Happy longest day of the year! (Insert joke about more daylight hours-in-which-to-read here.) The solstice has us thinking about the months to come … and the books we’re going to read out in the sun, or under an umbrella, or with a frozen drink in hand. We’ll go to Havana with Laura van den Berg’s The Third Hotel, to space with Becky Chambers and Drew Williams, and to near-future Australia with Claire G. Coleman—for starters. There are series to begin (Sam Hawke’s Poison Wars!) and to wind up (Malka Older’s Centenal Cycle!) and a few intriguing standalones for those of you who wouldn’t want to finish a book one or two and not have the next book immediately on hand. (We understand.)
What are you planning to read between now and the autumnal equinox? Our picks are below—leave yours in the comments!
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (June 26, Saga Press)
When a book’s editor describes a book as “an Indigenous Mad Max: Fury Road,” he’s setting the bar pretty high. Roanhorse’s debut novel is set 20 years in the future, after a massive flood has done one hell of a number on the modern world. But Dinétah, formerly the Navajo reservation, has a different experience: they’ve been reborn, and their gods and monsters now walk the land. Maggie is a supernaturally talented and highly trained monster hunter on the trail or something horrible; her journey involves tricksters, witchcraft, and, naturally, her own past. This is a post-apocalyptic road trip we’re totally ready to go on.
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay (June 26, William Morrow)
The very concept of this story makes the horror-wimps among us cringe in fear-anticipation: Strangers show up in front of the house where young Wren is vacationing with her parents. They’re carrying weird things. They tell Wren that her dads won’t want to let them in, but they need her help. To save the world. Is it the end of the world? Who are the strangers? Do you want to even think about the idea they present to this family eventually? If you like being freaked out, take this one with you to a nice quiet cabin in the woods.
City of Lies by Sam Hawke (July 3, Tor Books)
Poison, politics, the enthusiastic recommendation of none other than Robin Hobb: Epic fantasy fans, this debut has all of your names on it. Two highly trained siblings have been raised to protect their Chancellor from threats, primarily poison; their childhood friend is heir to the Chancellor’s position. When the Chancellor dies, everything changes, and far earlier than these three expected. Also there’s war and angry spirits and did we mention the poison? Each chapter begins with a new poison: what it looks like, how it works, how miserably its victims may die.
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (July 3, Tor Books)
On a cold spring night in 1952, a meteorite falls to earth and destroys much of the eastern seaboard of the United States, including Washington D.C.
In the aftermath of this disaster, governments realize they need to accelerate their space programs, as The Meteor triggers a global environmental collapse. When the U.S. opens the space race to women, mathematician and WASP pilot Elma York throws herself into the work of putting a man on the moon. But wait, why does it have to be a man? Kowal draws on the history that is currently being unearthed by books and films like Hidden Figures and Mercury 13, to give us an alt-history that made room for the excellence and drive of women and people of color.
Latchkey by Nicole Kornher-Stace (July 10, Mythic Delirium)
If you didn’t read Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp, go find yourself a copy, and then brace yourself for the hunched-over-your-book-it’s-very-intense story of a girl fighting her way out from under the crushing weight of false destiny. In the first book, Wasp started out in competition with a group of other girls—girls she had to murder in order to keep her place as Archivist. The ugly mythology that keeps them at each others’ throats is unraveled over the course of Archivist Wasp—and so in Latchkey, Wasp is in a new position: leading the girls that were once her competition. Now she’s known as Isabel, and now she has to find out the rest of the story of the ghost she befriended in book one.
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (July 10, Del Rey)
With Uprooted, Novik subverted the fantasy trope of a village sacrificing a maiden to a dragon and transformed not only the maiden and the dragon, but the very woods around them in a fantastically unique story. That same magic frames the retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin,” but it’s not the same transformation twice: Miryem, the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, takes up the family business when her father’s inaction threatens her family with poverty. But instead of straw spun into gold, it’s silver coins that benefit from Miryem’s touch—and that draw the attention of the fearsome Staryk, the icy folk who haunt the woods. Novik’s latest tale, told through six disparate narrators linked by silver and gold, examines not only the coins themselves but larger notions of transactional relationships, costs weighed, and debts owed.
The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley (July 10, MCD)
“Beowulf in the suburbs” is a great elevator pitch for this book, but it promises to be so much more: an examination of motherhood, a meditation on what war does to a person, a takedown of the idea of “the monster”—especially when the monster is also a beloved child. Gren and his mother live a quiet, subsistence-level life in a mountain high above the gated community of Herot Hall. But when the perfect suburban super-mom, Willa Herot, begins to suspect that her darling son Dylan might be consorting with some sort of vagrant boy, life takes a turn for the medieval.
Suicide Club by Rachel Heng (July 10th, Henry Holt and Co.)
This debut novel weaves near-future tech and a chance at immortality with a family drama. Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that she has the right genetics to live forever. A stock trader on the New York Organ Exchange—which is exactly what it sounds like—she has been living a perfect life. But when she reconnects with her estranged father she learns that he runs an illegal Suicide Club … which is also exactly what it sounds like. Should she embrace immortality, or choose to break the law and live and die on her own terms?
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (July 24, Harper Voyager)
It’s a new Becky Chambers book, and that’s pretty much all we need to hear, but in case you need a little more to go on: The third Wayfarers book sounds like it’s about a new found family, a gathering of characters living in what’s left of the Exodus fleet, which left Earth hundreds of years before. Liz Bourke has already read this one, and says it’s “an argument about change and continuity, community and belonging, and what it means to have (or have to find) a place in the world.” This is Chambers’ wheelhouse; she’s so good at seeing how people live together, or don’t, or could, that her stories are full of empathy and possibility in the very best way.
The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang (July 31, Tor.com Publishing)
The two previous books in JY Yang’s Tensorate series, The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune, introduced readers to a complex society and fascinating magic system, where people manipulate the Slack, an omnipresent energy field, to influence the reality around them. In the third volume, The Descent of Monsters, Investigator Chuwan is called into a horrific crime scene at the Rewar Teng Institute of Experimental Methods—blood, bones, and gore, and two survivors: the terrorist Sanao Akeha, and a mysterious foreigner known only as Rider. It’s clear that one of the Institute’s experiments escaped and caused the carnage, but how can Chuwan find the truth when her superiors seem so eager to cover everything up, her only two leads are untrustworthy prisoners, and her own dreams show her nothing but terror?
The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg (August 7, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
When Clare arrives in Cuba for a film festival, she sees something she really wasn’t expecting: her husband, Richard. Richard is supposed to be dead. (That’s an interesting way to put it, isn’t it?) Clare follows him around Havana, remembering her past and her part in his death—and surely it’s relevant that Richard was a horror film scholar. Even the description of this book is a little eerie, making it just the kind of atypical summer read we like to reach for.
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells (August 7, Tor.com Publishing)
Murderbot just wants to be left alone. Murderbot does not want questions. But Murderbot keeps winding up having adventures: this is the third one, with the fourth and final book coming in October!
Severance by Ling Ma (August 14, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This debut novel balances a deadpan office satire with a heartfelt story of survival. Candace Chen’s life may seem a bit routine, but it’s a routine that works for her. She does her job in a Manhattan office each day, retreats to Brooklyn for movies with her boyfriend each night, and tries to live through the grief of losing both of her parents. Even a sudden, Biblical-level plague doesn’t completely rattle her: she accepts her boss’s offer of a secret project, and keeps working in the office as others flee the city or fall sick. Soon, though, the employees dwindle down to just Candace, and she discovers a group of fellow survivors who want her to join them—but are they offering safety or doom?
The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark (August 14, Tor.com Publishing)
This debut novella by the author of “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” is set in an alternate version of New Orleans, where a girl named Creeper wants to escape the city into the air. To be precise, she wants to get on board the airship Midnight Robber, captained by one Ann-Marie. Creeper has some juicy intel and a secret of her own, all of which will surely come into play on a perilous mission to stop a deadly weapon from destroying the city.
The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams (August 21, Tor Books)
“Come for the exploding spaceships, stay for the intriguing universe,” says Becky Chambers. Williams’ debut follows Jane, a space agent who recruits gifted kids in hopes of stopping “the pulse,” which sounds creepy and vague (which just makes it more creepy). But there are space fascists on her trail, and maybe some ancient technology? A good space-adventure-romp is just the thing for a hot summer night, especially if it involves defeating (we assume—we hope!—they get defeated) space fascists.
Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman (September 4, Small Beer Press)
This debut novel from an Australian Aboriginal writer is set in a future Australia that’s about to be colonized… again. The description is spare, but the reviews from across the Pacific are glowing, and the book’s already piling up award nominations—so naturally we can’t wait to find out more.
Port of Shadows by Glen Cook (September 11, Tor Books)
It’s a new Black Company book! The first new novel since 2000! Glen Cook’s beloved fantasy series has returned to us! We feel like there should be world news coverage about this or something. This interquel novel takes place between Books 1 and 2 in the series (The Black Company and Shadows Linger) and chronicles the story of the Black Company’s historian, Croaker, the one person who was taken into The Lady’s Tower and returned unchanged. Fans will get to return to the series this September.
State Tectonics by Malka Older (September 11, Tor.com Publishing)
In the third book of the Centenal Cycle, democracy must evolve or die. It’s time for the next election, and the last one didn’t go so well (sabotage, earthquake, you name it). This time around, enemies are attacking Information, the monopoly that runs the new micro-democracy world order—and its own agents aren’t sure they’re even on the right side of history anymore. Maybe it’s time to start over? We cannot promise this book will soothe any economic/political anxiety you may have at present, but it will certainly give you something to think about.
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson (September 18, Tor Books)
Brandon Sanderson has really branched out in the last few years, moving from urban fantasy and epic fantasy into young adult, sci-fi, and more. This Legion collection (though, considering that it includes an as-yet-unpublished third story: this Legion summation?) presents yet another strange new frontier from the prodigious author. Can Sanderson make us feel as thrillingly discombobulated as he makes his creation Stephen Leeds sound? Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds isn’t fantasy, but it’s still Sanderson, which means a lot of energy, a lot of surprises, and a world we’ll be thinking about long after we close the book.
Rosewater by Tade Thompson (September 18, Orbit)
Originally released by Apex, Thompson’s Rosewater gets the reissue treatment from Orbit—with two sequels to come. The city of Rosewater congregates around an alien biodome, its people wanting to see inside, to meet who or whatever lives there, to gain whatever powers it might have. But telepathic government agent Kaaro is less impressed. He’s been inside, and he doesn’t want to go back. Naturally… he’s probably going to have to. Thompson’s The Murders of Molly Southbourne was a creepy treat last year; we’re excited to see what he’ll do in the much longer format of an entire trilogy!