Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Week of May 8th

You know summer's a-comin', because there are so many good books out this week — not to mention the whole month in general! And science fiction fans, rejoice, because so many of those good books are sci-fi.

There's new Lilith Saintcrow with a harrowing tale of a future America devastated by a second civil war. There's the follow-up to Martha Wells' awesome novella, All Systems Red, about everyone's favorite murderbot! Then there's a disturbing new sci-fi thriller from Joe Hart, and a new literary sci-fi that's said to be perfect for fans of Blake Crouch, Philip K. Dick and Ex Machina — which, I mean, hello. That's totally me.

Ironically, though, as much as I've been longing for some good new sci-fi, my reading picks this week are both fantasy. The first is a debut that's both literary feminist fable and dark Gothic fairy tale, hailed as the best fantasy book of May by everyone from The Verge and Refinery 29 to the Chicago Review of Books and the Washington Post. 

But the book I'm most excited for this week is a YA paranormal mystery described as Veronica Mars meets The Craft, about an undead vigilante girl gang. Gotta say, I, myself, have been slayed by this incredibly cool premise because it sounds like all kinds of fun! 

Here are this week's best new sci-fi and fantasy books...


By Lilith Saintcrow


Lilith Saintcrow 

Science Fiction

Goodreads (4.0 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 2 Ratings)

America has been devastated by a second civil war.

The people have spent years divided, fighting their fellow patriots. Now, as the regime crumbles and the bloody conflict draws to a close, the work of rebuilding begins.

One lonely crew, bonded under fire in the darkest days of battle, must complete one last mission: to secure a war criminal whose secrets could destroy the fragile peace that has just begun to form.

Bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow presents a timely and all-too-realistic glimpse of a future that we hope never comes to pass.

Artificial Condition

The Murderbot Diaries #2

Martha Wells

Science Fiction | Robots | Novella

Goodreads (4.51 ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ | 228 Ratings)

Artificial Condition is the follow-up to Martha Wells's hugely popular science fiction action and adventure All Systems Red

It has a dark past—one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

By Jeff Sweat


Jeff Sweat

YA | Science Fiction | Dystopian

Goodreads (4.73 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¾ | 30 Ratings)

A futuristic thriller that pits teens against teens.

Jemma has spent her life scavenging tools and supplies in her tribe's small enclave outside what used to be a big city. Now she’s a teen, and old enough to become a Mama. Making babies is how her people survive―in Jemma’s world, life ends at age seventeen.

Survival has eclipsed love ever since the Parents died of a mysterious plague. But Jemma’s connection to a boy named Apple is stronger than her duty as a Mama. Forced to leave, Jemma and Apple are joined in exile by a mysterious boy who claims to know what is causing them to die. The world is crumbling around them, and their time is running out. Life is short. Can they outlive it?

By Joe Hart


Joe Hart 

Science Fiction | Thriller

Goodreads (4.28 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 76 Ratings)

She’s felt it before…the fear of losing control. And it’s happening again.

In the near future, an aggressive and terrifying new form of dementia is affecting victims of all ages. The cause is unknown, and the symptoms are disturbing. Dr. Gillian Ryan is on the cutting edge of research and desperately determined to find a cure. She’s already lost her husband to the disease, and now her young daughter is slowly succumbing as well. After losing her funding, she is given the unique opportunity to expand her research. She will travel with a NASA team to a space station where the crew has been stricken with symptoms of a similar inexplicable psychosis—memory loss, trances, and violent, uncontrollable impulses.

Crippled by a secret addiction and suffering from creeping paranoia, Gillian finds her journey becoming a nightmare as unexplainable and violent events plague the mission. With her grip weakening on reality, she starts to doubt her own innocence. And she’s beginning to question so much more—like the true nature of the mission, the motivations of the crew, and every deadly new secret space has to offer.

Merging thrilling science-fiction adventure with mind-bending psychological suspense, Wall Street Journal bestselling author Joe Hart explores both the vast mysteries of outer space and the even darker unknown that lies within ourselves.

Side Life
By Steve Toutonghi

Side Life

Steve Toutonghi

Science Fiction

Goodreads (3.86 ★ ★ ★ ¾ | 14 Ratings)

Set in Seattle, Steve Toutonghi’s second novel, Side Life, is a dazzling, intriguing, and philosophical blend of literary science fiction—perfect for fans of Blake Crouch, Philip K. Dick and Ex Machina.

Vin, a down-on-his-luck young tech entrepreneur forced out of the software company he started, takes a job house-sitting an ultra-modern Seattle mansion whose owner has gone missing. There he discovers a secret basement lab with an array of computers and three large, smooth caskets. Inside one he finds a woman in a state of suspended animation. There is also a dog-eared notebook filled with circuit diagrams, beautiful and intricate drawings of body parts, and pages of code.

When Vin decides to enter one of the caskets himself, his reality begins to unravel, and he finds himself on a terrifying journey that raises fundamental questions about reality, free will, and the meaning of a human life.

Undead Girl Gang
By Lily Anderson

Undead Girl Gang

Lily Anderson 

YA | Fantasy | Paranormal Mystery

Goodreads (4.08 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 216 Ratings)

Veronica Mars meets The Craft when a teen girl investigates the suspicious deaths of three classmates and accidentally ends up bringing them back to life to form a hilariously unlikely--and unwilling--vigilante girl gang.

Meet teenage Wiccan Mila Flores, who truly could not care less what you think about her Doc Martens, her attitude, or her weight because she knows that, no matter what, her BFF Riley is right by her side.

So when Riley and Fairmont Academy mean girls June Phelan-Park and Dayton Nesseth die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone's explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders. But they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer...before the killer strikes again.


What Should Be Wild

Julia Fine

Fantasy | Magical Realism

Goodreads (3.92 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 110 Ratings)

In this darkly funny, striking debut, a highly unusual young woman must venture into the woods at the edge of her home to remove a curse that has plagued the women in her family for millennia—an utterly original novel with all the mesmerizing power of The Tiger’s Wife, The Snow Child, and Swamplandia!

Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.

But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.