16 science fiction, fantasy, and horror books to read this July

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It’s July. I’m a little stunned at how fast 2017 has been passing us by. Half the year is gone already! A ton of really fantastic books have come out in those first six months, and if you’ve got vacation planned for this summer, it’ll be a good time to catch up before the back half of the year.

Given that the Fourth of July is in a couple of days, it had me thinking about stories that deal explicitly with patriotism and the founding of the country, and I remembered a graphic novel that I read recently: Rebels: A Well-Regulated Militia by Brian Wood. It’s a really fantastic story set in 1775, just before the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain.

The comic follows a young man named Seth Abbott and his wife Mercy as they settle in the frontier and deal with the challenges of living in the forests of what would eventually become Vermont. Seth joins the ongoing rebellion, and takes part in conflicts such as the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. It’s a complicated, nuanced tale about duty and survival, and I’d recommend looking it up. A second series, Rebels: These Free And Independent States began hitting stores in March.

Here are 16 books coming out this month that you should also check out.

July 4th

Dichronauts by Greg Egan

Greg Egan is known for some spectacular science fiction novels in recent years, and his latest looks pretty out there. It’s set in a strange universe where light can’t travel in every direction. Its inhabitants can only face and travel in one direction: east. Otherwise, they’ll get distorted across the landscape. A surveyor named Seth joins an expedition to the edge of inhabitable space, where they discover an unimaginable fissure in the world — one that will stop the ongoing migration of its inhabitants. The only way forward is down, to try and find a way to save everyone.

Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn

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In this sequel to Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex, Aveda Jupiter was once San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. Now, her life is in a bit of a free fall since she and her assistant Evie got rid of all the demons that inhabited the city. Her friends are turning on her, and now that her assistant gained powers, she’s finding herself in the sidekick role, something that she really doesn’t want. When Evie becomes engaged and supernatural beings begin to attack brides in the city, Aveda sees a chance to regain her former glory by making sure her friend’s wedding goes off without a hitch, and by saving the city.


Image: Angry Robot Books

An Oath of Dogs by Wendy Wagner

Set on the distant, forested planet of Huginn, Kate Standish begins to think that someone has murdered her boss. There are other problems at hand, though: the planet is inhabited by sentient dogs, and they’ve been waging an ecoterrorist campaign against the mill workers and farmers. As she digs deeper into the murder, Kate finds that there’s a deeper conspiracy surrounding the planet, one that threatens everyone.

A bit of a disclaimer: Wendy Wagner was my editor at Lightspeed Magazine.

The Harbors of the Sun by Martha Wells

This latest installment of Martha Wells’ Raksura series follows the Raksuran archeological expedition after a former ally has betrayed them. The expedition’s various members work to regroup when they learn that the shape-shifting and predatory Fell are planning an attack on the Reaches. Then, the survivors discover a captured magical weapon that could mean widespread devastation, and to recover it, they must go into forbidden territory.

July 11th

The Rift by Nina Allan

Two sisters named Selena and Julie are inseparable as children, but as they grow older, they being to drift apart. Then Julie goes missing at the age of 17, only to reappear 20 years later. When they reunite, Julie tells Selena a fantastic story of living on another planet. Selena has to decide whether her sister is mentally ill, or whether she’s telling the truth — and if the woman who’s returned is even her sister at all.


Image: Saga Press

Dark Sky by Mike Brooks

Last year, Mike Brooks released his debut novel Dark Run, which introduced readers to smuggler Ichabod Drift and his crew as they signed on to deliver a mysterious package to Earth. Now, they’ve signed on to a new smuggling run, this time to a mining planet. When they arrive, they find that the miners have begun to revolt. Drift and his crew split into two groups, one supporting the miners, the other supporting the authorities. When a communications blackout falls over the planet, they find that they might be fighting one another. Publisher’s Weekly gave the book a star rating, saying that it’s a “great space-rogue adventure in a setting with vast potential for further stories.”

Gork, The Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson

Gork is about to graduate from the WarWings Military Academy. He’s not the bravest of the dragons in the school: his nickname is “Weak Sauce.” However, on the eve of his graduation, he’s determined to ask Runcita Floop to be his dragon queen, otherwise, he’ll end up enslaved. Alongside the school’s Jocks, Nerds, Mutants, and Multi-Dimensioners, he comes up against friends and enemies, including a mad scientist, a robot dragon, and a healer who uses swords to practice acupuncture. Gork’s greatest perceived weakness — his big heart — might end up being his greatest asset to guide him through it all. Kirkus Reviews says, “If it all sounds a bit crazy, it is, in a weird and kind of wonderful way that combines immature humor with a heartfelt coming-of-age story.”


Image: Saga Press

At the Table of Wolves by Kay Kenyon

Following the Great War, people across the world have begun to develop special abilities. As war looms again in the 1930s, England is working to catch up to the other nations of the world as it attempts to weaponize these abilities at a secret location known as Monkton Hill. One woman, Kim Tavistock, has the ability to draw the truth out of people, and she’s recruited to take part in a mission to expose the head of Monkton Hall as a German spy. She infiltrates the upper classes of England, and discovers a German plot to invade England. When her supervisors don’t believe her, she must figure out how to stop the invasion on her own.

Tomorrow’s Kin by Nancy Kress

Nancy Kress kicks off a new trilogy with Tomorrow’s Kin, a hard science fiction novel based on her Nebula and Locus award-winning novella Yesterday’s Kin. Aliens have arrived at Earth, landing their embassy in New York Harbor and throwing the world into chaos. Dr. Marianne Jenner, a researcher who studies the human genome, is invited along to the UN, where she learns that they have only 10 months to prevent the extinction of humanity.

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

Matt discovers something strange. When he doesn’t eat, he seems to develop abilities: the ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see, to pluck the thoughts out of people’s heads, and possibly to bend space and time. He forces himself to resist the call of food as he works to find out why a kid named Tariq and his fellow high school bullies drove Matt’s sister Maya away. As he infiltrates their group, he finds that there are other types of hunger out there, and he can’t control all of them. Kirkus Reviews gave the book a star rating, saying, “Matt’s sarcastic, biting wit keeps readers rooting for him and hoping for his recovery.”

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

An FBI agent dies in a terrorist bombing in Chicago and wakes up in a strange world. He soon learns that it’s called The Echo, a place where the souls of people who have violently died go. He’s soon followed by fellow agent and girlfriend Claire McCoy, and the two have to figure out how to survive in this etherial and violent world. We might be seeing more of this story soon: Imagine Lands optioned the book for a movie.

The Delirium Brief by Charles Stross

The latest installment of Charles Stross’ Laundry Files series, finds Bob Howard dealing with the fact that the secretive agency — tasked with protecting the world from horrors from beyond space-time — is now public knowledge. He’s been working to frame the agency in a best light possible, only to attract the attention of an even worse enemy: a British government looking for public services to privatize.


Image: Mariner Books

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her urban fantasy novels, but she’s been shifting gears quite a bit lately. Earlier this year, she published Martians Abroad, a YA space opera, and with Bannerless, she’s looking into what happens after society collapses. In this world, the Coast Road is thriving after the fall of civilization, rebuilding with a culture of households. The population is controlled as people earn the right to bear children, displaying their privilege by hanging banners outside their homes. Enid of Haven is an Investigator, who is called upon to mediate disputes in the community. When a dead body turns up, she begins to investigate, finding cracks in society that makes her question everything she’s been raised to believe. You can read the original short story here.

July 18th

Minecraft: The Island by Max Brooks

Minecraft is getting a novelization, written by World War Z author Max Brooks. A lone castaway washes up on a beech and discovers that there’s an entire new world to explore, and that he needs to avoid becoming food for the zombies that come out after dark. This will be the first in a series of unconnected novels from developer Mojang and Del Rey Books.


Image: Orbit Books

Strange Dogs by James S.A. Corey

The next Expanse novel, Persepolis Rising, isn’t due out until December, but if you’re really looking to fill the time with more from that series, James S.A. Corey is releasing a new novella. The story follows a family who ventured through the gates and onto a new world to carve out a new life for themselves. However, the soldiers who followed them have set up a new, oppressive regime. It’s there that one member of the family, Cara, makes a discovery that could change everything.

July 25th

The Five Daughters of the Moon by Leena Likitalo

The first of a duology, Leena Likitalo’s The Five Daughters of the Moon is a historical fantasy that’s inspired by the final months of the 1917 Russian Revolution and the Romanov sisters. The Crescent Empire is on the edge of revolution, and five sisters — Alina, Merile, Sabilia, Elise, and Celestia — hold the key to the future, depending on their relationships with Gagargi Prataslav and his Great Thinking Machine. According to Publisher’s Weekly, it’s has a “fantasy landscape both familiar and otherworldly comes to life in this absorbing, imaginative tale.”

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