Science Fiction & Fantasy Summer Reading List 2024

The 17th edition of Nuketown’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Summer Reading List features 18 books (15 novels, three non-fiction books), three novellas, and five graphic novels.

The Summer of 2024 will be a fun one. My wife and I are going to Iceland with our extended family for a week and we’ll be spending a week at Lake Champlain as well. NeutronLad turns 18 this summer and ages out of scouts, so I won’t be going to summer camp this year (which I’m both happy and sad about … it’s the end of an era).

There will be lots of opportunities to read books this summer, which is why I’m shooting for a higher book count than last year, when I planned to read 13 books and finished 11 of them.

This year’s list is dominated by science fiction, which is typical for me, but horror (which is not) returns to the list with three books. Fantasy is under-represented with two books (with The Stone Sky straddling the line between fantasy and sci-fi).

You can track my progress on Goodreads and The Story Graph.

2024 Tags

  • Print is for books in paper or e-book format.
  • Audio is for the novels I’ll listen to in audiobook format, rather than read the traditional way.
  • Island is for books that I intend to read during my family’s annual summer vacation at Lake Champlain.
  • Iceland is for books that I intend to read while visiting Iceland this summer.
  • Pulled Forward are books I wanted to read in 2022, but didn’t get to.

Fantasy

Age of Ash by Daniel AbrahamAmazonPrint – A new fantasy novel by one half of the team that makes the sci-fi writing team James S. A. Corey (the duo behind The Expanse and the upcoming The Mercy of the Gods. I enjoyed Abraham’s slow burning The Dagger and the Coin fantasy series, and I’m looking forward to returning to his world-building intensive fiction. Age of Ash takes place in a single, massive city called Kithamar; I don’t read much city-based fantasy, so this will be a nice diversion.

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth Book 3) by N. K. JemisinAmazon Audio – The concluding book in the Broken Earth series promises apocalyptic (and perhaps healing) change for an Earth ravaged by millennium of natural disasters.

Horror

Alien: The Cold Forge by Alex WhiteAmazonPrint, Pulled Forward – Following the events of Aliens, a clutch of xenomorph eggs was secreted away to a black site research facility. Called the Cold Forge, the facility is host to a number of secret (and dangerous) experiments, most off which don’t react well when let loose upon the station.

Terminus by Peter Cline (Threshold, Book 4)AmazonPrint – The Threshold series started with 14 and took place in an apartment building where strange things happened, and doorways to alternative (and very dangerous) universes existed in hidden places. The series has gone to some strange places (a research facility where the building stays the same, but people’s personalities change) and a graveyard on the moon (where an alien artifact ends up reanimating the dead). There’s a common thread of otherworldly, Cthulhu-esque horror running through these novels, and I’m looking forward to seeing what new weirdness shows up in the fourth book.

Ghost Station by S.A. BarnesAmazonPrint, Island – S.A. Barnes was a new addition to the summer reading list in 2023 and I like her novel Dead Silence (about the deep space salvage off a haunted starship) so much that I added her to this year’s list as well. Ghost Station takes place on a “ancient, abandoned planet” with a hidden and dangerous history. It sounds like a sci-fi, planet-side ghost stories, and perfect for a summer read.

Science Fiction

Station Eternity by Mur LaffertyAmazonAudio, Pulled Forward – Another book I started in 2023 but didn’t finish. Station Eternity is a cozy murder mystery in the vein of Murder, She Wrote … if Murder, She Wrote took place on an alien space station. The book’s central premise is that its heroine, Mallory Viridian, happens to be at the right place at the wrong time. People get killed, she sees the unexpected connections between the deceased, the survivors, and the suspects, and then solves the murder.

Chaos Terminal (The Midsolar Murders, Book 2) by Mur LaffertyAmazonAudio – The follow-up to Station Eternity sees another murder on Station Eternity, this time involving old friends from home and a possible intergalactic incident.

Defiant (Skyward Flight, Book 4) by Brandon SandersonAmazon Audio – The final book in Sanderson’s young adult space opera, in which humanity was imprisoned on an alien world for crimes against the galaxy. In the previous three books, the outcast heroine Spensa challenged what was known and what was forbidden, leading her to escape the prison planet, learn about the larger galaxy, and discover new threats to sentient life.

Dune Messiah by Frank HerbertAmazonPrint – I read the Dune series in high school, and then re-read the first three books (Dune, Dune Messiah, and Children of Dune) several times in the years that followed. It’s been at least two decades since I last read any of the books, and the recent movies have me itching to return to Arrakis.

In Our Stars (The Doomed Earth, Book 1) by Jack CampbellAmazonPrint, Iceland – There no new Lost Fleet novel this year. Instead, Jack Campbell is kickoff a new series called The Doomed Earth, in which the Earth is destroyed, but the heroine is given a chance to prevent the disaster after being hurled backwards in time by its destruction. I haven’t read any of Campbell’s non-Lost Fleet books; this looks like a good place to start.

Machine Vendetta (The Prefect Dreyfus Emergencies, Book 3) by Alastair Reynolds (Author)AmazonPrint – The Prefect Dreyfus books take place in the past of Reynold’s Revelation Space universe, before it all went to hell and humanity was hunted to near-extension by interstellar wolves (ok, more like interstellar killing machines, but they call them wolves). The book takes place around Yellowstone, one of the jewels of transhumance civilization, and previous books involved threats from evolving AI and manipulative human factions. The third book features another mystery and even more dangerous conspiracies. I love Reynold’s work, so this one had to go on the reading list.

Rendezvous with Corsair: A Lost Fleet Collection (The Lost Fleet) by Jack CampbellAmazonPrint, Iceland – There’s no new Lost Feet novel this summer, but there this book, which features a bunch of short stories filling in various holes in the larger Lost Fleet galaxy. There’s also a novelization of the graphic novel Corsair, which features exploits of Alliance prisoners of war escaping from an Syndic encampment.

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett AmazonPrint – One of the first novels in the post-apocalyptic genre and a summer reading recommendation by Chris Miller (@grueproof), an overlord emeritus of the Lair of Secrets (which was built on the ruins of Overlord Miller and Overlord Kris John’s previous The Secret Lair podcast, itself constructed at the dawn of podcasting). Given that the book was released in 1955, I’m going to look for a dead tree copy at my local used book store, The Quadrant Book Mart.

The Mercy of Gods (The Captive’s War Book 1) by James S. A. CoreyAmazon (Release Date: August 6, 2024) – PrintThe Expanse is over, but the writing team that makes up James S. A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) are back with a new book. It features the Carryx, an alien hive mind species which happily conquers the galaxy … until it encounters an enemy it can’t defeat. To fight their new enemy, they turn to captive members of species its conquered (including humans), forcing them to compete against one another to better serve the Carryx. Or something like that – the blurb promises scheming, but doesn’t go overly deep into specifics.

Surface Detail (The Culture, Book 9) by Iain BanksAmazonPrint – The ninth book in the Culture series is hard to summarize, because the blurb is a little to abstract for its own good. The intro is enticing though:

It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters.

It begins with a murder.

And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself.

Surface Detail will be a bittersweet read because it’s the penultimate book in the The Culture series. As with the other books in the series, it takes place against the backdrop of The Culture, a transhuman civilization in which everyone’s needs have been met through technology, bioengineering, and self-enlightenment. Outside of that civilization, though, the galaxy is just as messy as it ever was, and not everyone appreciates The Cultures efforts to improve them.

Non-Fiction

Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John Drury ClarkAmazonPrint – I’ve been getting back into rocketry over the last few years and while I have no desire to build liquid fuel rockets (solid rocket propellent is fine for me, thank you very much) a friend recommended this to me as an entertaining read.

Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park by Andy Mulvihill and Jake RossenAmazonPrint – I grew up in New Jersey, and went to Action Park a bunch of times as kid. Action Park was as legendary as it was notorious; you could tell which kids went there over the weekend by seeing how many scabs and Band-Aids they showed up with on Monday.

The Solo Game Master’s Guide by Geek GamersModiphius StorePrint – I picked this up at GenCon 2023, started reading it, but never got to done. I’m using my 2024 reading list (and a co-op/solo hybrid Ironsworn: Starforged game) as inspiration to finish it.

Novellas

The Sins of Our Fathers (The Expanse, #9.5) by Corey S.A. James – (Amazon) – Print, Island, Pulled Forward – The final novella in The Expanse series. I never got around to reading it last year.

Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, Book 3) by Martha Wells – (Amazon) – Print, Iceland, Pulled Forward – The further adventures of a sentient killing machine who just wants to be left alone.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max GladstoneAmazonPrint – The winner of a bunch of science fiction awards, I somehow never heard of the book until a social media post about it went viral in 2023. Intrigued, I decided to add it to my list.

Graphic Novels

Hellboy: The Silver Lantern ClubAmazonPrint, Island– Stories of monster investigations, as told to Hellboy by his uncle Simon Bruttenholm, and featuring the mystery-solving Silver Lantern Club.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957AmazonPrint, Island – A new collection of Hellboy comic books, including Family Ties, Forgotten Lives, Falling Sky, Fearful Symmetry, and From Below.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: The Secret of Chesbro House & OthersAmazonPrint, Island – Another new collection of Hellboy comic books including The Secret of Chesbro House, Night of the Cyclops, Old Man Whittier, and Time is a River.

The Sixth Gun: Crossroads, Volume 2AmazonPrint – Set in an alternative 1800s, this is the continuing story of six mystical guns and the people’s attempts to claim, use, or destroy them.

Something is Killing the Children Vol. 2AmazonPrint – Volume 1 saw Erica Slaughter kill the monster threatening Archer’s Peak, a small town in Wisconsin. In Volume 2, she’s back to slay that monster’s offspring.

Previous Sci-fi and Fantasy Summer Reading Lists

  • 2023: 13 books, 2 novellas, 1 graphic novels
  • 2022: 17 books, 5 novellas, 5 graphic novels
  • 2021: 14 books, 2 novellas, 8 graphic novels
  • 2020: 10 books, 1 novella, 5 graphic novels
  • 2019: 19 books, 5 graphic novels
  • 2018: 15 books, 7 graphic novels
  • 2017: 17 books, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
  • 2016: 16 books, 1 novella, 8 graphic novels
  • 2015: 15 books, 9 graphic novels
  • 2014: 13 books, 5 graphic novels
  • 2013: 11 books, 5 graphic novels
  • 2012: 11 books, 1 graphic novels
  • 2011: 11 books, 0 graphic novels
  • 2010: 7 books, 0 graphic novels
  • 2009: 9 books, 0 graphic novels
  • 2008: 8 books, 8 graphic novels
  • 1993: 26 books

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