There’s a lot of space-faring fiction this month—astronauts, soldiers, adventurers, you name it. Mary Robinette Kowal expands on the world of her story “The Lady Astronaut” with The Calculating Stars; Becky Chambers continues her Wayfarers series with a tale about the folk living on the remnants of the Exodus Fleet; Emily Skrutskie’s Hullmetal Girls turn into enhanced soldiers for different (or mysterious) reasons; and we’ve got some creepy space beings and space romance, for good measure! If you just can’t choose, you might pick up one of two new anthologies of SF stories, including the 35th annual Year’s Best Science Fiction. Something for everyone!
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
Alpha (Infinity Division #3)—Jus Accardo (July 3, Entangled Teen)
Young adult. Sera has no memory of her life before. Before captivity, before experiments, before the only lifeline she had was the voice of a boy in the cell next to hers. Before G. G wishes he could forget everything before Sera brought him back to life. Forget his memories as a ruthless mercenary on an alternate version of Earth. Forget that he was part of an experiment simply known as Alpha. Now on the run from their captors and in need of an antidote to save his life, G and Sera’s clock is ticking. And they’ll have to gamble everything on the bond they forged in captivity if they want to survive.
Space Unicorn Blues—T.J. Berry (July 3, Angry Robot)
Having magical powers makes you less than human, a resource to be exploited. Half-unicorn Gary Cobalt is sick of slavery, captivity, and his horn being ground down to power faster-than-light travel. When he’s finally free, all he wants is to run away in his ancestors’ stone ship. Instead, Captain Jenny Perata steals the ship out from under him, so she can make an urgent delivery. But Jenny held him captive for a decade, and then Gary murdered her best friend… who was also the wife of her co-pilot, Cowboy Jim. What could possibly go right?
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection—Gardner Dozois, editor (July 3, St. Martin’s Griffin)
In the new millennium, what secrets lay beyond the far reaches of the universe? What mysteries belie the truths we once held to be self-evident? The world of science fiction has long been a porthole into the realities of tomorrow, blurring the line between life and art. Now, in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection, the very best SF authors explore ideas of a new world. This venerable collection brings together award-winning authors and masters of the field. With an extensive recommended reading guide and a summation of the year in science fiction, this annual compilation has become the definitive must-read anthology for all science fiction fans and readers interested in breaking into the genre.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe—Lauren James (July 3, HarperTeen)
Young adult. The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth. Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity. Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone…
The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1)—Mary Robinette Kowal (July 3, Tor Books)
On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the U.S. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process. Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too. Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
Empire of Silence (Sun Eater #1)—Christopher Ruocchio (July 3, DAW)
It was not his war. The galaxy remembers him as a hero: the man who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. They remember him as a monster: the devil who destroyed a sun, casually annihilating four billion human lives—even the Emperor himself—against Imperial orders. But Hadrian was not a hero. He was not a monster. He was not even a soldier. On the wrong planet, at the right time, for the best reasons, Hadrian Marlowe starts down a path that can only end in fire. He flees his father and a future as a torturer only to be left stranded on a strange, backwater world. Forced to fight as a gladiator and navigate the intrigues of a foreign planetary court, Hadrian must fight a war he did not start, for an Empire he does not love, against an enemy he will never understand.
River of Bones (Destroyermen #13)—Taylor Anderson (July 10, Ace)
Commander Matt Reddy and his crew are afraid it may finally be the end of the USS Walker. Ever since their ship was transported to another world, and they became embroiled in a deadly conflict between the Lemurians and the vicious Grik, the Walker has been taking a pounding. With Walker out of commission for repairs, Reddy takes command of a different ship and joins a desperate battle to block the Grik swarm. Meanwhile, the humans and their allies face a deadly second front in the Republic to the south. All of Reddy’s forces are committed, and there’s no turning back. Either they’ll win—or lose—everything…
I Only Killed Him Once (Ray Electromatic)—Adam Christopher (July 10, Tor Books)
Another Hollywood night, another job for electric-detective-turned-robotic-hitman Raymond Electromatic. The target is a tall man in a black hat, and while Ray completes his mission successfully, he makes a startling discovery—one he soon forgets when his 24-hour memory tape loops to the end and is replaced with a fresh reel. When a tall man in a black hat arrives in the offices of the Electromatic Detective Agency the next day, Ray has a suspicion he has met this stranger before, although Ray’s computerized boss, Ada, is not saying a thing. But their visitor isn’t here to hire Ray for a job—he’s here to deliver a stark warning. Because time is running out and if Ray and Ada want to survive, they need to do exactly what the man in the black hat says. A man that Raymond Electromatic has already killed.
The Final Frontier: Stories of Exploring Space, Colonizing the Universe, and First Contact—Neil Clarke, editor (July 10, Night Shade Books)
The urge to explore and discover is a natural and universal one, and the edge of the unknown is expanded with each passing year as scientific advancements inch us closer and closer to the outer reaches of our solar system and the galaxies beyond them. Generations of writers have explored these new frontiers and the endless possibilities they present in great detail. With galaxy-spanning adventures of discovery and adventure, from generations ships to warp drives, exploring new worlds to first contacts, science fiction writers have given readers increasingly new and alien ways to look out into our broad and sprawling universe. The Final Frontier delivers stories from across this literary spectrum, a reminder that the universe is far large and brimming with possibilities than we could ever imagine, as hard as we may try.
Suicide Club: A Novel About Living—Rachel Heng (July 10, Henry Holt)
Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that a roll of the genetic dice has given her the potential to live forever—if she does everything right. And Lea is an overachiever. She’s a successful trader on the New York exchange—where instead of stocks, human organs are now bought and sold—she has a beautiful apartment, and a fiancé who rivals her in genetic perfection. And with the right balance of HealthTech™, rigorous juicing, and low-impact exercise, she might never die. But Lea’s perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. His return marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality, and instead choose to live—and die—on their own terms. In this future world, death is not only taboo; it’s also highly illegal. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.
The Furnace—Prentis Rollins (July 10, Tor Books)
Graphic novel. One decision. Thousands of lives ruined. Can someone ever repent for the sins of their past? When Professor Walton Honderich was a young grad student, he participated in a government prison program and committed an act that led to the death of his friend, the brilliant physicist Marc Lepore, and resulted in unimaginable torment for an entire class of people across the United States. Twenty years later, now an insecure father slipping into alcoholism, Walton struggles against the ghosts that haunt him in a futuristic New York City.
Maze Master—Kathleen O’Neal Gear (July 17, St. Martin’s Press)
LucentB is a retrovirus that’s inevitable, unstoppable, and utterly catastrophic for humanity. The US government believes the only person who can find the cure is the geneticist who tried to warn them about it and then disappeared: James Hakari. They assign the task of finding him to his former student Anna Asher, who in turn recruits paleographer and religious studies scholar Dr. Martin Nadai. The brilliant but insane geneticist is leaving clues for Anna and Martin to follow, showing he’s truly earned his students’ nickname for him: the Maze Master. The search takes Anna and Martin around the world and into a warzone they never imagined.
Nyxia Unleashed (Nyxia Triad #2)—Scott Reintgen (July 17, Crown Books for Young Readers)
Young adult. Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one. Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis spaceship survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population. But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces-Babel and the Adamites-with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?
Hullmetal Girls—Emily Skrutskie (July 17, Delacorte Press)
When Aisha Un-Haad’s brother contracts a plague, she knows her janitor’s salary isn’t enough to fund his treatment. So she volunteers to become a Scela, a mechanically enhanced soldier sworn to serve the governing body of the Fleet. If Aisha can survive the harrowing modifications and earn an elite place in the Scela ranks, she may be able to save her brother. Key Tanaka awakens in a Scela body with only hazy memories of her life before. She knows she’s from the privileged end of the Fleet, but she has no recollection of why she chose to give up a life of luxury to become a hulking cyborg soldier. If she can make it through the training, she might have a shot at recovering her missing past. In a unit of new recruits vying for top placement, Aisha’s and Key’s paths collide, and the two must learn to work together—a tall order for girls from opposite ends of the Fleet. But a rebellion is stirring, pitting those who yearn for independence from the Fleet against a government struggling to maintain unity. With violence brewing and dark secrets surfacing, Aisha and Key find themselves questioning their loyalties.
The Hidden World (Imperials #3) – Melinda Snodgrass (July 17, Titan Books)
Disgraced military officer Thracius “Tracy” Belmanor has built a new life for himself, living under an assumed name as the captain of a small trading vessel crewed by aliens. At the other end of the social hierarchy, Mercedes’ faces rumors of a coup, and she makes the desperate decision to undertake a military campaign and gain her people’s loyalty through a victory. But when things go badly wrong, her future lies in the hands of the man she betrayed…
The Wild Dead (Bannerless #2)—Carrie Vaughn (July 17, John Joseph Adams Books)
A century after environmental and economic collapse, the people of the Coast Road have rebuilt their own sort of civilization. They strictly ration and manage resources, including the ability to have children. Enid of Haven is an investigator, who with her new partner, Teeg, is called on to mediate a dispute over an old building in a far-flung settlement at the edge of Coast Road territory. The investigators’ decision seems straightforward—and then the body of a young woman turns up in the nearby marshland. Almost more shocking than that, she’s not from the Coast Road, but from one of the outsider camps belonging to the nomads and wild folk. Now one of them is dead, and Enid wants to find out who killed her, even as Teeg argues that the murder isn’t their problem. In a dystopian future of isolated communities, can our moral sense survive the worst hard times?
Contagion—Erin Bowman (July 24, HarperTeen)
Young adult. After receiving a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, a skeleton crew is sent into deep space to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission. When they arrive, they find the planet littered with the remains of the project—including its members’ dead bodies. As they try to piece together what could have possibly decimated an entire project, they discover that some things are best left buried—and some monsters are only too ready to awaken.
Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers #3)—Becky Chambers (July 14, Harper Voyager)
Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. While the Exodans take great pride in their original community and traditions, their culture has been influenced by others beyond their bulkheads. As many Exodans leave for alien cities or terrestrial colonies, those who remain are left to ponder their own lives and futures: What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination? Why remain in space when there are habitable worlds available? What is the price of sustaining their carefully balanced way of life—and is it worth saving at all? A young apprentice, a lifelong spacer with young children, a planet-raised traveler, an alien academic, a caretaker for the dead, and an Archivist whose mission is to ensure no one’s story is forgotten, wrestle with these profound universal questions. The answers may seem small on the galactic scale, but to these individuals, it could mean everything.
Between Frost and Fury (Xenith Trilogy #2)—Chani Lynn Feener (July 24, Swoon Reads)
Young adult. Delaney has been kidnapped by aliens. Again. After only a month back on Earth with her hot new alien boyfriend Ruckus, the deadly and devastatingly handsome prince Trystan has dragged her right back to his planet. While some girls may dream of winning a prince’s heart, Delaney just wishes this one would leave her alone. Instead, she finds herself at the center of both a tense political battle between two alien kingdoms and Trystan’s romantic attentions, both of which are absolutely ruining the life she’s built on Earth. Not to mention the fact that she’s about to be crowned queen of a planet she’s barely even visited. Just another day in the life of an ordinary human girl.
Annex—Rich Larson (July 24, Orbit)
At first it is a nightmare. When the invaders arrive, the world as they know it is destroyed. Their friends are kidnapped. Their families are changed. Then it is a dream. With no adults left to run things, Violet and the others who have escaped capture are truly free for the first time. They can do whatever they want to do. They can be whoever they want to be. But the invaders won’t leave them alone for long…
Sanctuary—Caryn Lix (July 24, Simon Pulse)
Young adult. Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything. As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—but then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners. At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely. As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.
The Future Will Be BS Free—Will McIntosh (July 24, Delacorte Press)
Young adult. In a Putin-esque near-future America, the gifted and talented high school has just been eliminated, and Sam and his friends have been using their unexpected free time to work on a tiny, undetectable, utterly reliable lie detector. They’re all in it for the money—except Theo, their visionary. For Theo, it’s about creating a better world. A BS-free world, where no one can lie, and the honest will thrive. Just when they finish the prototype and turn down an offer to sell their brainchild to a huge corporation, Theo is found dead. Greedy companies, corrupt privatized police, and even the president herself will stop at nothing to steal the Truth App. Sam sets his sights on exposing all lies and holding everyone accountable. But he and his friends quickly realize the costs of a BS-free world: the lives of loved ones, and political and economic stability. They now face a difficult question: Is the world capable of operating without lies, or are lies what hold it together?
Binti—Nnedi Okorafor (July 24, Tor.com Publishing)
Hardcover reissue. Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs. Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach. If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.
Binti: Home—Nnedi Okorafor (July 24, Tor.com Publishing)
Hardcover reissue. It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places. And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders. But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace. After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?
Binti: The Night Masquerade—Nnedi Okorafor (July 24, Tor.com Publishing)
Hardcover reissue. Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse. Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her. Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene–though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives–and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.
Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances—Timothy Zahn (July 24, Del Rey)
The sequel to New York Times bestseller Thrawn, Thrawn: Alliances will continue to follow the rise of Grand Admiral Thrawn to the heights of Imperial power—and accompany him into the past, witnessing his first encounter with the man who will one day become Darth Vader.
Keepers (Project Earth #2)—Brenda Cooper (July 31, Pyr)
In a future Earth that’s run by brilliant green cities separated by open land held in common for the good of wild things, two sisters must work together across and between the vastly different environments to root out dangers to both. They must protect the cities and the wild from the Returners, who prefer the toxic past to the difficult present. The older sister, Lou, her protector Shuska, and biologist friend Matchiko have reputations as successful rugged environmentalists. They must stay safe, listen, work, and sleuth out hidden nests of Returners. Oh, and save a few wolves along the way. In the meantime, Lou’s younger sister, Coryn, is learning that working for the most powerful woman behind the scenes in a megacity is far harder than it looks. When the Returners threaten the city, the sisters must find a way to preserve both their ways of life.
Arabella the Traitor of Mars (Adventures of Arabella Ashby #3)—David D. Levine (July 31, Tor Books)
At last husband and wife, Arabella and Captain Singh seem to have earned the attention of great men, ones who have new uses in mind for the Mars Company captain and his young wife. Both Company and Crown have decided that it is time to bring Mars into the folds of Empire, and they think Singh is the perfect man to do it. Now, Arabella must decide between staying loyal to the man she loves and the country of her father or betraying all that she has known to fight alongside the Martians in a hopeless resistance against the Galaxy’s last remaining superpower.
Planetside—Michael Mammay (July 31, Harper Voyager)
War heroes aren’t usually called out of semi-retirement and sent to the far reaches of the galaxy for a routine investigation. So when Colonel Carl Butler answers the call from an old and powerful friend, he knows it’s something big—and he’s not being told the whole story. A high councilor’s son has gone MIA out of Cappa Base, the space station orbiting a battle-ravaged planet. The young lieutenant had been wounded and evacuated—but there’s no record of him having ever arrived at hospital command. The colonel quickly finds Cappa Base to be a labyrinth of dead ends and sabotage: the hospital commander stonewalls him, the Special Ops leader won’t come off the planet, witnesses go missing, radar data disappears, and that’s before he encounters the alien enemy. Butler has no choice but to drop down onto a hostile planet—because someone is using the war zone as a cover. The answers are there—Butler just has to make it back alive…