I am usually not very good at top ten lists and the like; there is always too much stuff that I haven’t seen, read, or heard. But I think that I have done a lot better than usual with new science fiction / fantasy / horror / speculative fiction than usual. So here is a list of my favorite SF published this past year. I mean “favorites” in a broad sense: there are a lot of novels I liked that go unlisted here; but I have tried to name all the new novels that really hit the spot for me in one way or another. (I should note that there are definitely some 2016 publications that are missing here because I haven’t gotten to them yet, but which I expect to like because they are, e.g., sequels to previous books I liked; e.g. N K Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate, sequel to her superb 2015 publication The Fifth Season).
Anyway, here goes. List is chronological according to when I read it. Not a ranked order, though if forced to choose, my number one would have to be Death’s End. There are brief comments, and occasional links to blog discussions.
- Tricia Sullivan – Occupy Me – Sullivan is one of our best, and most underrated, contemporary SF authors – http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=1356
- Charley Jane Anders – All the Birds in the Sky – Cute combination of dueling genres, SF and Fantasy
- Sofia Samatar – The Winged Histories – Brilliant metafantasy.
- Matthew De Abitua – The Destructives – DeAbitua is another SF writer who is underrated and insufficiently appreciated. This is a brilliant book about singularity, alien communication, and other matters. (NB: this is the first SF book for which I have been named in the acknowledgments).
- Lavie Tidhar – Central Station – Future neorealism, sort of.
- Gemma Files – Experimental Film – Weird fiction about, yes, avant-garde cinema.
- Ken MacLeod – The Corporation Wars (2 volumes: Dissidence & Insurgence) – Accelerationists versus neo-reactionaries, plus robots, a thousand years from now. Will be waiting impatiently for the final volume, which won’t be out until next summer.
- Malka Older – Infomocracy – speculative political fiction.
- Richard Kadrey, The Perdition Score – Latest entry in the Sandman Slim series, which I love.
- Yoss – Super Extra Grande – Hilarious Cuban SF, newly translated.
- Warren Ellis, Normal – The maladies of actually existing futurism.
- Nisi Shawl – Everfair – Progressive multicultural steampunk.
- Cixin Liu – Death’s End – Massively mindblowing conclusion to the Three Body Problem trilogy.
- Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Certain Dark Things – Vampires in Mexico, conflicts between tradition and neoliberalism.
- Laurie Penny – Everything Belongs to the Future – disturbingly plausible near-future dystopia; cutting-edge medical research and the police inflitration of radical activism.
- Becky Chambers – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – old-fashioned (but multiculturally updated) space opera; a bit cheesy but utterly irresistible, delicious, and adorable.
- Chris Beckett – Daughter of Eden – Conclusion to the brilliant and thought-provoking Eden trilogy. I wrote about the first volume several years ago: http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=1201
- Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning – This is stunning and altogether original; I have never read anything even remotely like it. A 25th century heterotopia with posthuman inventions, but also a culture-wide obsession with the French Enlightenment (Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Sade). Apparent economic abundance, but messy, complicated politics, strange hierarchies, and odd philosophical dilemmas. Stops basically in the middle – waiting impatiently for the sequel, due in the spring.