2018 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2018-published works, which people have read and recommend to other Filers.

There will be no tallying of recommendations done in this thread; its purpose is to provide a source of recommendations for people who want to find something to read which will be Hugo-eligible next year.

You don’t have to stop recommending works in Pixel Scrolls, please don’t! But it would be nice if you also post here, to capture the information for other readers.

The Suggested Format for posts is:

  • Title, Author, Published by / Published in (Anthology, Collection, Website, or Magazine + Issue)
  • Hugo Category: (Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, Graphic Novel, etc)
  • link (if available to read/view online)
  • optional “Brief, spoiler-free description of story premise:”
  • optional “What I liked and didn’t like about it:”
  • (Please rot-13 any spoilers.)

There is a permalink to this thread in the blog header.

305 thoughts on “2018 Recommended SF/F List

  1. I Nth the recommendation for Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, published by Tor.com. The audiobook was splendid; Kevin R. Free’s narration was, as before, pitch perfect for Murderbot and its pesky humans. 😉

    Since this is a series of four novellas (series to continue via novels, yay!), I expect to nominate one (if I have a lot of novella contenders) or more than one of them from this year.

    The “work in parts” rule (IMHO for something actually serialized, e.g., in a magazine) is up there with Best Related Work as “Kendall’s least favorite Hugo rules.” 😉 Wells didn’t write a novel that was published in parts, unlike, e.g., Stross’s original 2 “Merchant Princes” novels, which was literally a single novel they split into two for publishing; Wells wrote a novella, then wrote sequels. Thus I see it as 4 works – not a single work that was published in 4 parts. But as usual, YMMV.

    No one will ever convince me the “Wheel of Time” is a single novel. 😛 That was a last-ditch effort by WoT fans to nominate it since no novels in the series had been nominated, there was no Best Series category at the time, and there is this loophole in the rules. Next people will nominate related short stories as if they were a single novella. Gak.

    YMMV, etc. Sorry for my late comment; I swear I didn’t get some of the e-mail notices on this thread. But I got others, so maybe it’s me, not WordPress!

  2. Novellas from Beneath Ceaseless Skies issue 261
    Shadowdrop by Chris Willrich and We Ragged Few by Kate Alice Marshall

    Two novellas in the 10th anniversary edition of BCS and both are very good, albeit at different ends of the tone spectrum.

    We Ragged Few is a grim fantasy, with a people driven from their homeland and stricken with mass infertility trying to reestablish something like civilisation – but instead they’re sinking deeper into the mire with how they treat anyone they consider Other. It’s a morality tale, but also an action-filled heroic fantasy, as Reyna – whose dead sister left behind a grim prophecy – tries to persuade a small band to flee the coming doom. It’s not grimdark just for style points though, and there’s a glimmer of hope in there.

    At the other end of things is the much lighter Shadowdrop – our hero is a black cat, no less, bounding around a flavorful fantasy city spreading the bad luck magic that all black cats have been bequeathed. There’s some good jokes – when you get to “Postgrad” you can appreciate the terrible punnage – and a fun plot as cats save the day for the oblivious humans of the city.

    (Also in the issue, a story by Aliette de Bodard in her Dominion of the Fallen, and another Gem world story from Fran Wilde)

  3. (A sort-of-recommendation – There Before the Chaos (The Farian War #1) by K.B. Wagers starts a new trilogy after the Behind The Throne trilogy, pretty much continuing straight on but with a suitable increase in the stakes. According to my self-imposed rules it doesn’t really stand alone enough for me to nominate it either for novel or for series, but if you’ve been following the earlier books then it is well worth your time, and maybe in time a Series nom if this new trilogy sticks the landing)

  4. Starless by Jacqueline Carey

    Novel

    I have no idea why this book works as well as it does. It’s really a trilogy crammed into a single doorstopper book, which makes it a disjoint novel with important characters who aren’t introduced until 400 pages in. The plot contains a laundry list of things I usually dislike in fantasy: chosen heroes, supernatural insta-love, a prophecy that requires traveling around to collect plot-coupons, and gods who incomprehensibly get their will enacted by means of massively complicated pool-table bankshots. There are so many of these that I wonder if the author, who is no stranger to epic fantasy, decided she was going to do everything that doesn’t work and make it work anyway. And somehow, she pulled it off. It was a page-turner I couldn’t put down, thanks mostly to the memorable characters and the fascinating world.

  5. STET, by Sarah Gailey

    Short Story

    Published by Fireside Fiction, available here. A story written “entirely out of spite”, according to the author.

    Make sure to read the footnotes.

  6. City of Ghosts, by Victoria Schwab

    Novel (Middle-Grade)

    A fun, and sometimes creepy, little book. Victoria Schwab seldom disappoints me with her writing, and her first (to my knowledge) excursion into middle-grade fantasy was no exception to her usual quality.

  7. Novella – The Land of Somewhere Safe by Hal Duncan. (c32,000 words)

    This is rather difficult to describe, but I’ll have a go. This novella-length story sits within a loose series of shorts about the Scruffians, who are a foul-mouthed set of immortal street urchins fixed in their permanent urchin forms by a magical Stamp that writes your soul on your skin so you can never change from it. It’s an idea that could go in all sorts of directions, but Duncan seems to be mainly using it to satirise various classic British children’s books – there are shades of the Borrowers, Peter Pan, and Narnia in this one. This was my first encounter with the series and I didn’t feel disadvantaged by not having read any others, although I’d imagine that there are connections I missed out on.
    In this specific story, Peter and Lilly are two children evacuated from WW2 London right the way to the Isle of Skye, along with 4 members of the rather odd Bastable family, who it turns out are actually some of the Scruffians on a mission to hide the mystical Stamp. The story starts out a bit weird, with a Nazi spy disguised as a reverend summoning invisible monsters to get his hands on the Stamp, and then goes totally off the walls with a visit to the Land of Somewhere Safe of the title, which is a land of dreams and makebelieve that provides the malleable clay for a series of increasingly bizarre ideas that the rival sides throw at each other.
    The whole thing is narrated in a mix of heavy dialect and urchin slang a bit like this:

    See, as even yer icklest scamp or scrag will tell yer, as even yer daftest scallywag or scofflaw knows, ain’t nowheres in this world truly safe for any waif, least of all us Scruffians what any groanhuff as knows of would scrub in a jiffy.

    I found that pretty heavy going for a while then got into the rhythm of it, but fair warning that it’s all like that – plus lots of swearing.
    I think this is a marmite sort of story. I took a while to warm to the whole thing – the language, the breakneck pace of change in the story – but once I was in the flow I really enjoyed it. I suspect other’s mileage will vary though.

  8. Novella – Between the Firmaments by J.Y. Yang

    This short novella (approx 20,000 words) was published in 3 parts by the Book Smugglers, and is also available as an ebook.

    Unconnected to Yang’s Tensorate series, but having similar fun with genre, the setting is a secondary world whose gods have been hunted down and enslaved by invading aliens who use their divine power to build a more mundane world. Bariegh was a god of the hunt, but now he mostly skulks about the city hoping not to get caught, trying to keep a distant young relative – and therefore a potential demigod – away from the invaders. Then a brash young man with godly powers arrives from parts unknown, and Bareigh is reawakened both through romance and a reminder of why he should still fight.
    It’s an interesting setting and a fun, quick story driven by the characters. Mind you, the ending is a little sudden, and very much deus ex machina – but maybe that works for a story of gods and their fates.

  9. Impostors, by Scott Westerfeld

    Novel (YA)

    A woman raised to be her twin sister’s body double rebels. This is the start of a new series set in the Uglies universe, although it’s not necessary to have read to the previous series to understand it. But it’s hard not to compare this one to the original Uglies trilogy, and in some ways it doesn’t quite measure up. The main character isn’t as compelling, and the story doesn’t seem to hit the same depth. Nonetheless, the book is a page-turner — definitely an enjoyable read. And it has a heck of an ending. If I’m not as blown away by it as I was by Uglies, I’m still going to pick up the next book when it comes out.

  10. The Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember

    Novel (Arguably YA, second in a series but author says it works as a standalone)

    It’s been a good month for reading for me!

    A viking warrior seeks revenge on the raiders who killed her family, but does not realize what sacrifices she will have to make to do so. Also her lover is a mermaid. This is a worthy follow-up to The Seafarer’s Kiss, focusing on Ragna instead of Ersel this time. It turns out she’s just as fascinating a character in her own right. Based on the ending, it certainly seems like more sequels are coming, and I’m definitely looking forward to them.

  11. Heads up for Best Graphic Story: Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle run ends this month (final issue on Halloween IIRC), so despite the TPB coming out in January, the entire series is eligible for 2019. Definite mainstay on my ballot.

  12. +1 for The Electric State for Graphic Novel. Really gorgeous art, and an initially slow story that builds to a strong finish.

  13. On that note, I think I can call my ballot for Best Graphic Story:

    The Electric State, written and illustrated by Simon Stålenhag (Simon & Schuster UK / Skybound Books US)

    Kill Six Billion Demons, Book 3: Seeker of Thrones, written and illustrated by Tom Parkinson-Morgan (killsixbilliondemons.com)

    Mare Internum, written and illustrated by Der-shing Helmer (marecomic.com)

    Mister Miracle, written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads (DC Comics)

    Ophiuchus, written by Ali Leriger de la Plante, illustrated by Natasha Tara Petrovic (serpentbearer.com)

    Saga, Volume 9, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

    (Note: Mare Internum just exited a lengthy hiatus and is in its final stretch, updating weekly. I’m confident that it’ll end this year, but in case not, maybe I’ll swap it out with an entry from Sarah Vaughn and Leila del Duca’s Sleepless (Image Comics).)

  14. I’ve posted short fiction recommendations monthly at my blog and, in these comments, I’ve posted cumulative lists for the first two quarters of 2018. Here’s the one for the third quarter. (I’m a little late with this one because I didn’t finish the September/October issues until October; October’s recs are out but they belong in the final quarter’s comment. And the first recommendation isn’t relevant here, but I read it and it impressed me, so I’m still noting it.)

    “The Blockage” by Jack Westlake, Black Static #64, July/August 2018 (non-speculative horror short story)

    Chasing the Start” by Evan Marcroft, Strange Horizons, July 9, 2018 (science fiction novelette)*

    “Hainted” by Ashley Blooms, F&SF, July/August 2018 (fantasy short story)

    “In the Sharing Place” by David Erik Nelson, Asimov’s, September/October 2018 (science fiction short story)

    Jump” by Cadwell Turnbull, Lightspeed #100, September 2018 (fantasy short story)

    “The Monstrosity in Love” by Sam Thompson, Black Static #64, July/August 2018 (dark fantasy short story)

    The Nearest” by Greg Egan, Tor.com, July 19, 2018 (science fiction novelette)

    Nine Last Days on Planet Earth” by Daryl Gregory, Tor.com, September 19, 2018 (science fiction novelette)

    Shadowdrop” by Chris Willrich, Beneath Ceaseless Skies #261, September 27, 2018 (fantasy novella)

    A Song of Home, the Organ Grinds” by James Beamon, Lightspeed #98, July 2018 (fantasy short story)

    * Based on Greg Hullender’s observations, I may have granted “Chasing” some logical coherence it didn’t have but I haven’t had a chance to re-read it and decide so I’m sticking with the rec for now.

  15. Novella – Timshala by Leah Cypess (available online or to buy)

    An interesting novella (17,956 words) from The Book Smugglers that rattles through a story that could maybe have taken a bit more space to develop, especially the ending. The opening is very arresting – young Siara is sat in her mother’s tomb waiting to accompany her to the afterlife – and what develops from there is a portrait of a society that believes in predestination, apart from a few life occasions when you get a Choice. Escaping the tomb and defying that society appears to have been a Choice, and as Siara finds out more about the decisions that led her to this point she starts questioning them. The stakes are heightened by the fact that Siara’s late mother was the Empress, and there’s plenty she doesn’t know about her mother’s and father’s Choices that led her to that tomb, not to mention that there are others out there with different ideas about what her destiny should be. In some ways it’s a typical coming of age story about Siara finding her own way, but the philosophy of predestination and Choices adds a nice tinge of interest to it without overwhelming the story.

  16. Best Novel

    Foundryside, Robert Jackson Bennett

    I know I’m late to the party, but I’m definitely jumping on this bandwagon. This is a complex thriller that, to me, is a unique marriage of epic fantasy with physics and quantum mechanics, due to its “scriving” magic system that twists and manipulates reality with exacting (and dangerous) strings of symbols, called sigils. There are also themes in this book of colonialism and classism, and what seems to be a recurring Bennett motif: the sins of the past rising up to bite the present big-time. It’s five hundred pages, but it’s well-paced with compelling characters.

  17. A bit late to the party, but let me share the love for Before Mars (like Bonnie, I was sleeping on Emma Newman’s subsequent Planetfall novels after the ending of Planetfall, but this one and After Atlas are excellent!), Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett, STET by Sarah Gailey and Exit Strategy by Martha Wells (the best of this year’s Murderbot trio, for sure).

    I actually came here to deliver a recommendation for the entire of Uncanny Issue 25, but especially Ghost Stories Please – *checks notes* sorry, The Thing About Ghost Stories by Naomi Kritzer. This is a story about Leah, a researcher who collects and categorises ghost stories, and her relationship with her mother who recently died of Alzheimer’s. As you’d expect from Kritzer, there’s a light touch despite the difficult subject matter, and I loved the interaction between the analysis of the ghost stories and the actual story Leah finds herself in.

    Unfortunately, if you’re reading Uncanny free online, it’s in the half of the issue that comes out next month (sorry, I don’t trust myself to remember to post later!) The good news is that you can tide yourself over with my second favourite story of the issue (a novelette), How to Swallow the Moon by Isabel Yap. This is a Filipino fairytale retelling with a pair of brilliant young women finding freedom and destiny while avoiding arranged marriage with any giant snakes.

    It would be remiss of me not to mention there’s a ribald and diverting T. Kingfisher story here this month too, The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society. Not quite Hugo level for me, but if you’re a fan (and how are can you not be a fan?) it’s WELL worth the read.

  18. Campbell Award – R.F. Kuang for The Poppy War

    IMO this is a strong debut, with the only real signs that Kuang is a new author being some slightly rough transitions as the story takes some jumps in time. Very enjoyable story, albeit with some extremely grim parts.

  19. +1 for Phoresis by Greg Egan – Novella.

    The story is told in three parts across several generations of people all trying to solve a potentially species-threatening problem. There was something about splitting the story across the generations that got to me. I have no idea if the world depicted in the book is scientifically feasible, but it all holds together within the story. You get just the right amount of details about the society and its people to draw you in without bogging you down in details. I came away completely satisfied but interested in reading more if the author is so inclined.

  20. Way back in the mists of time (i.e. on page 2), Lurkertype recommended Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien to the highest and mostest degree. I’ve *finally* finished following up on that recommendation and am now here to second it!

    This is Henry Lien’s debut novel (though he’s got a decent catalogue of short fiction to his name, including a couple of novelettes from this particular world. Also *that* SFWA earworm song.) It follows the titular Peasprout, as she travels from her homeland of Shin to the beautiful, high tech island of Pearl, where everything is built out of a mysterious smooth white substance that allows everyone to “ice” skate on everything. Peasprout and her brother Cricket have been sent as exchange students to the Pearl Famous Academy to study the skating martial art of wu liu, and Peasprout is determined to win first ranking and prove her worth, despite the mix of ridicule and suspicion she draws from other students as a “bumpkin” from a threatening but backwards neighbour country.

    If you click with Peasprout – who can be a rather arrogant and obtuse hero, although her heart is in the right place and she does get there eventually – Lien’s work hits a ton of high notes. The descriptive worldbuilding and the depictions of the skating competitions the students undergo are incredibly evocative, and I’m *dreaming* of either a cartoon or, better, a video game that can capture even half of this in adaptation. There’s a set of central mysteries that are plotted in a really satisfying way: while I figured out some (not all) of the plot points before Peasprout got there, it made me feel good as a reader for solving the puzzle rather than irritated at the characters for being slow. And the characters are great: Peasprout picks up a Draco Malfoy-esque rival in Suki, a rich girl with a harem of supporters who tries to bring her down, and a pair of ambiguous allies in Niu Doi and Niu Hisashi, twin children of the local business tycoon.

    This is prevented from being a perfect book by the fact that it doesn’t wrap up particularly neatly at the end, leaving a lot of the wider political threads hanging as Peasprout goes into her second school year. I also felt some romantic elements of the book skirt very close to queer baiting territory, although the book’s relationships are generally treated very sensitively so I think I get where Henry Lien is going with this. Despite that niggle, however, I felt the book as a whole come together into a satisfyingly complex middle-grade read that’s almost certainly got a place on my Lodestar nomination list for next year. It’s one I’d put on the “gifts for fantasy-loving young relatives” list too, for anyone buying Christmas or other holiday presents for kids in that 10-15 age range.

  21. The Breath of the Sun, by Rachel Fellman

    Novel

    HIDDEN GEM ALERT. Published by the well-reputed but not widely-advertising Aqueduct Press, this book deserves a LOT more attention than it’s been getting. It seems like it’s virtually unknown right now, and I sincerely hope that changes.

    When Lamat Paed was young, she climbed partway the mountain that is God. It went … poorly, leaving two members of the expedition dead and a third excommunicated. But years later, the charismatic priest Disaine convinces Lamat to join her on a second attempt.

    I liked this book. A lot. There’s so much to chew on here. It examines belief, truth, and both the impossibility and necessity of touching the numinous. And mountain climbing. A lot of beautifully written mountain climbing. It’s the kind of book that grows on me more and more the longer I think about it, and I hope it gets the audience it deserves.

    Highly recommended.

  22. Terran Tomorrow by Nancy Kress, Nov. 2018 TOR
    Hard SF: genetics, viruses, etc.
    This is the 3rd book of a trilogy, after Tomorrow’s Kin and If Tomorrow Comes. In the 1st book, which is an expansion of “Yesterday’s Kin”, an alien spacecraft comes to Earth from a planet called World. At the start of the 3rd book, Qe. Znevnaar Wraare naq frireny bguref erghea gb Rnegu sebz Jbeyq. Nyzbfg guerr qrpnqrf unir cnffrq ba Rnegu qhr gb gur grzcbeny rssrpgf bs vagrefgryyne syvtug naq guvatf unir punatrq enqvpnyyl.
    Since I’m not good at writing reviews, I’ll leave it at that.

  23. Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

    “The Bent-Neck Lady,” The Haunting of Hill House, S1 ep 5, Netflix. (This is the absolutely mesmerizing payoff to Nell’s [Eleanor Vance’s] story. Supposedly the series has little in common with the original novel–which I haven’t read myself–but that doesn’t matter. This is one of the finest pieces of horror I’ve seen in a long time.)

  24. Continuing the “nominate Mister Miracle for Best Graphic Story” train, if anyone needs convincing (SPOILERS):

  25. I think I may have a new favorite Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson.

    Gate Crashers is a funny sci-fi novel, but it’s not like Space Opera by Cat Valente, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Hard Luck Hank. For one, it’s not trying as hard – it’s not screaming “I’m FUNNY! Laugh!”
    Yeah, it does play with tropes. One character is a cross between Kirk, Riker and Ivan Vorpatril and he kind of knows it. So do the other characters.
    It’s also is like one of my favorite books Illegal Aliens by Phil Foglio and Nick Pollotta – at least in (very) broad strokes. This is a feature not a bug, because if my memory serves, it’s more sophisticated, the characters better developed and I’d say more inclusive to boot.
    Anyway, it’s funny from running jokes about the latest Theory of Everything, to fish out of water, to humans and aliens that think they’re cleverer than they actually are, to the humor of bureaucracy (Assembly of Sentient Species is always good for a chuckle from me). Tomlinson shows some very good writing chops here – he actually has characters and a setting I’d like to explore more.
    I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work especially in the Breach setting.

  26. Novel:

    The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Sourcebooks Landmark
    (UK title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Raven Books)

    In a run-down English country house filled with an assortment of family, guests and servants who are ostensibly there for a special celebration, the main character awakens each day in a different persona of one of the people there, re-living the same day over and over — a day which culminates in a murder. They retain memories from one persona to the next, and gradually they start to piece together what’s really going on, and who is behind what machinations — and there are a lot of different hidden agendas and sub-plots in process.

    In order to escape from this nightmare, they need to solve the murder — but one of the other people has the same goal, and is trying to prevent them from finding the answer first by using every possible means, including misdirection and physical violence.

    Based on the synopsis, I wasn’t sure whether this would be my thing, but I really loved this book. It’s got both fantasy and science-fictional elements, and I just thought it was a fantastic read.

  27. The Toymakers, by Robert Dinsdale

    Novel

    I don’t give this one my highest recommendation, but I think it’s worth putting on the radar for those who would like it. Fans of The Night Circus might particularly enjoy this one. For me, the strongest part of this book is the middle, where it deals with World War I and its aftermath — the devastation it brought both for those who died and those who survived. That section was definitely well-written and worth reading. The rest of the book, however, I thought sometimes felt a bit heavy-handed or overwrought. And while the big reveal at the ending was certainly foreshadowed, I still wasn’t entirely sure that I believed it.

  28. Novellette

    What is Eve? By Will McIntosh (Lightspeed)

    Answering the question of the title is a bit of a spoiler, although it’s fairly clear early on. Ben is 12, and his parents have sent him off to some sort of special school. It’s quickly clear that the entire school is based around catering to the strange creature called Eve, but who is she?
    There’s a clever bit of SFnal thinking hiding behind this charming tale of twelve year olds being smarter and kinder than adults think they can be.

  29. Novel

    Iron and Magic, Ilona Andrews. This is a spin-off of the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series. I just read the last book of that series, Magic Triumphs, and plan to nominate it for Best Series, albeit more for the overall series than the impact of the final book. Magic Triumphs seemed a bit overstuffed and bloated when I read it, and even more so now after reading this lean, mean, fast-moving machine of a story. My two must-haves, characterization and world-building, are dealt with very well in Iron and Magic.

  30. Novel

    Children of Time by Adrian Tchaichovsky

    Although this came out in the UK a few years ago, apparently it never had a US edition. That is now being rectified by a US release this month, ahead of next year’s sequel.
    I imagine the split eligibility will sink its chances, but this Clarke Award winning novel of a generation ship of humans mixed with an intergenerational tale of planetary spiders is a bit of a flawed masterpeice IMO – the flaw being that the human strand of the story doesn’t quite live up to the excellent spider strand.

  31. Novella

    The Persistence of Blood by Juliette Wade (Clarkesworld)

    I’m not sure if it’s a plus or minus if I finish a novella and wish it had been a novel.
    This has some elements of a dying earth story, except that it seems to only be the nobility who are dying here – slowly diminishing due to hereditary illnesses and low birth rate. A lot of the world building is quite opaque, but there’s a feudal society with some advanced technology but quite primitive in others, apparently living below ground. It’s the right sort of opaque though, that makes you want to learn more.
    Inevitably for this sort of hierarchical society they’ve compensated with social pressure to have as many children as their wives can bear – and Selemei is one of the wives suffering from this, left with a limp from her last birth, terrified she wouldn’t survive another. The story dives into the politics of the society and their reproductive control – perhaps a bit too quickly as the opening gets rather confused – but once it finds its feet and Selemei starts taking on her society the story really sparkles. The end point is a reasonable one but could also have been the end of act 1. A fascinating story in a rich world.

  32. +1 for “The Persistence of Blood”

    Thanks for the pointer to this. That was really good.

  33. Short Story

    The Testimony of Dragon’s Teeth, by Sarah Monette (Uncanny)

    This is possibly too quiet a story to really make a splash, but I found it nicely atmospheric. In what seems to be an Edwardian setting a young man finds himself in charge of the papers of a former friend, a poet who has died tragically young. The papers inevitably lead to something mysterious about his death – but also reveal a little of the ambivalence behind their old abandoned friendship. The plot is straightforward, but the repressed characterisation is rich.

  34. This is a sad, sweet, surreal apocalyptic story that is on my Hugo nomination longlist:

    “Monologue by an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end”
    by Cassandra Khaw

    LINK

  35. Novel

    Head On, John Scalzi

    (Yes, I’m just now catching up to books I bought earlier in the year.)

    This doesn’t quite cross over into squee-I-loved-it territory for me, but it’s an enjoyable, fast read. It’s different from Lock In in that we’re much more focused on the police (or FBI, I suppose) procedural side of things, with a tight plot and well-thought-out mystery. The commentary on the social aspect of Hadens and how they relate to the near-future world (and how the world relates to them) is dialed back, although there’s still a bit of it. I missed that myself, but YMMV. I do hope Scalzi does more of that in the next book, if there is one. Regardless, this is a solid, engaging story.

  36. DRAMATIC PRESENTATION WATCH RUNNIN’ WILD

    Season 3 of The Good Place (NBC) hasn’t been as much of a consistent knockout as Season 2, but there’s been an upswing in its second half. The post-hiatus episode Janet(s) is a show-best, encapsulating everything the show executes well: comedy, well-integrated philosophical concepts, the development of characters we’ve gotten personally invested in, a sense of playful inventiveness and game-changing twists.

  37. Adding my voice to those recommending

    Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett

    Novel

    While it doesn’t quite rise to the level of Bennett’s best work in terms of world-building or characterization (although to be fair, little does), it’s nevertheless a propulsive, engaging story with a lot going for it.

  38. + 1 for the Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews nomination in Novel and I also intend to nominate the Kate Daniels series for Best Series. Magic Triumphs was the series final book and although I find a few other books in that world to be stronger, it was a compelling finish to the story. I appreciate authors who can finish a series nowadays.

    Also going on my ballot for Best Series is the Liaden Universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Neogenesis is the qualifying novel for 2018 and the 21st book in a series I’ve loved since the late 80’s. It would be good to see them get some recognition for the high quality of their work over so many years.

  39. @Cassandra
    I’ve been nominating the Liaden Universe books in best series since the category became available. Maybe one day they’ll get the recognition they deserve.

  40. Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

    “Two Storms,” The Haunting of Hill House S1 ep 6, Netflix

    This follows on the heels of the excellent “The Bent-Neck Lady,” but this is even better, dammit. The cinematography is incredible–the first 15 minutes of the episode is one extended take, and the storylines flip between the present and the past, with extended takes for each. The entire Crain family is together for a funeral, and all their past and present wounds are ripped open. There isn’t any gore or jump-scares in this, but the horror steadily builds. Just so well done.

  41. Novelette

    The Fortunate Death of Jonathan Sandelson, by Margaret Killjoy (Strange Horizons)

    Near future hacktivism, with drones, AI, and the like. Hacker Jae is trying to harass a CEO into quitting when someone takes more… direct… action, putting them both in the frame for an investigation. As well as an interesting and efficient story there’s some interesting thoughts in there about the ethics and methods of direct action activism.

  42. Novelette

    A Tale of Woe, by P. Djèlí Clark (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

    I think P. Djèlí Clark is fast becoming a favourite writer of mine, primarily for the world building. Rana serves a strange goddess, one who gives her the power to take away – or give – sorrows and woes. As usual there’s a rich world on display, albeit the story takes quite a straight line through it. Enjoyable, although I’d have liked to see it do a bit more before the climatic scene.

  43. Short story

    “And Yet,” A.T. Greenblatt, Uncanny Magazine, March/April 2018.

    This is a fascinating little story about haunted houses, the multiverse, and the love between siblings. It is written in second person present tense (for those who don’t like that POV), but I thought it was handled well, and didn’t come off as pretentious or precious.

  44. DRAMATIC PRESENTATION – LONG FORM

    Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is fantastic. I’m undecided and flip-flopping a lot on Infinity War and Black Panther but Spider-Verse definitely has a permanent spot on my ballot – the best superhero film of the year and one of the best sci-fi flicks of the year. Whatever your doubts may be on superhero films and/or animated films, see it.

  45. Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

    Sorry To Bother You, written and directed by Boots Riley

    This was recommended quite a while back, but now that I finally got it from the library, I wanted to second that. It’s a very surreal, finely tuned acid trip, equal parts humorous and horrifying. It has pointed things to say about capitalism, the exploitation of labor, and the over-the-top, reality-show culture we live in. I’m sure some people might view it as a train wreck, but it’s definitely one you can’t look away from.

  46. YA Lodestar:

    Unearthed, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

    This is described on Goodreads as “Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones on an alien planet,” which is overhyped but not entirely wrong. There is archaeology, puzzles, supposedly extinct alien races, and an Earth in the throes of climate change searching for resources to save their declining world. This book does end on a massive cliffhanger, so if that isn’t your thing you might want to skip it. That ending also hints at a great underlying mystery. I really liked this book.

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