Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of May: 5 Top Picks

Adrian Liang on May 22, 2018

Murderbots, magicians, vampire hunters, a space colonist bent on revenge, and a gifted military mind are among the characters of our favorite science fiction and fantasy books of May.

Below are five of our top picks. To see all the books we selected, including new works by Ian McDonald, Sylvain Neuvel's series finale, and a new series-starter from Raymond E. Feist, visit our page at for the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Month. (Heck, bookmark it!)

Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells -As soon as I finished Wells' novella All Systems Red last year, I couldn't wait to get back into Murderbot's world. Apparently I wasn't the only one: All Systems Red recently won the Nebula Award for best novella. In book 2, Murderbot wants to find out what really happened before it had its memory wiped and was reprogrammed. The story is that it killed a number of people, but Murderbot thinks there's more to it than that. A set of naive humans, a set of far less naive humans, a spaceship that may or may not be military, and the secrets behind Murderbot's fateful killing spree weave together into a satisfying space yarn. And yet again, I can't wait for more Murderbot, happily coming up soon in August's Rogue Protocol.

The Plastic Magician (A Paper Magician Novel) by Charlie N. Holmberg -Set in the world of the Paper Magician with some character crossovers, The Plastic Magician emphasizes the steampunk elements and intelligent, spunky protagonists that Holmberg's readers love. Alvie Brechenmacher wants to be a Polymaker, and her innovative ideas spark not only interest from her magician superiors but also avarice in a rival. Alvie herself drives the story forward, and readers who haven't yet read the Paper Magician series could easily jump in right here.

Medusa Uploaded: A Novel (The Medusa Cycle) by Emily Devenport - Based on the SF books hitting shelves these past several years, a colony ship is a terrible place to be. The colony ship that Oichi lives on is ruled by the iron fists of the Executives. The Executives fear only each other and barely notice the other colonists, like Oichi, who survive at the very margins of society. But this blindness give Oichi the opening for revenge and executing her own power play. Dark and rabid at the edges, Medusa Uploaded will definitely make you rethink taking a spot on the next colony ship.

Dark Queen (Jane Yellowrock) by Faith Hunter - Readers who can't wait for the next Kate Daniels adventure ( Magic Triumphs, in August) or Patricia Briggs book would do well to pick up Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series. Now on book 12, Jane and her adventures continue to build toward a grand finale even as a duel between vampires could change the fate of Jane's beloved New Orleans.

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang - Those who enjoy the coming-of-age story set within battle school will groove to Kuang's Poppy War. Young Rin decides that the only way out of her dead-end life is to test into the academies...but even she is astonished that she wins a spot at Sinegard, the elite military school. But Rin's trials have only just begun, and this book gets dark pretty quickly as war overtakes the country. A marvelously powerful, gut-wrenching military fantasy debut.

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