Astounding Summer Books That You Won't Want to MissS

Get ready for a summer of great reading! Some of these books are pretty emotionally intense, but we've packed the list with plenty of fun, sudsy beach reads for you, too.

Photo is a detail from the cover of The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

May

Mur Lafferty, The Shambling Guide to NYC

Campbell Award-nominated writer Lafferty's new novel is about a hapless travel writer who doesn't realize she's been hired by a publishing house run by monsters. Now she has to write a travel guide to New York City for the undead — and stop a collision that's brewing between the world of humans and the world of all the other creatures who haunt the city.

Susan Palwick, Mending the Moon

When a murder rips Jeremy's family apart, it turns out the only way they can heal is to form a strange connection with the family of the murderer. From the author of Flying in Place, this is a tale that spans countries, wars, and the world of comic book internet fandom.

Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Fowler is the author of countless award-winning science fiction stories, as well as the bestselling The Jane Austen Book Club. Now she's back with the haunting story of a young woman who was raised as part of a science experiment, with her parents rearing a baby chimp as her sister. Based in part on a true story, this is sure to be a fascinating character study and exploration of what happens when humans confront an alien intelligence that already exists here on Earth.

Wesley Chu, The Lives of Tao

IT techie Roan wakes up one morning to discover that he has a superspy alien named Tao inside his head, driving him around and turning him into a ninja. These things happen.

Joe Hill, NOS4A2

Leave it to creep-master Hill to turn the land of Christmas into something truly horrifying. A mysterious creature is kidnaping children, to take them to a wintry wonderland of holiday fun — and they would do anything to escape. Read an excerpt here!

June

Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls

A new novel from the author of Moxyland and Zoo City, about a time-traveling serial killer who grooms his victims by time-hopping into their childhoods and gaining their trust. He's collected a number of "shining girls" and is getting bolder. Until one of his victims survives and starts hunting him right back. This book is gorgeously written and seriously disturbing.

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long War

This is the sequel to The Long Earth, set a generation after the events of the first novel. A new version of America, Valhalla, has been founded on one of the parallel Earths — and Valhalla wants its independence from the Datum Earth, so it can pursue good old-fashioned American values.

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

In Gaiman's first adult novel since Anansi Boys, the author takes us on a surreal journey into the childhood of an artist who can't quite remember what happened the year he turned seven. But when he revisits his childhood home, it all comes back — especially his adventures with a girl named Hattie, and her mother and grandmother. Hattie says the pond in her backyard is an ocean, which might not be so far-fetched, given that her grandmother remembers the universe that existed before the Big Bang.

Will McIntosh, Love Minus Eighty

This novel deals with what happens to romance and marriage when humans develop technology that can indefinitely extend our lifespans. At least, if you're willing to enter cryosleep for a while — and maybe even try a cryo dating service.

Richelle Mead, Gameboard of the Gods

We're pretty big fans of Mead's Vampire Academy novels — so it's exciting that she's changing gears and doing a book series set in a dystopian future. Justin March is a failed investigator of supernatural events and fringe religious groups, who's been exiled from the Republic of United North America — until he's brought back to RUNA to solve a series of ritual murders.

July

Madeline Ashby, iD: The Second Machine Dynasty

This is the follow-up to Ashby's novel vN, about biological robots who are programmed with built-in limitations — for instance, seeing human suffering causes them to malfunction. But then the von Neumann machines start evolving. We heard Ashby read from this novel at World Fantasy 2012, and it sounds like it gets even crazier than the first.

Gwenda Bond, The Woken Gods

The author of Blackwood is back with a strange tale about an alternate United States populated by gods. Kyra is on her way home from school when she meets two trickster gods, one offering a threat and the other a warning. And then she finds out her father has vanished with some mysterious Egyptian artifacts. The entire fate of the world could be at stake.

Richard Kadrey, Kill City Blues

The fifth Sandman Slim novel — Stark is back in L.A. after his stint in Hell, but there's no rest for him. Someone's gotten hold of an ancient superweapon from the banished older gods — and worse yet, Stark is forced to go to a mall. Infested with lurkers, and bottomfeeding Sub Rosa families.

Charles Stross, Neptune's Brood

This another one of Stross' slow space operas, set in the universe of Saturn's Children, but much further in the future (it's shortly after the fourth human extinction, instead of the first). The "metahuman" robots who have inherited humanity's solar system are menaced by the fabled Atlantis Carnet, a financial instrument that could bring down entire civilizations, which is split into two halves held by two sisters.

Paul McAuley, Evening's Empires

Set in the far future we've loved in previous McAuley novels like The Quiet War, this is the tale of a young man who is stranded on a asteroid — after his ship is stolen and his family kidnapped — with nothing but a semi-intelligent spacesuit for company. We follow his life in the wake of this trauma, as he schemes for revenge and tries to get back to a spaceship he can call home.

August

Kelley Armstrong, Omens

Omens is the first novel in a new series from bestselling author Armstrong, and it introduces an intriguing new heroine. Olivia has an ordinary life — until she discovers that she was adopted, and her real parents were notorious serial killers. But is there more to the story than that? She begins to believe there might be when she starts developing powerful new abilities.

Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam

This is the final novel in Atwood's dystopian series that began with Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood. In the wake of a pandemic, the sparse human survivors band together with the genetically-engineered Crakers, whose artisanal biology is supposed to prevent them from being warlike and sexist. But it doesn't prevent them from becoming religious, and this novel explores how they create an origin myth for themselves. Meanwhile, the tattered remnants of rival environmental activist groups squabble over whose ideology will control the ruined world.

Naomi Novik, Blood of Tyrants

Yay! It's a new Temeraire novel! This is Novik's penultimate book in her alternate history series about how dragons would have changed the course of the Napoleonic Wars. Our hero Laurence finds himself shipwrecked in Japan, with amnesia that has erased his memories of his beloved dragon Temeraire and pretty much everything else. Now he has to deal with the intricacies of Japanese politics, while across the ocean Napoleon takes on the Russians.

Alastair Reynolds, On the Steel Breeze

In the second novel of Reynolds' Poseidon's Children series, humanity continues on its many-thousand-year quest to colonize new parts of the galaxy. Reynolds has called this series Utopian because humans have repaired the climate on Earth and achieved a peaceful, post-human state of extremely long life — without any crime, thanks to an omnipresent surveillance system. Now, humans are setting off to other solar systems in generation ships.

Kat Richardson, Possession

It's the latest Greywalker mystery, and this one looks like fun. Harper Blaine is a PI who died briefly, and can now walk between the living and the spirit world. Her latest case seems like garden-variety possession — a woman wakes up from a coma knowing things she couldn't, and speaking in strange voices. But then Blaine discovers other people suffering the same symptoms, all of whom seem connected to a violent incident in the distant past.

A few of these previews appeared already in our 2013 book preview post.