If you’re a fan of speculative fiction and pop culture, there’s a good chance you’re excited about the barrage of science fiction and fantasy books, films and television shows this summer. The question is, which are you more excited for—science fiction or fantasy? See, while many self-respecting geeks love all facets of SFF, for some there’s a side that speaks more strongly to one’s tastes. In other words, some people prefer swords, and others prefer space.

Here’s one geek’s perspective concerning the big science fiction and fantasy titles coming out in these next few blockbuster months. Time to pick your side. (Or if you’re not feeling contentious, just enjoy the awesome amount of SFF that’s heading your way. Up to you!)


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Fantasy: Swords, Magic, Dragons, and the like.

Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan. (March, Tor) Like Dragons and turn of the 20th century charm? Marie Brennan’s gorgeously, hilariously written historical memoirs of Lady Isabella Trent and her sojourns with Dragons are for you.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. (March, Tor) The second book in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, this book came out in March, but it will take you all summer to read. If you like Sanderson’s, er, verbose style, then you probably won’t mind this book’s hefty 1000+ page count.

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge. (May, Pan MacMillan) Frances Hardinge is the best-kept secret in fantasy fiction. Her memorable writing style is lush and original, and we haven’t met a book of hers that we didn’t love. We cannot wait for this frightening, Shadow Thronedark fantasy novel.

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell. (May, Katherine Tegen Books) Another criminally underread author, Merrie Haskell writes some of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching middle grade fantasy we’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. This book, a retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” is right up any fairy-tale lover’s alley.

Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal. (April, Tor) It’s finally here! The fourth book in the Glamourist History books, this is the perfect read for the romantic fantasy fan. Love Jane Austen? Love magic? READ THESE BOOKS.

The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler. (July, Del Rey) This is the second book in newcomer Django Wexler’s exceptional Shadow Campaigns series. Do you like military gambits, troop formations and daring battle strategems? This flintlock (read: military) fantasy series is made for you. 

The Caller by Juliet Marillier. (September, Knopf Books for Young Readers) This might be stretching the Summer classification a bit, but I don’t care because Juliet Marillier is one of our very favorite fantasy authors. This book, the third and final novel in the Shadowfell fantasy trilogy, starring a girl with the ability to call on the fair folk in a fantastical version of medieval Scotland, cannot come soon enough.

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. (August, Orbit) A new N.K. Jemisin! A NEW N.K. JEMISIN!  If you haven’t read Jemisin’s staggeringly intricate, beautifully diverse fantasy worlds, you are in for a treat. This book is the first in a brand new series, and we cannot wait to devour it.

Best bets on TV: Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, Salem, Penny Dreadful

At the cinema: Maleficent, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hercules (ok, that’s a stretch, but fantasy films are actually a little hard to come by this summer!)


Science Fiction: Space, sentient machines, clones and such.

In the End by Demetria Lunetta. (June, HarperTeen) The second book in this outstanding “alien invasion” apocalypse-cum-dystopia duology, In The End has so much promise. Forget the big budget 5th Wave, this is the series to watch this summer.

Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach. (April, Orbit) The Paradox books are our favorite military science fiction series of recent memory—including romance, a kickass heroine, dilemmas of apocalyptic proportions, and a surprising urban fantasy–style use of tropes. Suffice it to say, we’re very excited for Devi’s last adventure. Earth Star

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. (April, Hodder & Stoughton) Nnedi Okorafor excels at blending Nigerian fantasy, ethical dilemmas and speculative fiction elements—and judging from the rave reviews, Lagoon is no exception.

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama. (April, Farrar Strauss & Giroux) Fama’s sophomore novel is a dystopian science-fiction fable about a world where society is split between night and day dwellers. Featuring a truly star-crossed romance and meaty philosophical questions, Plus One promises to be more than the typical YA dystopian romance (we hope).

Revelations by Paul Antony Jones. (April, 47North) At the start of this third and final novel in Jones’ alien invasion trilogy, things look pretty bleak for humanity. And then…they get more bleak. And even more bleak. We’re fans of this series, and cannot wait to see how it all ends. (We suspect There Will Be BLOOD. And more red rain.)

Earth Star by Janet Edwards. (April, Pyr) What do you get when you cross archaeology with science fiction, set against a xenophobic future Earth? Something like the Earth Girl series by Janet Edwards, that’s what! Try Earth Girl. You won’t be disappointed.


Lock In by John Scalzi. (August, Tor) A new virus “locks in”—that is, paralyzes—1% of Lock Inthose it affects. It seems like a hopeless situation, until a new technology emerges and the rare skill to “ride” others’ bodies is discovered. You know where this is going, right?

Armada by Ernest Cline. (October, Crown) Ok, cheating with this one since it’s technically out in the fall, not summer, but we can’t help it! We have been eagerly awaiting Ernest Cline’s new book ever since we finished his geektastic first novel, Ready Player One. This second novel looks like it also borrows heavily from ’80s influences, and we cannot wait to get back on this Space Invaders-y, War Games-y ride.

Best bets on TV: Cosmos, The 100, Orphan Black, Extant, Star Crossed

At the cinema: Godzilla, Transcendence, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomorrow


Thea James and Ana Grilo are The Book Smugglers, a website for speculative fiction and YA. You can also find them on Twitter.