Team ScienceFiction.news has received its allocation of 25 books for the first round of the third Self Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC).
The seven judges on the team, who you'll be learning more about this week, will be reading the first 10 to 20 percent of each book to make a Yes/No recommendation on whether to read further. Some judges are planning to read all 25 in full!
The six books that get the most Yes votes will be our quarterfinalists. Each of these will be read in its entirety by all judges on the team and scored from 1 up to a perfect 10. The two highest scoring novels will advance as our semifinalists.
Here's our 25 books. If you'd like to read any of them along with the judges, click the covers to open the novel's page on Amazon.Com.
/GRACE is the world's first artificial general intelligence, evolving as she learns -- faster, deeper and wider than any mind before her. Waking to self-awareness in a near future of climate disruption, techno-pessimism and social fracture, she finds herself to be unexpected, unwelcome and even hated.
/GRACE is a meditation on what it means to be a self among others, and to care and be cared for by those you can never fully understand. In this novel about choice and its consequences, /GRACE races to understand her story and share it with others before it's too late.
Humanity has survived.
On the far end of the universe, with Earth little more than a faded memory, they thrive on worlds where once they were enslaved. In the millennia since, these persistent beings have built new societies, but when the two greatest nations among them met for the first time, there was war. The all-consuming conflict bent the wills and morals of both powers beyond recognition, leading to levels of experimentation and cruelty once thought impossible. Yet, in a universe drowned in blood, an opportunity for peace is seized.
In the uncertain aftermath, a broken soldier and a lost psionic girl, both shattered by the war, work tirelessly to make ends meet. In the dusty streets of Minerva City, a shadow from their past returns to offer more than enough credits to break them out of the city's slums.
In exchange, the two must find a powerful secret once capable of bringing solace to a desperate war-torn universe, but in a time of uneasy peace, it holds a more destructive power. Uniquely qualified and entirely in over their heads, the pair put their lives on the line and embark on a harrowing adventure where they discover not only the answers to their broken pasts but a hint of the dangers lurking in the Black.
Numbers don't lie. But people do.
Seasoned tech journalist Parham Nasiri is convinced there's something sinister behind tech giant Magenta's new product, Cloudthinker. The ambitious AI service sent shockwaves through an already fragile economy, decimating the workforce and tightening Magenta's stranglehold on society.
After his employers subscribe to the service and put him out of a job, Parham becomes determined to uncover the truth. His digging leads him to Boogie Wu -- an enigmatic math genius who died in a corporate jet accident -- and he's quickly ensnared in a shadowy web of mystery and deception.
Tangled up with a corporate whistleblower, a human-like autonomous hacker, AI-powered robots and the increasingly blurry line separating humans from software, Parham fights to expose the secrets behind Cloudthinker and its elusive creators.
And when he realizes the world-shaking consequences of Magenta's real intentions, he'll be forced to make impossible choices to stop the world from tipping into crisis ...
This science fiction novel by a tech industry insider grapples with profound modern issues surrounding artificial intelligence, consciousness and humanity. Cloudthinker is a must-read for fans of high-concept techno-thrillers like those by Blake Crouch, Daniel Suarez, A.G. Riddle, Max Barry and Neal Stephenson.
The Emperor of the galaxy has fallen, slain at the hands of his own son.
Forced into exile, Katrijn was tasked with a mission sent to her by her father from beyond the grave: Free the people of the Andlios Republic. Her biggest hurdle? First it's the assassins sent after her by the emperor. After years alone on the fringes of the galaxy, who will be there to help her dethrone the mad emperor and reclaim the throne? Then, it's dealing with her brother ...
The Mad Emperor himself.
Katrijn must carve her own path forward, forging new alliances and swallowing her pride to take whatever help she can find along the way, no matter how ... unconventional that help seems, even from sworn enemies.
If dethroning her deranged brother isn't hard enough, she's not the only one gunning for the throne, making it a deadly race to save the people of Andlios in this action-packed space epic.
Emotional Transference has become the drug of choice.
Garrick is a Drone, going to ever-increasing extremes in order to sell the emotions. But he does it for a reason -- because some memories are just too painful to bear.
When his dealer is murdered, Garrick must search for a new way to remove his unwanted emotions, but soon finds himself embroiled in a plot that threatens to go deeper than he ever imagined. Between terrorists bent on preserving the inner space, assassins with a debt to pay and a social media giant with its claws in the government, can Garrick survive long enough to uncover the truth and let the world know?
Meet Megaera, Meg for short. She's like Deadpool, except for funner.
For a girl with the power of fear the recruitment attempts from both sides are never-ending. A self-described not-a-hero, villain-leaning humanoid, Meg just wants to live her life, work her dead-end job and have everyone else (especially the heroes) leave her alone. But when a bigger fish who can turn superpowers back on their users enters the picture and threatens the person Meg loves the most (herself), she must turn to the last group of people she would admit she needs help from.
Forced to team up with the heroes she despises (but won't murder, because let's face it, orange is not the new black), Meg will have to face the choices from her past that she won't get therapy for. Self-centered, snarky, sarcastic and a little bit dramatic, she's going to have to save the world, even if that wasn't her intention. And try not to get shot in the process. Because that shit hurts.
In a future Earth ravaged by storms, a farmer named Seg uncovers a dangerous web of intrigue, prophecies and ancient artifacts hidden within Holtondome that may change everything.
When Seg's truck breaks down just as a menacing storm approaches, he is unexpectedly rescued by a mysterious woman named Fi, who returns him to the safety of his dome, then declares that he will be sharing her room.
Information and literacy bans prevent Seg from learning more about the enchanting outsider, but when another storm triggers a premonition about his brother being in mortal danger, he and Fi become inextricably tangled in a cascade of events that blur the lines between reality and destiny. Seg must choose between the stable but suffocating existence he and his dome have lived for centuries, or face an ugly truth that may tip the balance in a world teetering on the brink of collapse.
Step into the captivating world of Holtondome, a thought-provoking science fiction dystopian thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Hostile Contact, a sci-fi survival thriller with a military twist.
Finn had thought he'd seen it all, but no, he had to admit ... not quite everything. There was a big universe out there and it was about to land in his lap. Just how bad could it be?
The modern-day world panics as a small alien force flies unopposed through Earth's ineffective defences. Countries circle, the promise of alien weaponry breeding greed and fear amongst opposing governments as they struggle to bring the aliens down.
Disgraced war hero Finn is forced to lead his ragtag squad of rookies in a desperate struggle for Earth's future when the alien incursion lands slap bang in the middle of Delta Squad's training session -- killing indiscriminately and pitting his soldiers against the power of alien technology.
In this fight for survival, Delta Squad discovers the aliens are more than they seem, and that alien technology can be just as deadly in the hands of humans -- when they unearth the Weapons of Choice.
A drunkard woke up in an escape pod, drifting in space. He had no idea what happened since drinking with his friends was the last thing he could remember. Who put him in the escape pod? What happened to the Martian spaceship? Why were there also three bottles of wine with him?
There are three rules to corporate time travel:
Do not deviate from the assignment brief. Do not stop taking the pills. Do not, under any circumstances, hook up with someone from the past.
Unfortunately, Kong missed the memo. All hell is about to break loose ...
Kong is the leading Trans-Temporal Copyright Protection officer, charged with policing the past to protect the mega-corporations in the future. After all, without them, the human race would have perished when the world burned. The corporations provide domed cities to live in, clean water and recycled air. Farm-fresh food delivered directly to your door, shopping malls, instant credit and personalized advertising experiences.
Sure, some things might have been lost along the way, but what other option is there? The planet's dead, the seeds of its destruction planted too deeply, too far back, for even Kong to rectify. And why bother -- it's not like the folk in the past weren't warned about what was happening. They had their chance to save the world over and over again and they blew it.
Then Kong meets Joe, a mysterious tempo-terrorist who claims that the past isn't doomed and the future can be rewritten. Who seems to know more about Kong's life than Kong knows himself. Who lies and tricks and pretends to love him. Now Kong must decide whether to trust Joe and the strange connection they share, and he needs to decide quickly because, for once, time is running out ...
Ever since he was a kid, all Balt Vana wanted was to be a world-renowned Jekua Summoner like his grandmother, battling other Summoners in front of audiences of thousands. But from where he stands now, living up to the Vana name feels impossible.
When his best friend Alani, an initiate at the local Church, is sent on a pilgrimage to find her path in life and the god she will follow, Balt sees the perfect opportunity to launch his career by escorting her across the archipelago and its purple seas. The islands are filled with monsters to imprint and Summoners to battle, with every victory bringing him one step closer to his dream.
It will take more than just his family name to reach the same heights as his grandmother, but Balt won't stop until he does.
Life-altering tech is on the horizon, and someone wants it stopped -- permanently. Can a murder witness escape paying the ultimate price?
Near future. Angela Kapp struggles with her past. Working remotely from an isolated cabin in a dead-end customer support job, she drinks too much and spends her days avoiding the world. But while on shift using a visual-interpretation headset to assist a blind person, the cynical loner is horrified when she virtually experiences the other woman's gruesome slaying.
Shocked the next day when she recognizes the killer closing in on a second sightless client, Angela shouts for the software engineer to run. And after learning that he and the first victim are connected by a soon-to-be-released teleportation innovation, she convinces him to go to ground in her secluded home ... only to become a target herself.
Can her paranoia and his unexpected skills thwart a sinister plot?
Quantum Reaction is a gripping science fiction mystery. If you like resilient heroines, unique blind heroes and high-adrenaline action interwoven with humor, then you'll love Marc Wayne's flash forward to adventure.
Try Quantum Reaction to take a leap into tomorrow today!
Butler, warrior, moral philosopher, robot. Randolph is all that and more.
He is the prized product of Superior Domestics, a Silicon Valley firm dedicated to producing robot servants for people who grew up watching British period costume dramas on PBS. The company's motto is, "All the gracious living of Upstairs with none of the unseemly drama of Downstairs."
Randolph is the perfect butler, adept at running the household of General Henry Redgrave, who is behind the assassination of the American king, Donald II. Great events are underway, but Randolph is merely an observer, a servant of humanity.
War is raging on both hemispheres. Directed by Redgrave and using robot soldiers, America's armies are forging southwards through Mexico. Anton Moravec, European dictator and Redgrave's nemesis, is eating away at Russian territory, aided by his ally, China. Two beautiful women, natural enemies, are the objects of passion of both men. Lurking in the background are the surviving members of the Trump family, scheming to get back into power.
What a mess!
As the world descends into chaos, Randolph is drawn in, ever less the observer and ever more the participant, until at the end he is the very center of all.
Humanity is threatened.
Without a way to conquer their enemy, Earth has resorted to a strange -- but effective -- form of weapon. These flesh-and-blood Breakers are Earth's last hope against the mysterious Xoa, an alien species bent on eliminating everyone.
But, something terrible is happening in the shadows, and the Breakers may not be able to hold their enemy in check any longer.
It's up to Sierra and Desmond to navigate the tangled threads of this mystery before it's too late. But Sierra also has to figure out herself ... And Desmond needs to figure out where he stands with Sierra.
Time is running out, and annihilation looms on the horizon.
Pyk is a lazy yet stout-hearted fisherman who just wants to coast through life and hang out in a seaside town with a few close friends. But when the centuries-old, god-like tyrant who orphaned him resurfaces, Pyk gets dragged into a road trip of revenge with a dubious gang of companions: a drunken blacksmith with a literally world-shattering secret; a tiny chef armed with a couple of sharp knives and a giant squirrel; and an alluring, smart-aleck tomb raider piloting one of the rarest treasures in all of Elarin -- the skipship Storm.
He's no fighter, but Pyk is on an unavoidable heading to face off with Kaira, an indestructible superhuman with monstrous appetites and power to match. And he's got no clue how to beat her. To uncover a shred of hope, the Storm's ragtag crew must brave warlike islanders, navigate overgrown cities teeming with the undead of ages past, explore long-forgotten military bunkers and infiltrate a towering desert stronghold to resurrect ancient technologies. If they can manage all that and not kill each other in the process, they might just bring down an unbeatable foe and begin to put the world back to its natural order.
Combining post-apocalyptic adventure, action, humor, horror and a dash of romance, Riders on the Storm is a rollicking fun read for fans of old-school science fiction and fantasy.
Apollo, a human-alien hybrid with the otherworldly and unwelcomed ability to kill with a touch, is born and imprisoned in Area 51. A moment of skin-to-skin contact with Apollo instantly turns a person to ash -- and creates a massive surge of energy that temporarily ignites other superhuman powers within him. Apollo's government jailers look to study and exploit him, but he escapes as a teenager and, for a time, finds the simple joys of living as a human before his discovery and recapture.
When dark days threaten humanity's future, will Apollo play the reluctant hero?
Combining the mystery of The X-Files, the action of Independence Day and the humanity found in the Superman mythos all rolled into a riveting tale of loss, destiny and the price of power. Is our protagonist a man, monster, or hero? Perhaps he's all three?
In the distant future, peace is kept between worlds by the Star Keeper Corps, a fleet of elite ships that fly around the galaxy, responding to calls for help and stepping in to settle disputes and counter threats of invasion. One such ship is the Arrowhead, captained by Captain Gavin Kent and manned by crewmembers such as first officer Aghri kei KibaZhoka, pilot Nikola Yakimenko, and communications officer Long Tail.
One day, the Arrowhead answers a distress call to the water-covered planet of Hedes, famous for its two hundred and eighty-four moons and giant floating cities that drift on the water's surface. One of these cities had been attacked by what seemed to be outside invaders, but all is not as it appears.
Digus is a young maintenance worker living inside the attacked city. He loves to tinker, and has built a powerful weapon from scraps he picked up here and there. A mysterious benefactor has offered to buy the weapon and provide him with transport off the planet, as long as he will do one thing in return:
Sink the city.
When a contract goes out on the head of a human trafficker living in one of London's most exclusive suburbs, romantically deprived hitman Archie Nyx assumes it's just another day at the office. In a profession that usually comes with minimal moral high ground, being paid a hefty sum to expunge an excrescence like Andras Janos is as close to a good day at work as Archie gets. It's a nice thought, but when the hit goes south and the unexpected elements rear their heads, Archie must track down the mysterious client who seems to want more than just Janos dead.
Beautiful but hard-boiled Detective Inspector Valentina Galanti is back at work at the Met after an accident that tore her life apart. Her old friend and boss, Detective Superintendent Jack McNeill, assigns Val to a brutal multiple homicide by way of a welcome back. Val embraces the carnage as a pleasing escape from the grief and fury that are threatening to overwhelm her.
By chance, or so it seems, Archie and Val meet one afternoon. Lies and deceptions breed more lies and deceptions, with the assassin and copper having no idea that they are both working towards the middle of the same problem from opposite sides.
Set in a near-future London not too dissimilar to the one we know, The Darkness Calling is a soft sci-fi novel that explores whether any silver lining can be found in the midst of a son's hatred for his father, a mother's heart-crushing grief and the place where the bullets fly.
What would you do, if Earth fell to invasion?
For Omid, the question never seemed to come up. He was always too busy fighting, thieving and causing mayhem to think on it; until the aliens that had taken Earth looked to take him too. Cast adrift and on the run, Omid finds himself swept far from the planet. There, in the world of aliens, he meets with an unexpected hope, and is soon the center of a mounting plan to free Earth of its captors, once and for all.
But the world of the aliens, the world of Mooi, is not so simple as it seems, and while he enters into it with the intent of helping Earth, he soon finds that few things he sees and learns are as they appear. To get back to Earth, and to find a way to help his people, he will have to navigate a world intent on sucking him into its depths and entombing him there.
Will he make it?
What if three renowned scientists, each with unique superhero powers, teamed up to defeat a villain who seeks to alter the fabric of the universe by employing non-Euclidean geometry? Imagine if Germany emerged victorious in World War I and the 1917 Bolshevik revolution never occurred. Time is not always linear and can sometimes expand or contract. Charles Darwin would have the ability to alter the evolutionary fate of all living beings, existing simultaneously with Marie Curie, who possesses X-ray vision that allows her to see through walls. The result of a catastrophic event, known as the Gottingen Accident, turned them into superhumans or perhaps monsters.
Fear can blind you to the truth.
The news is ominous and terrifying. People are seeing UFOs and strange, alien-looking creatures with humanoid shapes, green skin and large black eyes. In places where this occurs, doctors report the spread of a mysterious virus that scrambles people's thoughts and causes hallucinations. Many experts believe the virus came from the aliens. The pathogen has not yet been identified; there is no cure.
Psychology professor Dr. Cora Frost has a different theory: the bizarre symptoms are nothing more than mass hysteria, not unlike the hysteria that caused people in our not too distant past to see witches flying through the sky, which justified hanging them or burning them at the stake. Intense stress within societies gives rise to scapegoats. Doing field research within the compound of a cult in Roswell, New Mexico, that reveres the exact same kinds of aliens being reported on the news, her entire worldview is shaken and upended. In a shocking series of events, her past and future collide, forever changing her life.
Manifesto the Great comes from a dynasty of leaders who treat women like breeding machines. When his father dies, he must take over as leader, but will he be able to keep control of the women?
Planet Hy Man is a planet as pure as a baby's belly button until a spaceship arrives. A spaceship full of celibate men and women; sex, like roast chicken and football being off the menu until a planet was found.
They hurl themselves into a frenzy of real meat, real air and real sex until a leader emerges to create order, civilization and a sewage system.
Manifesto the Great watches as his forefathers pollute the planet, treat women as walking wombs, and make doggie robots until it is his turn. Will he rise over the tidal wave of discontented women, or will he drown under a sea of underwire and oestrogen?
Sasha Michaels has it all.
She's got the looks, some natural, some bought-and-paid for. She's got the fame, with over one-hundred million Omniverse® subscribers and a shot at breaking into the coveted Top 100. She's got the wealth that comes with both.
And she has the ultimate accessory, an even more famous husband. Alex Michaels is a HotDropper®, a cybernetic corporate mercenary whose missions are streamed worldwide.
But when Alex is killed on only his second mission, Sasha soon finds out that everything she thought she owned is now property of his paymasters, who invested hundreds of millions in him and intend to collect on the debt. Now she must serve as a rank-and-file trooper in the militia of the LifeWise® corporation, until she pays off or she dies. Some people call it indentured service, but the troopers know it by a different name.
They call it the Widow's Tithe.
In the first universe, an afterlife simulated Lucy vows to bring the humans back, no matter the cost.
In the second, Professor Nori Furukawa reinvents the time machine; Bill Bines discovers the dark truth about the Swamphenge UFO crash, and Darlene plots to assassinate Lax Morales, the enigmatic founder of Virtualism and Earth's last hope.
In the third, Tin foil Tim tries to convince his readers that his erotic novel about aliens is based on a true story; shaky cyborgs start having nightmares about weird creatures called "Humans" and for some reason you have complete control over how this comedic universe ends.
And this is just three universes out of eleven. Which one will you visit first?
It's Earth's last day and Captain Lewis Black drifts though space, watching it burn.
The pilots under his command are dead. The war with the Maaravi is lost. Air hisses into space from around the stump of his severed arm.
In the distance a Maaravi ship approaches. Whether to torture him for information, capture him as a prisoner or take him as a trophy, he'll have one last chance to hurt them.
Natasha Palmer, lead engineer on the failed Reaper missile program, knows humanity's last, desperate, plan won't work. She's got one chance to change that, but it will mean a leap of faith beyond all others.
Humanity is vanquished, but some battles bring only woe to the victor.
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