You only think you to-be-read pile of books is too big already. When you see the lineup of science fiction, fantasy and horror lined up for June, you'll want to make some room for more great reads…
Recursion by Blake Crouch
Wayward Pines and Dark Matter author Crouch has a knack for accessible science fiction—that is, he writes stories that even casual readers of sf will enjoy. The same is true of Recursion. Here, a groundbreaking new technology—one that allows people to relive every detail of their past—is abused, thus causing a new affliction called False Memory Syndrome, in which its victims are driven mad with memories of lives they've never lived. Recursion is a fast-paced thriller with a cool science fictional premise that anyone can enjoy.
Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Here's a contemporary fantasy you should know about. In Magic for Liars, Ivy Gamble is a seasoned private investigator whose relatively inconsequential case load is about to get a whole lot heavier. Ivy takes on a murder case at a school for magicians where her estranged twin sister works as a teacher. The reason for the rift between Ivy and her twin Tabitha is that Tabitha is a gifted magician while Ivy lacks any magical abilities whatsoever. Mystery, family drama, and magic make for a tasty combination in this fun debut novel.
The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
With The Girl in Red, Christina Henry one again proves that retellings don't necessarily lack originality. (Her previous re-spins of classic stories include 2015's Alice, 2016's Red Queen, 2017's Lost Boy, and 2018's The Mermaid.) In this post-apocalyptic take on Little Red Riding Hood, a Crisis has decimated much of the world population, forcing survivors to huddle in quarantine camps. But that doesn't mean that the woman in the red jacket is helpless against the new kind of monster that the Crisis has created.
Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone
If you want to be there at the beginning of an exhilarating space opera, here's your first chance. Empress of Forever introduces readers to Vivian Liao, a present-day genius who is transported to the far future to fulfill a destiny even she never could have imagined. Vivian becomes a symbol of hope in a war-torn future ruled by a sadistic and powerful Empress who uses fear and destruction to rule the galaxy. A grand scale and fast pacing mark this space opera as one to not miss.
The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion
Here's a near-future dystopia that does what sf does best: it removes us from the here-and-now so we can view ourselves from a fresh perspective. The Record Keeper takes place during a reluctant truce to World War III. To prevent war from ever happening again, people are forced to comply with the strict letter of the law. Arika Cobane is one who enforces those laws, until a new student forces her to see the true effect of their new way of life. The Record Keeper is a story about freedom and the conviction to recognize it and fight for it.
Green Valley by Louis Greenberg
Green Valley depicts a society that has voted to ban all forms of invasive digital technology for fear of becoming a surveillance state. That's all well and good until Lucie Sterling, a police consultant, needs to find her missing niece, Kira. Kira was raised in Green Valley, a concrete bunker that embraces new technology—where residents have retreated into the faux comports of virtual reality. If Lucie is to find Kira, she must cross the digital divide.
The Outside by Ada Hoffmann
Yasira Shien is an autistic scientist who developed a radical, world-changing energy drive that, once activated, warped reality and destroyed a space station and everyone on it. The Artificial Intelligence Gods who rule the galaxy did not like this one bit. Abducted by their agents, Yasira is brought before them. However, instead of execution, she gets mercy. The AI gods want her to find a bigger threat: her mentor, who has disappeared and poses a great threat to the galaxy.
Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz
The malleability of literature is often best exhibited in mashups. Take, for example, Dust Devils, a horror novel that puts vampires in the Old West—the wilds of New Mexico in 1885, to be exact. That's where Cody Wilson and twelve-year-old Willet Black team up to seek revenge against the traveling band of actors who have hurt them. Spoiler alert: said actors are vampires who are luring in new victims as they travel across the country.
The Grand Dark by Richard Kadrey
Kadrey switches gears a bit from his wildly successful noir urban fantasy series Sandman Slim to undertake a dark standalone literary fantasy. It's set after the end of the Great War in the city of Lower Proszawa, a place where extreme hedonism is the new normal but another war seems eminent. Largo Moorden is an addict and a bike messenger, born in the slums but angling for a better life among the elites. But in a city on the verge of darkness, everyone has their own idea of how life can be made better.
Unraveling by Karen Lord
Here's another standalone fantasy novel that deserves space on your bookshelf. After Dr. Miranda Ecouvo, a forensic therapist, does her part in putting a serial killer behind bars, she discovers that the rash of killings is not yet done. After a near-death experience throws her into the realm of spirits, she teams up with two of them to help stop the true culprit: a madman who is searching for immortality. Unraveling would be strong enough on premise alone, and the use of Caribbean storytelling means this one should definitely be on your radar.
The Brink by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth
Last Summer, Murray and Wearmouth thrilled audiences with Awakened, the story of vicious underground monsters who live beneath the streets of New York. In this similarly page-turning sequel, they've widened the scope enormously. Nests of monsters are now appearing all around the globe and they have a purpose. The action is fast and furious as the story's heroes race to expose them and a diabolical secret organization led by a psychopath dreaming of a new world order.
Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O'Keefe
Here's your second chance to buy into an epic space opera. Sanda Greeve is a skilled space pilot who engages with the enemy, is struck unconscious, and wakes up two hundred thirty years in the future. She finds herself aboard an AI-controlled enemy ship. The war may be long over, but its effects are everlasting. Velocity Weapon explores the meaning of being both human and humane.
Stealing Worlds by Karl Schroeder
Stealing worlds is a hacker heist set in the total surveillance society of mid-21st century America. Sura Neelin, on the run from creditors and her father's murderers, escapes into the virtual world of an augmented reality game. That's where she learns that the game itself is subverting people's idea of what society should be. When Sura also discovers that the makers of the VR world are also controlling the surveillance net, she realizes she alone holds the key to upend society. (Read an excerpt here.)
A Sword Named Truth by Sherwood Smith
If your readerly tastes lean toward epic fantasy, here's a book you'll want to check out. In this epic fantasy trilogy opener, magic—which has been long dormant—begins to reappear in the world. The rulers of several nations, all young and inexperienced, wrestle with how to defend against the oncoming threat of dark magical forces. Their answer lies in forming alliances, of course...but how do you protect the world when you don't even trust the people who are supposed to be helping?
Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson
Stephenson is known for two things: Very good stories and thoroughly-researched books with lots of world building. Readers get both with his latest release—an 880-page science fiction thriller that immerses readers in parallel worlds, immortality, posthumanism, and digital heaven. It's about a multibillionaire named Richard "Dodge" Forthrast who, after a routine medical procedure, is pronounced dead. His body is cryogenically frozen while his mind is uploaded to the cloud...only to be rebooted years later when technology allows humans to exist as digital souls. Stephenson's treatment of these science fictional concepts makes for a thought-provoking read not to be missed.
The Hungry Ghost by Dalena Storm
In this unusual ghost story, a "hungry ghost" (an idea based in Tibetan Buddhism) inhabits the body of Sam, a woman in a coma, and attempts to consume everything she once loved. The animalistic appetites reflected by the dark entity within her do not go unnoticed to the people in her life, who see the dramatic change for what it is: the beginning of the end. Storm's symbolic treatment of unrequited lust is both page-turning and full of surprises.
The Iron Dragon's Mother by Michael Swanwick
Michael Swanwick returns to the post-industrial faerie world he created in The Iron Dragon's Daughter with the long-awaited standalone fantasy The Iron Dragon's Mother. In this imaginative world, magic and technology exist side-by-side. Thus, you have Caitlin Sans Merci, pilot of a sentient mechanical dragon named 7708 who serves in the Dragon Corps. The Corps main function is to steal the souls of children from alternate Earths. Returning from once such raid, Caitlin finds an unexpected stowaway, is framed by her superiors, flees, and fights to clear her good name.
SHORT FICTION PICKS!
- Wastelands: The New Apocalypse by edited John Joseph Adams
- The Year's Best Military & Adventure SF, Vol. 5 edited by David Afsharirad
- And Cannot Come Again: Tales of Childhood, Regret, and Innocence Lost by Simon Bestwick
- This House of Wounds by Georgina Bruce
- Song for the Unraveling of the World by Brian Evenson
- Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales edited by Stephen King & Bev Vincent
- The History of Soul 2065 by Barbara Krasnoff
- Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee
- All the Names They Used for God: Stories by Anjali Sachdeva
- Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
- Fire Opal Mechanism by Fran Wilde
- The Last Tsar's Dragons by Jane Yolen
Science fiction, fantasy and horror have lots of ongoing series. Sometimes it's hard to know when the next book of your favorite series is published. Allow me to help. Here are the notable sequels being released in June…
- Pass of Fire by Taylor Anderson (Destroyermen)
- Rebel Born by Amy A. Bartol (Secondborn)
- Reentry by Peter Cawdron (Retrograde)
- March of War by Bennett R. Coles (Virtues of War)
- To Clear Away the Shadows by David Drake (RCN)
- Hangman's Gate by R.S. Ford (War of the Archons)
- Titandeath by Guy Haley (The Horus Heresy)
- The Final Days of Magic by J.D. Horn (Witches of New Orleans)
- God of Broken Things by Cameron Johnston (The Age of Tyranny)
- The Last Supper Before Ragnarok by Cassandra Khaw (Gods and Monsters: Rupert Wong)
- Kingdoms of the Cursed by Greg Keyes (The High and Faraway)
- Constellation IV by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Liaden Universe)
- Blood of Empire by Brian McClellan (Gods of Blood and Powder)
- The Fall by Tracy Townsend (Thieves of Fate)
- War by Michelle West (House War)