12 Fantasy & Sci-Fi Books to Read: May 2016

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fantasy books may 2016**Update 1/1/18: Here are all of the upcoming sci-fi/fantasy books of 2018.

We couldn’t be more excited for the month of May, as it will see several spectacular-looking debut novels, continuations of a few popular series, and some great stand-alone books. The fact that there are twelve of them just makes us wish there were more hours in the day for reading -finishing them in a month is impossible, but so is choosing which to read.

Check out our carefully curated list of May’s new fantasy & sci-fi book releases, and let us know: which are you most looking forward to?

1. War Factory (Transformation #2) by Neal Asher


Release Date: May 3

War Factory is the second book in Neal Asher’s science fiction series Transformation, set in his Polity universe. In the first book, Thorvald Spear wakes in a hospital to discover he’s been brought back from the dead a century after the alien war that killed him. He learns that it was a rogue AI, Penny Royal, that killed him; one hundred years later, the AI is still around and wreaking havoc, and Thorvald seeks revenge. The second installment is a continuation of his quest, in which Penny Royal seeks Factory Station Room 101, a wartime factory thought to have been destroyed. What is she up to, and can Thorvald stop her? This space opera is fast-paced, engaging, and highly entertaining; the series would be a great introduction to Asher’s work for those who are new to the rich universe he has created.

Buy it here.

2. The Raft by Fred Strydom


Release Date: May 3

In Fred Strydom’s impressive debut novel The Raft, every human on Earth simultaneously loses their memory on what becomes known as Day Zero – which leads, of course, to the collapse of civilization as we know it. A mysterious regime seizes power, and a man named Kayle Jenner finds himself stranded on a remote beach with nothing but the vague notion of a son. He manages to escape on a wooden raft and sets out on a quest to find his son, as well as the truth behind Day Zero. The book is an engaging puzzle, wherein the pieces slowly click into place as you turn the pages. Strydom has crafted a wonderfully inventive, thought-provoking debut that brings something fresh to the dystopian genre, and should be on everyone’s to-read list.

Buy it here.

3. Admiral (Evagardian #1) by Sean Danker


Release Date: May 3

Admiral is the first entry into Sean Danker’s new military science fiction series Evagardian, as well as his debut novel. It’s a highly engaging mystery in that strikes me as a cross between The Martian and Dark Matter: an unidentified man (from whose point of view the story is written) wakes up from stasis with three trainees, their ship apparently sabotaged and stranded on a mysterious planet. His stasis pod marks him as an Admiral, much to the surprise of everyone (himself included). The trainees are clearly suspicious of him but must cooperate with him for the sake of everyone’s survival. The major mystery that drives the book is, of course, just who is the Admiral? Fast paced and highly compelling, Admiral is a unique read that will keep readers guessing until the very end  – which does not disappoint.

Buy it here.

4. The Summer Dragon (The Evertide #1) by Todd Lockwood


Release Date: May 3

If you read one book this month, let it be The Summer Dragon by Todd Lockwood (his debut novel and the first book in his new series The Evertide). You can read my full The Summer Dragon review here, but to sum up: Maia and her family breed dragons for the Empire, and Maia is at the age where she should get a dragon qit of her own. However, the Empire is at war and needs every last one. She and her brother encounter the legendary Summer Dragon, Getig, and she sets out to find a baby dragon wildling of her own. She discovers an ancient religion that is still practiced in secret, which the current religious leaders will stop at nothing to suppress; also, the ongoing war is brought to her family’s doorstep. They find themselves face-to-face with reanimated human and dragon horrors, and only Maia’s courage can save them all. Lockwood is a man who knows his dragons (he illustrates for Dungeons & Dragons), and it shows in this beautifully imagined world where dragons and humans live side-by-side

Buy it here.

5. Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay


Release Date: May 10

We’ve included Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay on our list of must-read new fantasy books of 2016, and with good reason. Kay is the bestselling author of books such as Tigana and Under Heaven, and is known for writing fantasy worlds that resemble real places and time periods. Children of Earth and Sky is based on Renaissance Europe, with many thinly-veiled references to actual locations and events. He utilizes a handful of perspective characters whose stories all intertwine throughout the novel; through them, he tells stories we are all familiar with, but with a fantastical twist. The scrupulous worldbuilding and political intrigue make this a must-read for fans of historical fiction and fantasy alike, and it would be an apt introduction for those who haven’t read Kay before.

Buy it here.

6. The Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney


Release Date: May 10

The Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney has been recommended to fans of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and in fact, both men are characters in the novel. The protagonist, Anna Francis, is a Greek refugee in 1920s Oxford, where she apparently encounters the two fathers of modern fantasy. After losing her mother and brother, she lives is a lonely old house with her father, and has no one but her doll to talk to. She sits at home and creates fantasy worlds for herself, and goes on adventures when her father is occupied, until one day she meets a yellow-eyed boy named Luca in her attic and everything changes (again). To say much more would be to ruin the magic of the story, which indeed has a very fairy tale-like quality. Paul Kearney is a masterful storyteller, and fans of the aforementioned authors should not miss this.

**Update: You can read our The Wolf in the Attic Review here**

Buy it here.

7. Central Station by Lavie Tidhar


Release Date: May 10

If you read the abstract of Central Station by the award-winning Lavie Tidhar, this book sounds like it has a lot going on, and it’s all packed into 240 pages. It’s almost more of a series of short stories, lacking an overarching plot, and feels a bit chaotic – this may be intentional, however, in keeping with the theme of the book. It’s very difficult to sum up in so few words; so, suffice it to say that it is a beautiful mess of cultures and humans and robots and virtual reality, and one that you must experience for yourself to understand. Tidhar’s writing style is unique and lyrical and brilliant, and he has imagined a wonderfully vivid world. It’s easy to see why he’s been nominated for so many awards, and if you haven’t read any of his work, this is as good a place as any to start.

Buy it here.

8. Company Town by Madeline Ashby


Release Date: May 17th

In the near-future dystopian novel Company Town by Madeline Ashby, Hwa is the only truly organic person left in a community of bio-engineered people and a self-defense expert. Also, she was born with a genetic condition that caused a birthmark over half her face, blindness in one eye, and frequent seizures. She is a bodyguard to prostitutes, until she is called upon to defend the company’s heir, who is receiving death threats seemingly from another timeline. Then Hwa’s friends start dying at the hands of a serial killer who may be targeting her, and she has to choose between protecting her charge or finding the killer. Hwa is a kick-ass and fully realized heroine; that, combined with the action-packed and compelling plot, makes this stand-alone novel a winner.

Buy it here.

9. The God Wave: A Novel (The God Wave Trilogy #1) by Patrick Hemstreet


Release Date: May 17th

There seem to be a number of amazing debut novels this month, with The God Wave by Patrick Hemstreet among them. It is based on the myth that humans only use ten percent of our brains, but if you can suspend your disbelief for a moment, this is a great premise for a science fiction novel. Neuroscientist Chuck Brenton has discovered the key to unlocking the latent ninety percent, thereby creating super beings with godlike abilities. Naturally, there are those who seek to exploit these powers for their own selfish ends, making life very complicated for those affected. While not exactly an original concept, The God Wave is well executed, and we can’t wait to see what the author has in store for the rest of the trilogy.

Buy it here.

10. The Fireman by Joe Hill


Release Date: May 17th

This is an entirely new kind of post-apocalyptic novel; rather than zombies or nuclear war, The Fireman by Joe Hill (son of Stephen and Tabitha King) pits humans against a different kind of threat. Namely, Dragonscale: a disease that causes black and gold marks to appear on the infected’s body shortly before they burst into flames. Harper is a nurse that treats patients with Dragonscale, and finds herself not only infected but pregnant by her cowardly husband. Thanks to The Fireman, who she previously helped, she ends up finding a community of people infected with the disease. Apparently writing ability runs in this family, and Hill has crafted a brilliant and spectacularly-developed heroine in Harper.

Buy it here.

See Also: Top 5 Best Zombie Books to Read

11. The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin


Release Date: May 24th

Don’t miss the epic conclusion to The Passage, Justin Cronin’s highly acclaimed post-apocalyptic trilogy. The City of Mirrors has also been included in our 34 Must-Read New Fantasy & Sci-Fi Books of 2016, and is a fitting end to a fantastic series (and long-anticipated, considering it was originally scheduled for 2014). No viral has been seen in three years; the Twelve are destroyed, and their hundred-year reign of terror brought to an end; in the darkness, however, lurks Zero. He is the first, the father of the other Twelve, and is bent on Amy’s destruction. This is another unique post-apocalyptic creation in that it imagines a virus that turns humans into vampire-like creatures. There is a movie in the works for the first book, with plans for the other two as well, so you should definitely pick up this series before it comes to the big screen.

Buy it here.

See Also: Best Post Apocalyptic Books to Read

12. The Sorcerer’s Daughter by Terry Brooks


Release Date: May 24th

The Sorcerer’s Daughter is the third book in The Defenders of Shannara series by Terry Brooks, and meant to function as a stand-alone novel for those who are seeking an entry point into the beastly series that is Shannara (it’s also been included in our 2016 list). Leofur is the daughter of an evil sorcerer, and when her life-partner Paxon Leah leaves on an important mission to defend the Druid order, she is tasked with protecting his sister from said evil sorcerer. When she is abducted, Leofur sets out on an epic quest to rescue her from the clutches of Arcannen Rai. Terry Brooks, who was heavily influence by J.R.R. Tolkien, is generally considered one of the fathers of the modern fantasy genre, and Shannara has been around for many years, so this is a perfect opportunity for those who are new to his writing to jump into the series, and a must-read for longtime fans of the series.

Buy it here.

See Also

50 Best Sci-fi Books to Read

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