11 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in late June
New space operas, apocalypses, and alien encounters
With the 50th anniversary of the lunar landings coming up next month, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the vast canon of Apollo histories that are out there. There has been of ink spilled in the last five decades exploring every detail of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and there are more on the way.
A handful of works stand out in the history of spaceflight literature. The first is a pair of books authored by Francis French and Colin Burgess: Into that Silent Sea, about NASA’s work leading up to Apollo, and In the Shadow of the Moon, about the Apollo program up to Apollo 11. They’re part of the University of Nebraska Press’s fantastic Outward Odysseyseries, and provide an accessible, in-depth look at how the US reached the moon.
Another essential book is Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo by Nicholas de Monxhau. If you’ve ever wondered what goes into designing a space suit (and if you haven’t watched my colleague Loren Grush’s Space Craft series), it’s an exhaustive history into how a company known for making bras and girdles developed the iconic suits worn on the moon. It explores how the space suits were made and provides a unique look into the history of spaceflight.
Here are 11 new science fiction and fantasy novels that are coming out in the latter half of June. (You can read the books that hit stores earlier this month here.)
All City by Alex DiFrancesco
Set in a near-future New York City, Alex DiFrancesco’s All City follows the plight of two people who survive when a superstorm hits: Makayla, a store clerk, and Jesse, a genderqueer anarchist. After being caught in the storm, they carve out their own niche in an abandoned luxury condo complex. While they work to rebuilt their lives, strange, colorful murals begin to appear in the city, catching the eyes of journalists and calling unwanted attention to the home that they’ve been building. Publishers Weekly says that it’s a “loving, grieving warning [that] thoughtfully traces the resilience, fragility, and joy of precarious communities in an immediate, compassionate voice.”
The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t with Her Mind by Jackson Ford
Teagan Frost has telekinetic powers, something that the government has put to good use, sending her off on missions that only she can accomplish. Like most people with special powers, she just wants to be normal. But after one mission, authorities discover a body; she’s the prime suspect and has only 22 hours to prove her innocence. If she can’t, she could kick off a battle that could ruin Los Angeles. Kirkus Reviews saysthat it’s “a fast-paced, high-adrenaline tale that manages to get into some dark themes without losing its sense of fun.”
Read an excerpt.
Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone
Max Gladstone is best known for his fantasticCraft Sequence urban fantasy series, and with Empress of Forever, he turns his attention to space opera. Vivian Liao is a brilliant businesswoman, but her competitors have it in for her, and while trying to sabotage their efforts, she finds herself whisked away into the distant future by a powerful entity known as the Empress. The Empress controls the universe, and pillages the past for technologies to keep the universe safe from an alien species known as The Bleed. To get home, Vi assembles a motley crew of adventurers who try to undermine the Empress and save everyone. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, and the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blogcalled it a “fiercely feminist space opera.”
Read an excerpt.
The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion
After Earth is consumed by a third world war, the remaining armies and countries set up a new world order in which racial lines are strictly controlled and where medication is doled out to erase the memories of the lowest classes. Arika Cobane has been training for a decade to join the Kongo elite, who rewrite history to suit the status quo. But when a new student arrives with dangerous ideas and openly questions the official history, he forces Arika to question everything she’s worked for. Publishers Weekly says the book’s“intellectually rich, emotional, and ruthlessly honest confrontation of racism proves Gomillion is a critically important new voice.”
The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
Christina Henry has taken on a variety of classic fantasy stories with her own reimaginations: Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and now Little Red Riding Hood. In The Girl In Red, a woman in a red jacket makes her way through a post-apocalyptic Earth, trying to figure out how to survive in the new world. She’s determined to reach her grandmother’s home, but is forced to contend with dangerous governmental officials with ill intent. Publishers Weekly says that the book“satisfyingly upends the familiar tale of a clever girl, a dangerous wolf, and a brave savior, and folklore fans will enjoy this bloody near-future variation on a familiar theme.”
FKA USA by Reed King
Set in 2085, FKA USA imagines a world in which the United States has collapsed due to environmental disasters and policies. It follows a man named Truckee Wallace who lives and works in what was Little Rock, Arkansas (now called Crunchtown 407), with no aim in life other than to get laid someday. When the President asks him to deliver a talking goat across the continent to a lab in San Francisco, he’s conflicted — he’s not entirely sure if it’s worth the effort. But he makes his way across the country with a strange group of companions: Barnaby, the goat; Sammy, an android that wants to be human; and Tiny Tim, a lobotomized convict. Kirkus Reviews says that it’s “an epically concocted apocalyptic vision of America in all its faded glory.”
Read an excerpt.
Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder
In the near future, Sura Neelin has been trying to survive in a world where automation vacuums up jobs and where the country’s surveillance machine means it’s impossible to disappear. After her father is murdered, she goes on the run, and with the help of a resistance movement, learns to hide and survive in a shadow economy that exists in AR games. All the while, she starts to piece together why her father was killed, and discovers some dark secrets about the nature of the game world — and that she might be able to overturn the entire system. Publishers Weekly says that “readers looking for a little optimism mixed in with grim predictions will find a good balance here.”
Read an excerpt.
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
In her debut novella, Emily Tesh takes a new look at the Green Man mythos. Set in Victorian England, Tobias Finch has spent centuries tending to Greenhollow, listening to the trees and enjoying a quiet existence. When a man named Henry Silver shows up, he upends Tobias’s life, forcing him to take stock of his past. Publishers Weekly says that “Tesh’s characters and mythology are exquisitely crafted,” and that it’s a “fresh, evocative short novel [that] heralds a welcome new voice in fantasy.”
The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull
If you recognize Cadwell Turnbull’s name, that might be because he was one of the authors of our Better Worlds anthology project earlier this year with his story “Monsters Come Howling in Their Season.” The Lesson is his debut novel, and it takes place in the US Virgin Islands, after a spaceship from an advanced alien race known as the Ynaa parks itself there. The aliens are mysterious and appear to be friendly, unless provoked, in which case they mete out a harsh response. A year after the Ynaa kill a young boy on the islands, three families find themselves in the midst of a larger conflict. The book earned starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly, and Locus Magazine says that it’s “a book that presents racial issues and questions in a genuinely new way, which makes it a book that … will stand the test of time.”
Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee
Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire space opera trilogy — Ninefox Gambit, Raven Stratagrem, and Revenant Gun — has earned him considerable acclaim in recent years. The books follow the adventures of an infantry captain and a general in the midst of a violent interstellar war, and Lee is returning to the world with this collection of short stories that expands upon the world and its characters. They include an art thief who has to save the galaxy from a prototype weapon, a general who has to outsmart his opponent, and more. Writing for Book Smugglers, Lee has walked through some of the thinking behind the stories in the book.
The Iron Dragon’s Mother by Michael Swanwick
The third installment of Michael Swanwick’s Iron Dragon’s Daughter series (which includes 1993’s The Iron Dragon’s Daughterand 2008’s The Dragons of Babel), The Iron Dragon’s Mother follows Caitlin Sans Merci, a pilot in Her Absent Majesty’s Dragon Corps, who flies a sentient, robotic dragon called 7708. She’s returned home from a raid only to discover that she’s brought back a hitchhiker, Helen V. from Aerth, and has been framed for her brother’s disappearance and presumed murder. She goes on the run with 7708 into an Industrialized Faerie to clear her name. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a starred review, describing it as “Discworld meets Faust. They do not like each other. Philip Pullman picks up the pieces.”
Read an excerpt.