Summer 2016’s Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Books: Robot Uprisings, Steampunk Pirates, and More

Summer 2016’s Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Books: Robot Uprisings, Steampunk Pirates, and More

Summer is the best time of year to take yourself on an new adventure, and books don’t require waiting in a never-ending TSA line. Science fiction fans are in for a treat with a new novel based on an Arthur C. Clarke story, as well as a thrilling tale of a Martian girl who disguises herself as a boy and boards a flying ship. Meanwhile, fantasy readers can catch up on Naomi Novik’s draconic series or join forces with a librarian spy. So where do you want to go? Mars, the belly of a giant amoeba, the London Zoo—the choice is yours.

Readers looking for SFF books in the young adult genre, we’ve got you covered right over here.

The Medusa Chronicles

Man vs machine

Fans of classic science fiction, this one’s for you. Authors Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds combined their skills to expand upon Arthur C. Clarke’s 1971 novella A Meeting with Medusa. In the year 2080, Howard Falcon nearly lost his life but was saved through cybernetic surgery. It also landed him a job as the ambassador between humans and robots. As the years go by, robots become self-aware and keeping the peace between them and humans becomes harder than ever. Falcon rests firmly in the middle, not fully human but certainly not all machine. Readers who fear the inevitable robot uprising should steer clear, but everyone else will enjoy this classic adventure.

On shelves: June 7

Super Extra Grande

Into the belly of the beast

Cuban author Yoss takes readers on a wild journey through the galaxy in a world where Latin Americans have perfected faster-than-light space travel. Set in a distant future, the novel follows Dr. Jan Amos Sangan Dongo, a seven-foot-tall veterinarian who treats alien creatures. From carnivores to sea worms, he’s seen it all. His next patient is a 125-mile-wide amoeba who has swallowed two ambassadors. Without these ambassadors, the tenuous peace that exists in the galaxy is at risk. A love triangle (our hero fancies both victims) further complicates this already dangerous mission. Comparisons between Yoss and Douglas Adams are rampant, and readers looking for a fun and raunchy read are sure to be satisfied with this title.

On shelves: June 7


Cast your vote

With the presidential election a few months away, this is the perfect time to pick up Malka Older’s debut about a world united in democracy after an organization called Information began monitoring and operating elections. Information also controls the internet, phones, and broadcasting systems—a level of power that has some rightfully wary because it makes it incredibly easy to bend the truth and control public opinion. Votes are cast every 10 years, and the corporation-run Heritage party has held power for decades. But that will change this cycle. There are rumors that the Liberty government is gearing up to rebel. When Information is brought down on Election Day, it’s anyone’s game.

On shelves: June 7

League of Dragons

Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily

Newbies, you’ll need to head to the bookstore. This is the ninth and final book in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, an alternate history where intelligent dragons fight in the Napoleonic Wars. Picking up where Blood of Tyrants left off, this book opens with Napoleon retreating back to France after facing embarrassing losses in Russia. Yet the English dragon Temeraire and his mate Iskierka loses all focus on the war when they learns that their egg has been stolen. While Napoleon recruits feral dragons, Temeraire and his human friend Capt. William Laurence work to find a way to recover Temeraire’s egg without being lured into a trap. Provided Novik continues to stick with history’s version of events, readers will know where things are headed for Napoleon, but there are plenty of twists and turns along the way for Temeraire that will keep readers on their toes.

On shelves: June 14

The Invisible Library

License to read

We’re hooked by the title of this novel alone, but there are many more reasons to dive into Genevieve Cogman’s debut, the first in a series. Irene is the James Bond of the literary world. She basically has our dream job: working as a spy for the Library, an organization that collects important books from alternate realities. On a trip to a supernatural London, she finds that the tome she’s searching for has been stolen. Along with her assistant Kai, Irene must face magical creatures and secret societies if she has any hope of retrieving the dangerous book.   

On shelves: June 14

Spells of Blood and Kin

Full moon magic

When Lissa Nevsky’s grandmother suddenly dies, Lissa is left to fill her role as witch in their small town. Learning to control her powers is challenging enough, but Lissa is also tasked with helping Maksim, a shape-shifter. He’s attempting to track down a college student named Matt who he accidentally infected. Maksim needs a cure before he, or Matt, infects others, and Lissa is the only one who can create one. With limited help from her grandmother (who occasionally sends helpful advice from the other side), Lissa is left to work quickly before anyone else gets hurt. Publishers Weekly says that Claire Humphrey’s Russian-inspired debut “stands out even in its very crowded field,” and we have to agree.

On shelves: June 14

Night of the Animals

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

Bill Broun’s debut takes readers to a near-future dystopian world where a suicide cult believes killing the world’s animals will help them reach a higher spiritual plane. Their next target is the London Zoo, and the only man standing between them and the animals is 90-year-old Cuthbert Handley. Ever since his brother died, Cuthbert has heard voices. He believes them to be part of a magical ability that his grandmother claimed he inherited, but his doctor sees it as a sign of mental illness. When he hears the voices of the animals telling him they can reunite him with his brother, he takes bolt cutters and begins freeing them from their cages. Broun skillfully weaves together mythology, religion, and fantasy into this stunning novel.

On shelves: July 5

Arabella of Mars

Davy Jones’ Martian locker

Seventeen-year-old Arabella doesn’t know what to make of the alien planet her mother sent her to (a little place that the rest of us call home: Earth), and she isn’t sure where she fits into London society. So when she gets word that her brother is in danger, she decides to hop the first ship back to Mars. Disguised as a boy, Arabella boards the Diana and embarks on a daring journey that includes a war between Britain and France, mutiny, pirates, and an assassin. Set in an alternate 1812, in a world where space travel was achieved in the late 1600s, David D. Levine’s steampunk novel is ideal for readers who want a good ol’ fashioned high seas (er, air?) adventure story.

On shelves: July 12


In a galaxy far, far away

In C.A. Higgins’ Lightless, Constance Harper decided to bomb Earth to destroy the System, an oppressive government who ruled the galaxy. She knew it would cause ripples throughout the star system, but now civil war has broken out and she has to be stronger than ever if she hopes to survive the revolution she’s sparked. Meanwhile, Althea is dealing the challenges of raising a space ship. Thanks to a computer virus, the ship Ananke became sentient and Althea became her surrogate mother. But Ananke is older now and wants to trust her own mind, going as far as disobeying her mother and contacting the terrorist she views as her father, Matthew Gale. When Althea and Ananke finally unite with Constance, the results are explosive.

On shelves: July 26


An unwanted prophecy

Picking up 34 years after Spellbound, this novel focuses on neodemon hunter Leandra Weal who learns from a prophecy that she’s destined to murder someone she loves. Could it be her father, cacographer Nicodemus Weal; her mother, Francesca DeVega; or her shark god lover? Add an ancient demon who could destroy the human kingdoms, natural disasters plaguing the land, and political tensions between Nicodemus and his half sister, Empress Vivian, and you’ve got one hell of a wild ride. While there’s plenty of adventure to be had, readers should also know that this is a novel that reaches great emotional depths through character development. This is technically the third book in Blake Charlton’s Spellwright trilogy, but newbies shouldn’t worry—it can easily be read as a standalone.

On shelves: August 23

Honorable Mention

Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip (June 14)

Hope and Red by Jon Skovron (June 28)

Necessity by Jo Walton (July 12)

The Devourers by Indra Das (July 12)

A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford (July 12)



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