Here's a look at some of the most enticing science fiction and fantasy book highlights hitting the bookstore shelves in July.
SF/F Novels That Will Please the Discerning Reader
There's lots of new novels to like this month, even when one considers only novels that are not a continuationof a series. (I'll get to those in a minute or two.) Books here range from wondrous, to adventurous, to funny and all points in between.
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross is a space opera set in the far future that posits a future where the human race is extinct, but metahumans, who descended from robots that once saved humanity, have survived. One particular metahuman named Krina is searching for her sister. Together, they possess an object of incredible power—a fact that does not go unnoticed by a dangerous space pirate.
If action and adventure are your weaknesses, check out The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, whose cool, central sci-fi artifact is a massive space elevator built by aliens. While the rest of the world has become a plague-ridden wasteland, the orbital colonies around the elevator remain relatively safe, thanks to its protective aura. That is, until that protective shield begins breaking down.
A. Lee Martinez writes standalone books that are unique, funny and fun. His latest, Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest, mixes modern-day characters Helen and Troy with the mayhem that comes from having a curse placed upon them by an ancient god. Their trip across America is filled with a healthy dose of danger (for them) and laughter (for you).
If you like history, check out The Daedalus Incident by Michael J Martinez, a gripping historical fantasy adventure which combines the late-18th-century Age of Sail with space travel. Think of it as Master & Commander...in spaaace!
Then there's Three by Jay Posey, in which a lone gunman takes on the responsibility or protecting a young boy and his dying mother against the evil forces that seek to do them harm. What sounds like traditional fantasy actually takes place in an apocalyptic wasteland.
Speaking of the apocalypse...Richard Ellis Preston Jr.'s interestingly named Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders puts the steampunk into the post-apocalyptic. In it, Captain Romulus Buckle pilots his airship on a mission to not only rescue their kidnapped leader from the fortress-like City of the Founders, but also prevent a war that could finally end the human race.You Want Sequels? We Got Sequels!
Readers not new to genre may like to know that they can get the sequels they've been waiting for in their series-loving hands. Which are the ones to watch for? For starters, Jean Johnson continues her excellent military sci-fi series Theirs Not to Reason Why with Hellfire. David Weber's military sci-fi Safehold adventure series sails on with Midst Toil and Tribulation. Ben Bova's long-running Grand Tour series of novels set in space continues with New Earth. Satan’s Reach is the second volume in the Eric Brown's fast-paced Weird Space series. On the Razor's Edge by Michael Flynn is the newest in his space opera series. Taylor Anderson's new Destroyermen novel is called Storm Surge. D.B. Jackson follows up his enjoyable fantasy Thieftaker with Thieves' Quarry. Kristen Painter is up to book five in her wonderful House of Comarré series with Last Blood. The Big Reap is the third book in Chris F. Holm's Collector series, where the main protagonist collects the souls of the damned. The battle between the Fallen and the Angels continues in Rebellion by Lou Morgan, sequel to Blood and Feathers. Countdown City by Ben Winters is the edgy sequel to the The Last Policeman. Richard Kadrey has another Sandman Slim zombie novel, Kill City Blues. Mark Hodder's steampunk adventurers Burton & Swinburne return in The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi. Last, but not least, is the latest Newbury & Hobbes steampunk/adventure/mystery novel from George Mann: The Executioner's Heart. (Watch this space for a forthcoming look at this fun steampunk series.)
July offers another rich set of short fiction books for those who prefer smaller tastes of the fantastic, or who just want to sample new ideas. Start with any of the following single-author collections: The Best of Connie Willis, which features the author's award-winning stories; The Melancholy of Mechagirl is Catherynne M. Valente's tantalizing collection of science fiction and fantasy stories; Everything You Need by Michael Marshall Smith offers an unsettling collection of dark fantasy; and Nathan Ballingrud's North American Lake Monsters is billed as a collection of traditional monster stories and monster stories that are disguised as love stories.
Perhaps your interest in short fiction lies in the desire to try new voices. If so, I would recommend to annual anthologies that showcase some of the best modern day tales sci-fi has to offer: The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois, and The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2013 Edition by Rich Horton—both of which contain stories hand-picked by editors more than capable of recognizing high quality. Also check out one of the many other delicious anthologies available this month, like Carniepunk (carnival-themed stories), edited by Jennifer Estep, Bad Seeds: Evil Progeny (horror stories featuring the creepiest of kids), edited by Steve Berman, Imaginarium 2013: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, edited by Sandra Kasturi & Samantha Beiko, or Beginnings: Worlds of Honor, edited by David Weber, which collects stories set in Weber's popular military sci-fi universe. How's that for a selection?