8 SFF book picks to get you through August's gross hot weather

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Jul 30, 2018, 3:00 PM EDT

I’m not sure how the weather is wherever you are located, but here in the Northeast Corridor of the U.S., it’s been pretty much awful. It’s hot and muggy, and for some reason the weather has been alternating between burning hot sun and torrential downpours, such that when the sky is clear, you can actually see the steam rising from the ground. It’s terrible and gross.

The good news, though, is that it’s great weather to just sit inside and read a book. We’re approaching the end of the season, but there are still some great fun summer romps releasing this August before an amazing new crop of novels comes out for the fall starting in September.

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Before She Sleeps - Bina Shah (August 7)

I’m incredibly curious about this new novel from preeminent Pakistani writer Bina Shah. Across Asia, the preference for sons and advancement of ultrasound technology means that there are more boys than girls being raised to adulthood. This provocative novel takes the issue one step farther, to a society in which the government forces women to take multiple husbands in order to bear as many children as possible. But, as in any dystopian tale, there is a resistance that refuses to be complicit in this subjugation of women.


These Rebel Waves - Sara Raasch (August 7)

This fantasy YA novel is set in the island of Grace-Loray, a place rich with magic and intrigue. Five years ago, the kingdom overthrew Argrid, an oppressive overlord, and has been trying to adjust to its independence ever since. But trouble is brewing, and when an Argridian diplmoat disappears while on Grace-Loray’s soil in the midst of peace talks, it could spell disaster. Can Adeluna, a young soldier, figure out what’s happening before it’s too late?


Temper - Nicky Drayden (August 7)

Nicky Drayden’s The Prey of Gods was weird in the best way, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with Temper. This new novel is set in a fantasy world based on South Africa and focuses on twins Auben and Kasim Mutze. In the society that the brothers live in, vices are worn on your sleeve — literally. They are branded on your arm for everyone to see. Ausim, who has six, is jealous of his brother, with just a single vice. But when Ausim starts listening to the voices in his head, ones that encourage him to act out his basest instincts, will he be able to pull himself back or will his actions make him irredeemable?


Ball Lightning - Cixin Liu (August 14)

I’ve been meaning to read Liu for awhile now, and this new standalone sci-fi adventure seems to be a perfect entry point. Translated by Joel Martinson, the latest novel from the celebrated Chinese novelist focuses on a young man whose parents are killed in front of him by a blast of ball lightning. He becomes determined to understand the mechanics behind this mysterious force. This thriller is clearly science-inspired, as the main character, Chen, pursues answers to his scientific inquiry at all costs. 


Stars Uncharted - S. K. Dunstall (August 14)

This rollicking space opera by the Dunstall sisters, Sherylyn and Karen, focuses on the crew of a ship in search of the space-equivalent of buried treasure. The Hassim is a derelict ship floating in space. In its record banks are records of countless new worlds, which is priceless information. And Captain Hammond Roystan is determined to find it. Together with engineer Josune Arriola and modder Nika Rik Terri, this motley crew is on the race of a lifetime to find their fortunes.


So Say We All: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Battlestar Galactica - Mark Altman & Edward Gross (August 21)

It’s hard to overemphasize the impact that Ron D. Moore’s 2004 Battlestar Galactica reboot had on science fiction. It’s still incredibly well-loved, which is why this oral history of the series, in all its forms, is sure to be a hit. It comes from Mark Altman and Edward Gross, the team that expertly chronicled the oral history of Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in, respectively, The Fifty-Year Mission and Slayers and Vampires. It’s not technically science fiction or fantasy, but it seemed like a no-brainer to include it on this list.


Foundryside - Robert Jackson Bennett (August 21)

Robert Jackson Bennett’s series that started with City of Stairs has been celebrated as an amazing fantasy epic. Now, he’s back with a new series set in an industrialized world that runs on magic. Four houses control the magic in the city; if you’re lucky enough to be a member of or employed by one, then you’re privileged. Everyone else is forced to make ends meet any way they can. When Sancia Grado, a famous thief, steals a powerful magical artifact from one of the houses, Captain Gregor Dandolo must do everything he can to stop her. That is, until they uncover a conspiracy that will change their world forever.


The Stars Now Unclaimed - Drew Williams (August 21)

If you’re looking for epic space battles to round out your summer, then The Stars Now Unclaimed is the book for you. This novel features Jane Kamali, who works as an agent trying to rectify past mistakes. It was her organization that released the Pulse, which had a devastating effect on the galaxy’s technology. Now, she locates children who have extraordinary abilities due to the Pulse, and together, they must figure out a way to stop a group that’s hell-bent on galactic domination.