July Sci-Fi/Fantasy Roundup: Quantum Entanglement, Supernatural HR, and Captain Hook’s Side of the Story

Trippy sci-fi books

In this roundup of July’s most exciting sci-fi and fantasy titles, you’ll discover adventures that will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go, from inside the bowels of a quantum computer, to a postapocalyptic survivalist community, to a world facing extinction, and even…a magical HR department? (Like I said, anywhere.) Here are your can’t-miss SF/F titles for the month:

The Causal Angel, by Hannu Rajaniemi
The next installment in the Finnish mathematical physicist’s Jean le Flambeur series, following The Quantum Thief and The Fractal Prince, concludes the adventures of gentleman thief Jean, the mercenary Meili, and her sentient ship, Perhonen, as they seek to overthrow a galaxy-ruling dynasty of formerly human hive-minded, godlike beings. The first two volumes proved Rajaniemi does mind-bending hard sci-fi better than pretty much anyone out there (I mean, just parse that last sentence), inventing fantastically probable future technology and a whole new take on what human consciousness will look like in a few thousand years without sacrificing compelling characters or engaging prose. All the series’ hallmarks are here, including maddeningly complex plotting that will basically force you to enjoy it twice. (Available July 15 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK)

The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness
The conclusion to the best-selling All Souls trilogy (following A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night) is finally here! Back in the present after a harrowing trip through time, bookish witch Diana Bishop and her vampire scientist husband, Matthew, must hunt down a crucial missing manuscript that may reveal hidden knowledge from the past—and just might save the future. Fans should be satisfied by the twisty, action-filled climax, featuring vampiric family squabbles, a vengeful killer, and a climactic birth. (Available July 15 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK)

Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie
So the guy who burst onto the fantasy scene with a super-violent trilogy starring an amoral, bloodthirsty barbarian warrior is writing a YA novel? Haha, yeah right. Does it come out on April 1? But no—Abercrombie really has (somewhat) tamed his penchant for lopped-off limbs (and foul-mouthed killers) in the first installment of a new trilogy aimed at the younger set, but filled with the complex characters and political machinations (oh yeah, and violence) that longtime readers expect. Born with half a hand, Prince Yarvi trained for life as a scholar, never expecting to take the throne. Yet circumstances change when his father and brother are killed, forcing the once peaceful boy to pick up a blade, vow revenge, and defend his kingdom. (Available July 15 in hardcover and NOOK)

California, by Edan Lepucki
Even if you think you’re burned out on postapocalyptic lit, you won’t want to miss this one. Lepucki’s acclaimed debut novel explores a bleak landscape that isn’t suffering from vampire plague, zombie virus, or atomic fallout, but merely lacks the comforts and structures of civilization we’ve come to depend on. Struggling to survive as the world falls away around them, Cal and Frida are forced to leave the isolated refuge they’ve managed to build for themselves when Frida discovers she’s pregnant. Venturing to the nearest community of survivors, they face a greater threat than mere forces of nature. (Available July 8 in hardcover, audiobook, and NOOK)

Magic Breaks, by Ilona Andrews
The latest installment of the Kate Daniels series offers up more supernatural intrigue from one of the best urban fantasy authors around. While fending off the looming threat of a fearsome figure from her past, mercenary-turned-investigator Kate must balance the politics of the wolf pack with her relationship with its leader, the Beast Lord, all while hunting down the murderer of one of the Masters of the Dead—or risk an all-out supernatural war. So, no pressure or anything. (Available July 29 in hardcover and NOOK)

World of Trouble, by Ben H. Winters
In the concluding volume of Winters’ Philip K. Dick Award–winning, genre-destroying pre-apocalypse mystery series The Last Policeman, Detective Hank Palace has finally holed up in a safehouse with the remaining members of the Concord police force to await impact by the world-ending asteroid hurtling toward Earth when, once again, the lure of solving one last case, and righting one last wrong, proves too strong. Despite the looming extinction of the human race, Palace is determined to save his endangered sister, at least for a little while. A satisfying, elegiac conclusion to a truly unique take on the detective genre. (Available July 15 in paperback, audiobook, and NOOK)

The Outsorcerer’s Apprentice, by Tom Holt
Tom Holt publishes high-concept, hilarious, convention-skewering genre novels faster than I can read them. Following the quantum theory sci-fi comedies Doughnut and When It’s a Jar, he makes the jump into fantasy territory with a book about the clerical work that goes on behind the scenes of your average sword-and-sorcery epic. If you’ve ever wondered who manages HR responsibilities for legions of goblins or helps coordinate insurance coverage for the risky job of dragon slaying, this book will answer all your questions, as well as reveal what happens when the system breaks down and parallel worlds start colliding. (Available July 15 in paperback and NOOK)

Full Fathom Five, by Max Gladstone
Max Gladstone once again manages to mix seemingly unpalatable flavors in the latest installment of his loosely connected legal procedural–meets–urban fantasy series. In a world where paying tribute to all-powerful beings drives politics and the economy, Kai is a literal godmaker, constructing made-to-order deities. When one of her creations begins to waste away, Kai’s risky, ultimately doomed attempt to rescue it is used as an excuse by her enemies to paint her as mentally unstable. But who are those enemies, exactly? Part of a larger conspiracy, no doubt. I see you’ve read a book before. Another fast-moving, funny entry in perhaps my favorite ongoing series. (Available July 15 in hardcover and NOOK)

Alias Hook, by Lisa Jensen
History is written by the victors, which means you’ve likely never encountered the real story of one Captain James Benjamin Hook, a highly educated privateer (don’t call him a pirate) cursed to continually play the villain in an endless conflict with a malicious forever-child named Peter Pan. Like Wicked, Jensen’s imaginative novel pokes holes in a story everyone knows to reveal the “true” motivations lurking beneath. (Available July 8 in hardcover and NOOK)

What sci-fi and fantasy titles are you reading this month?