This month's lineup of science fiction, fantasy and horror will keep even the most selective readers satisfied. Check out what's on tap for May…
Westside by W.M. Akers
This rich blend of fantasy and mystery is set in a magical 1921 New York City where the rich and prosperous live on the Eastside and the Westside is home to the destitute and shady. Gilda Carr is a young Westside detective following in the footsteps of her father, except she solves "tiny mysteries." Her latest case is to find the missing glove of an Eastside socialite…a trail that leads to the murder of the woman's merchant husband and a conspiracy that may be related to Gilda's father's death. Kirkus Reviews calls it an "addictively readable fusion of mystery, dark fantasy, alternate history, and existential horror."
The Red-Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear
In this follow-up to The Stone in the Skull, readers return to the Lotus Kingdoms, the remains of a once-mighty empire, where a despotic ruler has captured Princess Sayeh and sets out to overwhelm the imperial throne (now led by Sayeh's cousin) with his army. While Sayeh attempts to subvert the attack from the confines of her captivity, Gage, the brass automaton with a human soul, continues his quest in the poison desert.
Stranger Things: Darkness on the Edge of Town by Adam Christopher
In this prequel to the hit Netflix series, Police Chief Jim Hopper recounts his early days in New York City. After a tour in the Vietnam war, Hopper became a detective with the NYPD. His last case—involving a series of brutal murders, a mysterious group of federal agents, and a city-wide blackout—changes him forever.
When Darkness Loves Us by Elizabeth Engstrom
Engstrom's 1985 book is once again available to readers thanks to the new Paperbacks From Hell book series from Valancourt. (Did you catch our behind-the-scenes look at all the pulp fiction goodness?) The book is actually a collection of two long novellas. In "When Darkness Loves Us," a pregnant farm girl comes across some underground tunnels and cannot find a way out. In the accompanying story "Beauty Is," a homely middle-aged woman born without a nose becomes a victim of an attack, which triggers the painful (and violent) thoughts of her childhood.
House of Skin by Jonathan Janz
When a couple, Paul and Julia, decide to move into Paul's inherited mansion, they think things are looking up. Through flashbacks to the house's original inhabitants—Paul's deceased relatives, Miles and Annabel—we see the horror awaiting them: Miles and Annabel aren't dead, they're waiting.
A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
Set in a world evoking early Renaissance Italy, an old man named Danio recounts his colorful past. Though born to humble beginnings, his early days revolved around a ruling count known as "The Beast." When a woman named Adria seeks to assassinate The Beast, Danio's decision alters their lives forever and ensures his place among the ruling class.
Last Tango in Cyberspace by Steven Kotler
In this fast-paced blend of technology and traditional cyberpunk, Lion Zorn is an empath, the first of his kind, an emotional soothsayer able to spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen. His talents are considered very valuable to companies that dabble on the wrong side of the law. That's how Lion is hired by a pharmaceutical company—a job that leads him to discover a murder and become involved with eco-assassins, soul hackers, and consciousness terrorists.
Octavia Gone by Jack McDevitt
McDevitt's Alex Benedict novels are set in the far future when mankind has spread out across the galaxy. Benedict and his pilot Chase are dealers of antiquities, usually valuable and usually hard to come by and much-sought-after. In the latest book, an alien artifact goes missing leading Benedict, Chase and their long-lost partner Gabe, to an old mystery: the infamous disappearance of a team of scientists aboard a space station orbiting a black hole.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
In this standalone fantasy, a maniacal alchemist conceives a plan to control the world: create a pair of twins, each containing one half of the alchemical Doctrine of Ethos that, when joined, will combine into a power great enough to control everything. Roger and Dodger are the twins in question—one good with words, the other good with numbers—though they live a country apart. That is, until they develop a telepathic connection that brings them together before the alchemist's plan can fully come to fruition.
Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols
In this SciFi thriller, an astronaut named Catherine Wells, lost in space for almost a decade, returns to Earth to find her life shattered. Her husband has since married another woman and her teenage daughter is virtually a stranger. With little memory of what happened, Catherine begins waking up in strange locations at NASA, prompting her to find out exactly what happened during her lost time.
The Gameshouse by Claire North
Originally published as three digital-only novellas, The Gameshouse is about a gambling den where you can basically play any game you want. There also exists a high-stakes league involving the world's real movers and shakers. There, the pieces in the game are real people and you bargain with a piece of yourself. Would you like to play a game?
Million Mile Road Trip by Rudy Rucker
Rucker's psychedelic fiction is often offbeat, but therein lies its appeal. Case in point: his latest novel, in which a trumpet solo opens a trans-dimensional doorway to Mappyworld, a parallel universe consisting of a single, endless plain divided by ridges into basin-like worlds. Three teenagers find themselves on the weirdest of road trips, trying to save Earth from an invasion of carnivorous flying saucers. Like you do.
Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler
Young Nedda had always dreamed of being an astronaut, despite witnessing the horrible Challenger tragedy in 1986. Her father, a former NASA physicist, looking for a way to extend his daughter's childhood after the loss of a newborn son, inadvertently invents a way to alter the fabric of time. Nedda's mother, Betheen, meanwhile, traded her career in science to raise a family. Swyler's examination looks at the bonds between them over the course of Nedda's life, in which she does get to travel off planet on a faraway space mission.
Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky
In Tchaikovsky's award-winning novel Children of Time, humanity battled for survival on a terraformed planet that was home to giant spider-like creatures. This sequel set eons later checks back on their progress. Mankind has become allies with the spider beings, and when they detect fragmentary radio signals between the stars, they dispatch an exploration vessel hoping to find whatever was left of life on Earth.
Lent by Jo Walton
This historical fantasy revolves around Girolamo Savonarola, a real-life friar in the 15th century. In Lent, Girolamo's life events become a series of remarkable miracles that results in him effectively becoming the leader of Florence. Not a bad turn of events for the man's life. But Girolamo is not who he appears to be, especially after he encounters a mysterious green stone.
Empire of Grass by Tad Williams
In this second volume of The Last King of Osten Ard, a longstanding peace has been weakened by the threat of war. King Simon and Queen Miriamele face dangers from everywhere: from their neighboring allies, who agree to let the kingdom's enemy's armies cross their land in safety; from a powerful sister-nation in the midst of an uprising; and the city-hating nomads are mobilizing. Through all this, they must solve the mystery of the Witchwood Crown.
SHORT FICTION PICKS!
Who doesn't love short fiction? I do! For great reads you can fit in those in-between times, check out these short fiction titles that people will also be talking about:
- The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch
- Longer by Michael Blumlein
- Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang
- Mythic Journeys: Retold Myths and Legends edited by Paula Guran
- Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water by Vylar Kaftan
- Undefeated by Una McCormack
- American Gothic Short Stories
- Inferno! Volume 3
Other notable SF/F/H sequels out this month include:
- The Warship by Neal Asher
- Five Unicorn Flush by TJ Berry
- Treason of Hawks by Lila Bowen
- Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
- The Stiehl Assassin by Terry Brooks
- Triumphant by Jack Campbell
- The Dragons of Dorcastle by Jack Campbell
- The Prophet of the Termite God by Clark Thomas Carlton
- Queenslayer by Sebastien de Castell
- Warlock Holmes: The Sign of Nine by G. S. Denning
- Ephemeris by J. Dianne Dotson
- Broken Shadow by Jaine Fenn
- The Siege of Terra: Solar War by John French
- Finale by Stephanie Garber
- Time's Demon by D B Jackson
- Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Genevieve Undead by Kim Newman
- Breach by Eliot Peper
- The Empire of Ashes by Anthony Ryan
- The Rule of Many by Ashley and Leslie Saunders
- Hope for the Best by Jodi Taylor
- Starship Repo by Patrick S. Tomlinson
- A Chain Across the Dawn by Drew Williams
- Conventions of War by Walter Jon Williams