It seems as though 2019 is just flying by — it's difficult to believe that the year is almost half over. In terms of books, it basically means I haven't had enough time to read even a quarter of what I want to this year. There are just so many great books coming out that it's difficult to keep up.
This month, I've got a great list for you: books in translation (because we really do not read enough of those here in the U.S.), a magical heist novel, an excellent book of short stories you shouldn't miss, and much, much more. Check out FANGRRLS' picks for the May sci-fi and fantasy you need to read.
Middlegame - Seanan McGuire (May 7)
One of my guilty secrets is that I’ve never actually read Seanan McGuire, which I think is a travesty because I’m interested in so much of her work. But this new standalone book may change all that. It features two characters, twins, Dodger and her brother Roger, who have special powers. They aren’t immortals, but they’re not quite human. But could they become gods? Their creator is determined to make that happen, no matter the cost.
Exhalation: Stories - Ted Chiang (May 7)
Ted Chiang is a master of short fiction; the movie Arrival is based on one of his short stories. Now, he’s back with a new collection, and it’s luminous and amazing. I’m honestly not much of a short story reader because I find them to be unsatisfying a lot of the time. However, that’s not the case with Ted Chiang’s work. His stories are incredibly rich and vivid, even when they’re just a few pages long.
Light from Other Stars - Erika Swyler (May 7)
I absolutely love fiction surrounding NASA, so I’m really curious about Erika Swyler’s latest novel. It features Nedda Paps, an 11-year-old living in Florida in 1986 who’s obsessed with becoming an astronaut. But her brilliant scientist father, who was laid off from NASA, isn’t ready to let go of his daughter’s childhood yet and invents a way to make her stay a child longer. The consequences of this decision are juxtaposed against Nedda’s adulthood, when she achieves her dream and is in space, and discovers that the key to the crisis she’s facing in the stars is her own childhood.
China Dream - Ma Jian (May 7)
This novel, translated by Flora Drew, is set in China and centers on Ma Daode, who has just been promoted to the head of China’s Dream Bureau. His job is to oversee the rewriting of people’s dreams, inside their heads, to make sure that people only think of what the president of China wants them to. It’s a subversive, dark tale that seems to tell a dystopian vision of China’s future but really is a cultural commentary on the country’s status today.
Triangulum - Masande Ntshanga (May 14)
The year is 2040, and the South African National Space Agency receives a strange package that informs them that the world will end by the end of the decade. The book is told as a found manuscript, the memoir of the woman that is sent to the space agency. The question is whether this claim is genuine, and if so, what can be done about it?
Deep Past - Eugene Linden (May 14)
I love books that explore alternate versions of our past, which is why I’m so intrigued by Deep Past. This novel takes place at an archaeological dig in Kazakhstan, where anthropologist Claire Knowland is working. But when they stumble upon something that doesn’t make sense, at first she doesn’t believe it. But soon Claire realizes that this new discovery may fundamentally alter the way humans think of ourselves and our evolution on this planet.
An Illusion of Thieves - Cate Glass (May 21)
If you say “magic” and “heist novel” to me, I’m automatically in. This novel centers around Romy, who grew up poor but her fortunes changed when she became the mistress of a noble who tries to redistribute wealth to benefit all of society. But when she has to use all her connections to save her brother after he’s caught using forbidden magic Romy loses everything but her life. Now, she must use magic to help them survive, and when she uncovers a secret plot that could change everything, she must figure out how to stop it.
Vessel - Lisa Nichols (May 21)
This provocative psychological thriller is set in a future in which humanity has traveled deep into space, thanks to a wormhole. Catherine Wells was a crew member aboard one of these ships, but the mission was considered a failure because NASA lost contact with it. But when Catherine comes back through the wormhole years later with no memory of what happened to her, they must figure out if she was responsible for the deaths of her crew and what might have occurred out there.