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Andrew Liptak on 15 New Science Fiction and Fantasy Books to Check Out in May

Friday, May 29th, 2020 | Posted by John ONeill

Westside Saints-small Out of Body Jeffrey Ford-small Sea Change Nancy Kress-small

I don’t know where John DeNardo vanished to this month. Ever since The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog shut down, taking their excellent monthly summary with tbem, I’ve grown to rely on John’s monthly SF book survey at Kirkus Reviews pretty heavily. It didn’t appear in May — but fortunately Andrew Liptak at Polygon came through, so I don’t have to wrap up the month dangerously uninformed. What does Andrew recommend for us in May? Let’s have a look.

Westside Saints by W.M Akers (Harper Voyager, 304 pages, $27.99 hardcover/$14.99 digital, May 5, 2020)

W.M. Akers follows up his debut novel Westside with Westside Saints, a mystery set in an alternate, Jazz-era New York City. The city has been split into two zones, where the east side is a prosperous metropolis and the west an overgrown wasteland. In Westside, Akers introduced readers to Gilda Carr, a detective who specializes in “small mysteries,” and who ended up trying to solve the mystery of her missing father.

In this new adventure, Carr stumbles upon a new mystery when she’s hired by a group of street preachers from the Electric Church to recover the severed finger of a lost saint. They believe that this digit will bring about a resurrection, and Carr drawn in when her dead mother unexpectedly returns…

We covered the first book in the series, Westside, right here almost exactly a year ago. Read an excerpt from Westside Saints here.

Out of Body by Jeffrey Ford (Tor.com, 176 pages, $15.99 trade paperback/$3.99 digital, May 26, 2020)

In Jeffrey Ford’s new horror thriller, a librarian named Owen Hapstead is traumatized when he witnesses a murder in a local business.

He soon finds that the incident imparted a strange ability: he can leave his body whenever he falls asleep. As he begins to roam the town, its secrets open up to him. He discovers a horrifying serial killer that lives in town, one that shares his abilities.

Publishers Weekly says that “Ford’s elaboration of the night world is wildly imaginative and his depiction of Owen’s invisible explorations of it verges on the voyeuristic, adding unusual piquancy to the story. Readers will find this well-wrought tale of a mysterious world both eerie and bewitching.”

We discussed Jeff’s most recent book, the mammoth collection The Best of Jeffrey Ford, right here just two weeks ago.

Sea Change by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications, 192 pages, $15.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, May 22, 2020)

A couple of years from now, a biochemical accident causes an environmental catastrophe and subsequent financial crisis, resulting in a worldwide ban on genetically modified organisms.

A decade later, humanity is facing an even greater challenge: a rapidly changing climate that threatens the world’s food supply. A ban on GMOs has also made the creation of new varieties, ones that can withstand the vigors of climate change, illegal. That forces people like Renata Black underground. She’s part of Org, an illegal researcher who’s trying to find ways to help humanity adapt to the changing world. However, the Department of Agricultural Security is after them, and a mole within the organization threatens all of their work.

We looked at The Early Fantasy Novels of Nancy Kress back in 2016.

The Down Days-small The Down Days-back-small

The Down Days by Ilze Hugo (Skybound Books, 368 pages, $26 hardcover/$7.99 digital, May 5, 2020)

Ilze Hugo’s debut novel hits close to home this month: it’s set in a near-future South Africa, during a strange pandemic. The infected experience hallucinations, paranoia, and uncontrollable laughter, which prompts Cape Town officials to issue a quarantine to prevent the spread of the illness. The situation finds a woman named Faith September working to collect dead bodies and attempting to right the spread of misinformation that follows in the plague’s wake.

When an orphan named Tomorrow Pretorious, approaches her to help her track down her kidnapped baby brother, the pair descend into a world of black market hustlers and con men. As the search goes on, Faith begins to wonder if the baby is even real…

The Down Days is Ilze Hugo’s debut novel, but she’s released two previous collections, The Ghost Eater and Other Shorts and My Holiday Shorts. Read more at Mary Retta’s review at Tor.com.

Read Andrew’s complete list of 15 best new sci-fi and fantasy books to read in May 2020 at Polygon, and see our discussions of his previous lists here.

See all our recent New Treasures here.

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