The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of May: 6 Top Picks

Best science fiction and fantasy of the month - amazon book review
An acolyte seeking the blessing of the god of death, an old berserker set on a mission of revenge, a security bot with a big secret (and a weakness for telenovella-like videos), and more are among our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of May.

 

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett - The third book in Bennett's marvelous Divine Cities series—and taking place a decade after City of Blades—shocks the reader and prods Sigrud je Harkvaldsson out of his exile to take revenge on the perpetrators. Bennett's main characters are not lithe, optimistic young things learning about the world. They tend toward gruffness, rough edges, and a bracingly pragmatic world-view, and his stories echo with a vibe closer to spy or crime novels than fantasy. Yet these are heroes who overcome their worst instincts, and their battles out of their own darkness make the victories (sometimes only partial) all the sweeter. I'd recommend starting this series from the beginning with City of Stairs if only so that you can submerge yourself in this strange but very familiar world for as long as possible. And now my bedside table has a bare spot on it waiting for Bennett's next book, whatever he may decide to write.
 

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. Carey - Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts turned the zombie genre on its head with its protagonist. Carey's return to this post-fall world throws us into the claustrophobic environment of a tank-like research vehicle scouring the British countryside for scientific clues that will end the hungries' so-far unstoppable conversion of humankind. With half of the team made up of soldier and the other half scientists, the only outlier of the group is Stephen, who is strangely able to move among the hungries without being killed. But it's when Stephen  meets other children with similar—but not the same—abilities, the expedition teeters toward its own destruction. Just as mesmerizing as Carey's first novel in this world, it sucks the reader in through its characters' various and sometimes conflicting points of view, hopes, dreams, and, most pertinently, fears.
 

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells - A weapon-heavy security bot on a contract with surveyors sent to investigate a new planet, Murderbot (as it refers to itself) takes pains to conceal from the humans it's guarding that there's something different from it. After an incident during a previous contract, Murderbot disabled the function that requires it to obey any orders given or downloaded. All Murderbot wants is time to itself so that it can watch the thousands of hours of entertainment vids it's downloaded on the sly, but the sudden, ominous silence from the surveyors' sister camp forces it to interact more closely with its humans than it ever has before. Tense action locks in step with Murderbot's march toward owning its personhood, imbuing the android with more character than other, far larger novels ever manage to do. A tight space adventure with a deep core of humanity, All Systems Red has become one of my favorite books this year to press into the hands of my fellow SF readers.
 

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

Skullsworn (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley - Servants of Ananshael, the god of death, are experts in wielding poison, swords, ropes, and anything else that can be turned into a weapon, all in service to the will of their god. But after her training and years of being an acolyte, Pyrre faces an unexpected hurdle to becoming a full priest: she must kill someone she loves. This would be a challenge for anyone's faith, but Pyrre's issue is more practical: She's never been in love. Bookended by two priests, Pyrre sets out for her home town to find the one man who's ever stirred something in her heart, only to plunge into the middle of an uprising. Nonstop peril, acidic self-doubt, and secrets within secrets keep the tension high in this rich fantasy novel.
 

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

The Argus Deceit by Chuck Grossart - I usually have a screaming dislike of plots that, Groundhog Day-like, repeat scenes over and over again. But while reading The Argus Deceit, my initial eye-rolling quickly flipped into intrigue as Grossart wove in stranger and stranger details with every retelling, flooding the atmosphere with dread. Who is the faceless, Slenderman-like creature who lurks at the edges? Why is Brody starting to remember that he's been in these situations before? Grossart stacks question upon question before pulling the curtain away from the answers, and in the processes sets himself up for the larger problem of how to bring these interconnected stories to a satisfying conclusion. Impressively, he does.
 

Shop on Amazon
Print Book | Kindle Book

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey - What could be more fun than an alternate history in which buckaroos and con-men ride hippos instead of horses among the marshlands of the Mississippi in the nineteenths century? A stir-fry of western and wacky, Gailey's novella pivots on a revenge plot that goes explosively awry as our band of heroes (one of which is named Hero) dodge feral hippos, greedy casino owners, and racists in their quest to inflict justice on the bad 'uns and get paid for it by the US government. While, for me, River of Teeth had a bit more sizzle than substance, it's still a rollicking tale you can swallow as easily as a feral hippo can snap up a unwary human.
 

To see all our picks for the best science fiction and fantasy of the month—including new books from Faith Hunter, Jeff VanderMeer, Cory Doctorow, and C.A. Higgins—visit our best of the month page.


You might also like:

 

ABR-RR-SUBS-yellow[1]

Sign up for the Amazon Book Review: Best books of the month * author interviews * the reading life * and more

 


Leave a Comment

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this blog until approved.

Comments (0)

Lists + Reviews

Best Books Literature + Fiction Nonfiction Kids + Young Adult Mystery, Thriller + Suspense Science Fiction + Fantasy Comics + Graphic Novels Romance Eating + Drinking

Authors

Interviews Guest Essays Celebrity Picks

News + Features

News Features Awards

Editors

Omnivoracious, The Amazon Book Review

Feeds Facebook Twitter YouTube