This month’s science fiction titles feature a wide variety of characters, from the mundane to the god-like. Meet an interstellar journalist heading home to face humanity’s latest enemy in Una McCormack’s The Undefeated; a telepathic prisoner who can’t remember her crimes in Vylar Kaftan’s Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water; and a set of twins who aren’t exactly human in Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame…
Head below for the full list of science fiction titles heading your way in May!
Keep track of all the new releases here. Note: All title summaries are taken and/or summarized from copy provided by the publisher.
The Warship (Rise of the Jain #2)—Neal Asher (May 7, Night Shade)
The haiman Orlandine, charged with safeguarding lethal Jain tech swirling inside an accretion disc located in the distant reaches of space, has weaponized a black hole to eliminate the threat. But others are suspicious of her motives, and both the Polity AIs and the leaders of the alien prador kingdom dispatch fleets of warships in anticipation of conflict.
As the black hole continues to eat its way through the planets in the accretion disc, making its way towards a dead sun, it becomes clear the disc has been hiding a larger secret. Nefarious forces with ulterior motives have manipulated Orlandine into deploying the black hole, triggering a series of larger events that will uncover a danger far older than even the Polity itself.
Exhalation: Stories—Ted Chiang (May 7, Knopf)
From the acclaimed author of Stories of Your Life and Others—the basis for the Academy Award-nominated film Arrival—comes a groundbreaking new collection of short fiction: nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories. These are tales that tackle some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only Ted Chiang could imagine.
In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and second chances. In “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. In “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” the ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.
Including stories being published for the first time as well as some of his rare and classic uncollected work, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic—revelatory.
Tangle’s Game—Stewart Hotston (May 7, Abaddon)
Yesterday, Amanda Back’s life was flawless: the perfect social credit score, the perfect job, the perfect home.
Today, Amanda is a target, an enemy of the system holding information dangerous enough to disrupt the world’s all-consuming tech—a fugitive on the run.
But in a world where an un-hackable blockchain links everyone and everything, there is nowhere to run…
Snakeskins—Tim Major (May 7, Titan Books)
Caitlin Hext’s first shedding ceremony is imminent, but she’s far from prepared to produce a Snakeskin clone. When her Skin fails to turn to dust as expected, she must decide whether she wishes the newcomer alive or dead.
Worse still, it transpires that the Hext family may be of central importance to the survival of Charmers, a group of people with the inexplicable power to produce duplicates every seven years and, in the process, rejuvenate. In parallel with reporter Gerry Chafik and government aide Russell Handler, Caitlin must prevent the Great British Prosperity Party from establishing a corrupt new world order.
Octavia Gone (Alex Benedict #8)—Jack McDevitt (May 7, Saga Press)
After his return from space, Gabe is trying to find a new life for himself after being presumed dead—just as Alex and Chase are trying to relearn how to live and work without him. But when a seemingly alien artifact goes missing from Gabe’s old collection, it grants the group a chance to dive into solving the mystery of its origins as a team, once again.
When a lead on the artifact is tied to a dead pilot’s sole unrecorded trip, another clue seems to lead to one of the greatest lingering mysteries of the age: the infamous disappearance of a team of scientists aboard a space station orbiting a black hole—the Amelia Earhart of their time. With any luck, Alex, Chase, and Gabe may be on the trail of the greatest archaeological discovery of their careers…
Middlegame—Seanan McGuire (May 7, Tor.com Publishing)
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
The Gemini Experiment—Brian Pinkerton (May 9, Flame Tree Publishing)
In a secret lab, a team of doctors and scientists funded by a mysterious billionaire create the first human replica entirely from technology. The robot is prepared to host the digitized consciousness of Tom Nolan, a family man suffering from a terminal illness. But when Tom’s replica escapes before the transfer can take place, he is faced with the horrors of an alter ego bent on death and destruction. When the experiment draws the attraction of spies, Tom is caught up in an international crisis with a showdown that could change the course of the world.
Million Mile Road Trip—Rudy Rucker (May 7, Night Shade)
When a seemingly-innocent trumpet solo somehow opens a transdimensional connection to Mappyworld, a parallel universe containing a single, endless plain divided by ridges into basin-like worlds, three California teens find themselves taken on a million mile road trip across a landscape of alien civilizations in a beat-up, purple 80s wagon… with a dark-energy motor, graphene tires and quantum shocks, of course. Their goal? To stop carnivorous flying saucers from invading Earth. And, just maybe, to find love along the way.
Hell Divers V: Captives (Hell Divers #5)—Nicholas Sansbury Smith (May 7, Blackstone Publishing)
After a long, perilous journey, Hell Divers Xavier Rodriguez and Magnolia Katib discover the Metal Islands, a sunny habitable zone where thousands of people live by fishing and farming. But this “paradise” is really a violent warrior society ruled by the cannibal king el Pulpo. For the first time in X’s life, he is forced to lay down his arms and surrender.
Back on the airships, the Hell Divers are recovering from a gruesome discovery at Red Sphere, where they learned the truth about World War III. Now they must fight another war-this time for what remains of their own endangered species. As the battle approaches, alliances will be forged, and others broken.
Forced to fight in the Cazador army, X faces his toughest mission yet. Will he help his people come down from the sky and claim the promised land, or will humanity go extinct?
The Gordian Protocol—David Weber and Jacob Holo (May 7, Baen)
Doctor Benjamin Schröder was far from a man of action. In fact, he was a history teacher—Chairman of the Castle Rock University history department—and if his life wasn’t perfect, it was close. Until, that is the discussion of his star student Elzbietá Abramowski’s dissertation on Operation Oz, the Pacific Allies’ invasion of Vladivostok, staged through occupied Japan to meet their Imperial German allies, was brutally interrupted.
The psychotic episode that turned his entire world upside down struck with absolutely no warning, and it was more terrifying than anything he should have been able to imagine, leaving him with a complete, incredibly detailed set of false, nightmare “memories.” Not just of his own life, but of an entire, ghastly world in which Operation Oz had never happened. In which millions of helpless civilians had been systematically slaughtered in “extermination camps” that were horrific beyond belief. In which there was still a Soviet Union. In which the Chinese Communists had succeeded, the Korean Peninsula had been permanently divided, thousands of nuclear warheads had spread their deadly threat across the entire Earth, and the Middle East was a festering sore of bloodshed, fanaticism, and terrorism.
But what if the false memories aren’t false after all, and that other world is just as real as the one Schröder has always known?
A Chain Across the Dawn (The Universe After #2)—Drew Williams (May 7, Tor Books)
It’s been three years since Esa left her backwater planet to join the ranks of the Justified. Together, she and fellow agent Jane Kamali have been traveling across the known universe, searching for children who share Esa’s supernatural gifts.
On a visit to a particularly remote planet, they learn that they’re not the only ones searching for gifted children. They find themselves on the tail of a mysterious being with impossible powers who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the very children that Esa and Jane are trying to save.
With their latest recruit in tow—a young Wulf boy named Sho—Esa and Jane must track their strange foe across the galaxy in search of answers. But the more they learn, the clearer it becomes—their enemy may be harder to defeat than they ever could have imagined.
The Exalting (Divinity War #1)—Dan Allen (May 15, Future House Publishing)
On Xahna, the eighth world, cities create their own supreme beings. As the believer fleet flees toward the Xahna to escape total annihilation at the hands of the mega-corporation known as ASP, marine sniper Jet Naman prepares to make first contact. But the fate of Xahna’s greatest power rests in the hands of a seventeen-year-old girl. Young Dana of Norr has found the bloodstone that grants access to the will of all twenty thousand inhabitants of Shoul Falls via their shared symbiotes: the sayathi microbes. The bloodstone offers near limitless power for a druid adept like Dana who can sense and control animals as long as her will lasts. Hunted by extremists who have banned the blood-binding, and pursued by the brutal warlock adepts of the tyrant Vetas-ka, Dana must return the bloodstone to its origin before it falls into the wrong hands. But those hands may be hers. For with each new challenge, the temptation to use the forbidden power grows stronger. Either way, her world is about to change forever.
Pariah (Donovan #3)—W. Michael Gear (May 14, DAW)
Corporate assassin Tamarland Benteen’s last hope is the survey ship Vixen. With a load of scientists aboard under the supervision of Dr. Dortmund Weisbacher, Vixen is tasked with the first comprehensive survey of the newly discovered planet called Donovan.
But a space ship is already orbiting Donovan, and, impossibly, human settlements have been established on the planet. For Dortmund Weisbacher, this is a violation of the most basic conservation tenets. Donovan is an ecological disaster.
Down on Donovan, Talina Perez takes refuge in the ruins of Mundo Base with the wild child, Kylee Simonov. But the quetzals are playing their own deadly game: one that forces Talina and Kylee to flee farther into the wilderness. Too bad they’re stuck with Dortmund Weisbacher in the process.
Back in Port Authority, Dan Wirth discovers that he’s not the meanest or deadliest man on the planet. Tamarland Benteen is making his play for control of PA. And in the final struggle, if Benteen can’t have it, he’ll destroy it all.
Last Tango in Cyberspace—Steven Kotler (May 14, St. Martin’s Press)
Hard to say when the human species fractured exactly. Harder to say when this new talent arrived. But Lion Zorn is the first of his kind—an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the we. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends before they happen.
It’s a useful skill for a certain kind of company.
Arctic Pharmaceuticals is that kind of company. But when a routine em-tracking job leads to the discovery of a gruesome murder, Lion finds himself neck-deep in a world of eco-assassins, soul hackers and consciousness terrorists. But what the man really needs is a nap.
The Undefeated—Una McCormack (May 14, Tor.com Publishing)
She was a warrior of words.
As a journalist she exposed corruption across the Interstellar Commonwealth, shifting public opinion and destroying careers in the process.
Long-since retired, she travels back to the planet of her childhood, partly through a sense of nostalgia, partly to avoid running from humanity’s newest—and self-created—enemy, the jenjer.
Because the enemy is coming, and nothing can stand in its way.
The Obsoletes—Simeon Mills (May 14, Atria)
Fraternal twin brothers Darryl and Kanga are just like any other teenagers trying to make it through high school. They have to deal with peer pressure, awkwardness, and family drama. But there’s one closely guarded secret that sets them apart: they are robots. So long as they keep their heads down, their robophobic neighbors won’t discover the truth about them and they just might make it through to graduation.
But when Kanga becomes the star of the basketball team, there’s more at stake than typical sibling rivalry. Darryl—the worrywart of the pair—now has to work a million times harder to keep them both out of the spotlight. Though they look, sound, and act perfectly human, if anyone in their small, depressed Michigan town were to find out what they truly are, they’d likely be disassembled by an angry mob in the middle of their school gym.
Children of Ruin (Children of Time #2)—Adrian Tchaikovsky (May 14, Orbit)
Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life—but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.
Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from old Earth.
But those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod better left undisturbed.
And it’s been waiting for them.
Triumphant (Genesis Fleet #3)—Jack Campbell (May 21, Ace)
The recently colonized world of Glenlyon has learned that they’re stronger when they stand with other star systems than they are on their own. But after helping their neighbor Kosatka against an invasion, Glenlyon has become a target. The aggressive star systems plan to neutralize Glenlyon before striking again.
An attack is launched against Glenlyon’s orbital facility with forces too powerful for fleet officer Rob Geary to counter using their sole remaining destroyer, Saber. Mele Darcy’s Marines must repel repeated assaults while their hacker tries to get into the enemy systems to give Saber a fighting chance.
To survive, Glenlyon needs more firepower, and the only source for that is their neighbor Kosatka or other star systems that have so far remained neutral. But Kosatka is still battling the remnants of the invasion forces on its own world, and if it sends its only remaining warship to help will be left undefended against another invasion. While Carmen Ochoa fights for the freedom of Kosatka, Lochan Nakamura must survive assassins as he tries to convince other worlds to join a seemingly hopeless struggle.
Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water—Vylar Kaftan (May 14, Tor.com Publishing)
All Bee has ever known is darkness.
She doesn’t remember the crime she committed that landed her in the cold, twisting caverns of the prison planet Colel-Cab with only fellow prisoner Chela for company. Chela says that they’re telepaths and mass-murderers; that they belong here, too dangerous to ever be free. Bee has no reason to doubt her—until she hears the voice of another telepath, one who has answers, and can open her eyes to an entirely different truth.
Winchester Undead (Omnibus, Winchester Undead #5 and #6)—Dave Lund (May 21, Permuted Press)
The war with the undead has only begun. Marooned, Bexar and Chivo are trapped in a war between prepper clans in a Utah town. Hundreds of miles away, Jessie, Sarah, and Erin fight to save a secret underground government facility, the only refuge they and hundreds of others have found… a facility on the verge of collapse. Crossing the American southwest is a group of Marines, the last survivors of their command. Will they reach the facility in time?
Legions of dead swarm across the United States while North Korean and Chinese troops continue the hard-fought invasion. In this nail-biting, high-octane finale of the Winchester Undead series, Bexar and Jessie Reed try to find a safe haven for the birth of their child, while Chivo and President Lampton try to stop a rogue secret operative turned traitor from carrying out the final blow. The fate of the country and the fate of civilization rests in their hands.
Starship Repo—Patrick S. Tomlinson (May 21, Tor Books)
Firstname Lastname is a no one with nowhere to go. With a name that is the result of an unfortunate clerical error and destined to be one of the only humans on an alien space station. That is until she sneaks aboard a ship and joins up with a crew of repomen (they are definitely not pirates).
Now she’s traveling the galaxy “recovering” ships. What could go wrong?
The Captain’s Oath (Star Trek)—Christopher L. Bennett (May 28, Pocket Books)
The saga of James T. Kirk’s historic command of the U.S.S. Enterprise is known throughout the galaxy. But one part of the legend has barely been touched upon until now: the story of Kirk’s first starship command and the remarkable achievements by which Starfleet’s youngest captain earned the right to succeed Christopher Pike as the commander of the famous Enterprise. From his early battles with the Klingons to the rescue of endangered civilizations, Kirk grapples with difficult questions: Is he a warrior or a peacemaker? Should he obey regulations or trust his instincts? This thrilling novel illustrates the events and choices that would shape James T. Kirk into one of the most renowned captains in Starfleet history.
Five Unicorn Flush (Reason #2)—T. J. Berry (May 28, Angry Robot)
The Bala, magical creatures, have hidden themselves from cruel and destructive humanity, leaving the galaxy in shambles. Without unicorn-powered faster-than-light travel, mankind is scattered, starving and isolated across the stars. Cowboy Jim has the sole surviving FTL drive, and he and his Reason soldiers are determined to track down and re-enslave the Bala. But on their new planet, the Bala are on the brink of civil war: should they accept Unicorn rule, or follow necromancer Bao Zhi and exact revenge on their human oppressors? Only Captain Jenny, with her new elfin parasite, can return peace to the galaxy.
Longer—Michael Blumlein (May 28, Tor.com Publishing)
Gunjita and Cav are in orbit.
R&D scientists for pharmaceutical giant Gleem Galactic, they are wealthy enough to participate in rejuvenation: rebooting themselves from old age to jump their bodies back to their twenties. You get two chances. There can never be a third.
After Gunjita has juved for the second and final time and Cav has not, questions of life, death, morality, and test their relationship. Up among the stars, the research possibilities are infinite and first contact is possible, but their marriage may not survive the challenge.
Limited Wish (Impossible Times #2)—Mark Lawrence (May 28, 47 North)
It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge University, working with world-renowned mathematician Professor Halligan. He just wants to be a regular student, but regular isn’t really an option for a boy-genius cancer survivor who’s already dabbled in time travel.
When he crosses paths with a mysterious yet curiously familiar girl, Nick discovers that creases have appeared in the fabric of time, and that he is at the centre of the disruption. Only Nick can resolve this time paradox before the damage becomes catastrophic for both him and the future of the world. Time is running out—literally.
Wrapped up with him in this potentially apocalyptic scenario are his ex-girlfriend, Mia, and fellow student Helen. Facing the world-ending chaos of a split in time, Nick must act fast and make the choice of a lifetime—or lifetimes.
Walking to Aldebaran—Adrian Tchaikovsky (May 28, Solaris)
My name is Gary Rendell. I’m an astronaut. When they asked me as a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “astronaut, please!” I dreamed astronaut, I worked astronaut, I studied astronaut.
I got lucky; when a probe sent out to explore the Oort Cloud found a strange alien rock and an international team of scientists was put together to go and look at it, I made the draw.
I got even luckier. When disaster hit and our team was split up, scattered through the endless cold tunnels, I somehow survived.
Now I’m lost, and alone, and scared, and there’s something horrible in here.
Lucky me. Lucky, lucky, lucky.