15 Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Arriving This August

By Cheryl Eddy on at

The end of summer is slowly approaching, but there’s no wrong time to do some lazy-day reading. Or, as the case may be, stay-up-all-night-because-you-can’t-put-the-book-down reading. Here are 15 science fiction and fantasy books to add to your shelf (or e-reader) this month, in chronological order.

1) The Hike: A Novel by Drew Magary

The fourth book from Deadspin’s own Drew Magary is a fantasy tale that blends folklore and video games. It’s about a suburbanite who gets lost while hiking through an unfamiliar forest — and soon, to his surprise, finds himself on an epic and magical quest. Early reviews have praised its humour, but also its spookiness. (Aug. 2)

2) The Swarm: The Second Formic War Vol. 1 by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

The first book in a new trilogy from the controversial Orson Scott Card is set before the events of Ender’s Game, but (obviously) after the events chronicled in the authors’ trilogy about the First Formic War. It’s about the people of Earth’s ongoing battle in space with their dreaded alien opponents — and about the battle back home for power, which is just as hard-fought. (Aug. 2)

3) The Guns of Empire (The Shadow Campaigns #4) by Django Wexler

The penultimate book in Django Wexler’s Shadow Campaigns series — which unfolds in a fantasy-tinged 19th century, “where muskets and magic are both weapons to be feared” — takes place in the aftermath of a devastating battle, amid a highly uneasy and probably soon-to-be-broken peace. (Aug. 9)

4) I Am Providence: A Novel by Nick Mamatas

From an author who named his short-story collection The Nickronomicon comes this tale of a writer who attends an H.P. Lovecraft convention, only to become entangled in a gruesome murder that threatens to turn her own life into a Lovecraftian horror plot. The fact that the murder victim — who was found with his face completely removed — is also the narrator of this tale only adds to its strong streak of pitch-black humour. (Aug. 9)

5) The Last Days of New Paris by China Miéville

In this short fantasy novel that imagines history by way of a parallel universe, an eccentric French dissident takes on the occupying Nazis with a peculiar invention: a “surrealist bomb”. When it explodes accidentally, “manifs” (manifestations of creative thinking) take over Paris, bringing works of art to life — making for a book about surrealism that sounds fairly surreal itself. (Aug. 9 US – Feb. 23 2017 UK)

6) Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

The author of the Lotus War series and co-author of the Illuminae Files returns with a new series. This first book is about a young woman named Mia who falls in with an elite group of assassins, learning their ways so that she can obtain some much-desired vengeance on behalf of her family. Definitely some Arya Stark vibes here, but instead of George R.R. Martin-style off-kilter seasons, Mia’s world is one of almost constant daylight, thanks to the three suns overhead. (Aug. 11)


7) Doctor Who: The Official Cookbook by Joanna Farrow

Yes, it’s a cookbook—and a novelty one at that. But given that Doctor Who devotees won’t get a new episode of the show for several more months, the official tie-in offers a fun dose of fan service, plus a chance to perfect your gingerbread TARDIS-building skills well before the holidays. Other recipes include Cyberman Pie, Ood Rolls, and Weeping Angel Food Cake. (Aug. 11)

8) Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Espionage meets spiritualism in this tale from the author of Shades of Milk and Honey. Set during World War I, it follows the adventures of an American heiress serving in England as part of the Spirit Corps — a group of mediums who help the war effort by using their psychic powers. The danger ramps up when she discovers a turncoat in their midst. (Aug. 13)

9) Dancing in Dreamtime by Scott Russell Sanders

The prolific author, essayist, and academic revisits the science fiction genre — he wrote Terrarium back in 1985 — with this collection of speculative short stories that share ecological themes. (Aug. 17)


10) The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Book 2) by N.K. Jemisin

“The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night,” begins this book’s description. It’s the second part in N.K. Jemisin’s fantasy trilogy, and it continues the story of The Fifth Season—last year’s acclaimed tale of an apocalypse-prone planet teetering on the brink of yet another catastrophic climate change, and the complex characters who have a hand in its fate. (Aug. 18)

11) Spellbreaker by Blake Charlton

The third book in the Spellwright Trilogy comes five years after second entry Spellbound, and author Blake Charlton describes it as “a darker book than its predecessors, more focused on endings and difficult choices”. It focuses on the character of Leandra Weal, who is given a chance to see the future only to learn something very unpleasant about herself: she’ll commit a terrible crime. Can she stop herself —  and help prevent a demon invasion while she’s at it? (Aug. 23)

12) Not So Much, Said the Cat by Michael Swanwick

A second collection of short science fiction from the author of The Dog Said Bow-Wow, with tales that promise to include the Devil, time travellers, a horse with magic powers, and “a semi-repentant troll”. (Aug. 25)

13) Sixth Watch (Night Watch) by Sergei Lukyanenko

The Moscow-set Night Watch series is hugely popular in Russia, and spawned two blockbuster adaptations (Night Watch and Day Watch) that raised its international profile. The final book sees the two sides of the magical, supernatural factions that secretly lurk among humans—the Light and the Dark Others—reluctantly joining forces to prevent the apocalypse. (Aug. 30 US – Sept. 1 UK)

14) A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes Book 2) by Sabaa Tahir

The author follows up her hit debut with a sequel that returns to the dystopian Martial Empire. It picks up right where An Ember in the Ashes left off, following slave Laia and soldier Elias as they continue the quest to break her brother out of prison. New and surprising enemies make the journey more dangerous than they ever imagined. (Aug. 30 US – Sept. 8 UK)

15) Early Days: More Tales from the Pulp Era by Robert Silverberg

The veteran science fiction writer (Dying Inside, Downward to the Earth, Lord Valentine’s Castle) releases his second collection of entertainingly pulpy short stories, culled from the years 1956 to 1958. Each of the 17 tales comes with new notes, offering context for each piece as well as its documenting its publication history. (Aug. 31)