A little bit of horror, a little bit of near-future weirdness, a little bit of nonfiction, a little bit of Catwoman … this month’s in-between books are delightfully all over the place. A Short Film About Disappointment is entirely told in movie reviews. Severance has a cover the color of a pink slip. An Informal History of the Hugos does what it says on the tin. You’ve got stories from Ben Marcus and Abbey Mei Otis; a fabulist take on Moby-Dick from Jeffrey Ford; epic Nordic historical fiction; and Yellow Submarine. There’s truly 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.
Bad Man—Dathan Auerbach (August 7, Doubleday)
Eric disappeared when he was three years old. Ben looked away for only a second at the grocery store, but that was all it took. His brother vanished right into the sticky air of the Florida Panhandle. They say you’ve got only a couple days to find a missing person. Two days to tear the world apart if there’s any chance of putting yours back together. That’s your window. That window closed five years ago, leaving Ben’s life in ruins. He still looks for his brother. Now twenty and desperate for work, Ben takes a night stock job at the only place that will have him: the store that blinked Eric out of existence. Ben can feel that there’s something wrong there. With the people. With his boss. There’s something wrong with the air itself. He knows he’s in the right place now. That the store has much to tell him. So he keeps searching. Keeps looking for his baby brother, while missing the most important message of all. That he should have stopped looking.
William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return—Ian Doescher (August 7, Quirk Books)
The epic trilogy that began with William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and continued with The Empire Striketh Back concludes herein with the all-new, all-iambic The Jedi Doth Return—perchance the greatest adventure of them all. Prithee, attend the tale so far: Han Solo entombed in carbonite, the princess taken captive, the Rebel Alliance besieged, and Jabba the Hutt engorged. Alack! Now Luke Skywalker and his Rebel band must seek fresh allies in their quest to thwart construction of a new Imperial Death Star. But whom can they trust to fight by their side in the great battle to come? Cry “Ewok” and let slip the dogs of war!
Catwoman: Soul Stealer—Sarah J. Maas (August 7, Random House Books for Young Readers)
Young adult. When the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Gotham City looks ripe for the taking. Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove that as Batwing he has what it takes to help people. He targets a new thief on the prowl who has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. This Catwoman is clever—she may be Batwing’s undoing. Selina is playing a desperate game of cat and mouse, forming unexpected friendships and entangling herself with Batwing by night and her devilishly handsome neighbor Luke Fox by day. But with a dangerous threat from the past on her tail, will she be able to pull off the heist that’s closest to her heart?
A Short Film About Disappointment—Joshua Mattson (August 7, Penguin Press)
In near-future America, film critic Noah Body uploads his reviews to a content aggregator. His job is routine: watch, seethe, pan. Faced with writing about lousy movies for a website that no one reads, Noah smuggles into his work episodes from his trainwreck of a life. His apartment in Miniature Aleppo has been stripped of furniture after his wife ran off with his best friend—who Noah believes has possessed his body. He’s in the middle of an escalating grudge match against a vending machine tycoon with a penchant for violence. And he’s infatuated with a doctor who has diagnosed him with a “disease of thought.” Sapped by days performing the labor of entertainment, forced to voice opinions on cinema to earn his water rations, Noah is determined to create his own masterpiece, directed by and starring himself.
Before She Sleeps—Bina Shah (August 7, Delphinium)
In modern, beautiful Green City, the capital of South West Asia, gender selection, war and disease have brought the ratio of men to women to alarmingly low levels. The government uses terror and technology to control its people, and women must take multiple husbands to have children as quickly as possible. Yet there are women who resist, women who live in an underground collective and refuse to be part of the system. Secretly protected by the highest echelons of power, they emerge only at night, to provide to the rich and elite of Green City a type of commodity that nobody can buy: intimacy without sex. As it turns out, not even the most influential men can shield them from discovery and the dangers of ruthless punishment.
The Snail on the Slope—Arkady Strugatsky & Boris Strugatsky (August 1, Chicago Review Press)
Reissue. The Snail on the Slope takes place in two distinct worlds. One is the Administration, an institution run by a surreal, Kafkaesque bureaucracy whose aim is to govern the forest below. The other is the Forest, a place of fear, weird creatures, primitive people, and violence. Peretz, who works at the Administration, wants to visit the Forest. Candide crashed in the Forest years ago and wants to return to the Administration. Their journeys are surprising and strange, and listeners are left to puzzle out the mysteries of these foreign environments. The Strugatskys themselves called The Snail on the Slope “the most perfect and the most valuable of our works.”
The Third Hotel—Laura van den Berg (August 7, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Shortly after Clare arrives in Havana, Cuba, to attend the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema, she finds her husband, Richard, standing outside a museum. He’s wearing a white linen suit she’s never seen before, and he’s supposed to be dead. Grief-stricken and baffled, Clare tails Richard, a horror film scholar, through the newly tourist-filled streets of Havana, clocking his every move. As the distinction between reality and fantasy blurs, Clare finds grounding in memories of her childhood in Florida and of her marriage to Richard, revealing her role in his death and reappearance along the way.
An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000—Jo Walton (August 7, Tor Books)
Nonfiction. The Hugo Awards, named after pioneer science-fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback and voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society, have been given out since 1953. They are widely considered the most prestigious awards in science fiction. Between 2010 and 2013, Jo Walton wrote a series of posts for Tor.com, surveying the Hugo finalists and winners from the award’s inception up to the year 2000. Her contention was that each year’s full set of finalists generally tells a meaningful story about the state of science fiction at that time. Walton’s cheerfully opinionated and vastly well-informed posts provoked valuable conversation among the field’s historians. Now these posts, lightly revised, have been gathered into this book, along with a small selection of the comments posted by SF luminaries such as Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, and the late David G. Hartwell.
Nebula Awards Showcase 2018—Jane Yolen, editor (August 7, Pyr)
The Nebula Awards Showcase volumes have been published annually since 1966, reprinting the winning and nominated stories of the Nebula Awards, voted on by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). The editor, selected by SFWA’s anthology committee (chaired by Mike Resnick), is Jane Yolen, an author of children’s books, fantasy, and science fiction. This year’s Nebula Award winners are Charlie Jane Anders, Seanan McGuire, William Ledbetter, Amal El-Mohtar, and Eric Heisserer, with David D. Levine winning the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book.
Sherlock Holmes vs. Cthulhu: The Adventure of the Neural Psychoses—Lois H. Gresh (August 14, Titan Books)
Amelia Scarcliffe’s monstrous brood, harbingers of Cthulhu, will soon spawn. Her songs spell insanity, death… and illimitable wealth. And Moriarty will do anything to get his hands on gold, even if it means tearing down the walls between this world and a realm of horrors. Meanwhile, after Sherlock Holmes’s last tangle with the Order of Dagon, horrifying monsters haunt the Thames, and madness stalks the streets of Whitechapel. Gang war between Moriarty’s thugs and the powerful cult can only bring more terror—unless Holmes and Dr. Watson can prevent it. But can they find the cause of the neural psychoses before Watson himself succumbs?
The Sea Queen (Golden Wolf #2)—Linnea Hartsuyker (August 14, Harper)
Six years after The Half-Drowned King, Ragnvald Eysteinsson is now king of Sogn, but fighting battles for King Harald keeps him away from home as he navigates a political landscape that grows more dangerous the higher he rises. Ragnvald’s sister Svanhild has found the freedom and adventure she craves at the side of the rebel explorer Solvi Hunthiofsson. She longs for a home where her quiet son can grow strong, and a place where she can put down roots, even as Solvi’s ambition draws him back to Norway’s battles again and keeps her divided from her brother. As a growing rebellion unites King Harald’s enemies, Ragnvald sets a plan in motion to defeat all of his enemies, and bring his sister back to his side, while Svanhild finds herself with no easy decisions, and no choices that will leave her truly free. Their actions will hold irrevocable repercussions for the fates of those they love and for Norway itself.
Severance—Ling Ma (August 14, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies with her boyfriend. So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. The subways screech to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost. Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?
Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories—Abbey Mei Otis (August 14, Small Beer Press)
Abbey Mei Otis’s short stories are contemporary fiction at its strongest: taking apart the supposed equality that is clearly just not there, putting humans under an alien microscope, putting humans under government control, putting kids from the moon into a small beach town and then the putting the rest of the town under the microscope as they react in ways we ope they would, and then, of course, in ways we’d hope they don’t. Otis has long been fascinated in using strange situations to explore dynamics of power, oppression, and grief, and the twelve stories collected here are at once a striking indictment of the present and a powerful warning about the future.
Pinnacle City: A Superhero Noir—Matt Carter & Fiona J.R. Titchenell (August 14, Talos Press)
Pinnacle City seems a glittering metropolis, a symbol of prosperity watched over by the all-star superhero team the Pinnacle City Guardians. But beneath the glitz and glamour is a gritty underbelly, one still feeling the physical and economic damage of the superhero-villain battles of generations past. Private investigator Eddie Enriquez is an ex-con and veteran with powers of his own who still bears the scars of his time as a minion for a low-level supervillain. Good work’s been hard to come by until a mysterious woman shows up at his office with a case the police and superheroes are ignoring: the suspicious death of a prominent non-human rights activist. Meanwhile, superhero Kimberly Kline, a.k.a. Solar Flare, has just hit it big, graduating to the Pinnacle City Guardians. With good looks, incredible superpowers, and a family name that opens doors, the sky is the limit. But in trying to make the world a better place … she’ll discover Pinnacle City isn’t as black and white as it once seemed.
Heartbreaker—Claudia Dey (August 21, Random House)
It’s 1985. Pony Darlene Fontaine has lived all her fifteen years in “the territory,” a settlement founded decades ago by a charismatic cult leader. In this strange town run on a sinister economic resource, women crimp their hair and wear shoulder pads, and teenagers listen to Nazareth and Whitesnake on their Walkmans. Pony’s family lives in the bungalow at the farthest edge of town, where the territory borders the rest of the wider world—a place none of the townspeople have ever been. Except for Billie Jean Fontaine, Pony’s mother. When Billie Jean arrived in the territory seventeen years prior, the residents took her in and made her one of their own. She was the first outsider they had ever laid eyes on. Pony adores her mother, but like everyone else in the territory she is mystified by her. Billie Jean refuses to describe the world she came from. One night, Billie Jean grabs her truck keys, bolts barefoot into the cold October darkness—and vanishes. Beautiful, beloved, and secretive, Billie Jean was the first person to be welcomed into the territory. Now, with a frantic search under way for her missing mother, Pony fears: Will she be the first person to leave it too?
Notes from the Fog: Stories—Ben Marcus (August 21, Knopf)
In “The Grow-Light Blues,” a hapless, corporate drone finds love after being disfigured testing his employer’s newest nutrition supplement–the enhanced glow from his computer monitor. A father finds himself outcast from his family when he starts to suspect that his son’s precocity has turned sinister in the chilling “Cold Little Bird.” In “Blueprints for St. Louis,” two architects in a flailing marriage consider the ethics of artificially inciting emotion in mourners at their latest assignment–a memorial to a terrorist attack. In the bizarre but instantly recognizable universe of Ben Marcus’s fiction, characters encounter both surreal new illnesses and equally surreal new cures. Marcus writes beautifully, hilariously, and obsessively, about sex and death, lust and shame, the indignities of the body, and the full parade of human folly.
Ahab’s Return, or, The Last Voyage—Jeffrey Ford (August 28, William Morrow)
At the end of a long journey, Captain Ahab returns to the mainland to confront the true author of the novel Moby-Dick, his former shipmate, Ishmael. For Ahab was not pulled into the ocean’s depths by a harpoon line, and the exaggerated rumors of his death have caused him grievous harm—after hearing about Ahab’s demise, his wife and child left Nantucket for New York, and now Ahab is on a desperate quest to find them. Ahab’s pursuit leads him to The Gorgon’s Mirror, the sensationalist tabloid newspaper that employed Ishmael while he wrote the harrowing story of the ill-fated Pequod. In the penny press’s office, Ahab meets George Harrow, who makes a deal with the captain: the newspaperman will help Ahab navigate the city in exchange for the exclusive story of his salvation from the mouth of the great white whale. But their investigation—like Ahab’s own story—will take unexpected, dangerous, and ultimately tragic turns.
The People’s Republic of Everything—Nick Mamatas (August 28, Tachyon Publications)
Welcome to the People’s Republic of Everything—of course, you’ve been here for a long time already. Make yourself at home alongside a hitman who always tells the truth, no matter how reality has to twist itself to suit; electric matchstick girls who have teamed up with Friedrich Engels; a telepathic boy and his father’s homemade nuclear bomb; a very bad date that births an unforgettable meme; and a dog who simply won’t stop howling on social media. The People’s Republic of Everything features a decade’s worth of crimes, fantasies, original fiction, and the author’s preferred text of the acclaimed short novel Under My Roof.
The True History of the Strange Brigade—David Thomas Moore, editor (August 28, Abaddon)
There are remote corners of the British Empire where the supernatural lurks and the shadows linger, where few dare go and fewer return. This is the world of the little-known Department of Antiquities—the so-called “Strange Brigade”—tasked with confronting ancient and terrible evils that threaten us all. But who are these mysterious adventurers? Join Cassandra Khaw, Gaie Sebold, Tauriq Moosa, Guy Adams, Jonathan L. Howard, Mimi Mondal, Patrick Lofgren and Joseph Guthrie as they delve into the hidden origins of some of the Brigade’s finest, and marvel at these never-before-seen tales of our fearless and unflinching heroes…
The Beatles Yellow Submarine—Bill Morrison (August 28, Titan Comics)
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine with this fully authorized graphic novel adaptation. The Blue Meanies turn the people of Pepperland into living statues by dropping apples on them and imprison the Pepperland’s guardians, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, inside a soundproof blue glass globe, before confiscating all the music instruments in the land. Pepperland’s mayor sends aging sailor Young Fred out in the fabled Yellow Submarine to find help. He travels to our world where he stumbles across the Beatles and begs them to help. They agree and head to Pepperland, teaming up with Jeremy The Nowhere Man along the way to help overthrow the evil Blue Meanies through the power of music and love.