2016 Recommended SF/F List


By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2016-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:”

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

Book_shelves_UWI_Library COMP

196 thoughts on “2016 Recommended SF/F List

  1. All The Birds In The Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders


    A witch and a scientist have intertwined lives which might end up drawing them together or pushing them apart. Pros: beautiful writing, and a great portrayal of growing up feeling isolated and the effects it has both in childhood as on the adults that are formed by this. Cons: I felt the ending was a bit of a letdown.

  2. Oh, yes! ::ticking box:: I’ve been steadfastly ignoring 2016 works until this month. Time to catch up!

  3. City of Blades, Robert Jackson Bennett

    Worthy sequel to City of Stairs… and Mulaghesh!

  4. The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge


    Note: although this book was published in the UK in 2015, it has a 2016 U.S. publication date, which makes it eligible under Hugo rules

    Faith Sunderly’s family moves to the island of Vane when her father flees from a reputation-destroying scandal. But her father is discovered dead soon after their arrival, and his death is connected to a mysterious tree. Pros: I don’t think Frances Hardinge has ever written a novel that wasn’t riveting; in this one, the main character is great, the plot is compelling, and the story is layered with complexity of intent often not found in YA. Cons: This doesn’t quite rise to the level of her absolute best books, like Cuckoo Song or Fly By Night. I’d put it more on the level of Verdigris Deep or Twilight Robbery. Basically, I’d say this is a very good book, whereas she has other books that I will rave about at length to anyone who will hold still long enough.

  5. Safely You Deliver by Graydon Saunders

    Book 3 of the Commonweal. I really like the world building, accompanied by absolute lack of infodump.

  6. Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

    The African American experience in the late Jim Crow era, with supernatural elements mixed in.

  7. Drake (a burned man novel) by Peter McLean
    This book fits my recent pattern of falling in love with books that are almost impossible to search for by title. This book really snagged me. So much so that I recommended my wife read it while we were doing out Hugo noms. This is a fast paced urban fantasy novel that does a good job of creating understandable characters. I normally despise when the protagonist is unlikable, but Don Drake is someone that you sort of feel bad that he sort of became a bad-ish guy. If you enjoy Ben Aaronovitch give this a try.

    Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire
    I don’t need to talk about this, so many people have in the scrolls. However, it was good. If you have enjoyed other works by Seanan McGuire you should read this too. The world building and characterization was first class! I just loved reading about these people. I cannot imagine that his will not be on my ballot next year.

  8. I’m going to second Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan MaGuire

    Anyone who is interested in identity and representation in books needs to give this a read. Oh, and is also a fantastic story!

  9. Zootopia is currently on my BDW-LF list for 2016. And it’d take some really remarkable movies to knock it off my ballot.

    (By the way, is there a difference between notify of followups and notify for new posts in the ticky-boxes?)

  10. Also ticking the box.
    Should be a terrific resource.
    I do need to get started with 2016 reading – though I am seconding the very fine ‘Razorback’ by our own marsupial
    Is it possible to put a link on the banner Mike?

  11. Cassy B.: is there a difference between notify of followups and notify for new posts in the ticky-boxes?

    Yes. Notify of followups means you’ll get an e-mail for each new post in this thread.

    Notify for new posts means that you’ll get an e-mail for each new blog post Mike makes. If you’ve ever ticked this, you are probably getting those notifications now.

  12. Ken Richards: Is it possible to put a link on the banner Mike?

    We’ve already put one there. 😀

  13. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi

    Short Stories

    A Love Story, Told In My Monstrosity, Anna Yeatts, Intergalactic Medicine Show, April 2016 (Unfortunately, the way IGMS is set up, you have to subscribe to see anything past the first few paragraphs. I don’t know if this changes as time passes and/or the next issue is released.)

    “That Time With Bob and the Unicorn,” Our Wombat (T. Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon) Mothership Zeta, January 2016 (This is a lovely, funny story–and remember, humor is a lot harder than it looks.)

    There Will Always Be a Max,” Michael R. Underwood, Tor.com, April 2016 (This seems to be a sort of meta takeoff of the Mad Max franchise.)


    Touring With the Alien,” Carolyn Ives Gilman, Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016 (I spoke about this a while back; I read it again, and I’m even higher on it.)

    Best Semiprozine

    Is Mothership Zeta planning on publishing four issues this year? If so, it’ll definitely be on my ballot. I like it almost as much as I do Uncanny.

  14. “Among the Living”, by John Markley, Escape Pod, March 2016.

    A future fireman tries to save a young victim and escape from a burning, collapsing megastructure. Good world-building, intense action and a beat-the-clock plot.

    Most of my short-fiction “reading” seems to be via podcast these days. This one I not only listened to, but went back to Escape Pod’s site to read as well.

  15. Ticking the box.

    Possibly the only 2016 thing I’ve read so far:

    A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong (tor.com)

    Short story (3,500 words according to LibreOffice)

    I am not the best at giving a synopsis so I’ll just leave the Tor.com synopsis here instead for anyone interested:

    Hannah and Melanie: sisters, apart and together. Weather workers. Time benders. When two people so determined have opposing desires, it’s hard to say who will win—or even what victory might look like. This stunning, haunting short story from rising star Alyssa Wong explores the depth and fierceness of love and the trauma of family.

  16. Novel
    The Spider’s War, Daniel Abraham

    A great end to a great series. Now that it’s completed, I strongly urge everyone to run and purchase all 5 of The Dagger and the Coin books. It takes an approach to fantasy war that I’ve not seen before (well, maybe once, by Pratchett) and reallly runs with it.

  17. The Wicked + The Divine: Commercial Suicide. An experimental arc with different artists for each issue, focusing on a different member of the pantheon. All together they add up into a mosaic that fills in just what might have happened after the cliffhanger at the end of Fandemomium.

    One to read carefully, as otherwise you’ll miss what’s going on (and the Tara story is deeply relevant and deeply sad).

    (also: you’ll find much of mine and Mary’s 2016 reading here: https://www.librarything.com/catalog/sbisson)

  18. JJ: Ken Richards: Is it possible to put a link on the banner Mike?

    We’ve already put one there.

    Yes — JJ thought of that!

  19. NelC: Every day, every day, every day,
    I tick the box

    So every day, in every way
    Your box is getting tickier and tickier!

  20. @JJ: We’ve already put one there. ?
    @Mike : Yes — JJ thought of that!

    Thanks for that!

    *resolves to read scroll more closely before posting!*

  21. Seconding The Dagger and the Coin. How many heroic fantasy stories do you know in which banking is central to the plot?

    (“I always thought of bankers as being dull.”
    She laughed. “We want you to think that.”)

  22. “Three Paintings,” by James Van Pelt, published in Asimov’s April/May 2016.
    Category: Short story.

    An artist conducts a unique experiment. Brilliantly structured, with a gradually unfolding premise that pulls you along every step of the way. Short, inventive, intense, and packs a real punch.

  23. “The Tomato Thief” by Ursula Vernon, published in Apex 80. Novelette.
    A story about Grandma Harken from Jackalope wives, with a wonderful mythology and Vernon’s characteristic no-nonsense characters.

  24. OMG, I’m starting to wonder whether this thread was a good idea… I’ve already got my reading for the next 2 months booked out now (along with those *cough* prozines and semiprozines and their ISSUE DATES hovering over me ominously)! 😉

    Thank you for all the recommendations, Filers!

  25. I’ll second All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (Novel).

    Very quirky and hilarious, but not afraid to go to some dark places. It has talking birds and AI, which are difficult to pull off in the same book, but Anders’ humorous voice and sheer quirkiness make it gel together well.

    Amateurish, self-conscious opening, but it finds its feet once the assassin appears.

    Oh and I love the assassin – it’s almost like he stepped out of the pages of a Discworld novel.

  26. I’ll resist the urge to +1 a whole bunch of stuff above because it’ll clog up the thread. A couple that I haven’t spotted are

    Foxfire, Foxfire by Yoon Ha Lee from Beneath Ceaseless Skies (wiki link)
    Coral Bones by Fox Meadows from Monstrous Little Voices (wiki link)

    Both Novelettes.

  27. Lavie Tidhar’s A Man Lies Dreaming. It’s akin to Sprinrad’s Iron Dream or Tidhar’s own Osama. The communitsts have taken over the Weimer Republic and most important Nazis escape to England. Hitler totally abandons his political career and the Nazi expatrites living in England, shaves his moustache and beomes a noir PI named Wolf. But the novel is actually the daydreams of a Jewish pulp fiction writer in Auschwitz who we visit throughout the novel. He is the man who lies dreaming. Tidhar gets the noir style down perfectly. A disturbing work since Hitler is the protaganist and although I never found myself liking the character you’re drawn into wanting him to succeed in what he is investigating like you do for any noir derective. Tidhar just keeps getting better and better.

  28. Two-Fer

    And that’s one tick for me, and a two-fer for your time…

    The Devourers – Indras Das

    Previously published only in the Indian sub-continent but coming out July 12 from Del Rey; Aliette De Bodard happened to mention it on Facebook or whatever last year and the blurb caught my eye: “In a dusty caravanserai in seventeenth-century Mumtazabad, Cyrah, a young wanderer, meets a man who says he is a monster”. Well, it didn’t take much more before my imagination was enraptured: The Indus civilization, Tamerlane, Mogul Emperors, The Silk Road, The Raj, Clive, ah! Mysterious India! And werewolves! How cool is that? Bring it on (the S&H weren’t THAT bad!), and astonishingly enough it turned out to be as good as I had imagined it would be. I could natter on for paragraphs about this book but suffice to say it’s the 2015 Book of the Year for me, and apparently will (probably) be eligible for the Hugo’s THIS year. 2016, that is. I think I’ve got that right.

    Anyway, one caveat: It should be pointed out that while the Indian book reviews focus more on the literary aspects of the novel it also contains exquisitely graphic scenes of sex and violence and I know from up stream threads there are those who dislike carnality and carnage with their tea and crumpets and those may be momentarily discomforted. However, these scenes, while explicit are brief, and are certainly not gratuitous but quite necessary to the overall resolution of plot and theme. But, yeah, be warned: these are apparently werewolves, after all.

    I Am Providence – Nick Mamatas

    I managed to snag a copy of the ARC and for some of you I’ll just have to say that it’s easily as good as ‘Bimbos Of The Death Sun’ (and even breaks new ground, Heh, heh!), and you’ll get it, but for everyone else not so much into mysteries, ‘Bimbos Of The Death Sun’ was an Edgar Award winning novel in which a pastiche of Harlan Ellison solves a murder at a Science Fiction convention.

    Mamatas does it one better. A pastiche of himself is murdered (and thus finds himself in an interesting situation), at a Lovecraft convention! Yes, all those who hate Mamatas need to buy this book if only for the spectacle of an author (ritualistically?), killing himself off in a particularly gruesome manner. The easy way to finish this would be simply to say that ‘Hilarity Ensues’, but that would cheapen what Mamatas has done in this book. This is a top notch murder mystery with all the fancy trappings: red herrings, mistaken identities, vast nebulous plots. There are indeed funny scenes, and half the fun is trying to figure out all the pastiches (I didn’t get one until I read the Acknowledgements, then I was all ‘how could I have missed him’), but think black comedy, and I guarantee by the last chapter you’ll have an entirely new appreciation of Lovecraft’s famous epitaph. Great read.

  29. Seconding (Thirding) the recommendation for “43 responses to In Memory of Dr. Alexandra Nako” by Barbara A Barnett.

    I also enjoyed two recent Tor.com short stories.

    “Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny is narrated from the POV of an angel who works at the heavenly call center, answering prayers. I’m normally not a fan of religiously based SFF and stories about angels, but this one is funny, clever and irreverant.

    “The Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn is about trying to return to normality after a long war and about forging connections across the line. Oh, and it’s about chess. In many ways, this story reminds me of Lois McMaster Bujold’s early Vorkosigan stories and I’d love to see more about these characters and their world.

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