Here we are three months later with another batch of sample chapters and excerpts to kick off a summer filled with great books that will take you deep into the realms of your imagination. July’s Free Fiction Sampler has a wide selection of samples available from dozens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. We invite you to dip into a chapter, or two, or even to try them all! The purpose of the Free Fiction Sampler is to reunite readers with authors they love as well as to introduce them to authors they haven’t yet met.
July’s Sampler contains 23 authors as well as excerpts and chapters from 25 different books. Feel free to browse, read the book blurbs, visit their websites, and access the samples. Above all, we hope you find new books and authors to love.
Note: That the Free Fiction Sampler is arranged alphabetically by each author’s last name. The samples listed contain three links: 1) the author’s name will take you to his/her website, 2) the book’s title will take you to the sample chapter or excerpt, and 3) the book’s cover will take you to an online store where you can purchase the book.
- Key to Creation (Terra Incognita, Book Three) – Brave explorers and mortal enemies across the world clash at a mysterious lost continent. After long voyages, encountering hurricanes and sea monsters, Criston Vora and Saan race to Terravitae, the legendary promised land. Saan’s quest is to find the Key to Creation, a weapon that may defeat Uraba’s enemies, and Criston wants vengeance against the monstrous Leviathan that ruined his life long ago. Back home, two opposing continents and religions clash for the remnants of a sacred city, unleashing their hatred in a war that could end both civilizations. Queen Anjine and Soldan-Shah Omra are driven by mutual hatred, heaping atrocity upon atrocity in an escalating conflict that only their gods can end. Meanwhile, the secretive Saedrans. manipulating both sides, come ever closer to their ultimate goal: to complete the Map of All Things and bring about the return of God.
- The Desert Spear – The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that prey upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind half-forgotten symbols of power. Legends tell of a Deliverer: a general who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. But is the return of the Deliverer just another myth? Perhaps not. Out of the desert rides Ahmann Jardir, who has forged the desert tribes into a demon-killing army. He has proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer, and he carries ancient weapons—a spear and a crown—that give credence to his claim. But the Northerners claim their own Deliverer: the Warded Man, a dark, forbidding figure. Once, the Shar’Dama Ka and the Warded Man were friends. Now they are fierce adversaries. Yet as old allegiances are tested and fresh alliances forged, all are unaware of the appearance of a new breed of demon, more intelligent—and deadly—than any that have come before. (c) Del Rey; Reprint edition (March 1, 2011)
- Supernatural Noir, editor, Ellen Datlow – A hit man who kills with coincidence… A detective caught in a war between two worlds… A man whose terrible appetites hide an even darker secret… Dark Horse once again teams up with Hugo and Bram Stoker award-winning editor Ellen Datlow (Lovecraft Unbound) to bring you this masterful marriage of the darkness without and the darkness within. Supernatural Noir is an anthology of original tales of the dark fantastic from twenty modern masters of suspense, including Brian Evenson, Joe R. Lansdale, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Nick Mamatas, Gregory Frost, and Jeffrey Ford.
- For The Win – In the virtual future, you must organize to survive. At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual “gold,” jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world’s poorest countries, where countless “gold farmers,” bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay. Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of “General Robotwalla.” In Shenzen, heart of China’s industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo. The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister’s people must out-think the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once—a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.
- The Shadow Men – From Beacon Hill to Southie, historic Boston is a town of vibrant neighborhoods knit into a seamless whole. But as Jim Banks and Trix Newcomb learn in a terrifying instant, it is also a city divided—split into three separate versions of itself by a mad magician once tasked with its protection. Jim is happily married to Jenny, with whom he has a young daughter, Holly. Trix is Jenny’s best friend, practically a member of the family—although she has secretly been in love with Jenny for years. Then Jenny and Holly inexplicably disappear—and leave behind a Boston in which they never existed. Only Jim and Trix remember them. Only Jim and Trix can bring them back. With the help of Boston’s Oracle, an elderly woman with magical powers, Jim and Trix travel between the fractured cities, for that is where Jenny and Holly have gone. But more is at stake than one family’s happiness. If Jim and Trix should fail, the spell holding the separate Bostons apart will fail too, and the cities will reintegrate in a cataclysmic implosion. Someone, it seems, wants just that. Someone with deadly shadow men at their disposal.
- Clarity – When you can see things others can’t, where do you look for the truth? This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats. Clarity “Clare” Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It’s a gift. And a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare’s ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case–but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare’s brother–who has supernatural gifts of his own–becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?
- Damned, A Crusade novel – There is a fine line between love and sacrifice…Antonio would do anything for his beloved fighting partner Jenn. He protects her, even suppresses his vampire cravings to be with her. Together, they defend humanity against the Cursed Ones. But tensions threaten to fracture their hunting team and his loyalty—his love—is called into question. Jenn, the newly appointed Hunter, aches for revenge against the Cursed One who converted her sister. And with an even more sinister power on the rise, she must overcome her personal vendettas to lead her team into battle. Antonio and Jenn need each other to survive, but evil lurks at every turn. With humanity’s fate hanging in the balance, they must face down the darkness…or die trying.
- Shadow Queen – My Grandmother Beata had matched the squabbling drightens in might and cunning, and ruled the fractious Turasi tribes unchallenged for nigh on thirty years. Her hold on the throne was so sure even the blasphemy of allowing a Skythe shadow-walker to pour foreign memories into her skull had not unseated her, though it had sorely tested her power. (Australia)
- Shadow Bound – Until death release me. Echoes of my swift and brutal coronation still troubled the hall: whispers thickening in the shadowed corners, memories seeping into the walls and floor. Hard-won, the stone of Turas sat heavy on my brow, the bronze circlet thrust through my braids by Sidonius’s hand. It pinched at the hair over my left ear, but I did not lift my hand to resettle it. I had grown adept at living with pain of late. (Australia)
- Ice Song – There are secrets beneath her skin. Sorykah Minuit is a scholar, an engineer, and the sole woman aboard an ice-drilling submarine in the frozen land of the Sigue. What no one knows is that she is also a Trader: one who can switch genders suddenly, a rare corporeal deviance universally met with fascination and superstition and all too often punished by harassment or death. Sorykah’s infant twins, Leander and Ayeda, have inherited their mother’s Trader genes. When a wealthy, reclusive madman known as the Collector abducts the babies to use in his dreadful experiments, Sorykah and her male alter-ego, Soryk, must cross icy wastes and a primeval forest to get them back. Complicating the dangerous journey is the fact that Sorykah and Soryk do not share memories: Each disorienting transformation is like awakening with a jolt from a deep and dreamless sleep. The world through which the alternating lives of Sorykah and Soryk travel is both familiar and surreal. Environmental degradation and genetic mutation run amok; humans have been distorted into animals and animal bodies cloak a wild humanity. But it is also a world of unexpected beauty and wonder, where kindness and love endure amid the ruins. Alluring, intense, and gorgeously rendered, Ice Song is a remarkable debut by a fiercely original new writer. (c) Del Rey (May 19, 2009)
- Burn – Colonization is the theme of this exciting, complex page-turner that provides a provocative and entertaining look at Thoreau’s classic eco-text Walden. Eccentric billionaire Jack Winter has bought the planet Beekman’s Pea, renamed it Walden, and created a utopia in which members renounce the technologies of human civilization. Marginalized by these newcomers, the planet’s original inhabitants are resisting the colony’s dominance by setting fires to Walden’s artificial ecology. A member of Walden, Prosper Gregory Leung is a veteran firefighter who believes in protecting Winter’s utopian vision, but when he is wounded, he begins to learn of the terrible price that the people of Walden are paying for their paradise. Interwoven with themes of environmental responsibility, political struggle, and courage, this adventure novel nimbly combines political and social relevance with a flawless and gripping narrative from a veteran science fiction author. You can also listen to the audio version of BURN.
- Water to Burn – Nola’s the new head of the San Francisco branch of the Agency, the psychic organization so secret that even the CIA doesn’t know it exists. What’s more, for some mysterious reason, Interpol has assigned her lover, Israeli secret agent Ari Nathan, to her new bureau as her permanent “bodyguard.” But everywhere she looks she sees a Chaos manifestation spying on her. Inexplicable “rogue waves” are sweeping innocents to a watery death before she can save them. She has two increasingly dangerous searches on hand, for Rob Ezekiel, the supposedly dead prophet from Ari’s past, and for the mysterious “Brother Belial,” head of the Chaos cult they had managed to take down. To top it off, her brother Michael is dragging Nola and Ari into his attempt to rescue his girlfriend from a radioactive alternate dimension. How is Nola supposed to serve the forces of Harmony and maintain the balance between Chaos and Order when she can’t even keep her own family under control?
- Evolve 2 – Meet the eternal predator that humanity never ceases to find both fascinating and terrifying. Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead moves this creature beyond 2012, through this century and into the next. We humans will evolve, but so will they! Whatever apocalyptic events that lie ahead for our species, for the planet, Vampires will be there too, helping or hindering, effecting or infecting us. Time is on their side, but it may not be on ours. They are vampires, and more powerful than ever before! Hot on the heels of the best seller, EVOLVE: Vampire Stories of the New Undead, Nancy Kilpatrick does it again with twenty-two original stories that explore the evolution of vampires.
- Under The Poppy – Love: it’s a triangle. War: is coming. Betrayal: is inevitable. Sex: watch out for the naughty puppets.
- Never Knew Another – Fugitive Rachel Nolander is a newcomer to the city of Dogsland, where the rich throw parties and the poor just do whatever they can to scrape by. Supported by her brother Djoss, she hides out in their squalid apartment, living in fear that someday, someone will find out that she is the child of a demon. Corporal Jona Lord Joni is a demon’s child too, but instead of living in fear, he keeps his secret and goes about his life as a cocky, self-assured man of the law. The first book in the Dogsland Trilogy, Never Knew Another is the story of how these two outcasts meet.
- Echo – An Alex Benedict Novel. Eccentric Sunset Tuttle spent his life searching in vain for forms of alien life. Thirty years after his death, a stone tablet inscribed with cryptic, indecipherable symbols is found in the possession of Tuttle’s onetime lover, and antiquities dealer Alex Benedict is anxious to discover what secret the tablet holds. It could be proof that Tuttle had found what he was looking for. To find out, Benedict and his assistant embark on their own voyage of discovery-one that will lead them directly into the path of a very determined assassin who doesn’t want those secrets revealed.
- Hot Ticket – Juliet Robinson is the only sixth grader in John Jay Jr. High who hasn’t received a “hot ticket” from the mysterious ticket dispenser. When one of the dorkiest kids in school – Crammit Gibson – receives a ticket before she does, Juliet decides that the ticketing system has to stop. With the help of her best friend Lucy, a Daria-esque Madeline and her almost-crush Crammit, Juliet is determined to climb a few rungs on the middle school social ladder and catch the ticket dispenser once and for all! HOT TICKET is the first book in the Hot Ticket Trilogy.
- Nights of Villjamur – Beneath a dying red sun sits the proud and ancient city of Villjamur, capital of a mighty empire where humans coexist with the birdlike garda race, the reptilian rumel who can live for hundreds of years, and the eerie banshees whose forlorn cries herald death. But now all life is threatened by an encroaching ice age. Throngs of refugees gather outside the city gates, while within, tragedy forces the Emperor’s elder daughter, Jamur Rika, to assume the throne. Joined by her younger sister, Jamur Eir, the new queen takes pity on the common people—and takes counsel from dashing teacher Randur Estevu, who is not what he seems. Meanwhile, a grisly murder draws rumel investigator Rumex Jeryd into a web of corruption—and an obscene conspiracy that imperils the lives of Rika and Eir and the future of Villjamur itself. But far north, where the drawn-out winter has already begun, an even greater danger appears, against which all the empire’s military and magical power may be useless—a threat from another world. Cc) Spectra; Reprint edition (May 24, 2011)
- The Inferior – STOPMOUTH AND HIS family know of no other life than the daily battle to survive. To live, they must hunt rival species, or negotiate flesh-trade with those who crave meat of the freshest human kind. It is a savage, desperate existence. And for Stopmouth, considered slowwitted hunt-fodder by his tribe, the future looks especially bleak. But then, on the day he is callously betrayed by his brother, a strange and beautiful woman falls from the sky. It is a moment that will change his destiny, and that of all humanity, forever. With echoes of Tarzan, Conan the Barbarian, and The Truman Show, Peadar Ó Guilín’s debut is an action—and idea-packed—blockbuster that will challenge your perceptions of humanity and leave you hungry for more.
- Silver Phoenix – No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger’s subservient bride banished to the inner quarters. But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn’t only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined. Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help. It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.
- Fury of the Phoenix – The Gods have abandoned Ai Ling. Her mysterious power haunts her day and night, and she leaves home—with just the moon as her guide—overwhelmed by her memories and visions and an unbearable sense of dread. For Ai Ling knows that Chen Yong is vulnerable to corrupt enchantments from the under-world. How can she do nothing when she has the skill and power to fight at his side? A dream has told her where he is, the name of the ship he is traveling on, his destination. So she steals off and stows away on board. The ocean voyage brings with it brutal danger, haunting revelations, and new friendships, but also the premonition of a very real and terrifying threat. Zhong Ye—the powerful sorcerer whom Ai Ling believed she had vanquished in the Palace of Fragrant Dreams—is trapped in Hell, neither alive nor dead. Can he reach from beyond the grave to reunite with Silver Phoenix and destroy Chen Yong? And destroy whatever chance Ai Ling has at happiness, at love? In this sequel to the acclaimed novel Silver Phoenix, four lives are woven together and four destinies become one, now and forever.
Thomas Randall (Christopher Golden)
- The Waking: Spirits of the Noh – Kara Foster is finally starting to fit in at her boarding school in Japan—after all, nothing bonds you with your classmates like having an ancient demon put a curse on you. Hoping life can go back to normal now that the monster has been laid to rest, Kara joins her friends Sakura and Miho in putting on a play for the Noh drama club. It’s the story of the Hannya, a snake demon who inhabits the body of a beautiful woman. When a few members of the Noh club go missing, Kara fears that the real Hannya has been awakened by the curse. Then Miho is abducted, and Kara must find her before the Hannya exacts her terrible revenge. But the demon is wily and may be hidden in the last place anyone would think to look.
- Walkabout Woman – A novel of the Australian Outback & Aboriginal Dreamtime; it won the John W. Campbell & Crawford Awards. “Walkabout Woman is indeed a daring and innovative first novel… Beyond its setting, the strength of this work lies in its vivid depiction of the relation of the Dreamtime to ‘real life’, in the characterization of Raba, and in the incisive parallel drawn between the loss of the Welsh Annwyn and the impending fate of the aborigines… it is a book to be read, and then read again.” — Book Review Annual
- Hitler’s War – A stroke of the pen and history is changed. In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, determined to avoid war at any cost, signed the Munich Accord, ceding part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. But the following spring, Hitler snatched the rest of that country and pushed beyond its borders. World War II had begun, and England, after a fatal act of appeasement, was fighting a war for which it was not prepared. Now, in this thrilling, provocative, and fascinating alternate history by Harry Turtledove, another scenario is played out: What if Chamberlain had not signed the accord? What if Hitler had acted rashly, before his army was ready–would such impatience have helped him or doomed him faster? Here is an action-packed, blow-by-blow chronicle of the war that might have been–and the repercussions that might have echoed through history–had Hitler reached too far, too soon, and too fast. (c) Del Rey (August 4, 2009)
- Secrets of Ordinary Farm – Coming this summer! – Expert storytellers Tad Williams and Deborah Beale take readers on an extraordinary adventure in their next book about Ordinary Farm.
- Fractal Despondency – Was she an angel from above, or a walking time bomb of doom? His life having crumbled, Blake Gladstone returns to his hometown of Santa Fe, and tries to settle back into the unsatisfying life he’d had before he left for Florida. When he meets Denise, a pretty young blonde with a bag full of tricks, his sad routine breaks, and the more they get to know each other, the more Blake can’t figure out if he’s on a road to salvation, or a road back to hell.