Here's a look at some of the science fiction and fantasy book highlights hitting the bookstore shelves in June.
SF/F/H with Wide Appeal
Do you consider yourself a casual reader of science fiction and fantasy? Maybe that will change when you read one of these sf/f books that promise to have wide appeal. For starters, check out The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, which features a serial killer who uses time travel to disappear after he does his dastardly deeds. In Lexicon, Max Barry posits a world where school children are taught to harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and control thoughts. In Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler, an unhappy young girl escapes her troubled family life into the comforting, many arms of an intelligent sea monster named Octavius, who teaches her about friendship, loyalty and the value of family. Will McIntosh extends his award-winning short story into the powerful novel Love Minus Eighty, which offers a variety of portraits of love and courtship in a future where technology redefines mortality. Genre superstar Neil Gaiman is back with The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a novel about a man who returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral and finds the horrible memories of a decades-old accident resurfacing. Gameboard of the Gods, the suspenseful debut novel by Richelle Mead, begins a new series offering mythological intrigue in a dark future where organized religion is controlled by the government. Finally, The Mona Lisa Sacrifice by Peter Roman is a secret history novel where a mortal man trapped in the undying body left behind by Christ is tasked by an angel to find the real Mona Lisa, the inspiration for the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
Traditional Science Fiction
Traditional science fiction readers won't feel short-changed when they see some of the fresh, new titles coming out this month. SF legend Larry Niven teams up with Joseph Harrington in The Goliath Stone, a story in which nanotechnology is forcibly suppressed because of the dangers, but it’s also Earth's only hope for survival when an asteroid comes hurtling towards Earth. The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill mixes elements of horror with alternate timelines when a madman attempts to unleash a monster on all of humanity in every timeline except the one to which he plans to escape. In the genre-bending Ecko Rising by Danie Ware, a criminal-for-hire in a futuristic London must face his own perceptions of reality when he is transported to a dimension where people fear magic. Alastair Reynolds adds to the world of Doctor Who tie-ins with Doctor Who: Harvest of Time, in which the Doctor must join forces with his arch-nemesis The Master to stop the invasion of an enemy alien race.
Seasoned science fiction readers also have lots of sequels to keep them busy this month. Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey is the third book in the Expanse series. Also, Madeline Ashby follows up her well-received debut story about a self-replicating humanoid, vN, with iD. Timothy Zahn picks up the Cobra series, which features technologically enhanced warriors, with a fresh novel titled Cobra Slave, the beginning of a new trilogy. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter follow last year's The Long Earth with The Long War. Chuck Wendig offers the second book in his Dinocalypse adventure trilogy with Beyond Dinocalypse. And finally, a new entry in the Ender's Game universe takes us back one hundred years before it all began and shows us the First Formic War in Earth Afire by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston.
If fantasy is your thing, there's lots here for you, too. In Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon, the queen of the Elves is murdered and her half-elven grandson must mend the broken trust with humans before the enemy strikes again, which may not be that far off from happening since magic is reasserting itself in the world. Meanwhile, Cold Steel by Kate Elliott, the conclusion of The Spiritwalker Trilogy, is another charming tale that features rescue attempts, deceit and revenge in a time of magic and heroism. A Discourse in Steel by Paul S Kemp pits reluctant heroes Egil and Nix going up against the treacherous Thieves Guild. In The Seven-Petaled Shield by Deborah J. Ross, the shield is a magical device used to ward of evil but whose power has since been forgotten. Wen Spencer begins a new urban fantasy series with Eight Million Gods, in which an expat American writer in Japan stumbles on a war involving deities. Also worth checking out is Before the Fall by Francis Knight, where the city of Mahala, having lost its power source, is thrown into turmoil, leaving hero Rojan Dizon, despite his attempts to lay low, drawn into the center of it all.
Books Targeted at Younger Readers (But Enjoyable for Adults, Too)
If you want to enjoy good books that are marketed to younger readers, I won't tell. Start with The 'Geisters by David Nickle, in which a woman learns that her invisible friend from childhood, an insect-like being, is not only real, but downright deadly. Cassandra Rose Clarke offers a fun story with The Pirate's Wish, in which a pirate and an assassin, bound together by a curse, find themselves stranded on an enchanted island and see a way to break the curse: complete three impossible-sounding tasks. Sarah Zettel's Golden Girl is a historical fantasy in which the heroine's search for her missing mother is hampered by warring fae factions. Solstice by P.J. Hoover is a clever blend of mythology and dystopia set against the backdrop of a dying world.
The single best way to sample the diversity of science fiction and fantasy is to pick up a book of short fiction. In June, you will have the opportunity to purchase several anthologies and collections. There are themed anthologies, like Aliens: Recent Encounters, edited by Alex Dally Macfarlane, which looks at alien life. Or, Clockwork Fairy Tales, edited by Stephen L. Antczak and James C. Bassett, a steampunk take of classic fairy tales. There's also Zombies! Tales of the Walking Dead, edited by Stephen Jones, to satisfy all your undead reading needs. The subtitle of Queers Dig Time Lords, edited by Sigrid Ellis and Michael Damian Thomas explains it all: A celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ fans who love it. Finally, there's Pandemonium: The Lowest Heaven, edited by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin, which is themed around bodies in our Solar System.
Other best-bet choices for short fiction include The Best British Fantasy 2013, edited by Steve Haynes, which boasts an appetizing selection of the best fiction from across the pond. Also check out Metro Winds, a tantalizing collection of otherworldly stories by Isobelle Carmody.John DeNardo is the editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning group science-fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal.