All the New Genre-Bending Books Coming Out in May

This month’s genre-bending releases feature a lot of worlds that never were—or almost, but not quite, look familiar. A time traveler slips to 1945; Word War II is rewritten by the earlier invention of the atomic bomb; hippos swim in the rivers of the US. Haruki Murakami releases a new short story collection; Scott Westerfeld presents his new graphic novel; Alex Flynn brings the Misshapes trilogy to a close; Ellen Klages’ short fiction is collected into Wicked Wonders. And did we mention the hippos?

Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.

 

WEEK ONE

Sealskin—Su Bristow (May 1, Orenda)
Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance.

Cold Summer—Gwen Cole (May 2, Sky Pony Press)
Young adult. Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers die. The next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left.When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, she reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Is Kale’s death inevitable? Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper.

The Four Legendary Kingdoms—Matthew Reilly (May 2, Gallery Books)
Jack West, Jr. and his family are living happily on their remote farm when Jack is brutally kidnapped and he awakes in an underground cell to find a masked attacker with a knife charging at him. Jack, it seems, has been chosen—along with a dozen other elite soldiers—to compete in a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfil an ancient ritual. With the fate of the Earth at stake, he will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight cruel assassins, and face unimaginable horrors that will test him like he has never been tested before. In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms. He might also discover that he is not the only hero in this place…

Spill Zone—Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland (May 2, First Second)
Graphic novel. Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. The Spill claimed Addison’s parents and scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn’t spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone’s twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death—or worse. When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival and ventures farther than she has ever dared. Within the Spill Zone, Hell awaits—and it seems to be calling Addison’s name.

 

WEEK TWO

Lives of the Monster Dogs—Kirsten Bakis (May 9, FSG Classics)
Reissue. After a century of cruel experimentation, a haunted race of genetically and biomechanically uplifted canines are created by the followers of a mad nineteenth-century Prussian surgeon. Possessing human intelligence, speaking human language, fitted with prosthetic hands, and walking upright on their hind legs, the monster dogs are intended to be super soldiers. Rebelling against their masters, however, and plundering the isolated village where they were created, the now wealthy dogs make their way to New York, where they befriend the young NYU student Cleo Pira and—acting like Victorian aristocrats—become reluctant celebrities. Unable to reproduce, doomed to watch their race become extinct, the highly cultured dogs want no more than to live in peace and be accepted by contemporary society. Little do they suspect, however, that the real tragedy of their brief existence is only now beginning. A contemporary classic, this edition features a new introduction by Jeff VanderMeer.

The Berlin Project—Gregory Benford (May 9, Saga Press)
Karl Cohen, a chemist and mathematician who is part of The Manhattan Project, has discovered an alternate solution for creating the uranium isotope needed to cause a chain reaction: U-235. After convincing General Groves of his new method, Cohen and his team of scientists work at Oak Ridge preparing to have a nuclear bomb ready to drop by the summer of 1944 in an effort to stop the war on the western front What ensues is an altered account of World War II in this taut thriller. Combining fascinating science with intimate and true accounts of several members of The Manhattan Project, The Berlin Project is an astounding novel that reimagines history and what could have happened if the atom bomb was ready in time to stop Hitler from killing millions of people.

Doolittle Rises (Misshapes #3)—Alex Flynn (May 9, Polis Books)
Young adult. The nation is in ruins and Sarah Robertson feels she is to blame. Buildings are crumbling, cities are falling, people live in fear and terror. As Sarah watches M.O.E and Q wreak havoc on defenseless people, destroy landmark after landmark, she wonders if the people are right about her. If they’re right to hunt her. Maybe she isn’t a Hero after all, but the villain they say she is. She wanted her mom free. She wanted justice. But as she looks at the carnage she wonders: At what price freedom? At what price justice? Sarah is tracked by government agents, hunted by men in capes ready to shoot her down with lasers. Freedom Man is nearly dead. M.O.E and his legion have surrounded Washington, DC. There are tanks on the White House lawn. It’s all coming to an end. And she started it all. Is Sarah Robertson the destroyer of worlds?

The Argus Deceit—Chuck Grossart (May 9, 47North)
Brody Quail exists in four different lives, in four simultaneous identities: happy young boy, lovelorn teenager, damaged young man, and a pitiable middle-aged loner. He lives blissfully unaware of his divided nature until a series of increasingly surreal experiences shakes this already fragile equilibrium. Time begins to stop and start for him alone. Intimations of a recurring event haunt his thoughts, and a silent, shadowy presence watches and stalks him. As the barriers between his realities begin to flicker and blur, Brody’s confusion and fear find sympathetic understanding in Constance Drake, whose own sense of reality seems to be fraying into terrifying incoherence. Threatened by madness and oblivion, Brody and Constance embark on a desperate search for answers. The truth may set them free—or utterly destroy them.

The Last Iota—Rob Kroese (May 9, Thomas Dunne Books)
After the Collapse of 2028, a vast section of LA, now known as the Disincorporated Zone, was disowned by the civil authorities and became a de facto third world country within the borders of the city. In 2039, navigating the boundaries between DZ and LA proper is a tricky task, and there’s no one better suited than eccentric private investigator Erasmus Keane. When movie mogul Selah Fiore decides she needs to get her hands on a rare coin lost somewhere in the city, she knows Keane is the man for the job. But while Keane and his partner Blake Fowler struggle to unravel the mystery of the elusive coins, Blake’s girlfriend Gwen goes missing and Selah Fiore turns up murdered. Both of these crimes seem to be linked to the coins—and to an untraceable virtual currency called iotas, used by drug dealers and terrorist networks. Soon the clues begin to point to a conspiracy at the highest levels of government—and to a mysterious trickster who has orchestrated it all.

Men Without Women—Haruki Murakami (May 9, Knopf)
Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all. Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic.

 

WEEK THREE

Nebula Awards Showcase 2017—Julie Czerneda, editor (Pyr, May 16)
The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). This year’s editor, selected by SFWA’s anthology Committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer and editor Julie Czerneda. This year’s Nebula Award winners are Naomi Novik, Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Pinsker, and Alyssa Wong, with Fran Wilde winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. Also included in this volume are works by N. K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie.

Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology—Tricia Reeks, editor (May 16, Meerkat Press)
Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.

Eagle and Empire (Clash of Eagles #3)—Alan Smale (May 16, Del Rey)
Roman Praetor Gaius Marcellinus came to North America as a conqueror, but after meeting with defeat at the hands of the city-state of Cahokia, he has had to forge a new destiny in this strange land. In the decade since his arrival, he has managed to broker an unstable peace between the invading Romans and a loose affiliation of Native American tribes known as the League. But invaders from the west will shatter that peace and plunge the continent into war: The Mongol Horde has arrived and they are taking no prisoners. Marcellinus and his Cahokian friends must summon allies both great and small in preparation for a final showdown. Alliances will shift, foes will rise, and friends will fall as Alan Smale brings us ever closer to the dramatic final battle for the future of the North American continent.

The Scribe of Siena—Melodie Winawer (May 16, Touchstone)
Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. There, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city. After uncovering the journal and paintings of Gabriele Accorsi, the fourteenth-century artist at the heart of the plot, Beatrice finds a startling image of her own face and is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague. Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love—not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena’s very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.

 

WEEK FOUR

River of Teeth—Sarah Gailey (May 23, Tor.com Publishing)
In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true. Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two. This was a terrible plan. Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

Hold Back the Stars—Katie Khan (May 23, Gallery Books)
After the catastrophic destruction of the Middle East and the United States, Europe has become a utopia and, every three years, the European population must rotate into different multicultural communities, living as individuals responsible for their own actions. While living in this paradise, Max meets Carys and immediately feels a spark of attraction. He quickly realizes, however, that Carys is someone he might want to stay with long-term, which is impossible in this new world. As their relationship plays out, the connections between their time on Earth and their present dilemma in space become clear. When their air ticks dangerously low, one is offered the chance of salvation—but who will take it? An original and daring exploration of the impact of first love and how the choices we make can change the fate of everyone around us, this is an unforgettable read.

Wicked Wonders—Ellen Klages (May 23, Tachyon)
The award-winning author of The Green Glass Sea returns with smart and subversive new tales. A rebellious child identifies with wicked Maleficent instead of Sleeping Beauty. Best friends Anna and Corry share one last morning on Earth. A solitary woman inherits a penny arcade haunted by a beautiful stranger. A prep-school student requires more than luck when playing dice with a faerie. Ladies who lunch—dividing one last bite of dessert—delve into new dimensions of quantum politeness. Whether on a habitat on Mars or in a boardinghouse in London, discover Ellen Klages’ wicked, wondrous adventures full of wit, empathy, and courage.

 

WEEK FIVE

No new titles.

2 Comments

Subscribe to this thread

Post a Comment

All comments must meet the community standards outlined in Tor.com's Moderation Policy or be subject to moderation. Thank you for keeping the discussion, and our community, civil and respectful.

Hate the CAPTCHA? Tor.com members can edit comments, skip the preview, and never have to prove they're not robots. Join now!