Best Science Fiction of the last year
January 25, 2015 12:21 AM   Subscribe

I've gotten out of the loop on recent Science Fiction writing. What are the best science fiction short stories and novels published within the last year?
posted by Artw to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 130 users marked this as a favorite
Ancillary Sword, the sequel to Anne Leckie's award-winning 2013 novel Ancillary Justice.

The Martian by Andy Weir.
posted by neushoorn at 12:43 AM on January 25, 2015 [13 favorites]

Here's the 2014 Hugo Award winners and nominees.

Honestly, I wasn't impressed with much from 2014. I liked the Ted Chiang short story, and I like Mira Grant, and Selkie Stories was great fun. I know that a lot of Mefites have some kind of love affair with Ancillary Justice and recommend it at every opportunity, but I wasn't blown away by it.

Personally, I'd recommend Ben Winters' The Last Policeman Trilogy and Ian Tregillis's Something More Than Night If you're looking for stuff that's relatively recent.
posted by doctor tough love at 12:53 AM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm going to answer this by linking to my bookblog summing up the best books I've read in 2014 but here's the digest:

Andy Weir's The Martian is smack dab in the middle of the genre, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, who has to figure out how to not die of lack of oxygen, water, food in that order to enable NASA to come and get him, which will take at least a year.

Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice/Sword books are the first in a trilogy, the next one coming out this year. Justice basically won every major sf award in the world, is noticable for using female pronouns as universal ones and is straight up post-colonial space opera.

Jacqueline Koyanagi's Ascension is from 2013, also space opera and stars a queer disabled black working class woman trying to make it as a spaceship engineer when all the smart people are moving into the future equivalent of Silicon Valley bullshit jobs.

SL Huang's Zero Sum Game & Half Life are about an amoral math savant whose abilities make her able to predict where every bullet from an AK-47 will go to and walk between them and how she learns to fake humanity.

Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon was written because she was hacked off at District 9 and set out to show what a true alien "invasion" of Africa, in this case, Lagos, could look like. It also has chapters narrated from the point of view of a spider attempting to cross a sentient, murderous asphalt road.

Tobias Buckell has been writing near future technothrillers set against his own Caribbean background for a couple of years now and Hurricane Fever is the latest one, revolving about somebody resurrecting project HARP, the one Gerald Bull was involved with before he went to Iraq.

Richard Penn's The Dark Colony is fair playing nearish future science fiction set in the Asteroid belt and revolves around a murder mystery; James Nicoll thought it was very Canadian in how it approached the problems of law enforcement when communication lag even at lightspeed runs into minutes.

Jo Walton's My Real Children could be described as a Virago Classic alternate history story, of a woman in a nursing home looking back at her life and switching between remembering two alternate sets of family.

Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem is Chinese hard science fiction that's gotten a lot of buzz last year.

Not science fiction, but Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire and Corinne Duyvis' Otherbound were the two fantasy novels I enjoyed the most this year.

Not recent, but the science fiction series anybody should read if dipping back into the genre is Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series, which at first blush looks like epic fantasy (it starts with a meet cute in a tavern, frex) but slowly turned out to be the most rigorous hard science fiction series I've read. Available in ebook form, four books so far.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:00 AM on January 25, 2015 [50 favorites]

Short story wise, I'd say you're best off looking at, the various ezines like Clarkesworld, Uncanny Tales, Apex, Lightspeed & Strange Horizons etc and see what strikes your fancy. The Lighspeed special Women Destroy Science Fiction is a good place to start.

Personally I've liked what Aliette de Bodard, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Sofia Samatar, John Chu and Thomas Olde Heuvelt, among others, have been doing.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:06 AM on January 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Personally, I'd recommend Ben Winters' The Last Policeman Trilogy and Ian Tregillis's Something More Than Night If you're looking for stuff that's relatively recent.

Strongly seconding each of these -- I know some MeFites think the Milkweed Triptych (Tregillis) fell off at the end, but they're nuts; and The Last Policeman is the best of its (admittedly small) genre to come down the pike in a long, long time.

Also, Peter Clines' Ex-Heroes series is described as "the Avengers meets the Walking Dead," and it is exactly as awesome as you think that would be. If you like that sort of thing, then it is the sort of thing you will really like. Also in the superhero vein, The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett isn't new, but I discovered it at the end of 2014, so I'll allow it.
posted by Etrigan at 6:20 AM on January 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding Ancillary Sword. I loved it even more than I loved Ancillary Justice.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:27 AM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not sure we count literary writer genre crossers, but I liked Strange Bodies a lot.
posted by deathpanels at 6:49 AM on January 25, 2015

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I'm honesty surprised that no one else has mentioned it yet.
posted by kyrademon at 7:06 AM on January 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

I'd also recommend The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. I'm not sure everyone would classify it as science fiction, but I would.

(And since it's been mentioned, I will throw in a loud second in support of MartinWisse's recommendation of Rosemary Kirstein's Steerswoman series, one of the best sf series out there and one that should be *far* better known than it is.)
posted by kyrademon at 7:17 AM on January 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword. The Last Policeman books were good, though they didn't (perhaps couldn't) live up to the first one. My Real Children is alt-history, if that counts as science fiction; it was fantastic until the last chapter which was so stupid I have no words for it.

VE Schwab wrote Vicious -- a little out of the time range, but really good. It's a superhero story, if that counts.

Something really appealed to me in the short story anthology Help Fund My Robot Army!

If you're willing to read fantasy, City of Stairs and Full Fathom Five were both excellent. The Skyscraper Throne trilogy, closer to fantasy than to SF, was excellent and finished in 2014. T Kingfisher's stuff is all fantasy and fairy tales, but great (aka Ursula Vernon).
posted by jeather at 7:44 AM on January 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sockdolager (an online publisher) got some love on the blue recently. I enjoyed the latest set of stories, including one from MeFi's own The Whelk.
posted by spacewrench at 8:13 AM on January 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've only read a fraction of these, but based on notes I've kept throughout the year, here's my mental map of what was interesting and/or Kind of a Big Deal in SF/F in 2014. Some may be worthy of disrecommendations, but if you've been out of the loop, that's part of the conversation too.

Standalone and/or or first book in a series:

Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor
Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs
M.R. Carey, The Girl With All the Gifts
Sebastien de Castell, Traitor’s Blade
Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things
William Gibson, The Peripheral
Daryl Gregory, Afterparty
Daryl Gregory, We Are All Completely Fine
Nick Harkaway, Tigerman
Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician
Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire
Zachary Jernigan, No Return
Robert Kroese, Starship Grifters
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks
Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
John Scalzi, Lock In
Brian Staveley, The Emperor’s Blades
Daniel Suarez, Influx
John Twelve Hawks, Spark
Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy)
Andy Weir, The Martian (a 2012 release for Hugo purposes)


R. S. Belcher, The Shotgun Arcana
Peter V. Brett, Messenger’s Legacy
Steven Brust, Hawk
James S.A. Corey, Cibola Burn
Lev Grossman, The Magician’s Land
Robin Hobb, Fool’s Assassin
Jonathan L. Howard, The Brothers Cabal
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword
Brian McClellan, The Crimson Campaign
Hannu Rajaniemi, The Causal Angel
Patrick Rothfuss, The Slow Regard of Silent Things
Anthony Ryan, Tower Lord
Marcus Sakey, A Better World
Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance
Charles Stross, The Rhesus Chart
Peter Watts, Echopraxia
Brent Weeks, The Broken Eye
Martha Wells, Stories of the Raksura
Django Wexler, The Shadow Throne
Ben Winters, World of Trouble
Chris Wooding, The Ace Of Skulls (UK 2013)

YA / Middle Grade (including sequels, because I don't hear as much about these):

Joe Abercrombie, Half a King
Lou Anders, Frostborn
Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising
Pierce Brown, Red Rising
Marie Lu, The Young Elites
Sarah J. Maas, The Assassin’s Blade
Tahereh Mafi, Ignite Me
Garth Nix, Clariel
Jonathan Stroud, Lockwood & Co.: The Whispering Skull
Leslye Walton, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Related Works:

Colin Adams, Zombies and Calculus
Charles Adler, Wizards, Aliens, and Starships: Physics and Math in Fantasy and Science Fiction
Jennifer Brozek (et al.), Chicks Dig Gaming
Jim C. Hines, Rise of the Spider Goddess (for the annotations)
Terry Pratchett, A Slip of the Keyboard
Jo Walton, What Makes This Book So Great

Comics / Graphic Novels:

Bitch Planet
Locke & Key
Ms. Marvel
Rat Queens
Sex Criminals
The Wicked + the Divine


Samuel R. Delany, The American Shore: Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch – "Angouleme"
John James, Fantasy Masterworks omnibus of Votan and Other Novels
Garry Kilworth, SF Gateway omnibus of the Navigator Kings trilogy
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:44 AM on January 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

The OP did mention short stores. And for those, I recommend done of the podcasting sites out there. Lightspeed and Tor.chin have been mentioned already. I also recommend Escape Pod and Podcastle, along with ClarksWorld, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Starship Sofa, and Strange Horizons. That collection of sites should give you enough material to see what's going on in the field, and fairly quickly filter out stories and authors you don't like.
posted by happyroach at 7:07 PM on January 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this thread, combined with the relatively low cost and instant gratification of Kindle books, is fantastic for getting new SF, or horrible for extending my reading list, which was already fairly unmanageable.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:51 AM on January 26, 2015

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