Summer is upon us, and there is no shortage of books to fuel our precious, hard-earned reading hours. What you need is a guide to point you to the best bets. For science fiction and fantasy books, look no further than this list of top releases out in July.
Read the last SF Signal on sci fi and fantasy's love affair with airships.
An Officer's Duty by Jean Johnson
An Officer's Duty is the second book in the Theirs Not to Reason Why series, an exciting military science fiction series featuring the tough-as-nails female protagonist named Ia. The first book, A Soldier's Duty, was a Philip K. Dick award nominee. What sets this series apart from other military sf series is that Ia can foresee all the possible futures of mankind, and in all but one of them, her home galaxy will be destroyed. The series depicts her attempts to steer human history to that one golden future. The catch: she cannot tell anyone about her abilities or all will be lost.
Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan
Morgan's promising first novel features Alice, a seemingly normal woman with an uneventful life. That is, until she is visited by angels who not only inform her of the war between the angels and the Fallen, but also that she is to play an integral part in helping the angels win. Guided by a disgraced angel named Mallory, Alice comes to learn about her own history—secret even to herself—and why the angels must send her to hell.
Empty Space by M. John Harrison
Harrison's literary space opera, The Kefahuchi Tract (which began with Light and Nova Swing), was met with wide acclaim. Now, the third book in the trilogy is finally here. Empty Space, structured in three alternating stories that merge to its grand conclusion, promises to mess with your head, but in a good way.
Energized by Edward M. Lerner
In the grand tradition of science fiction, Lerner presents a story that extrapolates a idea into the future. In Energized, the majority of the world's oil supply becomes radioactive and unusable, sending countries into economic turmoil. Alternate sources of energy are constructed, but not fast enough. Hope may lie in an approaching asteroid named Phoebe, which America captures, puts into Earth's orbit, and mines for resources to build solar satellites that beam energy down to the planet's surface. The engineering project is hard enough, but what NASA engineer Marcus Judson didn't plan on is evading the new world powers trying to sabotage it.
Heaven's War by David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt
Last summer's blockbuster beach read (Heaven's Shadow) gets a blockbuster sequel with Heaven's War, the new book by Goyer (the screenwriter behind Christopher Nolan's hugely successful Batman films) and Cassutt (a longtime science fiction author who has also written TV screenplays for several shows including The Twilight Zone). The Near Earth Object hurtling toward our sun has been found to be more than originally thought. Now, two competing teams of scientists try to unravel the mysteries of the objects appearance and, more importantly, its purpose.
Devil's Wake by Steven Barnes & Tananarive Due
In this sci-fi thriller, the world is ovecome by a deadly new infection that transforms those infected. A group of teenagers navigates across this apocalyptic landscape seeking safety and community, but must overcome deadly obstacles every step of the way. Devil's Wake seeks to reinvent the zombie novel by simulating a zombie-like apocalypse without actually using the word "zombie."
Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle
The recent passing of literary legend Ray Bradbury was a blow to field of fiction. This tribute collection, started before his passing, features the talents of just a small portion of writers whose lives he affected: Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Robert McCammon, Ramsey Campbell, Alice Hoffman, Audrey Niffenegger, Kelly Link, Harlan Ellison and 18 more. This must-have anthology also features an essay, “Second Homecoming,” written by Bradbury specifically for this publication.
The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross
Stross' Laundry Files series has to be the most genius combination of science fiction and spy thriller ever created. It's hero, Bob Howard, a tech nerd hired by the British government agency tasked with dealing with occult threats, fights off Lovecraftian horrors with technology and a bit of sass. The Apocalypse Codex is Bob's latest adventure, where he oversees a mission by infiltrate a televangelist ministry with the purpose of finding out why the American preacher wants to be in close proximity with British politicos.
vN: The First Machine Dynasty by Madeline Ashby
Science fiction has a long tradition of robot stories, yet Ashby's first novel, brings something fresh and new. Amy Peterson is a so-called VonNeumann...a self-replicating humanoid robot. Her family is mixed: some, like Amy and her mother, are synthetic, and some are organic, like her human father. In order to protect her mother from a vicious attack by her malfunctioning grandmother, Amy consumes her grandmother, thus claiming her memories. This sets the stage for a story that looks at family dynamics, explores themes of equality and wows readers with its vivid imagination.
What's that you say? You want even more suggestions?
On the off chance that you didn't find something above to satisfy your reading hunger, might I suggest some of these worthy alternatives also being published this month?
Ambrose Bierce: Masters of the Weird Tale by Ambrose Bierce
Darksiders: The Abomination Vault by Ari Marmell
Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues by Diana Rowland
Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston
Fever Moon by Karen Marie Moning
God Save the Queen by Kate Locke
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews
Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing edited by Sandra Katsuri and Halli Villegas
Iron Gray Sea by Taylor Anderson
Jack Glass by Adam Roberts
Downpour by Kat Richardson
Lord Tyger by Philip Jose Farmer
Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton
Other Worlds Than These edited by John Joseph Adams
Point of Knives by Melissa Scott
Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Sharps by K.J. Parker
Sorry Please Thank You: Stories by Charles Yu (Pantheon)
Spin the Sky by Katy Stauber
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis
The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard
The Incarceration of Captain Nebula and Other Lost Futures by Mike Resnick
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists by Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer
The Unconquered Countries: Four Novellas by Geoff Ryman
The Woman Who Married a Cloud by Jonathan Carroll (Subterranean)
The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin
This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs
Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper
V Wars by Jonathan Maberry
Year Zero by Rob Reid
One thing you may have noticed missing from this article is the mention of "Year's Best" anthologies. That's because next week I will look at a group of recent "Best of" anthologies aimed at science fiction and fantasy fans. Stay tuned...
John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo-nominated group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. He also like bagels.