10 Out-of-This-World Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reads for Summer 2019

10 Out-of-This-World Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reads for Summer 2019

Feel like taking a trip this summer? We recommend diving into a good novel: You get all of the fun and adventure without being stuck on a packed airplane! This summer’s must-read sci-fi and fantasy novels will transport you to magical worlds, far-off galaxies, and places beyond your wildest dreams. So crank the AC and curl up in your favorite armchair—you’ve got worlds to explore.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

Ivy Gamble has worked as a private investigator for years, but chasing down adulterers doesn’t always pay the bills. When she’s first approached about a case by Marion Torres, headmaster of Osthorne Academy for Young Mages, she’s tempted to decline and avoid having to interact with her twin sister Tabitha who teaches there. But her lack of incoming funds convinces her to travel to the school to investigate a potential murder. Unlike her sister, Ivy wasn’t born with magical gifts and this difference caused the two to drift apart. But when suspects range from students to teachers, Ivy finds she may need to rely on her twin after all.

(Psst: You can read an excerpt of the book here and then check out this essay Sarah Gailey wrote about magic and the removal of bodily autonomy.)

On shelves: June 4

Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson fans, you’re in luck: He’s back this summer with a thrilling follow-up to Reamde. This novel, which can be read as a standalone, kicks off when Richard “Dodge” Forthrast, founder of the gaming company Corporation 9592, is pronounced brain-dead after surgery. Dodge’s brain is sent to a tech company to be preserved virtually and years later his grandniece invents a way to turn his brain back on. Dodge’s consciousness exists in Bitworld, where the living and the dead can connect. This is where the novel splits in two to guide readers through the happenings in both the physical and virtual worlds. Stephenson’s latest is sure to set your imagination spinning.

On shelves: June 4

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone

This summer Max Gladstone delivers a rolicking space opera you won’t be able to put down. Billionaire Vivian Liao is well-known for her innovative technology, though she’s made her fair share of rivals on her road to success. While hiding out from her enemies, Viv is transported millennia into the future and wakes up imprisoned in a strange green membrane. She soon discovers that this place is ruled by the Empress, who uses technology to control the world around her. What follows is a wild adventure through space and time. In a starred review Booklist says Empress of Forever is “in the tradition of the best person-out-of-time-and-place stories of science fiction and fantasy”—and we know you’ll agree.

On shelves: June 18

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

Get away to the U.S. Virgin Islands in this sci-fi debut from Cadwell Turnbull. A word of warning: It won’t be exactly restful. The Ynaa aliens are highly intelligent, and they’re hard at work on a secret project on the islands. For the most part, people there have learned to live side by side with the aliens, with one notable exception. The Ynaa are very quick to anger, and their flares of rage often have violent results. The tension escalates following an incident where the Ynaa kill a young boy, and it starts to look like a full-on conflict between the human and alien inhabitants of the islands is imminent.

On shelves: June 18

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

We bet you’ll lose sleep unraveling the mystery behind the apocalyptic epidemic in Chuck Wendig’s latest. The morning after a comet crosses over America’s west coast, Shana wakes up to find her sister Nessie sleepwalking, and she isn’t the only one. Hordes of sleepwalkers have risen and are moving towards a mysterious destination, while Shana and others become shepherds who try to help their unwakeable loved ones survive the journey. Meanwhile an artificial intelligence known as Black Swan claims scientist Benji Ray is the key to finding a cure. This is a tale of survival that Wendig fans and newbies alike won’t want to miss.

On shelves: July 2

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

This summer authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone are teaming up on an epistolary story about two agents on opposing sides of a war for the future. Red and Blue are time travelers who leave each other letters as they jump between points in history. At first they snipe at each other, but soon their correspondence grows personal and intimate. They each begin to wonder how open and honest they dare to be with an enemy spy, especially as feelings of love start to develop. Can’t wait until July to dive in? You can read an excerpt of the book here and then check out this interview where El-Mohtar and Gladstone share the behind the scenes details of their writing process.

On shelves: July 16

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Game of Thrones may be over, but readers looking to dive into an epic fantasy world filled with danger, war, and dragons can satisfy their cravings with Evan Winter’s debut. Set in a land inspired by medieval Africa, the novel follows Tau in the aftermath of his father’s murder. Tau isn’t gifted, unlike some of the women in his world who can summon dragons or the men who can magically channel strength, but he’s determined to get revenge on those who killed his father. A novice swordsman, Tau enters a military academy to hone his skills. Action, bloodshed, and more await readers who visit this magical world.

On shelves: July 16

Jade War by Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee’s urban fantasy Green Bone Saga continues this summer, and it’s sure to leave readers hungry for more. Picking up where Jade City left off, this new installment whisks readers away to the island of Kekon. The Kaul family is fighting for control of the capital and the supply of jade, which gives those who possess it incredible abilities. Hilo is still adjusting to his role as the leader of the No Peak clan, while his sister Shae, his chief strategist, is doing all she can to protect their people. Meanwhile their enemies only seem to be growing as other nations turn their eyes on Kekon.

On shelves: July 23

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Set during the Jazz Age, this novel transports readers to southern Mexico where Casiopea Tun dreams of leaving her small town. She gets more adventure than she bargained for when she discovers a wooden box in her grandfather’s room and opens it, accidentally unleashing the Mayan god of death. Hun-Kamé promises to make all of her wishes come true if she helps him reclaim his throne from his twin brother Vucub-Kamé, but he gives her little choice in the matter since refusing means death. Casiopea agrees and soon finds herself traveling to places she’s never dreamed of in her quest to help him: Mexico City, the jungles of Yucatán, and the Mayan underworld.

On shelves: July 23

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

Last summer R.F. Kuang took the fantasy world by storm with her debut novel The Poppy War, now she’s back with the second installment. The Dragon Republic picks up after the end of the Third Poppy War and finds Rin and the Cike at the mercy of Yin Vaisra, the Dragon Warlord. Rin longs for revenge on the Empress for betraying her people, and aiding the Dragon Warlord takes her closer to her goal—but at what cost? New readers will want to start at the beginning of this epic military fantasy series, while those familiar with the world should prepare to dive head-first into the breathtaking action.

On shelves: August 6

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