All the New Genre-Bending Books Coming Out in May

If you asked us to stack this month’s genre-bending releases in the order you should read them … it’d be impossible. We’d be sitting here forever, trapped under the weight of an impossible task. Should you start with Melissa Broder’s merman novel? One of several intriguing story collections? A nonfiction book about geek culture, or one about the military science of Star Wars? Bethany C. Morrow’s debut, Mem? A new Stephen King novel? Or maybe Nikhil Singh’s Taty Went West?

You tell us: Which first?

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

Hell! No Saints in Paradise—A.K. Asif (May 1, HarperCollins)
2050, New York. In the aftermath of a grueling spiritual cleansing quest, Ismael, a Pakistani-American student, enters into an alliance with spiritual beings who send him on a perilous journey of self-discovery. A non-believer, Ismael must return to Pakistan, now in the grip of a brutal fundamentalist government, and gain the trust of his estranged father, a prominent extremist in the Caliphate. To accomplish this, he must pose as a true believer. Will he survive long enough to infiltrate his father’s inner sanctum and complete his mission? Hell! No Saints in Paradise is both biting satire and allegory that takes urban fantasy to dizzying heights.

The Military Science of Star Wars—George Beahm (May 1, Tor Books)
Nonfiction. George Beahm, a former U.S. Army major, draws on his experience to discuss the military science of the sprawling Star Wars universe: its personnel, weapons, technology, tactics and strategy, including an analysis of its key battles to explain how the outmanned and outgunned rebels ultimately prevailed against overwhelming forces. Contrasting the military doctrine of the real world with the fictional world of Star Wars, the author constructively criticizes the military strengths and weaknesses of Darth Vader’s Galactic Empire and Kylo Ren’s First Order. Replete with a glossary of military terms, this book is supplemented with an annotated bibliography.

The Pisces—Melissa Broder (May 1, Hogarth)
Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety—not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection. Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn.

Miss Subways—David Duchovny (May 1, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Emer is just a woman living in New York City who takes the subway, buys ice cream from the bodega on the corner, has writerly aspirations, and lives with her boyfriend, Con. But is this life she lives the only path she’s on? Taking inspiration from the myth of Emer and Cuchulain and featuring an all-star cast of mythical figures from all over the world, David Duchovny’s Miss Subways is one woman’s trippy, mystical journey down parallel tracks of time and love. On the way, Emer will battle natural and supernatural forces to find her true voice, power, and destiny.

Black Helicopters—Caitlín R. Kiernan (May 1, Tor.com Publishing)
Just as the Signalman stood and faced the void in Agents of Dreamland, so it falls to Ptolema, a chess piece in her agency’s world-spanning game, to unravel what has become tangled and unknowable. Something strange is happening on the shores of New England. Something stranger still is happening to the world itself, chaos unleashed, rational explanation slipped loose from the moorings of the known. Two rival agencies stare across the Void at one another. Two sisters, the deadly, sickened products of experiments going back decades, desperately evade their hunters. An invisible war rages at the fringes of our world, with unimaginable consequences and Lovecraftian horrors that ripple centuries into the future.

Ship It—Britta Lundin (May 1, Freeform)
Young adult. Sixteen-year-old Claire is obsessed with the show Demon Heart. Forest is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay. Claire is devastated. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not. Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community—as well as with their fans—they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of their publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colorful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into?

The Dead House—Billy O’Callaghan (May 1, Arcade Publishing)
Maggie is a successful young artist who has had bad luck with men. Her last put her in the hospital and, after she’s healed physically, left her needing to get out of London to heal mentally and find a place of quiet that will restore her creative spirit. On the rugged west coast of Ireland, perched on a wild cliff side, she spies the shell of a cottage that dates back to Great Famine and decides to buy it. When work on the house is done, she invites her dealer to come for the weekend to celebrate along with a couple of women friends, one of whom will become his wife. On the boozy last night, the other friend pulls out an Ouija board. What sinister thing they summon, once invited, will never go.

Adjustment Day—Chuck Palahniuk (May 1, W.W. Norton)
People pass the word only to those they trust most: Adjustment Day is coming. They’ve been reading a mysterious book and memorizing its directives. They are ready for the reckoning. Smug, geriatric politicians bring the nation to the brink of a third world war in an effort to control the burgeoning population of young males; working-class men dream of burying the elites; and professors propound theories that offer students only the bleakest future. Into this dyspeptic time a blue-black book is launched carrying such wisdom as: Imagine there’s no God. There is no Heaven or Hell. There is only your son and his son and his son and the world you leave for them.The weak want you to forgo your destiny just as they’ve shirked theirs. A smile is your best bulletproof vest. When Adjustment Day arrives, it fearlessly makes real the logical conclusion of every separatist fantasy, alternative fact, and conspiracy theory lurking in the American psyche.

The New World: Comics from Mauretania—Chris Reynolds (May 1, NYRB Comics)
Since the mid-1980s, the British cartoonist Chris Reynolds has been assembling a world all his own. On the surface, it seems much like ours: a place of cool afternoon shadows and gently rolling hills, half-empty trains and sleepy downtown streets. But the closer you look, the weirder it gets. After losing a mysterious intergalactic war, Earth is no longer in humanity’s control. Blandly friendly aliens lurk on the margins and seem especially interested in the mining industry. The very rules of time and space seem to have shifted: Mysterious figures suddenly appear in childhood photos, family members disappear forever without warning, power outages abound, and certain people gain the power of flight. The world is being remade, but in what image? This new collection, selected and designed by the acclaimed cartoonist Seth, includes short stories, a novella, and the full-length graphic novel Mauretania.

 

WEEK TWO

Compulsory Games—Robert Aickman (May 8, NYRB Classics)
Robert Aickman’s self-described “strange stories” are confoundingly and uniquely his own. These superbly written tales terrify not with standard thrills and gore but through a radical overturning of the laws of nature and everyday life. His territory of the strange, of the “void behind the face of order,” is a surreal region that grotesquely mimics the quotidian: Is that river the Thames, or is it even a river? What does it mean when a prospective lover removes one dress, and then another—and then another? Does a herd of cows in a peaceful churchyard contain the souls of jilted women preparing to trample a cruel lover to death? Published for the first time under one cover, the stories in this collection offer an unequaled introduction to a profoundly original modern master of the uncanny.

Belly Up—Rita Bullwinkel (May 8, A Strange Object)
Belly Up is a story collection that contains ghosts, mediums, a lover obsessed with the sound of harps tuning, teenage girls who believe they are actually plants, gulag prisoners who outsmart a terrible warden, and carnivorous churches. Throughout these grotesque and tender stories, characters question the bodies they’ve been given and what their bodies require to be sustained.

What Should Be Wild—Julia Fine (May 8, Harper)
Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women. But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.

I Find Your Lack of Faith Disturbing: Star Wars and the Triumph of Geek Culture—A.D. Jameson (May 8, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Nonfiction. A. D. Jameson takes geeks and non-geeks alike on a surprising and insightful journey through the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero franchises that now dominate pop culture. Walking us through the rise of geekdom from its underground origins to the top of the box office and bestseller lists, Jameson takes in franchises like The Lord of the Rings, Guardians of the Galaxy, Harry Potter, Star Trek, and Star Wars—as well as phenomena like fan fiction, cosplay, and YouTube parodies. Along the way, he blasts through the clichés surrounding geek culture: that its fans are mindless consumers who will embrace all things Spider-Man or Batman, regardless of quality; or that the popularity and financial success of Star Wars led to the death of ambitious filmmaking. A lifelong geek, Jameson shines a new light on beloved classics, explaining the enormous love (and hate) they are capable of inspiring in fan and non-fan alike, while exploding misconceptions as to how and why they were made.

Night Beast—Ruth Joffre (May 8, Black Cat)
These doomed love stories and twisted fairytales explore the lives of women—particularly queer women and mothers—and reveal the monsters lurking in our daily lives: the madness, isolation, betrayals, and regrets that arise as we seek human connection. Through this collection, readers are taken to places where the sun never sets, where cornfields rustle ominously and sleepwalkers prowl the night. In “Weekend,” the lead actors of an avant-garde television show begin to confuse their characters’ identities with their own; in “Go West, and Grow Up,” a young girl living in a car with her mother is forced to shed her innocence too soon; and in “Safekeeping,” a woman trapped inside a futuristic safehouse gradually unravels as she waits for her lover, who may never return. With exquisite prose and transfixing imagery, Joffre explores worlds both strange and familiar, homing in on the darker side of humanity.

Afterwar—Lilith Saintcrow (May 8, Orbit)
A harrowing gut-punch of a novel, Afterwar tells the story of a dark future where America has been devastated by a second civil war. As the fighting draws to a close, the camps are liberated, and the fascist regime crumbles, the work of rebuilding begins. But can a population who’s spent years divided and hell-bent on victory at any cost ever be truly reunited?

Bobby Sky: Boy Band or Die—Joe Shine (May 8, Soho Teen)
Young adult. Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson is out of luck. His charm and singing voice—and penchant for bursting into song at all the wrong times—can’t keep him out of trouble anymore. When he’s arrested (again), he’s given a choice: die in juvie or become a shadow—the fearless, unstoppable, and top-secret guardian of a Future Important Person, or FIP. With nothing to lose, Hutch accepts. After two grueling years at the Future Affairs Training and Education (FATE) Center, Hutch, now 16, can barely remember the boy he once was. Ready for anything, he expects to be plunged into a battle zone. Instead, he learns that his FIP is someone named Ryo Enomoto: the soon-to-be front man of the boy band International. Worse, Hutch has to put his old talents to use. He must join the band and change his name to Bobby Sky. Is this for real? Has he really turned himself into a lethal killing machine . . . only to become a teen pop sensation?

 

WEEK THREE

Armistice (Amberlough #2)—Lara Elena Donnelly (May 15, Tor Books)
In a tropical country where shadowy political affairs lurk behind the scenes of its glamorous film industry, three people maneuver inside a high stakes game of statecraft and espionage: Lillian, a reluctant diplomat serving a fascist nation; Aristide, an expatriate film director running from lost love and a criminal past; and Cordelia, a former cabaret stripper turned legendary revolutionary. Each one harbors dangerous knowledge that can upturn a nation. When their fates collide, machinations are put into play, unexpected alliances are built, and long-held secrets are exposed. Everything is barreling towards an international revolt…and only the wiliest ones will be prepared for what comes next.

 

WEEK FOUR

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik—David Arnold (May 22, Viking Books for Young Readers)
Young adult. This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend. Then Noah → gets hypnotized. Now Noah → sees changes: his mother has a scar on her face that wasn’t there before; his old dog, who once walked with a limp, is suddenly lithe; his best friend, a lifelong DC Comics disciple, now rotates in the Marvel universe. Subtle behaviors, bits of history, plans for the future—everything in Noah’s world has been rewritten. Everything except his Strange Fascinations …

Aetherchrist—Kirk Jones (May 22, Apex Book Company)
The digital era: Analog is all but dead, but the rusted towers still strobe on the evening horizon. They project a conflicting myriad of hope, despair and eyeless ghouls who claim to see the world in gigahertz. A small town in Vermont broadcasts prophecies of its residents deaths. Rey, a cutlery salesman, seems to flicker at the center of every murder on screen. He thinks the town is rigged with cameras, or the locals are trying to set him up. But as the broadcasts grow increasingly surreal, and maniacs start showing up in town to remove his sensory organs, Rey starts to realize that the images pulsing beneath the static-riddled airwaves have woven him into a battle between people who believe that analog is the frequency of the gods.

The Outsider—Stephen King (May 22, Scribner)
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories. An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad. As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

Mem—Bethany C. Morrow (May 22, Unnamed Press)
Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, Mem makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source—zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault. Debut novelist Bethany Morrow has created an allegory for our own time, exploring profound questions of ownership, and how they relate to identity, memory and history, all in the shadows of Montreal’s now forgotten slave trade.

Taty Went West—Nikhil Singh (May 22, Rosarium Publishing)
Taty is a troubled teen running away from home. She quickly finds herself kidnapped by a malicious imp in the dinosaur-infested Outzone. While confronting demons of her own, Taty finds herself in a chaotic world full of evangelizing robot nuns, Buddhist punks, and the ominous Dr. Dali. Nikhil Singh has created a truly unique universe with a bold, petulant heroine one can’t help but cheer for. Called “a hallucinogenic post-apocalyptic carnival ride” by Lauren Beukes, Taty Went West is told with bold swagger and otherworldly imagination by one of Africa’s most promising new writers.

 

WEEK FIVE

No new titles.

citation

1 Comment

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!

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.