Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for May and June 2022

What do May and June have in store when it comes to books being released on indie presses? The possibilities are virtually endless, including collections of groundbreaking fiction, reissues of cult classics, and unexpected detours into history. Here are a host of forthcoming books that have caught my eye.

 

Ghosts, Afterlives, and the Metaphysical

When it comes to fiction, Steve Toltz is fond of high concepts. That was certainly the case when it came to his sprawling 2008 novel A Fraction of the Whole, which drew comparisons from everything from the works of Jorge Luis Borges to intricate crime fiction. That novel explored the dynamics of family life; his new novel, Here Goes Nothing, heads for the metaphysical, as it focuses on a deceased man in an increasingly crowded afterlife seeking revenge on his killer. (May 3, 2022; Melville House)

Building 46 is one of two novels by Massoud Hayoun set for release this year. The two books are also, based on an interview Hayoun gave with his publisher, meant to be his first and last novels, respectively. Jordy Rosenberg—no stranger to genre-defying works of fiction—referred to the work as a “social-realist ghost story,” centered around a mysterious death in China. (May 5, 2022; Darf Publications)

Craig Laurance Gidney’s 2019 novel A Spectral Hue was a (literally) haunting work about ghosts, desire, and obsession—the kind of book that leaves an indelible mark and leaves you curious to read whatever the author has in store next. In the case of Gidney, that would be the collection The Nectar of Nightmares, which covers a host of genres and moments in time, offering a powerful display of Gidney’s range as a writer. (June 2022, Underland Publications)

What happens when something believed to be an illness turns out to be something much more uncanny? That’s the concept at the heart of Naben Ruthnum’s forthcoming Helpmeet, set in the early days of the 20th century and focusing on a woman taking care of her ailing husband who discovers that his illness could be a sign of something much stranger. (May 3, 2022; Undertow Publications)

It’s a big year for Francesca Lia Block, what with the news of a Weetzie Bat adaptation being in the works and all. Block also has a new book due out this summer: House of Hearts, a story about the search for a lost paramour that leads to a surreal wellness retreat and beyond. Block’s narrative touches on the mythic as her protagonist continues on her search, making for a resonant journey. (June 14, 2022; Rare Bird)

 

Recent History (Gone Askew)

Benjamin Myers has a penchant for taking readers to the stranger corners of England; his earlier book The Gallows Pole took historical crime fiction into hallucinatory territory. His latest to be published stateside, The Perfect Golden Circle, is set in 1989, and follows a pair of friends who embark on a surreal and mystical project: creating crop circles under cover of night. (May 17, 2022; Melville House)

Picture it: Italy, 1944. Partisans and Allied forces do battle with the Nazis across the country in the waning days of World War II. There, one partisan works in concert with an ancient goddess to stop a fascist plot. That’s the plot at the heart of Francesca Tacchi’s novella Let the Mountains Be My Grave, a memorable trip back into history and myth. (May 17, 2022; Neon Hemlock)

You might not think Occupy Wall Street and prophetic garden gnomes would fit together within the confines of the same narrative. Now, here’s Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s new novel The Visitors to make the case that, yes, the two can mesh together seamlessly. It’s the kind of ambitious, madcap narrative combination that’s all too rare nowadays. (June 7, 2022; And Other Stories)

Nestled narratives, multiple timelines, and parallel universes all converge in the pages of Terri Favro’s novel The Sisters Sputnik. The title characters are a trio of storytellers moving around in time and through hundreds of parallel worlds; all of this makes space for a narrative that can encompass everything from alternate version of Frank Sinatra to a religion with robots as the object of their adoration. (May 17, 2022; ECW Press)

Some of the most compelling speculative work out there is that which takes full stock of the absurd. That’s at work in Iris Smyles’s new collection Droll Tales, which chronicles both journeys into the surreal and narratives involving surrealists. Difficult to pin down and compelling in format, Smyles’s new collection memorably ventures to unexpected places. (June 21, 2022; Turtle Point Press)

 

Reissues and Anthologies

Award-winning author Mykaela Saunders edited a new anthology believed to be the first collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speculative fiction. That would be This All Come Back Now: An anthology of First Nations speculative fiction, which ventures into an array of possible futures and distant pasts. (May 2, 2022; University of Queensland Press)

In the last decade, Wakefield Press has released several works in translation by Mynona (aka Salomo Friedlaender), a contemporary of Kafka’s both temporally and thematically. A 2015 Washington Post review of their edition of The Creator cited its “polarity, shamanic ecstasy and mystical transfiguration.” This year brings with it a translation by W. C. Bamberger of Mynona’s 2016 book Black–White–Red, which abounds with bizarre images, including a massive mechanical egg. Intrigued? (June 2022; Wakefield Press)

Not all reissues bring decades-old projects back into the spotlight. Jordan A. Rothacker’s The Pit and No Other Stories was first published much more recently, and this new edition adds a new introduction and afterword. The narrative moves back and forth in time, but at the heart of this novella is a small town with one distinguishing feature: a mysterious pit with bizarre properties that’s formed the heart of its culture. (May 2022; Spaceboy Books)

The MIT Press’s new Radium Age series is in the midst of releasing new editions of a host of under-discussed classics of the genre. This includes E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man—complete with a new introduction by Annalee Newitz. Odle’s novel tells the story of a time traveling cyborg who arrives in the 1920s, deconstructing gender roles along the way. (May 2022; MIT Press/Radium Age)

 

Dystopias and Revolutions

In the right hands, science fiction can turn feelings of alienation into something both gripping and profound. In the dystopian society in Robert McGill’s A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life, human lives have become undervalued and memory is a variable concept; throw in allusions to pandemics and IKEA-style flat-packed furniture and you’re left with an existentially compelling dystopia. (June 14, 2022; Coach House Books)

With Heroes of an Unknown World, Ayize Jama-Everett brings his Liminal series of novels to its conclusion. What happens when this series’s central characters reckon with a world that’s slowly being drained of its energy and emotions? Jama-Everett’s new novel features globe-trotting settings and thematically resonant conflicts. (June 14, 2022; Small Beer Press)

A host of writers have, as of late, been exploring the idea of a fragmented United States—and in his new book After the Revolution, Robert Evans offers his own take on a growing subgenre. It’s set in 2070, at a point when the country has divided into several smaller nations—not all of whom are willing to peacefully coexist. (May 10, 2022; AK Press)

What could nightlife look like in a futuristic world with endlessly customizable experiences depending on the viewer—and what conspiracies might arise from there? That concept is at the heart of Kathe Koja’s new novel Dark Factory, which draws on Koja’s experience creating interactive events as well as her immersive prose and skills as a storyteller. (May 10, 2022; Meerkat Press)

reel-thumbnailTobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. He is the author of the short story collection Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and the novel Reel (Rare Bird Books).

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