The Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Everyone’s Talking About In June

Illustration for article titled The Science Fiction And Fantasy Books Everyone’s Talking About In June

Looking for some awesome beach reads? Science fiction and fantasy have you covered. There’s a new Shannara book, a brand new Laurell K. Hamilton, and an Alistair Reynolds novella. Plus Scalzi’s next Old Man’s War book, and Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s Long Utopia. Here are all the books you can’t miss in June!


The Long Utopia: A Novel (Long Earth) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Harper)


The fourth book in the Long Earth series sees less traveling between Earths, and more storytelling that settles in a few locations, and the characters get more chance to breathe. We discover a quirk in the topography of the Long Earth, and also delve into the history of the Steppers. Joe the Librarian calls it his favorite book in the series since the first one. Amazon | Powells | BN | Books Inc.

The Red: First Light (The Red Trilogy) by Linda Nagata (Saga Press)

This military SF book became famous as the first self-published novel to get a prestigious Nebula Award nomination. And now it’s out with Simon & Schuster’s new SF imprint, in a revised and somewhat expanded edition. In a dark future where military contractors ensure that we’re always at war, one soldier gets cybernetically enhanced — and then starts hearing inside information via his satellite downlink. Is he getting messages from God? Or a brand new A.I.? Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and called it “powerful.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Nemesis Games (The Expanse) by James S.A. Corey (Orbit)


The latest book in the Expanse series is out, and we just described it as James S.A. Corey’s Empire Strikes Back. The solar system is torn asunder by a new war as ships start mysteriously disappearing, and the crew of the Rocinante — scattered across a few planets — have to come together to investigate. Read an excerpt. Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton (Tor)


The sequel to Walton’s The Just City, this book follows the time-traveling Athene’s attempts to create a city along Plato’s principles. This time around, Apollo (who’s living a normal human life) is consumed with the desire for revenge, and threatens to ruin everything. Kirkus says, “The Just City seemed more thought experiment than novel, practically checking off points in a philosophy lecture. But Walton is more audacious here, launching into her own territory; the plotting and characterization are richer.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Gene Mapper by Taiyo Fujii (Haikasoru)


Here’s an interesting blend of cyberpunk and eco-disaster, translated into English for the first time. In the future, people mostly interact in virtual spaces, and meanwhile, the world depends on genetically modified crops for sustenance — but when a mysterious blight strikes a genetically engineered strain of rice, Mamoru Hayashida discovers its genome is much more complex than it should be. He has to travel to Ho Chi Minh City to work with a salvager named Isamu Yagodo and discover the truth. Publishers Weekly says, “Anglophone readers will be pleased to encounter this promising new author.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms (Angry Robot)


Missy Masters is just an ordinary street magician — until she discovers she’s inherited her grandfather’s control over shadows as well as his identity as the pulp hero Mr. Mystic. She has to travel to China to train with her grandfather’s mentor Lung Huang, but then she gets trapped when Lung Huang’s brother puts up a mystical energy barrier around China. Second Bookshelf liked the romance and the cool dragons. Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Alive by Chandler Baker (Disney-Hyperion)


This teen horror book takes the usual “transplanted evil hand” trope and replaces it with a heart transplant... and the new heart has a mind of its own. Stella’s recovering from heart surgery, when she finds herself almost supernaturally attracted to the young Levi. And she starts acting quite unlike herself. Kirkus says, “Plentiful blood-slicked scenes will please horror fans, but the eerie tone surrounding the central mystery is what works best in this supernatural thriller.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon Publications)


Scur has finally finished fighting the war she was conscripted into, and now she’s going home — right? Wrong. She gets captured by a war criminal and then trapped in a bunker and then locked up on a prison transport ship with soldiers from both sides. What’s going on? SFFWorld says, “Slow Bullets captured my attention and did not let up until the ride was over.” Read an excerpt! Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Dead Girls Don’t by Mags Storey (ChiZine Publications)


Liv can talk to the dead, but that doesn’t always make life simpler. When she tries to use her “gift” to find out who’s slicing up all the bullies at the school, it turns out the ghosts have agendas of their own. And she might actually be in love with a serial killer. Oops. Amazon | Powell’s | Books Inc.

The Year’s Best Military SF and Space Opera, edited by David Afsharirard (Baen)


Here’s the first book in a brand new series — Baen is collecting their favorite military SF and space opera stories from 2014 and putting them in one volume. Including Linda Nagata, Stephen Gaskell, Matthew Johnson, Michael Z. Williamson, and Holly Black. Plus a new essay by David Drake. [Full disclosure: I also have a story in here.] Read an essay by the book’s editor here. And if you like the stories, you can vote for your favorite one here. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and said, “Every story takes the reader on a fascinating, thought-provoking, enjoyable journey into the militarized future.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent (Delacorte Press)

A war between humans and demons wiped out most of the human race, and 100 years later America is governed by a terrible, oppressive government called the Church. Nina just wants to stay out of the Church’s hands, but then it turns out she’s a natural exorcist, who can fight the demons. Kirkus gave it a mixed review, but said, “large parts of this are un-put-down–able.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.


The End of All Things #1: The Life of the Mind by John Scalzi (Tor Books)


Hey, it’s the latest book in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series, and once again he’s releasing it as a serial before putting out a collected edition. This is a direct sequel to The Human Division, in which the two main human governments are on the brink of war with the alien Conclave — but someone is setting them up. Enter Rafe Daquin, a pilot who escapes from the mysterious Enclave with crucial information about the conspiracy to start a war. Kirkus says, “It’s classic crowd-pleasing Scalzi, offering thrilling adventure scenes (space battles, daring military actions, parachute jumps through a planet’s atmosphere), high-stakes politics, snarky commentary, and food for thought” in their starred review. Amazon | BN | Books Inc.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (Crown)

Carolyn lives in a library that holds all the secrets of the universe — and the librarian might be God. Except now the librarian is gone, and all his students are fighting to take his place. Carolyn is the least powerful of them all, but she’s also incredibly cunning, and she’s got a plan... one which might involve losing her humanity. Kirkus gave it a starred review and said, “A wholly original, engrossing, disturbing, and beautiful book. You’ve never read anything quite like this, and you won’t soon forget it.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.


Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer (PM Press)

This is just what it sounds like: a collection of feminist science fiction, including the greats like Ursula K. Le Guin and Octavia Butler, alongside newer writers like Catherynne M. Valente and Karin Tidbeck. Plus Angela Carter and the recently departed Tanith Lee. says these stories do “exactly what you’d want them to—they tear apart cliches, they question gender and it’s implications, they look at identity using satire and humour and darkness with a sharp intellectual examination of stigma and society’s rules.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN


The Liminal War by Ayize Jama-Everett (Small Beer Press)


We loved Jama-Everett’s first novel The Liminal People, so we’re excited for a follow-up. We said the first book was what we wanted out of Heroes season two, and called it “a damn good read. It’s a smart actioner that will entertain you while also enticing you to think about matters beyond the physical realm.” In the sequel, the crew of people with superpowers cross the space-time continuum and traverse the criminal underworld, to rescue a woman who’s gone missing. Kirkus loves the crazy battles in this second book and calls it “an engaging sequel.” Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Dead Ice (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) by Laurell K. Hamilton (Berkley)


In the 24th (!) Anita Blake novel, someone is creating zombies with souls and forcing them to make porn movies, because why not? Meanwhile, Anita is trying to hash out the structure of the new American kingdom she’s trying to co-rule with Jean-Claude. says that it’s got everything the die-hard Hamilton fans need, but isn’t for anybody else. Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine Books)


The YA debut of Older, who also wrote a fun urban fantasy recently with Half-Resurrection Blues. In this book, the young Sierra just wants to paint a big mural, but she finds herself being chased by zombies and ghosts — and it turns out that art and music have magical powers, and can be used in “spirit work.” She gets lost in a “mystical Brooklyn labyrinth,” trying to master powers in time to save herself. Kirkus gave it a starred review. Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (St. Martin’s Press)


Simon is a young librarian, living in an ancient house next to the water where his mother, a professional circus mermaid, drowned. And then he discovers that a circus mermaid also drowned in the 1700s, in a similar fashion — and finds out that generations of the women in his family have drowned in the same way at the same point in their lives. Can Simon figure out the curse in time to save his sister, who’s run off to join the circus? Books and Whatnot says this book will appeal to fans of The Night Circus, while Publishers Weekly says it has weak spots but the mythos is still compelling. Read an excerpt! Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

The Darkling Child: The Defenders of Shannara by Terry Brooks (Del Rey)


Shannara is finally coming to television, courtesy of MTV. And the publishers claim this book is the perfect jumping-on point for new readers. The leader of the Druids of Paranor, Aphenglow, is dying. And the sorcerer Arcannen Rai sees a chance for revenge. Our hero, Paxon, has to go investigate, before Arcannen gets his hands on unstoppable power. Publishers Weekly seemed to like it pretty well, and called it “ more personal but still high-stakes.” Read chapter one and chapter two. Amazon | Powell’s | BN | Books Inc.

Top image: The End of All Things by John Scalzi

Sources: SFSignal, Locus, and publisher catalogs


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I’m reading Nemesis Games right now. I’m only partway through, but can offer this in-progress review: Holy screaming camel shit... it’s great! Drop what you’re doing and read it.