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10 of the Best Sci-Fi Books of Summer 2023

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Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Spaceships and apocalypses and whales, oh my! 2023 is another great year for sci-fi new releases. This summer’s selection is…wait for it…out of this world. (Sorry, not sorry.) The sky is the limit for the imaginations of these authors, that will have you rushing to mark them down on your TBR. That’s why we want to give you a heads up on some of the year’s must-read new science fiction with this post about 10 of the best sci-fi books of summer 2023!

In this fabulous list of upcoming novels, you’ll find books about contact with aliens, both friends and enemies; a close encounter of a third kind with an 80-foot whale; political machinations and conspiracies; wearable tech; space exploration; and more! There is something on this list for everyone. Whether you believe in life on other planets or not, you will be delighted and entertained.

And in addition to these exciting upcoming sci-fi books, make sure you don’t miss these amazing past 2023 releases: The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown, Ascension by Nicholas Binge, and a great nonfiction look at life elsewhere, The Possibility of Life: Science, Imagination, and Our Quest for Kinship in the Cosmos by Jaime Green. (P.S. Speaking of aliens, did you know this year marks the 30th anniversary of The X-Files???)

cover of Translation State by Ann Leckie; shades of red, orange and green with white line pattern and shadows of a triangle and a human head

Translation State by Ann Leckie (Orbit, June 6)

This is one of the most highly anticipated upcoming sci-fi books! It’s from the author of the Imperial Radch series, which won a gazillion awards, give or take. It’s about a translator, Qven, from an alien race who doesn’t want to do what their job entails. Rebelling against their fate, Qven will meet a diplomat and a mechanic, and the choices these three make will affect the whole of the universe. Based on Leckie’s previous novels, this is sure to be brilliant.

cover of The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis; cartoon illustration of marquee sign advertising the title with a cow being tractor beamed up into a spaceship behind it

The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis (Del Rey, June 27)

From one of the funniest and most delightful writers of sci-fi comes a new comedy about alien abduction. Francie’s college roommate is getting married to a UFO chaser. So it is only fitting the wedding will be in the holy land of alien activity, Roswell, New Mexico, where a UFO allegedly crashed in 1947. Francie thinks it is all a bunch of nonsense. Which makes it much harder when she’s abducted by an alien resembling a tumbleweed.

cover of The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa; illustration of a Black person standing on front of floating shapes in the sky

The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa (Gallery / Saga Press, July 11)

This is a debut space opera being recommended for fans of N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor! Who isn’t excited about that?! It’s about a tea expert who must spy on her government to help her nation secure its independence after her lover is killed and her sibling is kidnapped.

cover of The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei; multicolored swirl pattern over a starry black sky

The Deep Sky by Yume Kitasei (Flatiron Books, July 18)

This is an excellent space thriller about a mission to find a new habitable planet, and what happens when their ship is sabotaged. When an explosion knocks The Phoenix off course, the crew must figure out who is responsible — and how to get back on track. Books where humans look for a new planet because the Earth is failing should be a sci-fi sub-genre, if it isn’t already.

cover of Whalefall by Daniel Kraus; image of a whale swimming up to swallow a diver

Whalefall by Daniel Kraus (MTV Books, August 8)

This one sounds intense! It’s a race to beat the underwater clock. A diver searching for his father’s body is accidentally swallowed by an 80-foot sperm whale. He has one hour to escape the whale before his oxygen supply is depleted. Related: Did you know sperm whales have four stomachs??! Now you do!

cover of More Perfect by Temi Oh, closeup of a rainbow iris and pupil

More Perfect by Temi Oh (Gallery / Saga Press, August 15)

This is a story of augmented reality and an implant that lets people have a more complete online experience. Of course, direct access to people means the government can’t resist taking a peek… More Perfect is set in a near-future London and is a reworking of the Greek myth of Eurydice and Orpheus.

cover of The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord; image of a rainbow-hued wormhole in space

The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord (Del Rey, August 29)

From the amazing Dr. Karen Lord comes a new novel of first contact. A group of humans on the dying Earth are chosen to make first contact when aliens indicate they are ready to communicate. But one of them, a pop star, may be the key to unlocking contact with all of the universe.

YOUNG ADULT SCI-FI RELEASES

cover of The Library of Broken Worlds by Alaya Dawn Johnson; a pair of hands holding a shattering glass orb

The Library of Broken Worlds by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Scholastic Press, June 6)

Freya is the daughter of a Library god. Growing up, she spent her life exploring the many tunnels of the vast underground library. But now, to save a world ready for war, she will have to face the truth of the past hidden in the library in order to defeat a war god and secure humanity’s future.

cover of A Song of Salvation by Alechia Dow; illustration of a young Black person surrounded by swirling multicolored light

A Song of Salvation by Alechia Dow (Inkyard Press, July 11)

Zaira is the reincarnation of the god Indigo, though she doesn’t have a god’s powers. So it’s pretty unfair that the emperor still wants to sacrifice her to the god of destruction. Not up for being sacrificed, Zaira escapes and finds a grumpy pilot named Wesley, who may be fated to help her defeat the god of destruction whether he wants to or not.

cover of Under This Forgetful Sky by Lauren Yero; illustration of two teens gazing at one another from opposite corners of the cover

Under This Forgetful Sky by Lauren Yero (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, July 18)

When his father is struck with an illness, Rumi must leave his safe shelter from behind the walls of the Upper City to seek a cure. In the ruins of Paraíso, he meets a guide named Paz and sparks fly. But Paz is keeping secrets from Rumi, and as their journey continues, she will have to decide where her loyalties lie.

For more sci-fi books to add to your TBR, there’s The Most Influential Sci-Fi Books of All Time and 21 of the Best Award-Winning Sci-Fi Books. And for more science fiction reads and news, check out the SFF Yeah! podcast and sign up for our SFF newsletter Swords & Spaceships.

Can’t get enough new books? Join the club. You can find a full list of new releases in the magical New Release Index, carefully curated by your favorite Book Riot editors, organized by genre and release date.