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15 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in late July

15 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out in late July


Stories of time and space

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Photo by Andrew Liptak / The Verge

Last month, I was invited by author Cadwell Turnbull (whom readers might remember as the author of our Better Worlds story “Monsters come howling in their season”) to interview him at a pair of bookstore events in Brooklyn, New York, and Woodstock, Vermont. He’s recently released his debut novel, The Lesson, a story of alien first contact over the Virgin Islands.

The novel is an excellent read. It explores the history of the Caribbean Islands in the context of European colonization, along with current events in which communities of color are confronted with overwhelming forces that deal out harsh punishments. It’s a thought-provoking and interesting story, one that I’m still thinking about.

Here are 15 new science fiction and fantasy novels (and some related nonfiction books) to check out in the later half of this month. Also, you might want to check out this month’s earlier releases.

July 16th

Image: Tor Books / Stephan Martiniere

The Redemption of Time by Baoshu (translated by Ken Liu)

Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem and its sequels are some of the most popular science fiction books in the world. When Death’s End, the final installment of the trilogy, hit stores, Chinese fan Li Jun began writing his own story set in the same world. He published it online as Three Body X: Aeon of Contemplation, and gained a considerable following as well as an offer to publish it as a formal novel. The story follows a character named Yun Tianming (who plays a pivotal role in Death’s End); Li Jun uses his book to fill in a bit of a plot hole and flesh out the world a bit more. Tor Books has brought in Ken Liu to translate it into English. Both Kirkus Reviews and Publishers’ Weekly say that readers should be pretty familiar with the original trilogy before digging in.

Image: Night Shade Books

The Eagle Has Landed: 50 Years of Lunar Science Fiction by Neil Clarke

Science fiction has a long history of imagining the future of spaceflight, including lunar landings. With the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission upon us, Neil Clarke has assembled a large anthology of science fiction stories about the Moon from the last half-century. Publishers Weekly says that it’s a book that will “appeal to fans of futuristic science fiction and historic space race aficionados.”


The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall

In this debut novella from Kerstin Hall, a man enters an underworld known as the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis. He is seeking out a favor from a strange woman named Eris, who guards the border between the underworld and Ahri, the world of the living. He’s trying to find the spirit of a woman he loved, and Eris will accompany him, provided he follows a few basic rules. Kirkus Reviews says that it’s “an intriguing debut from a writer with the skills to create weird and wonderful worlds.”

Read the first nine chapters in a free ebook sampler.

Image: Folio Society

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The Folio Society has released its deluxe edition of A Game of Thrones. This edition of Martin’s fantasy epic is gorgeous, with artwork from Jonathan Burton and an introduction from fantasy author Joe Abercrombie. It’s a bit pricy at $195, but if you’re a fan of the series, it should make a good addition to your bookshelf. The rest of the series will get the same treatment at some point in the near future.

light blue cover, with a red cardinal on top, a bluebird upside down in a mirror image.
Image: Saga Press

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Fantasy authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (best known for the Craft Sequence series) have teamed up to write a short novel about rival agents, Red and Blue, who are engaged in a sprawling war that crosses time. Blue fights for Garden, a consciousness that is part of all life, while Red is part of a post-singularity society. As they spar across time, they develop an unexpected relationship. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that its two authors “pack their narrative full of fanciful ideas and poignant moments, weaving a tapestry stretching across the millennia and through multiple realities that’s anchored with raw emotion and a genuine sense of wonder. This short novel warrants multiple readings to fully unlock its complexities.”

A pale man in a golden robe sits on a cybernetic throne, holding a glowing sword.
Image: DAW Books

Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio 

In this sequel to Christopher Ruocchio’s Empire of Silence, hero Hadrian Marlow has become lost in the galaxy. He’s been searching for half a century for a lost planet known as Vorgossos, trying to make contact with a mysterious alien race. In that time, he’s become the leader of a band of mercenaries, and ends up trying to bring a 400-year war to an end. If he fails, he could bring conflict to the entire galaxy.

Read an excerpt.

July 23rd

A grey mechanical arm holds a steaming cup with a planet in it.
Image: Tor Books

Medusa in the Graveyard by Emily Devenport

Emily Devenport returns with a sequel to her book Medusa Uploaded, about the inhabitants aboard a generation ship that mutinied. Oichi Angelis and her companions are taking their ship, the Olympia, into a system known as Charion to a planet that they call Graveyard, where three massive, alien spaceships are waiting. Oichi is tasked with leading an expedition to explore the ships and take them over, but must first face a trial from the ships’ long-dead makers to see if they’re worthy. When they arrive, they find that there’s more than weapons waiting for them.

Read an excerpt.

Red book cover with the words Jade War in red.
Image: Orbit Books

Jade War by Fonda Lee

In this second installment of Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga, which began last year with Jade City, the Kabul family is fighting against crime families for control of the island of Kekon, which supplies the world with a magical jade that grants supernatural powers to warriors. As they fight, a war is brewing on Kekon’s borders for its control, and the Kabuls will be forced to align themselves with their rivals to remain free. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that a “worthy continuation of the larger story line delivers a satisfying tale and sets the stage for the next installment.”

Read an excerpt.

An Art Deco cover that is purple, green, and yellow, with a woman’s face looking up towards the top.
Image: Penguin Random House

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

With books like Signal to Noise, Certain Dark Things, and The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia has become a leading author of Hispanic fantasy, spinning out fantastical stories of Mexico and elsewhere. In her latest, Gods of Jade and Shadow, a girl named Casiopea Tun wants more from life than her meager existence in her hometown in 1920s southern Mexico. She discovers that a wooden box in her grandfather’s house contains the Mayan god of death, who asks for help in overthrowing his brother to recover his throne, and it takes her on a journey across Mexico and through the Mayan underworld. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying that it’s “rich and complex tale of desperate hopes and complicated relationships.” 

Read an excerpt.

Image: Titan Books

The Making of Alien by J.W. Rinzler

Ridley Scott’s Alien is a classic of science fiction cinema, and J.W. Rinzler has put together a definitive behind-the-scenes book about how the movie came together. Rinzler has an excellent track record with these types of books: he produced three “Making Of” books for the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as for Indiana Jones and the original Planet of the Apes. This book is loaded with details about the film’s writers, producers, director, and actors, and it’s got hundreds of behind-the-scenes pictures and illustrations.

Cover for Becoming Superman, superman’s costume hanging in a closet.
Image: HarperCollins

Becoming Superman: My Journey from Poverty to Hollywood by J. Michael Straczynski

J. Michael Straczynski is best known for writing TV projects like Babylon 5 and Sense8, and comic books like The Amazing Spider-Man, and has written an autobiography about his life and upbringing. In it, he talks about his abusive father and growing up in poverty, how he found escape in comic books and superheroes, and how he came to write a number of classic science fiction TV series.

Image: Orbit Books

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

In the aftermath of a disastrous mission to Mars that effectively ended human spaceflight, mission commander Sally Jansen has been trying to put the past behind her. But when scientists discover an alien object hurtling toward our Solar System, Jansen is recruited to help intercept and explore the object, and to discover its intentions before it reaches Earth. The book earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, which says that Wellington “creates a gripping story that reveals its horrors one inexorable, plausible detail at a time.”

Read an excerpt.

Grand Admiral Thrawn, with Emperor palpating looking over his shoulder.
Image: Del Rey

Thrawn: Treason by Timothy Zahn

Timothy Zahn effectively restarted the Star Wars franchise with his novel Heir to the Empire and its sequels way back in 1991. While those original Expanded Universe books are no longer canon, the animated series Star Wars Rebels brought back the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn, and Zahn returned in 2017 with a new story that explored the character’s origins.

Thrawn: Treason is the third novel about the character, who returns to his home planet after receiving a dire warning about a new threat to his people, one that will force him to choose between loyalties.

Read an excerpt.

July 30th

Two women, one with a cybernetic arm, against a yellow background
Image: Harper Voyager

The Hounds of Justice by Claire O’Dell

Claire O’Dell returns to her Janet Watson Chronicles with The Hounds of Justice, set in a future where the United States has been divided by a new civil war. The book follows Dr. Janet Watson and agent Sara Holmes as they investigate an extremist group called the Brotherhood of Redemption, which tried to assassinate the president. While investigating, Holmes vanishes, leaving Watson (who is trying to get used to her new robotic arm), and Holmes’ cousin Micha to try to locate her. Kirkus Reviews says to “read it for the action scenes and savor some sweet friendship moments in between.”

Read an excerpt.


The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang

With novellas such as The Black Tides of Heaven, The Red Threads of Fortune, and The Descent of Monsters, Singapore author JY Yang has sketched out an exciting world in their Silkpunk Tensorate series. In this latest installment, The Protector who ruled the country for half a century has died, leaving a power vacuum in the country. Lady Han, the leader of a resistance movement, recounts her story to the reader, telling out her life story, and why she’s mourning the death of the leader, even though she opposed her and her government. Publishers Weekly says that “this thrilling adventure stands alone, as well as providing moving, complicated backstory for the earlier books in the series. Both fans and newcomers will be enthralled.”