Looking for something to read in May? Here's an irresistible selection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror books that will satisfy your readerly desires. They include stories about an alternate WWII, steampunk airships, the zombie apocalypse, assassins hellbent on revenge, a space-based suicide mission, souls available for rent, and more.

 

The Berlin Project by Gregory Benford

One of the hallmarks of science fiction is asking "What if?" IN fact, the entire subgenre of alternate history is based on it. Gregory Benford's exciting alternate WWII thriller The Berlin Project posits a scenario in which the atomic bomb was ready to be deployed one year early, in the summer of 1944 – thanks to a scientist with the Manhattan Project who discovers a new way to cause a powerful chain reaction. How would the war have changed? Find out in the fast-paced story.

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The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

For anyone who ever thought that steampunk was a dying sub-genre, they need look no further than The Guns Above, the start of a brand new high-flying adventure from newcomer Robyn Bennis. In this military fantasy adventure, Josette Dupre is the first female airship captain of the Corps. Her challenges include patrolling the front lines of a dangerous war with an untested airship, assuaging a crew who doubts her expertise, and dealing with a boorish aristocrat with no military acumen who is monitoring her performance. 

 

5.3 CityofMiracles City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

The setting of Jackson's fantasy series is one where the old gods have fallen, overthrown by the people who benefitted from their miracles. Only now, those miracles have stopped working, and the continent they ruled has fallen in darkness and violence. When Prime Minister Shara Komayd is assassinated, her friend Sigrud je Harkvaldsson seeks revenge. Note to would-be assassins: you don't want to be on the bad side of Sigrud je Harkvaldsson.

 

The Boy on the Bridge by Mike Carey

Mike Carey's novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a surprise zombie novel hit that was eventually adapted into a film. That same harrowing world is the setting of Carey's new novel, The Boy on the Bridge, although it is not a continuation of the previous story. Instead, Carey gives readers a new story with a new cast of characters. Here, ten years after the zombie apocalypse, a team of scientists and military personnel seek an end to the virus that turns people into flesh-eating monsters. Their secret weapon: a teenage savant named Stephen Greaves.

 

5.3 assassin'sfate Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb

The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy – the third trilogy featuring the assassin FitzChivalry Farseer and his friend the Fool – comes to an exciting end with Hobb's latest: Assassin's Fate. Here, Fitz's young daughter, Bee, has been kidnapped by a secret society who uses their prophecies about possible futures to gain wealth and power. Bee is crucial to their plans. Believing her to be dead, Fitz and the Fool embark on a quest for revenge.

 

Injection Burn by Jason M. Hough

Set in the world of his Dire Earth Cycle, Hough begins a new fast-paced futuristic duology with a story about Skyler Luiken and his ragtag crew of scavengers, scientists, and brawlers who embark on a suicide mission to a faraway planet to rescue benevolent aliens who are being held captive. It won't be easy – the planet is surrounded by the Swarm Blockade, an impenetrable wall of deadly ships which no human ship has ever gotten past.

 

Cold Reign by Faith Hunter

The Jane Yellowrock urban fantasy series surges forward with this latest outing.  Jane is a shape-shifting skinwalker who is feared by rogue vampires as she aims to keep the peace in New Orleans. However, there's a new danger to the city: revenant vampires who never should have risen in the first place. Meanwhile, the arrival of a delegation of ancient European vampires threatens the reign of Jane's employer, Leo Pellissier, also known as the Master of the City.

 

5.3 AlienEducation Alien Education by Gini Koch

The books in Gini Koch's Alien series are reminders that reading is supposed to be fun. The series revolves around Kitty Katt-Martini, once helper of a super-secret organization tasked with defending the Earth from aliens, but now the first lady of the United States. These days, Kitty's tasks are predominately concerned with the assimilation of aliens who have come to Earth. In this latest romp, Kitty juggles representing Earth in the Galactic Council, dealing with Hollywood types who are making a movie version of her hectic life, and the shadowy goings-on at the embassy day care.

 

A Tyranny of Queens by Foz Meadows

In this portal fantasy, Saffron Coulter – who discovered a hole in reality and found herself in a magical realm on the brink of civil war – returns from the fantasy kingdom of Kena to her own world only to be pushed towards psychiatric care for her delusions of alternate worlds. She is thus faced with a decision: forsake her old life for new adventures, or forget about the fantasy realm altogether. Meanwhile, in Kena, kingdom's ruler goes missing which leaves the fate of the kingdom uncertain.

 

Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller

5.3 BorrowedSouls In this urban fantasy debut, Callie Delgado puts her life on the line to save her brother whose drug addiction puts him in danger from the mob. To rescue him, Callie must do some of the mob's dirty work. Fortunately, in this city, people can remain free from sin by temporarily renting someone else's soul to commit their sins.

That's how Callie puts her own soul at risk…by doing business with the Soul Charmer, a man who trades in souls.

 

Mormama by Kit Reed

This supernatural, southern gothic tale stars some very troubled people and a very strange house. The Ellis house is an ancient residence in Jacksonville. Dell Duval, who has been living on the street since his accident, finds a note in his pocket with the address of the house. There he meets Lane and her son Theo, who have returned to their ancient family home as a last resort. The house is run by three tyrannical aunts who want to preserve everything, even if that means preventing people from leaving.

 

Pawn by Timothy Zahn

The protagonist in this space-based adventure, Nicole Lee, is having a run of bad luck. She has no family, no money, and she's stuck in a relationship with a thug named Bungie. After one of Bungie's surefire "deals" takes an unexpected turn, he and Nicole are taken away by a strange moth-like humanoid to a ship called the Fyrantha. Once there, Nicole is assigned to work on one of the ship's maintenance crews and told to keep quiet. She discovers she is a pawn in a struggle by several different factions vying for control of the Fyrantha…and she decides to fight back.

 

…AND FOR READERS OF SHORT FICTION…

A great way to stretch your reading time is by consuming short fiction. Look for these shorter-but-still-fulfilling reads out in May:

 

  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  • Behind the Mask edited by Tricia Reeks & Kyle Richardson
  • Dark Cities edited by Christopher Golden
  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
  • Tender by Sofia Samatar
  • The Dispatcher by John Scalzi
  • Ex Libris: Stories of Librarians, Libraries, and Lore edited by Paula Guran
  • Nebula Awards Showcase 2017 edited by Julie E. Czerneda
  • River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
  • Shadows & Tall Trees 7 edited by Michael Kelly
  • Swords Against Darkness edited by Paula Guran
  • Thought X: Fictions and Hypotheticals edited by Robert Appleby & Ra Page
  • Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages

 

Happy reading!

John DeNardo is the founding editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal