2017 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2017-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.

158 thoughts on “2017 Recommended SF/F List

  1. Several recent reads:

    Novellas

    Ironclads, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

    A group of soldiers/grunts in a near-future war is sent to rescue a wealthy soldier, whose supersuit has inexplicably failed behind enemy lines. Some fun geopolitics, maybe a bit stretched but not cookie-cutter, and an asymmetric war with some eerie opposition. “Bugs” aren’t front and center in this one, but they have an enjoyable role.

    Snowspelled, Stephanie Burgis (Five Fathoms Press)

    First-in-series in a Regency-esque England where the humans are at truce with the elves, and women handle the politicking while men do the magic. For me, it almost felt like its own prequel – a lot of fun world-building setting up future installments, but not too much happens. I’ll probably be back to see where Burgis goes from here. If you enjoy Kowal’s Glamourist Histories or Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, or Burgis’s other work, you should take a look.

    I plan to nominate the artist, Leesha Hannigan, for her perfect cover.

    Novel

    Autonomous, Annalee Newitz (Tor Books)

    A pirate distributing reverse-engineered pharmaceuticals is chased by a soldier and his bot partner. The high points are more great world-building, and questions of identity and self for the bot on its first mission. Had a tendency to become tell-y. Would probably appeal to some of the audience for Wells’ All Systems Red.

  2. Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Novel (c80k wordcount)

    Rex is a Good Dog.

    We’ve uplifted and/or engineered dogs – and other animals – into man-sized killing machines and deployed them into dirty wars and clandestine conflicts. Rex is a simple soul, doing what Master tells him, but he’s learning that the world is more complicated than Master is allowing him to know…

    This begins as MilSF but quickly starts looking at the ethics of using these Bioforms for combat, and how we react when made tools become something more…and then switches again to see how the bioforms handle these transitions. A lot of chapters are from Rex’s POV, and while his simplicity of thought sometimes seems a little cliched and wearing, there’s a power behind his sections that draw you in. As a whole it handles some interesting themes, some of which are a bit too spoilery to mention, and matches them to an exciting story that sits somewhere between MillSF and thriller. I’d compare it to The Red trilogy, which is a good compliment IMO.

    I’ve seen this described as a novella but I make it as over 80k words, so I’d recommend it as a short & incisive novel.

  3. I’ve really, really wanted to read Dogs of War since I first saw the description, and now I’m adding a couple of reallys. We’ll see if a US edition gets announced before I crack and order a copy from somewhere in the Commonwealth.

    (Am rather discouraged that I got the time travel posting bug for the first time ever, and so apparently there won’t be a US edition by 5150. At least that makes my decision easier.)

  4. Alas, I’m afraid I haven’t been much of a fan this year.

    In the Best Series category I recommend The Clan Chronicles, by Julie Czerneda, the final installment of which, /To Guard Against The Dark/, was published in October.

    I also recommend the final episode of Star Trek Continues, “To Boldly Go: Part 1 and 2”.

  5. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden

    Novel

    I’ll add my voice to those who liked this one. A nicely done debut fantasy novel set in medieval Russia and getting a lot of mileage out of the creepy mythology of the region. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequels. One of the best things about it was the evocative writing about Russian winter, the eternal struggle to scrabble survival out of the relentless cold, and how that colors how everyone there looks at life.

    My one major quibble — that a couple of characters vanish from the narrative after a while — was resolved when it became apparent that they would become major figures in subsequent books. The coming books also seem likely to add some grey tones to what was a fairly black-and-white good vs. evil narrative in this one. I’m looking forward to them.

  6. Novel

    The Punch Escrow, Tal M. Klein

    I saw this book in the “new arrivals” section in my library, picked it up, and read the first page/introduction. The character’s voice grabbed me immediately, and we were off to the races.

    This is a hard science fiction novel (really hard–genetically engineered carbon-removing mosquitoes, artificially intelligent self-driving vehicles, quantum mechanics, and teleportation are all things) set in the year 2147. Teleportation is, indeed, the heart of the book, spinning off all sorts of nasty conundrums. At first the story reminded me of ST:TNG’s episode “Second Chances” (the one where Riker is duplicated by the transporter) but it quickly became its own thing. This is due in no small part to the main character, Joel Byram, who loves “obscure” 80’s music, poses riddles to artifically intelligent apps for a living, and is the consummate Everyguy thrown into an impossible situation. There are several meaty philosophical asides woven throughout the book, and the last third morphs into a nail-biting thriller I couldn’t put down. My only quibble is an unnecessary cliff-hanging coda that is an obvious set-up for a sequel. This may not be quite in my top tier of books for this year, but it’s damn close. (I also looked around for previous publications and couldn’t find any, so I believe Klein is eligible for the Campbell.)

  7. Best Series:

    Court of Fives trilogy* by Kate Elliott. The final volume was released this year so this is a complete story.

    A fast & fun read with a strong central character and really interesting worldbuilding. There’s some real cleverness to the way the her initial naivete about the world falls away as we learn more about what’s really going on. It’s YA so sometimes you feel it taking a slightly more simplistic line through the plot, and I was worried the final volume wouldn’t get to certain elements properly, but it mostly did and was pretty satisfying. I’d have liked a bit more investigation of the history of the setting, but maybe unsatisfied curiosity is a sign of good worldbuilding.

    *(One of those inaccurately named trilogies, with a couple of separate novellas released as well)

    At the moment I only have two other complete series that I’ve fully read and am likely to nominate – Broken Earth and Shades of Magic – but I’m expecting some out of Divine Cities, Updraft, Split Worlds and Lady Trent to join them once I finish them – these are all series that finished properly this year.

  8. There’s might fall more into the horror category but Hekla’s Children and Meddling Kids are both interesting books. Hekla’s Children spent a good third of it feeling like a pretty routine horror/thriller with a somewhat sci-fi idea then goes surprising directions.

    Meddling Kids does a very tongue in cheek riff on the idea of Scooby Doo: The Later Years that plays with narrative devices while pointing out that it’s doing so while yet making them still work anyways. It’s one of those things that like all the various easter eggs and homages in Stranger Things where it feels like the creator is showing off how clever they are and the only reason they pull it off is because they really are pretty clever, which is a really fine line to be able to walk if you can pull it off. Meddling Kids does. About as scary as the recent scooby doo movies.

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