14. Conservation of Shadows, by Yoon Ha Lee
Why it made the list: If you want to truly run the gamut of incredible short stories then you need to look no further than Yoon Ha Lee’s Conservation of Shadows. Interested in the technical aspects of origami? Want to read about a doomed space fleet that hurtles itself into a black hole? The incredible breadth and beautiful prose will keep you reading with no story replicating the same feeling.
Read if you like: mathematics, boggling tone shift and literature that keeps you up at night thinking.
13. Abaddon’s Gate, by James S.A. Corey
Why it made the list: Take any large space fight scene from Star Wars and magnify it by 100x and you have Abaddon’s Gate a book which places ordinary (read: not powerful) in extraordinary circumstances.
Read if you like: space opera, ships that resemble the Millenium Falcon and explosions.
12. The Daedulus Incident, by Michael J. Martinez
Why it made the list: 18th century airships that can fly through space, Mars mining stations and a book that can write itself. Martinez take the kitchen sink of both science fiction and fantasy and throws it ALL into his novel with great success. Genre bending often come at great peril, but Martinez pulls it off with an assurance that makes all the pieces slot together perfectly.
Read if you like: flying the Final Fantasy airship, Horatio Hornblower or Patrick O’Brian, mining Mars for all its sweet, sweet minerals.
11. Necessary Evil, by Ian Tregillis
Why it made the list: Nazi superheroes turned Soviet Superheroes battle English Warlocks and flip the cold war on its head. These were the elements that made up the first two books of Ian Tregillis’ Milkweed Triptych. Now go ahead and add some time travel, a return to the scene of Bitter Seeds (the first novel in the series) and some creatures that make Cthuhhu look like a lightweight and you have one hell of a read.
Read if you like: spies, supervillains and world devouring threats to Earth.
10. Great North Road, by Peter F. Hamilton
Why it made the list: Hamilton’s works are vast in scope and Great North Road is no exception. However, Hamilton does a clever job of leading the reader to expect a certain sequence of events only to have the novel completely shift in unexpected directions. It’s part murder mystery, part space opera, part corporate commentary and all good.
Read if you like: clones, murder mysteries and grand epics.
9. Data Runner, by Sam A. Patel
Why it made the list: One always wants a bit more Neuromancer in one’s life, but it never seems to happen. Patel’s Data Runner hits that missing sweet spot with his story about a future world where even the internet is owned (yikes) and companies employ “data runners” to transport valuable information.
Read if you like: parkour (there is a lot of it), patsies and pseudo-Yakuza hitmen.
8. Parasite, by Mira Grant
Why it made the list: Imagine a world where everyone had a tapeworm implanted in them capable of healing the most dire of injuries. Now imagine that those tapeworms were sentient and not happy playing second fiddle to your puny human brain. Is your skin crawling yet?
Read if you like: medical horror, conspiracy theories and the scene in Star Trek II where Khan puts an eel in someone’s head to gain control of them.
7. American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett
Why it made the list: Small towns being plagued by unnatural events is a motif familiar in many works of science fiction. However, the sheer unnerving horror that Bennett delivers in his scenes makes American Elsewhere a must read for those who remain averse to moving to the suburbs because they know their neighbor must be something else.
Read if you like: Living in the big city, weird small towns you drive through at 2AM and having a pervading fear of your weirdo neighbors.
6. Terms of Enlistment, by Marko Kloos
Why it made the list: Military science fiction is tricky because it either intends to lampoon the military industrial complex or paints it in such a way that you must really have to love guns to enjoy the work. Terms of Enlistment walks that fine line by showing a world where the military is one of the few viable options off a shattered Earth and intermixes it with a knowledge of military tactics and and weapons that doesn’t turn off the casual reader.
Read if you like: basic training, dystopian Detroit, funny names for grenades.
5. The Best of All Possible Worlds, by Karen Lord
Why it made the list: Romance. Pure and simple, it is hard to find a well developed romance in science fiction that isn’t the basic smashing together of two characters. Lord develops a relationship between two characters that feels real (and incredibly hot) as an alien races shakes off the effects of a near genocide to find new pathways to survival.
Read if you like: neck hickies, bio-genetics and hand holding in deepest darkest space.
4. Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
Why it made the list: No one this year took on a grander vision than Ann Lecke as she questioned empire, the idea of self and the need for vengeance. Take into account that this is a debut novel and you will be truly astounded at how Lecke has fully fleshed out a universe and is asking and attempting to answer the difficult questions that many authors never even address in science fiction
Read if you like: stunning debuts, artificial intelligence, empire building.
3. MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood
Why it made the list: The completion of Margaret Atwood’s apocalyptic trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake ends in glorious fashion in MaddAddam. Atwood’s prose is as sharp and satirical as ever and it you want to see humanity brought to its knees for its transgressions against nature then this book is for you. Mind you, it’s not a sympathetic book, so for those looking to read about humanity’s redemptive qualities, you have been forewarned.
Read if you like: complaining about chores, humanity getting its just comeuppance and mad scientists.
2. Trancendental, by James Gunn
Why it made the list: In reality, space is an extremely unpleasant place. It’s cramped, grey and boring. Gunn brings the realities of space alive and creates a science fiction Canterbury Tales of the experience, binding together the stories of different alien species and asking the question of why we keep exploring even past the point of no return.
Read if you like: pilgrimage, complex alien societal values and a great author’s possible swan song.
1. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold
Why it made the list: I’m going to break it gently to everyone who finished the the Wheel of Time this year….Lois McMaster Bujold released the first book of the Vorkosigan Saga in 1986 and after two Hugo awards (this book too is nominated for the Hugo) is still going strong. Each book is better than the last and with Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Bujold take a well loved comic relief character from the earlier novels and makes him the protagonist but keeps all his lovable character traits intact. The book is a romp in the best possible meaning of the word and Bujold is a treasure of the science fiction community.
Read if you like: romantic farce, bumbling heroes, working a cubicle job.