I was asked for my year’s-best list today, which I normally postpone because, ahem, the year is not over and, ahem, I am still reading, in fact, I do my best reading during that between-holiday vacuum of the last two weeks of the year… although, let’s be honest, I’m not really reading lately, and I’m definitely not reading SF.
But that’s another matter, and I’m hoping it will straighten itself out in time and I’ll soon be back to reading all the Silverbergs (yay) and Heinleins (ugh) and everything in between.
I love year’s-best book lists, but nothing rankles me more than year’s-best lists being published too early, without even a nod to the poor, neglected books that get stuck with December publication dates. If I remember correctly, two of 2015’s most outstanding novels, Sleeping Embers of the Ordinary Mind and The Thing Itself, weren’t even released until well into December last year. It was sad.
That’s one good reason to always read a year behind: They made it on this list. Let’s give them top billing today.
Without further ado, here’s my year’s-best-(so-far…) list, because Holly’s friends and family just don’t know what to get her, and commercial media ain’t no help at all.
Best of 2015 (in order of “these covers look prettiest arranged like this”):
Caveat emptor: Look elsewhere for cheesy, plot-driven SF. Cheesy isn’t welcome here. This is the good stuff.
Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind by Anne Charnock
A subtle examination of art’s complicated present, past, and future as they intermingle in this non-linear tale.
The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts
A cosmic collage of madness, contradictions, and time travel that begins in an Antarctic research station and ends on Kant’s deathbed.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
A woman turns away from the cruelty of humanity and attempts to become something else entirely.
Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
A young girl travels to the US to locate her brother and discovers that things on the US side of the border are kind of whacked out.
The Shore by Sara Taylor
An SFnal look at the Virginia bay as generations of an eclectic family inherit strange problems and abilities.
Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson
Fractured Europe, part two, Brexit edition. (Written before the surprise Brexit, so.)
Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman
A NYC bartender is suddenly haunted by memories of a childhood alien encounter.
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
The dramas of a port-to-port circus in the flooded future earth.
Making Wolf by Tade Thompson
A man returns home and finds himself playing double agent among some of the most dangerous people from his past.
If Then by Matthew de Abaitua
How love, community, and mid-life crisis adapt in an alienating political system based on algorithms.
The Book of Pheonix by Nnedi Okorafor
A gene-mod “accelerated woman” escapes her government prison and attempts to overthrow the corrupt system that made her.
Honorable mention: Clade by James Bradley
The cozy climate-change catastrophe (that’s not so cozy). (If it didn’t remind me so much of every variation of troubled marriage lit-fic from the non-SF section, it would easily be on this list because it is quite well done.)
Books from bygone eras (in order of “this is the order in which they appeared on my Goodreads 2016 summary list, lacking any discernable pattern”):
Caveat emptor: One or two of these books might be cheesy. I like my cheese aged.
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
High-Rise by JG Ballard
Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
Kindred by Octavia E Butler
The Crystal World by JG Ballard
Doorways in the Sand by Roger Zelazny
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Missing Man by Katherine MacLean
The Affirmation by Christopher Priest
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
That’s it. I’m officially listed.