Over the next week or so, I’ll be posting titles for those looking for good summer reads (culled from the Publishers Weekly editor picks). Today we’re looking at the Sci-Fi / Fantasy category, because for whatever reason, Summer always seemed to be the perfect time for Sci-Fi. I don’t know if it was because I was out of school and could read for pleasure or just liked the escapist settings during a time when I could let my mind wander. I’m by no means the geekiest of Sci-Fi readers, but I do enjoy exploring the occasional expansive and imaginative storyline.
In this list, we have 3 debuts and one new series by an established author to easily get you started on your summer reading.
Sci-Fi / Fantasy
So You Want to Be a Robot, A. Merc Rustad (Lethe, May 6, 2017) Paperback.
This is Rustad’s debut short story collection and It’s gotten a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Rustad is filling a very interesting and important niche in Sci-Fi / Fantasy—at a pivotal time when non-binary gender language is struggling to become mainstream they’re bringing characters to light who have, without fanfare, honored their fluidity. Rustad has also been nominated for a 2017 Nebula award for their short story This is Not a Wardrobe Door. From the PW review:
“Swaying freely between science fiction and fantasy, diverse in setting and tone, this debut collection by prolific short story author Rustad is creative, often whimsical, and deliciously inclusive…. The stories are all crafted with the deft and loving touch of an author who knows firsthand what it is to live in their characters’ skins. Each piece in this unmissable collection shimmers with bright explorations of love, loss, and the quest for hope.”
Be prepared for the full range of gender fluidity in the characters. If that subject matter makes you uncomfortable, I would suggest that it wouldn’t hurt to make yourself a little more uncomfortable and read this collection. We will certainly be seeing a lot more of A. Merc Rustad.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss (Saga, June 20, 2017) Hardcover.
Another very promising author, Goss won the 2008 World Fantasy Award for her short fiction “Singing of Mount Abora.” This is her debut novel, which is a reworking of a short story titled The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, originally published on Strange Horizons (Jan. 18, 2010). Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, stating:
“Goss’s long-awaited debut novel brings her gothic-inflected fantasies roaring into the steampunk era as the “monstrous” daughters of famous villains such as Moreau, Hyde, and Frankenstein band together to assert their humanity and ownership of their stories. This is a tour de force of reclaiming the narrative, executed with wit and insight.”
Check for signed editions, popping up shortly after the publication date. Amazon has this title available for preorder (unsigned), but none of the other online stores have the title yet. I’d keep checking in with Abebooks, Powell’s, or your local Indy bookseller.
Food of the Gods: A Rupert Wong Novel, Cassandra Khaw (Abaddon, May 9, 2017) Paperback.
This is technically Khaw’s first full-length novel. She’s written a number of short stories and novellas & Food of the Gods is actually a reworking of two of those novellas. Again, Publishers Weekly has given it a starred review, stating:
“Descriptive imagery dances viscerally on the edge between the delicious and the disgusting; clever wordplay twines with heavy profanity; the mood flips rapidly among comedy, horror, and tenderness. This amazing book is perfect for foodies, readers of modernized mythology and light supernaturals, and fans of the smart, underpowered survivor who wins in the face of cosmic might and mundane brawn.”
Vanguard, Jack Campbell (Ace, May 2017)
For fans of Jack Campbell, he’s starting two new trilogies: Legacy of Dragons and The Genesis Fleet. The first book in The Genesis Fleet series, Vanguard, has garnered a starred review from Publishers Weekly. If you like strong action/adventure in your Sci-Fi, this may be for you. PW says:
“…the always-reliable Campbell delivers an exciting tale of interstellar adventure. Campbell’s skillfully constructed tale keeps a riveting pace, making each character’s personal stakes into fundamental threads woven into a high-energy whole.”