2019 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2019-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.

65 thoughts on “2019 Recommended SF/F List

  1. Novella

    Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett (tor.com publishing)

    I think it takes a certain level of self-assurance to take Shakespeare’s iconic characters and write your own continuation of their story, but this version works nicely. It picks up the tale of Miranda as she arrives in Milan in the train of her father’s triumphant return. It’s quickly clear that all is not right – she’s engaged to a prince after growing up wild on an island, the Milanese treat her with great mistrust, a mystery surrounds her late mother,her father is clearly not who she thought he was…

    There’s a nice romance as Miranda finds someone other than her distance prince – I’m often a bit meh on romance but I rather liked this one, as it worked to create a realistic relationship and reveal the characters.

    This is really nicely written, an interesting concept that takes a different direction from some others I’ve seen but is justified by the source material, and the lead characters grabbed me.

    (Word count – I make it 40,111 which is within the tolerance for novella, so although it’s technically eligible for novel I’d suggest novella)

    +1 for Three Robots from Love, Death + Robots



    Ancestral Night, by Elizabeth Bear.

    +1 to dsr above. It’s the chewy thoughtful elements about the societies involved that I really liked, plus a really interesting MC. A more spoilerific review is here.

    I understand that there’s another novel in this sequence to come but that it focuses on different characters, I’d agree that this is satisfying as a standalone.

  2. I’ll second the recommendation for the novel Alliance Rising, by CJ Cherryh and Jane Fancher. I’ve been a fan of her Alliance/Union universe since the 1980s, and it’s great to see her and her wife writing more stories there, particularly ones set before Downbelow Station. This one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so there’s definitely more to come, but it’s a very satisfying read nevertheless.

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Posts for March 2019 | File 770

  4. I want to add to the recommendations for Elizabeth Bear’s Ancestral Night. It’s a deliberately paced, thoughtful space opera with quite a few weighty themes, including how societies are formed and the parameters for fitting into them, and for the main character, guilt and forgiveness and deciding who and what she wants to be. (And visiting the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core, and alien space whales/seahorses that are as big as planets.) There is a lot going on here, and I think it would be even more rewarding with a second read.

  5. The Raven Tower, by Ann Leckie


    Adding my voice to this one. A narratively interesting — as is usual for Leckie — and engaging extended riff on [rot13] Unzyrg (jvgu fbzr funqrf bs gur Vyvnq va gur onpxfgbel nf jryy.) [/rot13] I could have asked for deeper characterization of some of the supporting characters, but overall I found this an immersive, page-turning read. And that’s saying something when you consider that it’s [rot13] aneengrq ol n urnivyl cuvybfbcuvpny ebpx. [/rot13]

  6. Terminal Uprising, by Jim C. Hines

    Novel (2nd in a series)

    My feelings on this one are slightly mixed, but on the whole very positive. Overall, it’s a solid sequel with plenty of action and laugh-out-loud humor. Cate is a welcome addition to the cast (although it’s a pity that Azure isn’t given a lot of time in this one.) The book doesn’t pack quite the punch of the first one, and it bogs down a bit in the middle. But in spite of these issues, the series remains a breath of fresh air for the space opera / milSF subgenres.

    … and it is really obvious when I have just gone book shopping, isn’t it?

  7. Indeed, while I doubt the Hines will make my nomination list, I can’t yet exclude it; it was an awful lot of fun. The series so far is my favorite thing he’s done. And he’s usually fun.

    (Worth mentioning that the series name is “Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse”, which should give some idea of the flavor.) 🙂

  8. Ship of Smoke and Steel, by Django Wexler

    Novel (YA, first in a series)

    For the most part, this was a pretty cool fantasy adventure YA with an awesome and creepy setting, well-written action scenes, and some nifty twists and turns.

    For the most part.

    I say that because the beginning of this book was so bad, it nearly put me off the whole thing. Seriously, for gritty fantasy, “I have a sibling who is the only person I love and I support them financially but keep them innocent of the crimes I must commit to do so” is as tired a cliche as “the butler did it”. Then it sets the main character up as a ruthless, heartless killer which is completely at odds with her characterization for the entire rest of the book.

    (Come on, Django Wexler. You’re better than that.)

    However, all that is dispensed with pretty quickly. If the beginning of the book had simply been lopped off, I’d be giving it a much stronger recommendation here. I will most likely still pick up the sequels on the strength of where the book goes. So, take that as you will.

  9. Short Story: “Move the World,” by Carla Speed McNeil.
    This story is bewildering at first, gradually you find your feet and are delighted, and finally the whole thing clicks into place. I really enjoyed this one 🙂

    Part of the “Better Worlds” project from The Verge, “the science fiction project about hope.”

  10. Short Story: “Painless,” Rich Larson, Tor.com 4/10/19.

    I think Rich Larson is one of the best short story writers working today. The worldbuilding in this one is subtle and intriguing, without a single infodumping sentence. This story has a stinger you won’t see coming (or at least I didn’t), and has themes of wanting to belong, of refusing to let yourself be manipulated or taken advantage of any longer. For my money, it packs quite a punch.

  11. I’m about halfway through Tim Pratt’s The Wrong Stars–the first book in his Axiom series–and really enjoying it. If the second and third books are of similar quality, I could see it being a Best Series contender.

  12. Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) Watch:

    I’d like to take a moment to highlight a left-of-radar potential entry. Online animator Justin Tomchuk (alias u m a m i) has completed Part 1 of his web series Interface. It clocks in at 41:36.

    I’ve become a huge fan of it over the past year. Tomchuk imbues his characters and concepts with a sense of surreal mysticism and strongly-realized, subtle worldbuilding that leaves you wanting more. (Plus there’s Mischief. Especially Mischief.) I only just now thought of sharing it with other Hugo voters.

    Right now, it’s 12 short episodes. Watch it here.

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