Our Book Picks to Ring in the Summer Solstice!

It’s the summer solstice, and we thought… books! (To be fair, we are usually thinking about books.) Summer books are perfect for poolside, or airport lounges, or just stealing quiet moments at home. So which new releases are we desperate to get our hands on between now and autumn? Check out our picks below, and plan your next three months accordingly…


The Wanderers by Chuck Wendig (July 2)

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig cover

Hands up, who here loved The Stand? You know, the Stephen King book that was even longer than most Stephen King books—the one about the end of the world? Well Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers is already earning comparisons to King’s post-apocalyptic masterpiece, so you might want to add it to your reading list.

A comet swoops past Earth, and while it misses us it does seem to trigger an epidemic of sleepwalking. The sleepwalkers are all headed the same way (which isn’t ominous AT ALL) and when a young girl named Nessie shuffles out the door, her older sister Shana is determined to follow her. Soon Nessie is part of a “flock” of sleepwalkers, and Shana is one of a number of “shepherds” trying to keep them safe as they walk their mysterious path. Meanwhile, epidemiologist Benji Ray meets with an AI called Black Swan to try to unravel the illness; a rockstar finds post-comet life holds new challenges; a preacher tries to reconcile faith in God with increasingly all-powerful tech. Wendig creates a giant world that reflects our own, wrestles with politics, faith, pandemics, and morality in a a work of classic modern horror. —Leah Schnelbach


Null Set by S.L. Huang (July 9)

Null Set by S.L. Huang, cover

The second book that follows mathematical genius Cas Russell takes us deeper into her world of chaos and badassery. Cas Russell is a mercenary with a unique power—crazy fast math skills that allow her to outsmart enemy forces. But after she crushed the organization of telepaths keeping the world’s worst offenders under control, she’s got a lot on her plate. S.L. Huang has built a near future world that will keep you on the edge of your seat, filled with both action and interior drama. Cas Russell has a Jessica Jones-like swagger and is just kicking ass and taking names all over the place, and we love her for it. —Christina Orlando


The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction, edited by Neil Clarke (July 16)

The Eagle Has Landed, cover, Neil Clarke editor

Fifty years after Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, another Neil is commemorating the Moon landing with a reprint collection of science fiction published in the past half-century. As Clarke points out in the official announcement, while there have been only a handful of Moon missions since, sci-fi authors have filled in those gaps with a bevy of imaginative tales of interstellar travel. These might be old favorites for readers, or maybe (as in my case) they’re new-to-you, from Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Lunatics” to Indrapramit Das’ “The Moon is Not a Battlefield.” —Natalie Zutter


This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (July 16)

The is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone, cover

Look, there is no way that you put time travel and agents on the opposite side of a war and falling in love through correspondence in the same story, and not make my heart ache preemptively. That’s just how it goes. Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone are both stunningly talented writers to boot, and seeing how people write together is always a very special and exciting exercise. So I can’t wait to get my hands on this novella, and I can’t wait to see how their respective voices intermingle, and I can’t wait to learn about Red and Blue and how they manage to reach out for each other across time. —Emmet Asher-Perrin


The Redemption of Time by Baoshu, translated by Ken Liu (July 16)

The Redemption of Time by Baoshu translated by Ken Liu, cover

Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem trilogy won awards and accolades for a reason, and from that sprang The Redemption of Time. This book is set in Liu’s universe, but written by Baoshu, a devoted fan of the series. Liu was so impressed by the book that he allowed it to be published with his blessing. The idea of an author canonizing a novel that essentially would have been labeled fan fiction in any other sphere is more than enough to turn my head. I’m curious as to what Baoshu saw for Liu’s world, and how this story will envision the aftermath that the Three-Body Problem trilogy set up. —EAP


The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall (July 16)

The Border Keeper, Kerstin Hall, cover

The thing about working at Tor.com is that you can only hear the words “crab baby” out of context in the work Slack so many times before deciding that you simply must know more about this crab child. As it turns out, Kerstin Hall’s debut novella is mostly not about crabs; Lanesh, the crustacean infant in question, serves as a guide for some of the nine hundred and ninety-nine divisions of Mkalis, the spirit realm. Traveling through this land of gods and demons is Vasethe, a man who has been no one and everyone, and the eponymous border keeper. Reading the first nine chapters of Hall’s novella is like descending into Mkalis: you must slowly get your bearings, and be open to every image you pass; but I can’t wait to see where crab babies and other impossible creatures lead me. —NZ


Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (July 23)

Gods fo Jade and Shadow, cover, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Trapped in the small town of Uukumil in 1920s Mexico, Casseopia dreams of cutting her hair, donning sequins, and dancing the Charleston. Unfortunately, she’s stuck cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house under the watchful eye of her cruel cousin Martín. But when Casseopia finds a mysterious box and accidentally lets loose the Mayan God of Death, she may just get the adventure she’s looking for, or lose everything she’s ever known. It’s so difficult to find fantasy rooted in non-Western mythology, much less Latinx mythology of any kind, so it’s easy to see why people are excited for this one. It’s an Odessy-like journey across Mexico, including, of course, a trip to the Underworld. What Moreno-Garcia has done here is create a world full of magic, color, and music—a full sensory reading experience. It’s representation we deserve, and a narrative worthy of a million re-reads. —CO


Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski (July 23)

Becoming Superman, cover

On the one hand, Becoming Superman is exactly the memoir you’d expect J Michael Straczynski to write. Just like JMS himself, this book is many things simultaneously, combining harrowing autobiography, kisses with history, celebrity gossip, and some excellent writing advice into one rich reading experience. But on the other hand, I don’t think any fan of JMS’s deeply empathic and sensitive writing could have guessed just how nightmarish his childhood was, or how tangled and dark his family history could be. While the book is often a tough read (once we finally invent time travel, I’m guessing there’s going to be a queue of people lined up to go back in time and kick JMS’ dad in the shinsand by shins I mean head), it is also a deeply moving testament to the power of storytelling, and a no-bullshit guide to becoming, if not Superman, a better person and writer. —LS


The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang (August 6)

Many fantasy series stretch an epic, world-changing war over multiple books, training readers to expect resolution only at the end of the trilogy. But the war in the nation of Nikan draws to a close by the end of Kuang’s first book, The Poppy War, so what’s left for the rest of the series? In book two, warrior and shaman Rin is learning just how steep of a price victory brings; wracked with guilt, she flees the influence of the vengeful Phoenix god, even as she acknowledges that she might have to tap into the Phoenix’s power again. It all depends on if her potential ally the Dragon Warlord is actually a better ruler for Nikan than the traitorous dethroned Empress. Let’s face it, post-war stories of rebuilding society are so much more interesting than a multi-book battle. —NZ


Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh (August 13)

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? cover

Who wants to go on a twenty-three year mission into deep space to check out a potential utopia orbiting a nearby star? Does that mission sound more or less appealing when you know that you’ll be accompanied by four veterans of the original space race? How about six teenagers? (The teenagers have been training a long time, don’t worry—and they’ll be twenty-three years older by the time they get there.) I’m a sucker for “we’re on a long space mission, something must inevitably go wrong” yarns, and that’s without getting into my love for stories about people who are adamant about settling new planets and all the work that goes into that. Let’s get to it. —EAP


The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain (August 13)

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, cover

The words “ancient djinn wakes up in a future ruled by an AI” entered my brain, and the phrase turned over and over and over until I came up with a 404 error. Future tech meeting the past and myth and magic is always an angle that I’m into, but the idea of the future being a seeming-utopia that the djinn finds himself railing against makes the concept even more alluring. Hossain also said that while his initial concept for the story was more about the djinn-king-vs-AI fight, human characters kept stumbling into the landscape and changing the story. I’m always enamored of characters who worm their way into stories seemingly without author permission, so I’ll be sure to snap this one up and find out who they are. —EAP


Meet Me in the Future: Stories by Kameron Hurley (August 20)

Meet Me in the Future, cover

Kameron Hurley is a treasure, from her unflinchingly transparent accounts of making a living as a writer to her rallying-cry essays to the innovative fiction itself. Up until recently, much of that short fiction was locked away behind Hurley’s Patreon, reserved for her paying patrons—but now it’s being released in her second short fiction collection! Hurley is already in the future, and now you get to meet her there, from the Tor.com Originals “Elephants and Corpses” and “Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Full of Light!” to the intriguingly-titled “When We Fall.” “Tuesday Night Drunk Tweets with Nyx,” however, you’ll still have to become a patron for. —NZ


The Nobody People by Bob Proehl (September 3)

The Nobody People, cover

Bob Proehl’s A Hundred Thousand Worlds took us on a wild tour of the convention circuit, as Valerie Torrey, television star turned theater actress hopped from con to con with her young son, taking him on one last trip before she had to turn custody over to her estranged ex…her former co-star, Andrew. In his follow-up, Proehl is introducing us to the Nobody People, super-human teens who are threatened and oppressed by a U.S. government that fears their gifts. Where Thousand Worlds delved into life on the con circuit, with characters ranging from movie stars to indie comics creator, The Nobody People riffs on superpowers like super-strength and invisibility and brings them into our world, looking at all the ways powers can be exploited by a government that is fueled by fear and hatred rather than openness and innovation. —LS


The Institute by Stephen King (September 10)

The Institute, cover

You know what sucks? Being an intelligent, telepathically-gifted kid in a Stephen King novel. (Seriously, was Smol Stephen bullied by a telepath in middle school? WTH?) In his latest novel, King takes us inside a creepy organization called The Institute, who are rounding up telekinetic and telepathic children for brutal experiments. In the dead of night, a young math whiz named Luke Ellis is kidnapped, and awakens in a room that is a mirror image of his own… except where the windows should be, there are blank walls. He soon meets other “extranormals”: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and a boy named Avery who’s only ten years old. They tell him that there are only two paths in front of him. He can submit to the tests—and do well—and he’ll end up in The Institute’s “Front Half”; resist—or fail—and he’ll disappear into the “Back Half.” Kids never return from the Back Half.

Can Luke escape the nightmare of The Institute, even though no one ever has? And maybe more important: can he rescue the friends he’s made along the way? —LS


Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (September 10)

Gideon the Ninth cover, small

You may have noticed that Gideon Nav has made more than a few appearances here on Tor.com. That’s because we’re all pretty sure that Gideon is (a) fucking real, and (b) will fucking cut us if we ignore her. It’s pretty standard to put out copy like “THIS BOOK WILL GRAB YOU BY THE THROAT AND STUDIOUSLY IGNORE YOU WHEN YOU ASK IT TO UNHAND YOU” but again, Gideon might actually do that? I say might because it’s equally likely that she’d mean to, but somehow stumble as she lunged throatwards, or louse up the incantation she needed to recite in order to bind you, or make some other adorable mistake, and then you’d kind of have to pretend she’d grabbed you by the throat? Because she’d be super offended if she knew that you found her adorable. And you just want her to succeed dammit. You just want her to believe in herself, the way you believe in her. —LS


The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (September 10)

The Testaments, cover, Margaret Atwood

In a perfect world, Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments would have very little to do with Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. That is to say, the sequel will not tread the same ground as the TV series’ off-book second and third seasons, and will instead address contemporary issues that have shaped the world since the novel was published in 1985: the Internet, perhaps, or climate change. Regardless, a story set in Gilead circa early-2000s will be fascinating; how do you worry about Y2K when for many the world as they know it has already ended? —NZ


The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (September 10)

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, cover Alix Harrow

Sorry, did someone say STRANGE BOOK and SECRET DOORS? As a book nerd, I’m always a sucker for magical libraries, bookshops, and old tomes that contain dark secrets. For Harrow’s protagonist January, this particular magical old tome may just contain some vital truths and realizations about her lineage, including an exploration of her biracial identity, Alix E. Harrow is beloved in the sci-fi/fantasy world, having been Hugo and Nebula Award nominated for her short fiction. It’s hard to believe this is only her debut. But this book, with it’s Magician’s Nephew-like premise (complete with eccentric old man) is one you won’t want to miss. —CO


Okay, this one slides in right after the Equinox, but we couldn’t help ourselves…

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz (September 24)

The Future of Another Timeline cover

Before Autonomous, I could not have told you that I would have found patent piracy thrilling, but that’s Annalee Newitz’s writing for you. Time travel is very much my jam, especially when the politics and access of it are controlled across gender lines, especially when it’s a story about violence shaping women’s lives and women trying to edit the violence of the past. So, I am very ready to be knocked on my ass by this book. —NZ


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