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Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for July and August 2024


Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for July and August 2024

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Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for July and August 2024

This season's indie press titles include bizarre cults, bird-free futures, and travel to alternate dimensions...


Published on July 3, 2024

Collection of 22 SFF indie press titles publishing summer 2024

What do July and August have in store for us? If forthcoming books on indie presses are any indication, bizarre cults, bird-free futures, and travel to alternate dimensions are all on the menu. As we make our way into the back half of 2024, here’s a look at a number of books due out on independent presses, from cutting-edge fiction to new editions of cult classics. 

File Under: Apocalyptic

Readers who savor the art of the short novel are probably well-acquainted with César Aira, whose work encompasses everything from ghost stories to tales of literary obsession. His latest, Festival & Game of the Worlds—translated by Katherine Silver—includes two novellas, one of which is set in the future and finds Aira riffing on video games and the perils of machine learning. (New Directions; July 23, 2024)

There are plenty of ways to tell a post-apocalyptic story, from zeroing in on the people responsible for the devastation to exploring the new alliances that arise in a transformed landscape. Joel Dane’s novel The Ragpicker opts for a different approach: focusing on the signals and artifacts left behind from the previous world, as well as the people who encounter and interpret them. (Meerkat Press; July 23, 2024)

“The book concerns home in a variety of ways, from exploring non-traditional friendships and kinships and families to thinking through questions of belonging as it relates to the world, to one’s nation, to one’s town, to one’s household,” said  Lindsey Drager in a recent interview about her novel The Avian Hourglass. Drager’s previous work has been nominated for Shirley Jackson and Lambda LGBTQ Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Awards; this new novel, set in a world where birds and stars have vanished, looks to be a memorable addition to a surreal bibliography. (Dzanc Books; Aug. 23, 2024)

In 1920, in the aftermath of his time in the British Army during World War I, Edward Shanks published his novel The People of the Ruins. This new edition, complete with an introduction by Paul Marsh-Russell, introduces new readers to Shanks’s tale of a present-day man who finds himself 150 years in the future where technology and society have regressed. (MIT Press/Radium Age; Aug. 6, 2024)

File Under: Atmospheric

In 2021, Alex Brown hailed the “unconventional narrative structures” of a short story by Alisa Alering. If the publisher’s description of their novel Smothermoss is any indication, there should be a lot more juxtaposition of the familiar and unexpected. This one’s set in an uncanny version of Appalachia in the 1980s, one where everyday concerns coexist with the inexplicable. (Tin House; July 16, 2024)

It’s a big year for fans of Brian Evenson’s disquieting fiction, as he’ll also have a new collection out this fall. This summer also brings with it a new edition of his novel Dark Property, which is subtitled “an affliction” and, as per the author’s own website, involves “a mysterious resurrection cult.” Prepare to shudder. (Black Square Editions; July 1, 2024)

A decade after the publication of his acclaimed debut The Currency of Paper, Alex Kovacs has returned with a new novel, Sexology. It’s the story of an unconventional family whose childhood experiences lead them to strange and unforeseen spaces, with psychic abilities playing a role. It’s a very different way of taking big ideas and using them to explore elements of society.  (Dalkey Archive Press; July 2, 2024)

Each of Eugene Lim’s novels has borne readers and characters alike to some unexpected and fantastical spaces, some more overtly than others. His debut novel Fog & Car is being reissued this summer, and its tale of the aftermath of a divorce, in which its characters’ lives grow increasingly bizarre, demonstrates Lim’s skill at evoking the quotidian and the evocative. Plus there’s a Renee Gladman introduction, which is always welcome. (Coffee House Press; July 16, 2024)

File Under: Conspiratorial

Publisher New Directions describes Juan Emar’s collection Ten (translated by Megan McDowell) using a few intriguing descriptions, including references to a “demonic gemstone” and a taxidermied bird that returns to life. Emar hasn’t been available in English translation for very long, but this Alejandro Zambra essay provides a good overview of why his work might be of interest. (New Directions; Aug. 13, 2024)

Do you enjoy your fiction with a touch of the Gothic? Harriet Lee’s 1801 novel Kruitzner certainly fits the bill, with an air of mystery suffusing the book’s plot and various characters reckoning with sinister schemes and the unrest that comes from exile. If you’re looking for an additional Gothic point in this book’s favor, know this: Lord Byron was a fan. (Sublunary Editions; July 19, 2024)

There’s a grand tradition of fantastical literature in which dreams turn out to be… more than just dreams. It’s in that tradition that Ryan Elizabeth Penske’s novel The Dreamers can be found. Penske’s novel follows a quartet of people with uncanny abilities related to dreams and the mysterious force that’s trapped them in a sinister location. (Rare Bird; Aug. 13, 2024)

There’s a transgressive charge that runs through Michael J. Seidlinger’s new novel The Body Harvest. It’s a story about an unlikely duo who find themselves inexorably drawn towards infecting themselves with potentially fatal viruses. You might read that and shudder; the novel itself is unsettling in the best possible way, reminiscent of the work of J.G. Ballard and Dennis Cooper. (CLASH Books; July 23, 2024)

File Under: Epistemic

The new collection Glass is Ivy Grimes’s second book released this year, following the novella Star Shapes. This new collection chronicles characters’ travails in both realistic and mythic settings; there’s also another visual and tactile element that recurs throughout the collection, and you can probably guess what it is from the book’s title. (Grimscribe Press; Aug. 23, 2024)

Daniel Braun compared some of the stories in Elad Haber’s The World Outside to the works of Angels Carter, so that’s a good way to pique my interest. Haber’s fiction runs the gamut from revisiting the raw stuff of fairy tales to using the apocalyptic as a kind of parable. That sounds like a recipe for an ambitious and compelling collection. (Underland Press; July 16, 2024)

What happens when portal stories and political theory converge? That’s the concept at the center of Pam Jones’s novel Animalia, about a group of young people who travel to another dimension where the environment is more primal and the society’s residents get in touch with nature in unexpected ways. (Spaceboy Books; July 31, 2024)

Joanna Russ’s 1980 novel On Strike Against God is something of a departure from her usual writing—including the fact that it finds her working in a more realistic mode than the bulk of her other fiction. Writing about this book in these pages in 2011, Lee Mandelo said, “it’s eminently quotable, and it captures quite a lot of authentic emotion, which is valuable fictionally and personally.” This new edition also features an interview with Samuel R. Delany. (Feminist Press; July 23, 2024)

File Under: Horrific

In a 2021 interview with Gwendolyn Kiste, Rick Claypool said, “I always sort of have one foot in the like, weird speculative fiction camp and one foot in the offbeat literary camp.” His new novel Skull Slime Tentacle Witch War is his latest foray into fiction, and includes a character who can literally vomit knives. As intriguing details go, that’s especially so. (Anxiety Press; July 1, 2024)

The fundraiser for editors Vaughn A. Jackson and Stephanie Pearre’s anthology Beyond the Bounds of Infinity described it as “an anthology of cosmic horror and weird fiction populated with stories written entirely by people from marginalized groups.” The editors added, “we want to bring forth stories that would make H.P. Lovecraft roll over in his grave.” The lineup for this includes contributions by S.A. Cosby and Mary SanGiovanni. (Raw Dog Screaming Press; August 2024)

Scott R. Jones’s unsettling brand of cosmic horror has been appreciated in these pages before. This summer brings with it a new novel, Drill, which involves a plan to do away with a deity. A recent review at 3:AM called this “a curse masquerading as a novel,” which is a thoroughly enticing comparison.  (Word Horde; August 2024)

File Under: Otherworldly

Kirkus’s review of Richard Kelly Kemick’s new collection Hello, Horse made comparisons to “George Saunders and the slackers from Wayne’s World,” which is an intriguing combination. These stories include a number of strange visions of the not-so-distant future—and throw some ghosts into the mix as well. (Biblioasis; Aug. 6, 2024)

Ghost hunters and bizarre creatures with paranormal abilities are among the characters you’ll encounter in the stories within Lena Valencia’s collection Mystery Nights. Valencia’s fiction often ventures to desert landscapes, illustrating the strange and fantastical goings-on that take place there. (Tin House; Aug. 6, 2024)

Even when they don’t completely cross over into the fantastical, Joy Williams’s fiction often trafficks in the surreal and inexplicable. And when Williams does veer into the more uncanny of folkloric—consider The Changeling—the results are especially memorable. As for her new collection Concerning the Future of Souls, that one has the Angel of Death at its core; things are about to get very metaphysical. (Tin House; July 2, 2024)


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Tobias Carroll


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