Your Favorite SFF From The Past 12 Months?

So, given all the Hugo hullabaloo this year, let’s hunker down and return to center and simply talk about awesome books by authors you dig.

This is pretty simple: drop into the comments, talk about one book you liked from the science-fiction or fantasy genres — the qualifications must be that the book had to have been released in (I know this isn’t the precise awards timeframe) the last 12 months.

Tell us what it is.

Tell us who wrote it.

Tell us why you love it so.

Forget sanctioned awards right now and just talk about the awards show that goes on and on inside your heart. (The awards show inside my heart is hosted by a Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, FYI. Unless I’m hungry, in which case it’s hosted by a sentient ham sandwich.)

99 responses to “Your Favorite SFF From The Past 12 Months?”

  1. Wait! I may need to change my answer. Do Bill O’Relly’s historical books count as fantasy?

  2. I’m gonna cheat just a little, because Goodreads makes it so easy. 🙂

    Last year was something of an “off” year for me, in that I only read 105 books instead of my historically typical 150 or so. I also have quite a large backlog; I could probably swear off acquiring new books for the next decade without running out of things to read in that time. This tends to skew my annual reading lists in two ways: the books tend to be older, and my ratings tend to be higher – because what I read has essentially gone through at least two selection passes by the time I reach it.

    With that in mind, I rated six books “five stars” last year. All but one were published in 2014. In no particular order, the remaining five are:

    Seanan McGuire, Sparrow Hill Lane.
    Robert Kroese, Starship Grifters.
    Jim Butcher, Skin Game.
    C.E. Murphy, Shaman Rises.
    Kim Harrison, The Witch with No Name.

    They’re all series books, and two of them are series-ending books. I love what Seanan’s done with urban legends and the world of ghosts; if I have to pick just one of those five, that’d have to be the one.

    That said, I was richly amused last night, and since the book is currently on sale ($1.99!), I feel obliged to share. Viola Carr’s kicked off a new series, “Electric Empire,” that stars Eliza Jekyll – Henry’s daughter, a doctor in her own right, who happens to share a body with Lizzie Hyde in a steampunkish magical London. There are some neat Easter eggs in there, but the one I was most entertained by was accidental – at least, so Ms. Carr claims on Twitter. Observe this paragraph:

    “A pair of horses bucked, snapping their traces with no one to calm them. A parked electric carriage crackled bright with over-voltage, and bang! the coil exploded, blue current arcing over its metal frame. Above distant rooftops, forked lightning struck the new clock tower on the Palace of Westminster, setting it alight.”

    I don’t know for sure that the time was 10:04 PM, but I do know that the paragraph is 88% of the way through the book and someone’s about to conduct a weather experiment. Total win. 🙂

    • As I recall, it got bonus points from me for certain in-jokes. My very short review is at – for what it’s worth.

      As a postscript, some of the author’s behavior has since tainted my original enjoyment of the book. I am much less motivated now to seek out new works in that series. That’s me, though; I’m not making “stay away” motions. I also own some of his other work, such as Disenchanted, and will point out that his Kickstarter for two sequels to that – see – is in its final hours. (This is me trying to be fair about voicing opinions.)

  3. I must admit a love affair with Brent Weeks’ “The broken Eye”. His Lightbringer series is my favourite SFF series in years. It manages to make me do I always seek to do whenever I pick up a book (and do so rarely, apparently): fall in love. Not romantic love, just a love for a characters that makes me care what happens to them and miss them when I close the book.

  4. Another vote for VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. Great genre writing.

    Helen Marshall’s collection Gifts For The One Who Comes After is like a private genre-lover’s party.

    Bird Box by Josh Malerman. Creepy creepy creepy.

    Stephen Graham Jones’ collection After The People Lights Have Gone Off.

    Lauren Beukes’ Broken Monsters.

  5. I absolutely loved GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan. YA SF on a spaceship with another spaceship stealing kids and killing the adults on the first ship. A separation of faith vs no faith between ships. Great worldbuilding and characters. It’s easy to be on the ship with the MC.

    Another I loved was ICONS by Margaret Stohl. Alien overlords on Earth? Yes, please!

  6. I have not read a book in the last 12 months that has come out in the last decade. I can not afford to acquire my preferred reading materials without them being second hand or resorting unethical methods. I refuse to do the later and it leaves me a little unsure as to what to comment beyond that I will note the other comments as recommendation of books to keep an eye out for.

  7. Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs. I have an ongoing book exchange with a good friend and when I finished this, I thought I should give it to her immediately because she’d love it. Then I thought no, I was going to read the first (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) again and then read Hollow City again and then maybe repeat until the third comes out.

  8. Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, was released on 1 April last year. A few days short of “this year”, but I’m listing it anyway.

    In a year when a lot of books were still bleak, dystopian things, The Goblin Emperor was a book of hope.

    And yet, I cried all the way through it.

    • I fell madly in love with “The Goblin Emperor” within pages. I’m sad there’s not more of it.

      I’ve been describing it as “compassion porn”. A young man, suddenly and unexpectedly, finds himself inheriting a vast empire.

      He wants to be good, to be kind, to do the best things for everybody – both the abstract masses below him and the hurting individuals around him. But he’s also keenly and cannily aware that he’s suddenly an elephant in an antique shop – he has to act with care when he can, and not at all when he can’t, because he knows that every little thing he does will have secondary and tertiary effects out to the horizon.

  9. I’m not a huge science fiction reader (I read/write non-fiction). I read Ready Player One and enjoyed it. If you were speaking to someone like me, what would you recommend after that one… I feel a rabbit hole opening up here! 😉

  10. I’ll add my voice to the many in favor of the Southern Reach trilogy. Weird in the best possible way. The other one I recommend to anyone who will listen is The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu. In short fiction, I dug Robert Reed’s “Pernicious Romance” in Clarkesworld, for many of the same reasons I loved Southern Reach. Such a great, odd story.

  11. My choice is Twell and The Rebellion by Kate O’Leary. A YA dystopian novel that has so much going on it’s crazy. Aliens, teens with supernatural powers, a corrupt dystopian government, war, a love triangle, rebellion, and so much more. It sounds like it would be a big mess, but Kate O’Leary pulls it off perfectly. If you’re a fan of the genre, I highly recommend this book, though since it’s the second in the series I’d suggest you start with the first book, Twell and The Army Of Powers.

  12. I’ve recommended The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey to several people, but the book I’ve purchased multiple copies of and given away is Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. Yes, yes, I know, it’s a week out of the 12 month window, but this is one rule I’m happy to break. I loved this book with all the love in my heart and when I finished it, in tears, I did something I haven’t done before as an adult, and turned back to page one and started again.

    It’s an amazingly sweet novel, full of echoes that hint at larger, older stories, that nonetheless kept me fully engaged in the present moment of the book. There wasn’t a single misstep in the politics, the fighting or the relationships and did I mention the sweetness? The title character is my favorite since Sam, Merry and Pippin and if I read The Goblin Emperor a few more times I might actually be able to start GRRM’s latest doorstop, as I’ll be inoculated against the worst of the horrors.

    • I, too, loved this book. I read it in one sitting — drawn ever deeper into the story by the pacing of the reveals and the bravery (and, yes, the sweetness) of the protagonist.

      Just like “World War Z” is my go-to book for studying voice, this book will become my standard for pacing.

    • I keep meaning to read that, but it would be so hard for cyberpunk to work on me without it being Gibson. If that makes sense?

  13. My SF pick is The Martian by Andy Weir. Self-published in 2011 but re-released by Crown in 2014. A celebration of man vs every techno glitch imaginable. Someone else called it Robinson Crusoe meets Apollo 13. Smart, gripping and for those who like their technology real and close-up, a true gift.

  14. “Crown of Renewal” by Elizabeth Moon. It wraps up her Paladin’s Legacy series perfectly (I think). Characters I have rooted for over the course of decades were ended or set on other life paths in ways that arose naturally from the events and their characters.

    I like that Moon writes the gods/saints as having senses of humor when interacting with mortals. Leader of the thieves’ guild turns paladin? Excellent.

    And dragons? The way Moon writes sentient dragons has spoiled me for most other interpretations (except perhaps Patricia Wrede’s “Dealing with Dragons” series, which takes an entirely different tangent).

    As soon as I found this book was out, I purchased it on my kindle — no waiting for shipping, no driving to the mall. And I finished it that night, reading in the bathroom with the door closed, so the light from the kindle wouldn’t keep my husband awake.

  15. So how do you folks keep up with the latest SF/F books anyways? Goodreads? The newest series I blind-bought was “Gallow” by Nathan Hawke from 2013.

  16. Chimpanzee, A Novel by Darin Bradley. It’s one of the most plausible distopias I’ve ever come across, with a lot of philosophical meat on the bones. Also, a functional marriage is the central relationship, for a change of pace. Great book.

  17. CLARIEL by Garth Nix…young adult/new adult/justplainadult fantasy. He wrote it as a prequel to his more well known series. CLARIEL is the story of a minor villain from the original series. And it’s awesome. I liked it because I really couldn’t see the link between the “original” Clariel character and the villain from the later series I really love. I like introverted protagonists, so there was that as well. Sorcery. Scary creatures. Dragon-like beings. Crypts and creepiness. Also, asexual representation. Which is really rare.

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