Whew! Now that we've had time to soak in the books from Part 1, it's time to dig a little deeper into 2018's science fiction and fantasy book lineup!


Supernatural fiction fans rejoice! Stephen King is back this month with The Outsider, a story of the true evil that lies underneath the seemingly nice guy persona of Little League coach Terry Maitland, who is linked to the horrific killing of a young boy.

Is that too dark? Ok, well, if fantasy is more your speed, know that two long-running urban fantasy series get another installment this month: Faith Hunter adds to her action-packed Jane Yellowrock urban fantasy series with the new novel Dark Queen, in which Jane, an Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, is forced to fight alongside the vampires she once hunted. Meanwhile, Ilona Andrews extends her exciting Kate Daniels series with Magic Triumphs, in which Kate, a mercenary, receives a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family.

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For more traditional fantasy, check out What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine, where a young woman ventures into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia. Or, travel to the ancient moors of Scotland, where the fate of the kingdom lies with the destinies of two young men raised worlds apart in The Oddling Prince by Nancy Springer.  Armed in Her Fashion by Kate Heartfield depicts a raid on Hell itself to recover the coins and weapons that could buy a daughter's safety, which were stolen by a widow's undead husband.

Looking for epic historical military fantasy? Look no further than The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, in which a girl named Rin passes an Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth and finds herself at an elite military school…and also possessing an uncanny aptitude for magic. Laura Anne Gilman concludes her weird western trilogy with Red Waters Rising, where Isobel, the Devil's Left Hand, and Gabriel root out evil as they ride through the magical land of the Territory.

Science fiction releases this month span a wide spectrum of ideas. For example, the latest book in Sylvain Neuvel's page-turning Themis Files series—a series about a huge robot left on Earth by aliens—is Only Human, which takes place when the robot's human caretakers return to Earth after nearly ten years on another world, only to find to Earth and the Earth Defense Corps in shambles. Money reigns supreme in the dystopia of 84Kby Claire North, where any crime can be committed without penalty if you have enough money to pay for it.

In Bandwidth by Eliot Peper, a rising star at a preeminent political lobbying firm who represents the world's most powerful technology and energy executives, has his digital feed hijacked by dark forces for nefarious purposes. In Medusa Uploaded by Emily Devenport, a sentient artificial intelligence (a so-called "Medusa unit") rescues a woman discarded by a too-powerful corporation, only to bond with her and turn her into the insurgent they feared all along. The Soldier by Neal Asher begins a new series in his thrilling Polity universe. Here, both humans and their predatory alien opponents the Prador rely on a part-human/part-AI third party to oversee a massive space anomaly powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations.

Enjoy tons of immersive short fiction with the themed anthologies Endless Apocalypse Short Stories and Alien Invasion Short Stories, both part of the Gothic Fantasy anthology series edited by Laura Bulbeck. Or dive into C. Robert Cargill's eclectic collection Nightmares Go and Other Stories.


June's science fiction lineup is primed to expand your mind. In Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee, a mass-murderer awakens with no recollection of the atrocities he's committed and in command of an army of soldiers who do. Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi examines what would happen if the afterlife spilled over into the world of the living.

In Tanya Huff's trilogy-ending The Privilege of Peace, former space marine Torin Kerr returns to (hopefully) save the Confederacy. The Robots of Gotham by Todd McAulty depicts a future Earth nearly overrun by fascist machines on the eve of human extinction at the hands of a horrifying plague.

Meanwhile, The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts depicts a most unusual rebellion of the future, slowly taking place one day out of every million. Iron City by Pat Cadigan is a prequel to the highly anticipated science fiction film Alita: Battle Angel, about a young woman's journey to discover the truth of her identity and her fight to change the world.

The June Fantasy/Horror lineup is also sure to please. In the unique ghost story that is Seanan McGuire's Sparrow Hill Road, a girl named Rose Marshall is killed in 1952, run off the road by Bobby Cross, a man who sold his soul for immortality and is trying to pay for it with her life. More than six decades later, Rose is still on the run from Bobby. The Book of the Unwinding by J.D. Horn continues the story of a young witch's quest to uncover her family's terrifying history in New Orleans. 

Set in the beguiling and seductive landscape of Southern Italy, Francesco Dimitri's The Book of Hidden Things follows four friends discovering strange secrets while fulfilling their promise to meet up every year in their hometown. The title character of Christina Henry's historical fairy tale The Mermaid leaves the sea, only to become the star attraction of history's greatest showman, P. T. Barnum. Finally, Paul Tremblay's The Cabin at the End of the World is a home invasion horror story in which the fate of a family vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake may be intertwined with the fate of humanity itself.

On the must-read short fiction front is Ellen Datlow's anthology The Best Horror of the Year Volume Ten, Jonathan Strahan's anthology Infinity's End, the superhero anthology Wild Cards: Low Chicago edited by George R.R. Martin, David Afsharirad's themed anthology The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Volume 4, the collection Brief Cases by Jim Butcher, which collects a new batch of short fiction stories for fans of his hugely popular Dresden Files series, and Bram Stoker Horror Stories, a collection of short fiction and excerpts from the author of Dracula.


July's science fiction is jam-packed with action, adventure and a bellyful of humor. First, Becky Chambers extends her adventurous Wayfarers universe with Record of a Spaceborn Few, where humans, artificial intelligences, and aliens explore what it means to be a community. Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald continues the struggle of five corporate families who fight for control over Earth's moon. In the alternate history of Mary Robinette Kowal's The Calculating Stars, an impending cataclysm initiated by an unfortunate meteor strike accelerates Earth's space colonization program and, despite the historical obstacles, Elma York wants to be a Lady Astronaut.

Thin Air by Richard K. Morgan follows ex-corporate enforcer Hakan Veil on Mars and the quest to find the woman he failed to protect from her enemies. Thea Lim tests whether love can withstand the test of time travel in An Ocean of Minutes, where a woman signs up for a one-way-trip into the future to work as a bonded laborer to save her lover from a life-threatening illness. Gail Carriger's Competence sees prim and proper Miss Primrose Tunstell devising a scheme to steal helium in order to save her airship.

Rich Larson reinvents the alien invasion novel with Annex, in which a young trans girl must find a way to defeat the aliens who have taken over her city.  Two sisters, one from the huge megacity of Seacouver and one from the wilderness between cities, work together to protect the wilderness from people who would keep it for themselves in Keepers by Brenda Cooper. The heroine of Kameron Hurley's Apocalypse Nyx is a butt-kicking ex-government assassin-turned-bounty-hunter named Nyx, who leads a team of other misfits in an apocalyptic, war-torn world full of giant bugs and endless missions. The Labyrinth Index by Charles Stross is the newest entry in the popular Laundry Files series, a comic superspy thriller with a dash of Lovecraftian horrors. Here, human society is forever changed with the arrival of vast, alien, inhuman intelligences on Earth.

Speaking of Lovecraftian horrors, also be sure to check out the dark fantasy Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys, which continues the journey of Aphra Marsh, descendant of the People of the Water and survivor of the Deep One internment camps, as she rebuilds her life and family while tracking down long-lost relatives. Bibliophiles will adore European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss, in which Dr. Jekyll's daughter, Mary—and the rest of the daughters of literature's mad scientists—embark on a madcap adventure across Europe.

In The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire, hitchhiking ghost Rose Marshall continues her battle with her killer, the immortal Bobby Cross. Spinning Silver, meanwhile,is Naomi Novik's wonder-filled retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale.  Kevin Hearne & Delilah S. Dawson kick off their tongue-in-cheek Tales of Pell series with Kill the Farm Boy, the story of an unlikely hero on a quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. Author A. Lee Martinez dials up the snark again in Constance Verity Saves the World, in which the titular perpetual heroine is called upon once again to save the world, much to her reluctance.

Looking for short fiction to read on the beach? Check out The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois and The Final Frontier: Stories of Exploring Space, Colonizing the Universe, and First Contact by Neil Clarke. Both of these will provide hours upon hours of solid reading entertainment.

There's more to come! Tune in next week to see what the end of 2018 has in store for you.

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