We’re bending genres every which way this month, starting with Jason Heller’s Strange Stars—a nonfiction look at sci-fi and music in the ’70s—and ending with the latest from Paul Tremblay! In between, Peng Shepherd imagines a world where shadows go missing—and it turns out that’s where memories are kept; Siobhan Adcock imagines a near-future with a serious infertility problem; Hannu Rajaniemi’s Summerland does away with death; and Charles Rosenberg’s alternate history does something entirely different with George Washington.
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
Strange Stars: David Bowie, Pop Music, and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded—Jason Heller (June 5, Melville House)
As the 1960s drew to a close, and mankind trained its telescopes on other worlds, old conventions gave way to a new kind of hedonistic freedom that celebrated sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. Derided as nerdy or dismissed as fluff, science fiction rarely gets credit for its catalyzing effect on this revolution. In Strange Stars, Jason Heller recasts sci-fi and pop music as parallel cultural forces that depended on one another to expand the horizons of books, music, and out-of-this-world imagery. In doing so, he presents a whole generation of revered musicians as the sci-fi-obsessed conjurers they really were. If today’s culture of Comic Con fanatics, superhero blockbusters, and classic sci-fi reboots has us thinking that the nerds have won at last, Strange Stars brings to life an era of unparalleled and unearthly creativity—in magazines, novels, films, records, and concerts—to point out that the nerds have been winning all along.
Plum Rains—Andromeda Romano-Lax (June 5, Soho Press)
2029: In Japan, a historically mono-cultural nation, childbirth rates are at an all-time low and the elderly are living increasingly longer lives. This population crisis has precipitated the mass immigration of foreign medical workers from all over Asia, as well as the development of finely tuned artificial intelligence to step in where humans fall short. In Tokyo, Angelica Navarro, a Filipina nurse who has been in Japan for the last five years, works as caretaker for Sayoko Itou, a moody, secretive woman about to turn 100 years old. One day, Sayoko receives a present: a cutting-edge robot “friend” that will teach itself to anticipate Sayoko’s every need. Angelica wonders if she is about to be forced out of her much-needed job by an inanimate object—one with a preternatural ability to uncover the most deeply buried secrets of the humans around it. Meanwhile, Sayoko becomes attached to the machine. The old woman has been hiding secrets of her own for almost a century—and she’s too old to want to keep them anymore. What she reveals is a hundred-year saga of forbidden love, hidden identities, and the horrific legacy of WWII and Japanese colonialism—a confession that will tear apart her own life and Angelica’s. Is the helper robot the worst thing that could have happened to the two women—or is it forcing the changes they both desperately needed?
The Book of M—Peng Shepherd (June 5, William Morrow)
One afternoon at an outdoor market in India, a man’s shadow disappears—an occurrence science cannot explain. He is only the first. The phenomenon spreads like a plague, and while those afflicted gain a strange new power, it comes at a horrible price: the loss of all their memories. Ory and his wife Max have escaped the Forgetting so far by hiding in an abandoned hotel deep in the woods. Their new life feels almost normal, until one day Max’s shadow disappears too. Knowing that the more she forgets, the more dangerous she will become to Ory, Max runs away. But Ory refuses to give up the time they have left together. Desperate to find Max before her memory disappears completely, he follows her trail across a perilous, unrecognizable world, braving the threat of roaming bandits, the call to a new war being waged on the ruins of the capital, and the rise of a sinister cult that worships the shadowless. As they journey, each searches for answers: for Ory, about love, about survival, about hope; and for Max, about a new force growing in the south that may hold the cure.
The Rise of Saint Fox and the Independence—Corin Reyburn (June 12, Unsolicited Press)
The rock band Saint Fox and the Independence is the key to taking back economic freedom. In a near-future London, eccentric revolutionary Janus Jeeves is the leader of the anarcho-capitalist group the Arcane Society. When he recruits a charismatic drifter named Sam to headline a band that serves as a front for the Society, the group’s soaring popularity draws supporters by the thousands. With the youth of the nation on his side and a biotech weapon that will revolutionize commerce, Jeeves will at last see his plan fulfilled: To reset a corrupt financial system and eliminate the wealth gap—without violence. Or so he believes. Puppeteered by Jeeves, Sam is more than willing to champion the cause as Saint Fox—the honey-voiced, incendiary idol of the revolution. But before he knows it he’s a wanted criminal, with millions of devoted followers looking to him for their next move. No war is without casualties.
The Completionist—Siobhan Adcock (June 19, Simon & Schuster)
After months of disturbing behavior, Gardner Quinn has vanished. Her older sister Fredericka is desperate to find her, but Fred is also pregnant—miraculously so, in a near-future America struggling with infertility. So she entrusts the job to their brother, Carter, who is in need of an assignment. His search for his sister is a welcome distraction from mysterious physical symptoms he can’t ignore … and his slightly-more-than recreational drinking. Carter’s efforts to find Gardner lead him into a dangerous underground, where he begins to grasp the risks she took on as a Nurse Completionist. But his investigation also leads back to their father, a veteran of a decades-long war just like Carter himself, who may be concealing a painful truth, one that neither Carter nor Fredericka is ready to face.
The Darkest Time of Night—Jeremy Finley (June 26, St. Martin’s Press)
When the seven-year-old grandson of U.S. Senator vanishes in the woods behind his home, the only witness is his older brother who whispers, “The lights took him,” and then never speaks again. As the FBI and National Guard launch a massive search, the boys’ grandmother Lynn Roseworth fears only she knows the truth. But coming forward would ruin her family and her husband’s political career. In the late 1960s, before she became the quiet wife of a politician, Lynn was a secretary in the astronomy department at the University of Illinois. It was there where she began taking mysterious messages for one of the professors; messages from people desperate to find their missing loved ones who vanished into beams of light. Determined to find her beloved grandson and expose the truth, she must return to the work she once abandoned to unravel the existence of a place long forgotten by the world.
My Plain Jane—Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows (June 26, Harper Teen)
Young adult. You may think you know the story. Penniless orphan Jane Eyre begins a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester—and, Reader, she marries him. Or does she? Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions in this stand-alone follow-up to My Lady Jane.
Summerland—Hannu Rajaniemi (June 26, Tor Books)
Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning. In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god. When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in. But how do you catch a man who’s already dead?
Confessions of the Fox—Jordy Rosenberg (June 26, One World)
Jack Sheppard and Edgeworth Bess were the most notorious thieves, jailbreakers, and lovers of eighteenth-century London. Yet no one knows the true story; their confessions have never been found. Until now. Reeling from heartbreak, a scholar named Dr. Voth discovers a long-lost manuscript—a gender-defying exposé of Jack and Bess’s adventures. Dated 1724, the book depicts a London underworld where scamps and rogues clash with the city’s newly established police force, queer subcultures thrive, and ominous threats of the Plague abound. Jack—a transgender carpenter’s apprentice—has fled his master’s house to become a legendary prison-break artist, and Bess has escaped the draining of the fenlands to become a revolutionary. Is Confessions of the Fox an authentic autobiography or a hoax? Dr. Voth obsessively annotates the manuscript, desperate to find the answer. As he is drawn deeper into Jack and Bess’s tale of underworld resistance and gender transformation, it becomes clear that their fates are intertwined—and only a miracle will save them all.
Awakened—James S. Murray, Darren Wearmouth (June 26, Harper Voyager)
After years of waiting, New York’s newest subway line is finally ready, an express train that connects the city with the burgeoning communities across the Hudson River. The shining jewel of this state-of-the-art line is a breathtaking visitors’ pavilion beneath the river. Major dignitaries are in attendance for the inaugural run. Under the station’s bright ceiling lights, the shiny silver cars gleam. But as the train comes closer into view, a far different scene becomes visible. All the train’s cars are empty. All the cars’ interiors are drenched in blood. As chaos descends, all those in the pavilion scramble to get out. But the horror is only beginning. High levels of deadly methane fill the tunnels. The structure begins to flood. For those who don’t drown, choke or spark an explosion, another terrifying danger awaits—the thing that killed all those people on the train. It’s out there…and it’s coming. There’s something living beneath New York City, and it’s not happy we’ve woken it up.
The Trial and Execution of the Traitor George Washington—Charles Rosenberg (June 26, Hanover Square)
British special agent Jeremiah Black lands on a lonely beach in the wee hours of the morning in late November 1780. His mission, aided by Loyalists, is to kidnap George Washington and spirit him back to London, where Washington will be imprisoned in the Tower to await trial on charges of high treason. England’s most famous barristers seek to represent him but he insists on using an American. He chooses Abraham Hobhouse, an American-born barrister with an English wife—a man who doesn’t really need the work and thinks the “career-building” case will be easily resolved. But as greater political and military forces swirl around them and peace seems ever more distant, Hobhouse finds that he is the only thing keeping Washington from the hangman’s noose. Drawing inspiration from a rumored kidnapping plot hatched in 1776 by a member of Washington’s own Commander-in-Chief Guard, Charles Rosenbergenvisions what would take place if the leader of America’s fledgling rebellion were taken from the nation at the height of the war, imperiling any chance of victory.
The Cabin at the End of the World—Paul Tremblay (June 26, William Morrow)
Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”