For over a decade, Jim Killen has served as the science fiction and fantasy book buyer for Barnes & Noble. Every month on the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog and Tor.com, Jim shares his curated list of the month’s can’t-miss new SF/F releases.
The Fold, by Peter Clines (June 2, Crown—Hardcover)
Mike Erickson is a genius blessed (or cursed) with perfect recall, a gift he’s done his best to avoid using as a small-town high school teacher. But then an old friend with a classified government job presents him a mystery that only Mike can solve—one that even he can’t resist: out in the California desert, scientists have invented a device they call the “Albuquerque Door.” It’s able to fold space, allowing those who pass through it to travel long distances with every step. Despite the fact that anyone who has ever read a science fiction thriller knows this sounds like a terrible idea (particularly those familiar with the page-turning techno-horrors of Clines’ 14 and his Ex-Heroes series), the scientists insist it’s perfectly safe. Mike has his doubts.
Briar Queen, by Katherine Harbour (June 2, Harper Voyager—Paperback)
This sequel to Thorn Jack continues Harbour’s Night & Nothing series, which puts an imaginative spin on ancient Celtic legends. Serafina “Finn” Sullivan is trying to live a normal life with her dark-fae-turned-human lover Jack, but strange events are once again afoot in the town of Fair Hollow. An evil force seeks revenge for the death of the faerie queen Finn and Jack killed in the first book, luring Finn into the dangerous realm of the Ghostlands with a promise to reveal the truth about the suicide of her sister Lily, which kicked off the whole mess in the first place. As Finn and Jack brave great danger to seek out the truth, readers will be drawn into a lushy written story of intrigue, sacrifice, and romance.
Dead Ice, by Laurell K. Hamilton (June 9, Berkley—Hardcover)
The 24th volume of Hamilton’s long-running, sexy, subversive urban fantasy series finds Anita Blake facing an altogether bizarre supernatural conundrum. The FBI has tasked her to help hunt down whoever is responsible for a recent spate of “zombie porn” videos that have turned up. Someone is resurrecting the dead and forcing them to have sex—trapping their immortal souls in the physical realm.
From a High Tower, by Mercedes Lackey (June 2, DAW—Hardcover)
The prolific Mercedes Lackey continues her Elemental Masters series, reimagining our oldest fairy tales in a mid-20th century, magic-infused alternate Earth. This volume moves the setting to Germany to tell the story of Rapunzel—with a twist. After a fairly traditional beginning (Taken as a child: check. Kept isolated in a tower: check), the story veers off to incorporate cross-dressing, circus life, forced conscription, a Wild West show, and a Native American medicine man. It’s another engagingly written romantic fantasy from one of the masters of the form.
Halo: Hunters in the Dark, by Peter David (June 16, Gallery—Paperback)
Genre tie-in mainstay Peter David contributes his efforts to the latest novel in the Halo video game universe, set two years after Master Chief went MIA at the explosive conclusion of Halo 3. A tentative peace between humanity and the Elites is put to the test when a scientific breakthrough based on ancient Forerunner technology is discovered—one that could bring about the end of the entire galaxy. Averting disaster will require an uneasy alliance of humans and Elites to travel back to Installation 00: the mysterious, possibly deadly Ark. Fans of the series will no doubt want to snap this one up as they eagerly await the fall release of Halo 5.
Nemesis Games, by James S.A. Corey (June 2, Orbit—Hardcover)
The fifth installment of The Expanse series kicks of a new story arc in the popular, soon-to-be-a-TV-show space opera series. An alien machine has opened a gateway to thousands of new worlds, and humanity—Earthers, Martians, and Belters alike—is eager to spread out and stake a claim. But with so many leaving to explore strange new worlds, things start to fall apart in our own solar system, from terrorist attacks to disappearing ships. For the first time, this book splits up the crew of the Rocinante, as Holden and crew are given their own separate POV chapters.
Nova, by Margaret Fortune (June 2, DAW—Hardcover)
Lia Johnson is a human bomb engineered for one purpose: to infiltrate New Sol space station, and detonate herself. But what happens to a human bomb that turns out to be a dud? After a malfunction with her internal clock, Lia must figure out whether she wants to do whatever she can to complete her mission, or figure out how to live as a regular human. DAW Publisher Betsy Wollheim called this one of the most exciting science fiction debuts she’s read in over 40 years as an editor.
The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, by S.M. Stirling (June 2, Roc—Hardcover)
S.M. Stirling invites more than a dozen other writers to play in his sandbox—the Emberverse, setting of his long-running series of novels taking place in a world than has undergone the “Change”: the failure of all technology, and the possible reemergence of magic. Contributors include A. M. Dellamonica, Victor Milán, Harry Turtledove, and Jane Lindskold.
The Darkling Child: The Defenders of Shannara, by Terry Brooks (June 9, Del Rey—Hardcover)
Terry Brooks has written more than 25 Shannara novels since 1977, an imposing backlog for new readers eager to sample one of the best-selling, longest-running fantasy series ever. Like last year’s The High Druid’s Blade, The Darkling Child makes allowances for that high barrier to entry: it’s a standalone adventure set a hundred years after the events of the main series. Paxon Leah, defender of the Druid order, must travel to the far reaches of the Four Lands in order to discover the who has been using the magic of the wishsong—a power that, in the wrong hands, could throw an entire world into chaos.
The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key, by Clay & Susan Griffith (June 2, Del Rey—Paperback)
This is the first entry in a Victorian-era urban fantasy series pitched to fans of the Dresden Files and the Iron Druid Chronicles. By night, werewolves prowl the fog-filled streets of London, hunting for prey. But by day, they have also infiltrated the highest echelons of Victorian society. Eradicating the menace will require a particular set of skills—skills like those of the team of Simon Archer, spell-casting playboy; hard-drinking magic-weilder Nick Barker; and alchemist Kate Anstruther.
Trailer Park Fae, by Lilith Saintcrow (June 23, Orbit—Paperback)
Urban fantasy mainstay Lilith Saintcrow launches her newest series, one with major crossover appeal for fans of romance and gritty contemporary fantasy. Jeremiah Gallow spends his days working construction, trying to forget his past: that’s he’s only half-human, that he’s covered in deadly magical tattoos, his complicated history with the fae Queen of the Summer Court. But then a strange woman named Robin, who bears a striking resemblance to Jeremiah’s late wife, shows up with a secret that will drag him back into the world of the Unseen—the fae are dying of a sickness that only Robin can cure, but with her child held captive by the Summer Queen, she’s feeling less than charitable toward full-blooded magical creatures. Unfortunately, her decision seems likely only to worsen tensions between the Summer and Unwinter courts, a situation that could lead to war.
Virtues of War, by Bennett R. Coles (June 30, Titan Books—Paperback)
Coles’ former career as an officer in the Canadian Navy adds verisimilitude to this military sci-fi adventure following Katja Emmes, a lieutenant onboard the attack ship Rapier, tasked with investigating a possible weapons smuggling operation between two Terran colonies that could, if left unchecked, trigger an all-out interstellar war. The first entry in the Astral Saga trilogy, this intense, character-focused, combat-rich debut was praised by Steven Erikson as, “top-notch military SF.”
Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside, by Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr (artist) (June 16, D.C. Comics—Hardcover)
There’s not much room for fun in grim, brooding Gotham City. That’s why Batgirl is such a breath of fresh air. Barbara Gordon is a young, tech-savvy superhero with a hip new costume and a knack for using computers and social media (along with major butt-kicking skills) to stop crime in Gotham’s super-trendy Burnside community. When she’s not out protecting the people, she’s got classes and dates to worry about, but also a whole new crew of friends to help keep her grounded. Batgirl is smart and fun for readers of any age, with plenty of drama and superhero action.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 3: Crushed, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa (artist), and Elmo Bondoc (artist) (June 23, Marvel—Paperback)
It’s Valentine’s Day in Jersey City, but Kamala Kahn is hardly allowed to go to the big school dance. But maybe her alter ego Ms. Marvel can? As long as she has a good excuse, anyway. And what better excuse than a surprise visit by trickster god Loki? If you’re looking for a lighthearted series that doesn’t skimp on action or character, there’s nothing on comic stands quite as fresh or as fun as the new Ms. Marvel.
Spider-Woman, Vol. 1: Spider-Verse, by Dennis Hopeless and Greg Land (artist) (June 30, Marvel—Paperback)
This tie-in to the massive Spider-Verse crossover event kicks off the third attempt at a series starring the original Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew. With universes (and Spider-Men) colliding, Spider-Woman and Silk must team up if they want to have any hope of getting off of Earth-13 alive.