The summer is almost over—but the beach reads keep on coming. Including brand new series by N.K. Jemisin and David Drake. A brand new Christopher Moore book, plus tons more of your favorite authors. Here are the books you must read in August.

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Note: Before anybody asks, The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett isn’t on this list. I see it listed as coming out in early September. I double-checked. Sorry!

The Sword of the South by David Weber (Baen)

Weber’s epic fantasy series, which began with Oath of Swords, kicks into high gear with this book—the battle between light and darkness has begun, and everything is at stake. Apparently, the previous four books were Weber’s Hobbit, and this sees the beginning of his Lord of the Rings, and the story about trying to retrieve a sorceress’ secret weapon sounds suitably epic. Anyway, new David Weber is always cause for celebration.

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Blood Call by Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit)

Anna Caldwell’s brother is an investigative reporter—until he’s killed for digging up the wrong kind of truth about political corruption. Now Anna and her ex-boyfriend Josiah (a mob hitman) are on the run from crooks, politicians... and vampires? Publishers Weekly gave this book a mixed review, but praised the “exploding baddies” and creepy vampires.

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The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu (Tor Books)

The author of The Three Body Problem is back with the second book in the trilogy, this time translated by Joel Martinsen. The Trisolarians are on their way, and it’s up to a handful of human scientists to try and devise a plan for the survival of the human race. Some people want to try and escape from Earth before it’s too late, but the Planetary Defense Council comes up with a new plan: the Wallfacer Project. Kirkus gives it a starred review and calls it “a highly impressive must-read.”

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Fool’s Quest: Book II of the Fitz and the Fool trilogy by Robin Hobb (Del Rey)

The second book in Hobb’s new Fitz and the Fool series, this one sees Fitz dealing with his self-pity and remorse over his mistakes in the first book—and then he has to rise up, take control of his destiny, and make things better again. According to Beauty in Ruins, this is a brilliant sequel that sees Fitz finally getting some much-earned appreciation.

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Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany edited by Nisi Shawl & Bill Campbell (Rosarium Publishing)

Here’s a tribute anthology to one of the greatest living science fiction authors, including works by Junot Diaz, Eileen Gunn, Chesya Burke, Nalo Hopkinson and Geoff Ryman, which play with sexual identity and race, while some essays also celebrate Delany’s work. Publishers Weekly gave this book a starred review, and SFSignal says these stories “honor the man of the hour in many of his facets without ever falling into kitsch or fawning.”

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Zer0es: A Novel by Chuck Wendig (Harper Voyager)

Wendig has made a name for himself in creepy dark fantasy writing, and he’s also written a crucial new Star Wars book. Now he writes a cyberpunk tale about hackers uncovering a government experiment that went horribly, awfully wrong. Soon, they’re caught between a renegade hacker called the Widow of Zheng, and a new and super-powerful artificial intelligence, Typhon. Kirkus calls this book “an action-packed yet cerebral thriller that lives in that murky nexus between today and the future.”

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The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)

This book already made a splash as a self-published book, and now it’s out with a major publisher. Rosemary Harper is on the run from her past, so she takes a job as a clerk on board one of the ships that creates the network of wormholes that everyone uses to travel through space. Tor.com raves: “Imagine smashing the groundbreaking, breathtaking science fiction of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch saga against the salty space opera of The Expanse; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet lacks the wall-to-wall action of that latter, and some of the former’s finesse, yes—nevertheless, Becky Chambers’ debut is a delight.”

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The End of All Things (Old Man’s War) by John Scalzi (Tor Books)

We already wrote about this book in the June books roundup, because it was being serialized in e-book form—but now it’s out in hardcover, and you can read the next volume in the story that began with The Human Division. Read a starred review in Kirkus.

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Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)

Here’s the first ever young-adult novel by the legendary fantasy author. Jessamy belongs to a mixed-race family who are rounded up by the authorities after the family’s powerful patron dies. Jessamy alone is spared because of her skill at the popular game of Fives—and now she has to use her game-playing skills to save her family. Kirkus praises this “compelling look at racial and social identity wrapped in a page-turning adventure.”

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Chasing the Phoenix: A Science Fiction Novel by Michael Swanwick (Tor Books)

Speaking of legendary authors... Michael Swanwick has come up with so many cool stories in the past (and one of them is being turned into a TV show by the director of Star Trek Beyond.) Now his heroes, Surplus and Darger, are visiting post-apocalyptic China and looking for the Phoenix Bride, a famous weapon from before the A.I. war. Publishers Weekly writes, “The style may distance readers who are more used to stories of emotional development, but as Darger’s schemes become more intricate, the intellectual puzzles keep interest right to the end.”

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Alice by Christina Henry (Ace)

We’ve seen a lot of different takes on Alice in Wonderland recently, but here’s still something pretty new and different. Alice is a woman in a mental institution, who is vague about the events that happened to her 10 years ago when she was a young girl. Until there’s a fire at the asylum, and she’s finally able to escape and go uncover the truth. Vampire Book Club calls it “hands down one of the most imaginative and entertaining books I’ve read all year.”

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A Better Way to Die: The Collected Short Stories by Paul Cornell (NewCon Press)

Paul Cornell has made waves with his comics writing as well as his London Falling books recently, but he’s also gotten a lot of acclaim for his short fiction. This book, with an introduction by John Scalzi, includes his offbeat takes on superhero narratives and weird science, including “One of Our Bastards is Missing” and “The Copenhagen Interpretation.”

Kitty Saves the World: A Kitty Norville Novel by Carrie Vaughn (Tor Books)

The final Kitty Norville novel! It’s all coming to a head, as the vampire Roman is setting in motion his plot to destroy the world, and only a werewolf talk radio host and her friends can stop him. Publishers Weekly says it’s a good payoff for longtime readers of the series. Read an interview with Vaughn about it here.

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The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard (Roc)

It’s been 60 years since a magical version of World War I devastated the world—now, in a post-apocalyptic Paris, everything magical is real, from angels to dragons, and the battle for power is savage and relentless. The house of Silverspire faces a magical curse after a Vietnamese ex-immortal drinks fallen angel blood and tries to escape—and it’s up to two very different women to save the day. Publishers Weekly gives this book a starred review and praises its moral complexity. Read an excerpt here.

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Secondhand Souls LP: A Novel by Christopher Moore (HarperLuxe)

In this sequel to A Dirty Job, it turns out that the souls of the newly dead in San Francisco aren’t being collected, and this is wreaking havoc. It’s up to a motley crew of weirdos to get to the bottom of the mystery. Read an excerpt here.

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A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz (Chronicle Books)

The fairy city of Ferrum was devastated by a war with the evil tightropers, and now four rebellious fairies who refused to flee the carnage are living in the ruins. To maintain peace in the wrecked city, the fairies have to form an alliance with gnomes and even one of the invading tightropers. Kirkus says, “In spite of its narrative unevenness, this novel of friendship, love, and fighting for one’s beliefs should find a place among fans of the modern fairy story.”

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The Entropy of Bones by Ayize Jama-Everett (Small Beer Press)

Jama-Everett generated a lot of excitement with his previous book, The Liminal People, and now he’s back with a strange new take on superpowers. Chabi is mute but discovers she has a kind of telepathy, and she trains to use it to fight, until she’s able to shatter your bones with her mental powers. Publishers Weekly calls this book “spellbinding” in its starred review.

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Cracking the Sky: Stories by Brenda Cooper (Fairwood Press)

Cooper’s first collection of science fiction-only stories includes a collaboration with Larry Niven about a big space object called the Trellis, which is especially timely in the wake of our recent discoveries about Pluto. It also includes people who suspect their neighbors’ child is being raised by robots, and a controversy over A.I. rights, and what it’s like for “bubble babies” to live in virtual reality. “Those who love technology-driven stories will find a lot to like,” says Publishers Weekly.

Lament for the Afterlife by Lisa L. Hannett (ChiZine Publications)

The debut novel by the prolific horror/dark fantasy short story writer, Lament takes place in a world where we’ve been at war with the mysterious “greys” forever. What do the greys want, and why are they attacking us? It’s not clear, but they keep bombing our cities and taking our people. One teenage poet, Petyr, joins his friends in the war and discovers that fighting an unknowable enemy comes at a high cost.

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The Casualties: A Novel by Nick Holdstock (Thomas Dunne Books)

This “pre-apocalyptic” novel is the debut of a literary fiction writer who’s been published in n+1, the Southern Review, and other high-powered places. Holdstock narrates the final few weeks of an Edinburgh neighborhood, before a global catastrophe wipes out almost all of the people. So it’s sort of looking at these Scottish eccentrics with the benefit of hindsight, knowing they’ll almost all die at the end of the book.

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The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth) by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit)

The author of the fantastic Inheritance Trilogy is back with a story about a world where mass extinctions happen as regularly as weather events in our own world. And the next huge apocalyptic event, the Fifth Season, promises to be the most devastating of all—and this has a particular meaning to a few characters who are trapped within a rigid caste system. NPR raves about the book and says, “Jemisin brilliantly illustrates the belief that, yes, imaginative world-building is a vital element of fantasy — but also that every character is a world unto herself.”

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Sources: SF Signal, Locus, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and publisher catalogs. Top image: The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu, art by Stephan Martiniere.


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.