly a decade later, Josie had pulled herself away from the front lines of this now not-really-shadow war between the two alien factions, and was Head of Security at the Prophus Academy in Sydney. It was a cushy job, perfect for someone on the tail-end of a distinguished military career, and a relatively safe way to head off into the sunset.
The pace at the Academy was often molasses. She admittedly missed the action and chafed at being put on the shelf, but overall Josie had had more than her share of violence and war, and was content riding the last few days of her service educating fresh eager recruits and busting delinquent ones.
To this day, however, her nerves tingled every time some asshole called an emergency meeting. She was tempted to duck out and take a nap. Pretend she missed the call entirely. Still, all-hands was all-hands, and she was never one to shirk duty. This time, it was from the high-and-mighty Keeper herself. Maybe it was good news for once. Maybe they were handing out bonuses and paid holidays.
Fat bloody chance.
Darius Hinks - The Ingenious - 1
Reluctantly, she poured herself from Athanor’s innards, floundering through the shit, dribbling through the back streets and brothels. The Sisters of Solace released her with a surprising and beautiful grace, shortening their beards, dropping their skirts and proclaiming her prowess to anyone drunk enough to care. Few women have been so well served by whores as Isten was in the long winter of her grief.
The corpse-light of mandrel-fires picked her out as she hurried towards the banks of the Saraca. They blazed across the filthy water, revealing the fruit of Athanor’s latest plague. Corpses, of course, but also bundles of clothes, folded and bound, drifting through the scum in a pitiful flotilla as though destined for a happier world. There was nothing there of any value. This was a plague of the poor. Death, like everything else in Athanor, was unequally shared.
The mandrel-fires were a shocking reminder of how long Isten had been gone – how much she had missed. These were not the ghostly lamps that always lined Athanor’s streets, these were heralds of transformation, beacons that were only lit at the time of conjunction; grand, sun-shaped scaffolds of silver and brass that would burn until the Festival of Undying Light. While Isten was embracing the Sisters of Solace, the city had jumped. The sky was an ocean of unfamiliar stars. Life had lurched, blind to her fall, and Athanor had changed. She looked up at a forest of new spires, studying the growth, marvelling at the labyrinthine constructions. With every rebirth, Athanor changed, growing larger, stranger, more bewildering.
She dropped out of sight, moving away from the beacons, hurrying on through the darkness, scouring the quayside for a familiar face. The awnings of Coburg Market had been rolled away leaving only a stink of fish guts and the fine-spun, skeletal facades of warehouses. At this time of night, even the beggars had a better place to be.
She lurched along for an hour, slapping through the blood and the brine, then collapsed on the steps that led down to a jetty. She coughed and spluttered as the cinnabar wormed its way through her skull, oozing painfully through her pores. The Sisters of Solace had blessed her with a particularly potent farewell gift and she lay there for a long time, feeling the city roll beneath her, looking up at its tortuous, seedpod bones. The locals boasted that Athanor’s tracery of roads and aqueducts formed a map of the spheres, but to Isten it only ever looked like a cage.
It was nearly dawn when she sobered up enough to realize she was hungry. Her stomach was tight and resentful and she struggled to remember the last time she’d eaten. She hauled herself slowly to her feet, discovering an impressive collection of bruises and sprains. Every inch of her ached. She wanted nothing more than to lie back down again and sleep in the gutter, but she had a date to keep and a memory to honour, so she staggered off down the embankment.
She was leaving the market just as the traders and dock workers started to arrive and, as she hurried past, she heard snatches of their strange argot. Athanor was a city of émigrés and refugees, but the haulers and lightermen of Coburg Street were a particularly mongrel breed, speaking an amalgam of every language that had ever come to the city. They could be half understood by everyone and fully understood by no one. Having no wish to be recognized, she hurried on through the half-light, heading for the Blacknells Road Bridge.
She reached the borders of the Temple District and stooped lower, humbled by the scale of the architecture. Plump, recurved walls swelled out across the river, skimming the water like sails and trailing beautiful, spindle-twisted buttresses. Entrance to the temples was forbidden for commoners like Isten, but a narrow path skirted the walls, running alongside the water’s edge, and she soon started to see more people. The Elect would be asleep at this time, but their laborators were abroad, running errands and brokering deals, scurrying like colourful vermin, their turmeric-stained faces hidden deep in lemon-coloured hoods. They were probably too engrossed in their work to acknowledge a wreck like Isten, but she avoided them all the same.
From there she reached the sprawling mounds of the Azorus slums – the ragged, filthy petticoat of the Temple District, steaming in the half-light, hazed by flies and smoke, tumbling down into the river to form a dysenteric slurry of rafts and wharfs, a landslide of rubbish, patched-together tents and wasted scavengers. Here was the city in all its grotesque magnificence – oil-slick wretches wading through filth, shimmering in the half-light, stained rainbow hues by the chemicals that flowed from the temple walls. It was a kaleidoscopic crush, desperate souls picking through the poison that bled from above, risking death and worse as they looked for fragments of wealth. Even the water was transformed as it passed the soaring walls. Chemicals glooped from rusty outlets, threading the Saraca with metal, turning its currents into an eddying, gleaming mirror – the Golden Chain, its links and intersections binding Athanor together, shackling its lost souls.
Dan Moren - The Bayern Agenda: Book I of the Galactic Cold War - Chapter 1
Loitering was an art form.
Especially when one was loitering with purpose. Simon Kovalic’s gray eyes cast over the shelves with just the right mix of interest and vacancy. Not so bored that somebody would want to engage him in conversation, and not so interested that he missed what was going on around him.
He took in the antique shop in a glance, eyeing the few other customers on this frigid false night. Regulars, most of them, he guessed, with a sprinkling of tourists from elsewhere in the Illyrican Empire. Though why anybody would voluntarily choose to visit Sevastapol he had little idea; it wasn’t as if he would be here if it weren’t for the job. But he went where the Commonwealth told him to go, even if it meant going deep into enemy territory to a moon where even the nice parts didn’t get far above freezing for much of the year.
Still, humanity – or the Illyrican portion of it, at least – had decided this rock was worth colonizing. Mineral deposits were one reason, but when it came right down to it, Kovalic was pretty sure that they’d done it just because they could. Even in their pre-Imperial days, the Illyricans had felt they’d had something to prove, and what better way to do so than to tame a wild planetoid to their whims It didn’t really matter that it was a barren, snowy rock; it had a breathable atmosphere and temperatures that were within the habitable range – if only barely.
Through the thick, insulated windows Kovalic could see the snow hurling down outside. Blizzards were all too common on Sevastapol, and they were brutal and unforgiving; there were more deaths from exposure than almost anything else. Weather-related accidents were a close second.
Inside, however, it was perfectly comfortable, thanks to tapped geothermal pockets that provided efficient heating. Kovalic had unwound his scarf and unzipped the parka he was wearing, stowing his balaclava and gloves in one of the coat’s voluminous pockets. He pushed back the heavy padded sleeve far enough to take a look at his wrist. Orbiting a gas giant gave Sevastapol an irregular day/night pattern; they were in false night, the sun itself down, but the light never quite gone from the sky as it reflected off the huge mottled planet that dominated the sky.