20 sci-fi and fantasy books we can’t wait to dive into this summer
the other summer blockbuster season is upon us. Some of the year’s biggest sci-fi and fantasy books will hit shelves over the next four months, including new titles from Ken Liu, Holly Black and Ruthanna Emrys. Plus, well-known genre-spanning writers like Akil Kumarasamy, Megan Giddings, and Georgi Gospodinov are back with new puzzles alongside a new generation of newbie writers.
Whether you’re looking for a quick fix to devour in a single weekend or an epic tome to dig through for months, here are the 20 best sci-fi and fantasy books coming in May, June, July, and August 2022.
Electra by Jennifer Saint (May 3)
Madeline Miller fans Circe and Margaret Atwood Penelope will be attracted by this reinvention of The Iliad which zooms in on Helen of Troy’s niece, Elektra. It’s another gripping historical fantasy in the vein of Saint’s debut novel, Ariadnebut this time she widens her scope to include two additional women: Elektra’s mother, Clytemnestra, and her father Agamemnon’s mistress, Cassandra.
Few former Wall Street Journal tech reporters have written a sci-fi novel, but that’s exactly what Vauhini Vara has done with this stunning and nuanced book about memory, capitalism and climate change. It’s the story of a child from South India who grows up to be the most powerful man in the world – first as the CEO of a tech company, then as an executive of a an international corporatocracy – and gives his daughter access to her memories in dire straits. trying to save the planet.
The co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles is back with his first adult novel, a dark fantasy set in a world that could be ours if it weren’t for the “shadow magic” and the “gloamists” studying it. When a 28-year-old thief named Charlie Hall finds a dead man whose shadow has been torn to shreds, she sets off on an adventure to search for a missing magical text – the holder of the Book of Night.
Temporal Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel (May 10)
This Ballardian novel, Gospodinov’s third translation from Bulgarian to English, is about a Swiss health clinic for Alzheimer’s patients where each floor is designed to recreate a different decade of the 20th century. Things start to get wild when entire countries decide to start “living” in a particular decade from the past. (France, of course, chooses the 80s.)
This contemporary version of The turn of the screw is about a newly sober nanny, Mallory Quinn, who takes a job caring for a 5-year-old boy. The kid seems nice at first (isn’t it always?), until he draws a picture of a man dragging a woman’s body through the woods. As his drawings become more and more realistic, Mallory wonders if he is channeling something supernatural – something that could help solve a cold case.
Loulie al-Nazari, a criminal magic smuggler with the enviable alias of “Midnight Merchant”, teams up with her djinn tutor, a prince and a thief in this fast-paced fantasy adventure inspired by several stories of Thousand and one Night. Fans of SA Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy will enjoy al-Nazari’s race to find an ancient artifact with the power to wipe out all the jinn in the world.
Traumatized women start growing thick, black hair down their spines in this debut novel by Sally Oliver. Marianne, mourning the death of her sister, joins other grieving women at an experimental treatment center in the Welsh wilderness, where her past and present begin to overlap – and her mind begins to crumble.
A dark historical fantasy set in Victorian London and Meiji-era Tokyo, Ordinary monsters is about a British detective tasked with protecting two children with supernatural powers from a man made of smoke. At nearly 700 pages, it’s a door stopper with a labyrinthine story and a wide cast of characters.
In the near future, the Metaverse is moderated by reality checkers like Joey, who oversees South Asian celebrity livestreams. When she hires an assistant named Rudra, the estranged scion of a wealthy Delhi family, they uncover a corporate plot that shatters everything they think they know.
Ken Liu returns with the fourth and final book in his Dandelion Dynasty series, best known for establishing the “silkpunk” genre with the 2015s The Grace of Kings. This time, Pékyu Takval and Princess Thera must navigate two wars to settle the fate of the Seven Islands of Dara.
Knives out meets The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in this locked room mystery set in the near future, where an alien diplomat’s human translator is caught up in a murder investigation. Eddie Robson has written for British sitcoms and Doctor Who fallout, so expect some dry humor.
Kingfisher’s retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of House Usher” is a great way to reacquaint yourself with the story ahead of the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the original text by Mike Flanagan. This version involves mushrooms, “possessed faun,” and a bunch of ghosts who may not actually be ghosts.
Emrys’ first novel since the Innsmouth Legacy series is a first contact story driven by climate change. At the turn of the 21st century, when aliens land in the Chesapeake Bay and offer humanity an escape from what they perceive to be a doomed Earth, our species must decide whether to leave home or hold on.
insomnia by Victor Manibo (August 2)
What if you never needed to sleep again? Sounds good, but it doesn’t go so well in Manibo’s first novel. A “sleepless” reporter named Jamie Vega is trapped in a murder investigation, and the worst part is that he doesn’t remember anything from the night of the crime. After embarking on his own investigation, he discovers the truth behind insomnia, and well, that can’t be good.
The title is not a metaphor; this novel is about people who eat books. They call themselves The Family, live in the Yorkshire Moors and punish children by making them eat dictionaries. It turns out that they actually survive thanks to the stories contained in the books, which becomes a problem when one of them takes a liking to the best story vessel of all – the human brain.
40 by Alan Heathcock (August 2)
A civil war between the US government and a faction of revolutionary fundamentalists is the setting for Heathcock’s bold and bizarre novel about faith, family, and the future. When a young soldier named Mazzy Goodwin wakes up in a crater to find wings sprouting from his back, she doesn’t know if it’s a miracle or a biological experiment, but it gives her the opportunity to become a leader. war and find his missing sister.
Confront by Joma West (August 2)
Skin color is a choice in Joma West’s debut novel, thanks to some Gattacahigh-level genetic technology that allows everyone (who can afford it) to design their own “perfect” faces. At the same time, any skin-to-skin contact is considered obscene, and a wealthy family’s pursuit of happiness turns into a nightmare worthy of a black mirror episode.
The brilliant author of Lakewood imagine a dystopia where witches are real – a fact that the authoritarian state uses to criminalize female celibacy after the age of 30 and to put black women on trial for the slightest suspicion. When Joséphine Thomas goes on a quest to honor her mother’s last wish, she discovers a community living under very different rules.
The first binding is a South Asian-inspired epic fantasy that has been compared to that of Patrick Rothfuss The name of the wind, and for good reason: it is an 800-page debut series told in the first person by a legendary warrior with a sharp tongue who wields magic. The gorgeous cover art doesn’t hurt either!
This genre-defying novel from the author of the 2018 short story collection Half god is about a future artificial intelligence trainer, Ada, who in her spare time translates a Tamil manuscript written by a group of female medical students in the 1990s. The story alternates between Ada’s encounters with technology of the future and the attempts of medical students to suffer as much as possible to understand their patients.