The best new science fiction books of May 2024 (2024)

The best new science fiction books of May 2024 (1)

Every month, I trawl through publishers’ catalogues so I can tell you about the new science fiction being released. And every month, I’m disappointed to see so much more fantasy on publishers’ lists than sci-fi. I know it’s a response to the huge boom in readers of what’s been dubbed “romantasy”, and I’m not knocking it – I love that sort of book too. But it would be great to see more good, hard, mind-expanding sci-fi in the offing as well.

In the meantime, there is definitely enough for us sci-fi fans to sink our teeth into this month, whether it’s a reissue of classic writing from Ursula K. Le Guin, some new speculative short stories from Stephen King or murder in space from Victor Manibo and S. A. Barnes.

Last month, I tipped Douglas Preston’s Extinction and Sofia Samatar’s The Practice, the Horizon, and the Chain as books I was looking forward to. I can report that they were both excellent: Extinction was a lot of good, clean, Jurassic Park-tinged fun, while Samatar’s offering was a beautiful and thought-provoking look at life on a generation ship.

The Language of the Night: Essays on writing, science fiction, and fantasy by Ursula K. Le Guin

There are few sci-fi and fantasy writers more brilliant (and revered) than Ursula K. Le Guin. This reissue of her first full-length collection of essays features a new introduction from Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ken Liu and covers the writing of The Left Hand of Darkness and A Wizard of Earthsea, as well as her advocacy for sci-fi and fantasy as legitimate literary mediums. I’ve read some of these essays but not all, and I won’t be missing this collection.

Nuclear War: A Scenario by Annie Jacobsen

This isn’t science fiction, not quite, but it is one of the best and most important books I have read for some time. It sees Jacobsen lay out, minute by minute, what would happen if an intercontinental ballistic missile hit Washington DC. How would the US react? What, exactly, happens if deterrence fails? Jacobsen has spoken to dozens of military experts to put together what her publisher calls a “non-fiction thriller”, and what I call the scariest book I have possibly ever read (and I’m a Stephen King fan; see below). We’re currently reading it at the New Scientist Book Club, and you can sign up to join us here.

Read an extract from Nuclear War: A scenario by Annie Jacobsen In this terrifying extract from Annie Jacobsen’s Nuclear War: A Scenario, the author lays out what would happen in the first seconds after a nuclear missile hits the Pentagon

The Big Book of Cyberpunk (Vol 1 & 2)

Forty years ago, William Gibson published Neuromancer. Since then, it has entranced millions of readers right from its unforgettable opening line: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel…”. Neuromancer gave us the literary genre that is cyberpunk, and we can now welcome a huge, two-volume anthology celebrating cyberpunk’s best stories, by writers from Cory Doctorow to Justina Robson, and from Samuel R. Delaney to Philip K. Dick. I have both glorious-sounding volumes, brought together by anthologist Jared Shurin, on my desk (using up most of the space on it), and I am looking forward to dipping in.

You Like It Darker by Stephen King

You could categorise Stephen King as a horror writer. I see him as an expert chronicler of the dark side of small-town America, and from The Tommyknockers and its aliens to Under the Dome with its literally divisive trope, he frequently slides into sci-fi. Even the horror at the heart of It is some sort of cosmic hideousness. He is one of my favourite writers, and You Like It Darker is a new collection of short stories that moves from “the folds in reality where anything can happen” to a “psychic flash” that upends dozens of lives. There’s a sequel to Cujo, and a look at “corners of the universe best left unexplored”. I’ve read the first story so far, and I can confirm there is plenty for us sci-fi fans here.

Enlightenment by Sarah Perry

Not sci-fi, but fiction about science – and from one of the UK’s most exciting writers (if you haven’t read The Essex Serpent yet, you’re in for a treat). This time, Perry tells the story of Thomas Hart, a columnist on the Essex Chronicle who becomes a passionate amateur astronomer as the comet Hale-Bopp approaches in 1997. Our sci-fi columnist Emily Wilson is reviewing it for New Scientist’s 11 May issue, and she has given it a vigorous thumbs up (“a beautiful, compassionate and memorable book,” she writes in a sneak preview just for you guys).

Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Dr Ophelia Bray is a psychologist and expert in the study of Eckhart-Reiser syndrome, a fictional condition that affects space travellers in terrible ways. She’s sent to help a small crew whose colleague recently died, but as they begin life on an abandoned planet, she realises that her charges are hiding something. And then the pilot is murdered… Horror in space? Mysterious planets? I’m up for that.

The best new science fiction books of May 2024 (3)

Hey, Zoey by Sarah Crossan

Hot on the heels of Sierra Greer’s story about a sex robot wondering what it means to be human in Annie Bot, the acclaimed young adult and children’s author Sarah Crossan has ventured into similar territory. In Hey, Zoey, Dolores finds an animatronic sex doll hidden in her garage and assumes it belongs to her husband David. She takes no action – but then Dolores and Zoey begin to talk, and Dolores’s life changes.

How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying by Django Wexler

Davi has tried to take down the Dark Lord before, rallying humanity and making the final charge – as you do. But the time loop she is stuck in always defeats her, and she loses the battle in the end. This time around, Davi decides that the best thing to do is to become the Dark Lord herself. You could argue that this is fantasy, but it has a time loop, so I’m going to count it as sci-fi. It sounds fun and lighthearted: quotes from early readers are along the lines of “A darkly comic delight”, and we could all use a bit of that these days.

Escape Velocity by Victor Manibo

It’s 2089, and there’s an old murder hanging over the clientele of Space Habitat Altaire, a luxury space hotel, while an “unforeseen threat” is also brewing in the service corridors. A thriller in space? Sounds excellent – and I’m keen to see if Manibo makes use of the latest research into the angle at which blood might travel following violence in space, as reported on by our New Scientist humour columnist Marc Abrahams recently.

The best new science fiction books of March 2024 With a new Adrian Tchaikovsky, Mars-set romance from Natasha Pulley and a high-concept thriller from Stuart Turton due to hit shelves, there is plenty of great new science fiction to be reading in March

In Our Stars by Jack Campbell

Part of the Doomed Earth series, this follows Lieutenant Selene Genji, who has been genetically engineered with partly alien DNA and has “one last chance to save the Earth from destruction”. Beautifully retro cover for this space adventure – not to judge a book in this way, of course…

The Downloaded by Robert J. Sawyer

Two sets of people have had their minds uploaded into a quantum computer in the Ontario of 2059. Astronauts preparing for the world’s first interstellar voyage form one group; the other contains convicted murderers, sentenced to a virtual-reality prison. Naturally, disaster strikes, and, yup, they must work together to save Earth from destruction. Originally released as an Audible Original with Brendan Fraser as lead narrator, this is the first print edition of the Hugo and Nebula award-winning Sawyer’s 26th novel.

The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

Just in case you still haven’t read it, Justin Cronin’s gloriously dreamy novel The Ferryman, set on an apparently utopian island where things aren’t quite as they seem, is out in paperback this month. It was the first pick for the New Scientist Book Club, and it is a mind-bending, dreamy stunner of a read. Go try it – and sign up for the Book Club in the meantime!


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The best new science fiction books of May 2024 (2024)


The best new science fiction books of May 2024? ›

Neuromancer by William Gibson

This novel predicted a world in which technology and artificial intelligence were so advanced that people could connect directly to computers and the internet.

What is the most anticipated sci-fi movie in 2024? ›

Upcoming sci-fi TV shows for 2024 & beyond
  • Invincible (Season 2, Part 2) - March 14, 2024.
  • X-Men '97 - March 20, 2024.
  • 3 Body Problem - March 21, 2024.
  • Fallout - April 12, 2024.
  • Dead Boy Detectives - April 18, 2024.
  • House of the Dragon (Season 2) - June 2024.
  • The Acolyte - June 4, 2024.
  • The Boys (Season 4) - June 13, 2024.
Mar 21, 2024

What is the most sold science fiction book? ›

What are the best-selling science fiction books of all time?
Title (Year)Author
11984 (1949)George Orwell
2Dune (1966)Frank Herbert
3The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)Douglas Adams
4Foundation Series (1942-1993)Isaac Asimov
6 more rows
Oct 2, 2022

What science fiction book predicted the future? ›

Neuromancer by William Gibson

This novel predicted a world in which technology and artificial intelligence were so advanced that people could connect directly to computers and the internet.

What science fiction may contain? ›

Science fiction (sometimes shortened to SF or sci-fi) is a genre of speculative fiction, which typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life.

What's coming to Netflix 2024? ›

  • Popular.
  • Baby Reindeer.
  • Damsel.
  • The Gentlemen.
  • 3 Body Problem.
  • Stranger Things.

What was the first sci-fi movie of all time? ›

A Trip to the Moon (1902)

Widely considered to be the first ever sci-fi film, A Trip to the Moon is one of cinema's most celebrated treasures. Georges Méliès was a special effects pioneer who made use of innovative camera trickery and plenty of imagination.

Who are the big 3 of science fiction? ›

For much of the later 20th century, Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Robert A. Heinlein were informally known as the "Big Three" of science fiction writers.

What is the best science fiction book ever written? ›

  • Dune (Dune #1) by Frank Herbert. ...
  • Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1) by Orson Scott Card. ...
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1) by Douglas Adams. ...
  • 1984. by George Orwell, Thomas Pynchon (Foreword) ...
  • Fahrenheit 451. by Ray Bradbury. ...
  • Foundation (Foundation, #1) by Isaac Asimov. ...
  • Brave New World.

Who is the best science fiction author? ›

The best science fiction authors of all time
  • Dan Simmons: Start with Hyperion.
  • Anne McCaffrey: Start with Dragonflight.
  • Robert Silverberg: Start with Downward to the Earth.
  • Arthur C. ...
  • Philip K. ...
  • Samuel R. ...
  • Vernor Vinge: Start with A Fire Upon The Deep.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold: Start with Shards of Honor.

Does science fiction really reflect real life? ›

Science fiction serves as a lens through which engineers can view potential futures. By exploring the implications of new technologies in fictional settings, engineers gain insights into the challenges and opportunities these technologies might present in the real world.

What old books predict AI? ›

“It is not impossible to imagine the machine of future ages.” That's the start of a paragraph on page 208 from “Life and Faith”, written in 1959 by Vasily Grossman.

When was the new wave of science fiction? ›

That's true for me, although like many other fans I'd insist that my first exposure to SF happened during the real golden age. The decade from 1965 to 1975 was science fiction's so-called New Wave, when the genre took on both the turmoil of the '60s and the literary techniques of high modernism.

Who is known as the father of science fiction? ›

Jules Verne has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking below Agatha Christie and above William Shakespeare. He has sometimes been called the "father of science fiction", a title that has also been given to H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback.

What is the oldest science fiction story? ›

Published in 1616, The Chemical Wedding predates Johannes Kepler's novel Somnium, which was written in 1608 but not published until 1634 and “which usually gets the nod” as the first science fiction story.

What is the 2024 space movie? ›

Spaceman. Spaceman is a sci-fi drama starring Adam Sandler and directed by Chernobyl director Johan Renck. The film, based on the book Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař, follows Jakub Procházka who goes on a solo mission to space and encounters a mysterious creature as he begins to lose touch with reality.

What is the sci-fi short film a date in 2025? ›

In the year 2025, a young man's superintelligent AI system tells him that he must go on a date or face certain suicide from loneliness.

What will Dreamworks release in 2024? ›

  • The Wild Robot (September 27, 2024)
  • Dog Man (January 31, 2025)
  • The Bad Guys 2 (August 1, 2025)
  • Gabby's Dollhouse: The Movie (September 26, 2025)

Which movie will release in 2025? ›

  • January 31 (Friday) Dog Man. Mickey 17. ...
  • February 14 (Friday) The Unbreakable Boy. March 2025. ...
  • March 21 (Friday) Alto Knights. Disney's Snow White. ...
  • May 30 (Friday) Karate Kid. June 2025. ...
  • June 27 (Friday) The Black Phone 2. July 2025. ...
  • July 25 (Friday) The Fantastic Four. The Naked Gun. ...
  • October 10 (Friday) Tron: Ares.


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