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Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for July and August 2023


Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for July and August 2023

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Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for July and August 2023


Published on July 7, 2023


As we get deeper into summer, the titles on offer from various indie presses take an interesting turn. Looking over the books on this list, one can see everything from surreal and phantasmagorical journeys into the weird to lost classics of the uncanny. Short story collections touch on everything from the inner lives of mecha to the world-altering powers of storytelling. Here are some notable works of speculative fiction due out on independent presses over the next two months; perhaps you’ll find your perfect summer read here.


File Under: Isolation and Hauntings

Scott Adlerberg’s fiction to date has covered plenty of ground, from psychological examinations of tortured souls to thrilling immersions in Caribbean history. His latest novel, The Screaming Child, takes him further into the uncanny, focusing on a writer whose research project takes a bizarre turn when she begins hearing something impossible in the distance. (The title might give you a clue as to what that might be.) It’s a compelling addition to an impressive bibliography. (Ghoulish Books; July 11, 2023)

If your streaming viewing habits include a lot of international productions, you might already be familiar with Netflix’s adaptation of Yana Vagner’s novel To the Lake, here translated by Maria Wiltshire. The novel follows a couple contending with a pandemic in Russia, and their attempts to stay isolated and alive as the society around them breaks down. (Deep Vellum; July 18, 2023)

Perhaps a foray into a 19th-century haunted house is more your speed? Rachilde’s 1895 novel The Princess of Darkness, via Brian Stableford’s translation, tells the story of characters trying to endure both a curse and a haunted house. The story of its author’s life is also fascinating—her novel Monsieur Venus was controversial, eventually leading to an obscenity trial. A critical study of Rachilde’s work, titled Rachilde: Decadence, Gender and the Woman Writer, gives a sense of some of her areas of interest. (Snuggly Press; August 1, 2023)


File Under: Water and Its Absence

Last year, I wrote about Chris McKinney’s novel Midnight, Water City in these pages, and found it to be a compelling hybrid of science fiction and crime procedural, set in a futuristic city below the surface of the ocean. Now, McKinney has returned to that setting with a new book, Eventide, Water City, which returns to that setting a few years later; the third book in the trilogy is due out later this year. (Soho Press; July 2023)

The journalist as hero has a long fictional lineage, and it’s a motif that comes up again in Babak Lakghomi’s new book South. Here, the protagonist has been sent to a totalitarian state in the desert to investigate a recent labor action. Things take a turn for the strange from there, bringing together a pervasive sense of surveillance with elements that verge into the surreal. (Dundurn Press; August 15, 2023)

Most novels do not come complete with blurbs from Jean-Michel Cousteau; the underwater setting of James Sturz’s Underjungle, or Sturz’s many years spent reporting on oceanic issues, might help explain why Sturz’s novel does. Underjungle is peopled by a species of sentient, ocean-bound life forms, and takes a philosophical turn as its characters discover a mysterious intrusion into their world, with unnerving implications. (Unnamed Press; August 1, 2023)


File Under: Collections and Anthologies

The writings of Angolan author José Eduardo Agualusa have earned plenty of acclaim over the years, both for their subject matter and their stylistic range. Both are on display in the collection A Practical Guide to Levitation, translated by Daniel Hahn. Here, he takes a surrealist approach to storytelling, exploring the ways in which stories can change the world around them—sometimes literally. (Archipelago; August 1, 2023)

Do you enjoy your fiction teeming with ghosts? If so, might I suggest Rebecca Turkewitz’s collection Here in the Night, with a numerically appropriate 13 stories of hauntings both literal and metaphorical. One of the stories recently appeared on Electric Literature, and it achieves a combination of lived-in realism and phantasmagorical imagery—no small feat. (Black Lawrence Press; July 21, 2023)

An all-caps title, you say? I’m intrigued. I’ll also be honest: the publisher’s description of Cleo Qian’s LET’S GO LET’S GO LET’S GO had my interest piqued the moment I saw the phrase “supernatural karaoke machine.” I will die on the hill that weird and speculative fiction would benefit from the addition of more karaoke—and I’m glad this book is adding to that milieu. (Tin House; August 15, 2023)

Speaking of books that got my attention: Luminescent Machinations: Queer Tales of Monumental Invention, an anthology edited by Rhiannon Rasmussen and dave ring, caught my eye when it was first on Kickstarter a while back. As per the publisher, the stories within explore “the limits of machinery, the fragility and power of queer bodies, and mecha in all their forms.” Contributors include Violet Allen, Brendan Williams-Childs, and Iori Kusano. (Neon Hemlock; July 25, 2023)


File Under: The Hallucinatory and Ecstatic

Oh God, the Sun Goes, the first novel from David Connor, has an especially impressive hook: one day, the sun vanishes from the sky. Things get weirder from there, evidently, as this novel’s narrator begins crossing the southwestern U.S. There’s a long history of SFF where the apocalyptic turns dreamlike (early J.G. Ballard, Jonathan Lethem’s Amnesia Moon), and it’ll be interesting to see where this novel fits in. (Melville House; August 2023)

Things get dystopian in Kate Kelly’s new fantasy novel The Meadowlands, set in a near-future version of our world and a more idyllic parallel universe that this novel’s characters are able to access. In telling this story, Kelly addresses ecological concerns and ponders methods of living in greater balance with the natural world. (Inanna Publications; July 18, 2023)

Some speculative narratives can be described as “dreamlike,” while others literally wrestle with the stuff of dreams. It’s into this latter category that Rebekah Bergman’s novel The Museum of Human History falls. Bergman’s book tells the story of a girl who falls into a dreamlike state for years, never aging as she does so, and explores the ways this affects the people around her and the larger world. (Tin House; August 1, 2023)

What happens when a new religion arises in the eastern stretch of Texas? In Vincent James’s novel Acacia, a Book of Wonders, there’s a very simple answer: things get weird. James’s novel chronicles the conflicts that arise between several mystically-minded religious leaders, and the surreal imagery and occurrences that come in their wake. (Texas Review Press; July 21, 2023)


reel-thumbnailTobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. He is the author of the short story collection Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and the novel Reel (Rare Bird Books).

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Tobias Carroll


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