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.

281 thoughts on “2017 Recommended SF/F List

  1. @Greg Hullender: Thanks for the Artemis comments. It’s been on my list, but, like you, it’s not high on my list due to the mixed reviews. I’ll rethink that. 🙂

  2. Kendall: Greg Hullender: Thanks for the Artemis comments. It’s been on my list, but, like you, it’s not high on my list due to the mixed reviews. I’ll rethink that.

    I quite enjoyed Artemis. Of the ~50 novels published in 2017 which I’ve read so far, it’s one of maybe 10 which I enjoyed enough to put on my Hugo nomination longlist (I’ve just added D. Nolan Clark’s Forgotten Worlds to the list). I didn’t think it quite measured up to The Martian for awesomeness, but it’s got a lot more character development in addition to the interesting sciencey stuff.

  3. Hi, I am Tom. Here comes my data: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz is a humdinger of a novel. It is a thriller about science. It pulled me in from page one. Interesting, realistic, imperfect characters, in a future that has better tech and less freedom. This is the end of my data.

  4. (Is there going to be a 2018 page any time soon? Because I just read The Infernal Battalion and it is fab.)

  5. @ Mark, I’m a fan of Buckell’s (criminally underrated IMO) Xenowealth universe. Great character piece- loved it. Thank you for the rec.

  6. Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue by Charlie Jane Anders (Global Dystopia/Boston Review)
    Novelette or Short Story

    This story came to me via Twitter–someone I follow liked the link, and I read it, and just…I can’t stop thinking about this story. It isn’t a happy story, but it is living in the back of my head.

    My question: This is right on the cusp between Short Story and Novelette at my count of 7600 words. Any suggestions as to which category to put it in?

  7. Beth,
    When I tried to figure out word count, I discovered that about 7600 included all the call outs. When I took out the duplicate sentences, it was about 7400. So technically short story at under 7500, but I notice both the Locus List and Rocket Stack Rank have it as novelette. It could go either way.

  8. Kyra: Is there going to be a 2018 page any time soon?

    I thought I would have Mike put it up right after the Hugo Nominations close on March 16.

  9. Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

    Good Business: Intergalactic arms dealers selling weapons to aliens. Only five minutes long, but well worth it.

  10. Finished Oathbringer and would recommend. One great thing about the book is that despite being already over 2k pages into the world building and characters it’s still introducing new concepts every hundred pages. Instead of this being exhausting Sanderson manages to keep the story fresh by never letting it just settle down into generic Good versus Evil. Characters question and doubt what the right thing to do is, or their actions, learn more and try to figure out how what they’ve learned applies to what they’re doing. Even when you think it’s settled into ‘The bad guys are bad and need to be defeated by the good guys’ it starts questioning why the bad guys are bad, if they’re bad, if it justifies being attacked, and how that perspective changes based on new information.

    Plus there’s fights with magic and magic swords and zooming around and giant rock monsters and stuff.

    It’s impressive that he can maintain the pacing in the books without it feeling like a constant info dump and I highly enjoyed it. But I would also really like a ‘Previously on…’ especially as in three books he’s already matched the page count of the first 5 wheel of time books (for example). TOR wisely added some online recaps and bronzemind was a good place if you need a refresher on what came before.

    Then again with the page count straining the hardcover books, probably isn’t room for it.

  11. Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands is a YA-ish fantasy which I enjoyed so much that I’m now struggling to form complete sentences about it. Brennan lovingly eviscerates the “magic warrior training school” trope that some of my favourite young adult reads relied on, throwing an extremely prickly and relentlessly pacifist teen from our world into a magical realm where humans are constantly fighting border wars against elves, dwarves, harpies, trolls and mermaids, and the virtue of fighting is never really questioned compared to the ability to spin a diplomatic agreement. What follows is a story which balances teenage growth and self-discovery, cultural commentary, moments of pure fantasy wonder, and a shedload of perfect character interactions. I laughed, I cried, I said things like “oh come ON, you idiot child” out loud, I did all of those things in public, I regret nothing, I’d do it all again for Elliot Schafer and his friends.

    For Hugo nomination purposes, I have to note that a significantly shorter version of this work was published before 2017 on Brennan’s Livejournal (where it was called “The Turn of the Story”), so its eligibility is not unambiguous. But it’s the best thing I’ve read from 2017, so I’ll be using ballot space for it regardless.

  12. @Tom Becker

    Hi, I am Tom. Here comes my data: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz is a humdinger of a novel. It is a thriller about science. It pulled me in from page one. Interesting, realistic, imperfect characters, in a future that has better tech and less freedom. This is the end of my data.

    I loved this one too.
    I just finished An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King. I really enjoyed this novel. Dystopian China with polyandry and terrifying government surveillance. A great read.

  13. @Arifel: Thanks for recommending In Other Lands. I started it and thought, “I won’t get into this, so YA, simplistic language, etc.” and I got into it! 🙂 I read the good-sized sample and LOL’d for real a couple of times already, so I ordered it. (This may take a while, as it’s in an order with something coming out early March because I’m too tired to remember I could’ve split it up and still had free shipping.)

    I wonder if my other half (a fan of Riordan’s Camp Halfblood, et al. novels) would like this; tough to be sure, but I may rec it . . . after I read it.

    As far as eligibility, “significantly shorter version” sounds like it’s probably eligible, but I vaguely recall (don’t quote me) it depends on how significantly different in length or other changes it is.

  14. Darkness Falling by Ian Douglas
    After Altered Starscape I wasn’t sure if I’d read the rest. Well, I got an opportunity to read it for free and …

    It’s OK. Yeah, ringing endorsement. The plotting is so-so without much in the way of twists and the characters have at least risen to the level of cardboard. The most irritating thing is that the human captain keeps outwitting things that are much smarter than he is. Heart warming, but not that likely.

  15. Persepolis Rising by James SA Corey is a great continuation of the Expanse books that has skipped 30 years into the future. Some things have changed but humankind screwing each other over with petty justifications has not. I liked it a lot and thought it was great that an antagonist was mostly just a rookie who made a mistake and kept piling onto it out of fear of admitting an error would make him less of an authority figure.

    White Tears by Hari Kunru is a ghost story that was wild because the haunting is on a cultural level and the horror is more at the uncaring acts done in the obsession to claim another’s authenticity. Weird and captivating.

  16. New York 2140, novel by Kim Stanley Robinson. Reading over the previous comments, I don’t think this has been mentioned. Robinson is one of the great science fiction writers and this, his latest novel, received plenty of attention in other places, but I think it’s certainly worth a recommendation here as well. Of the 10 or 12 Hugo-eligible 2017 novels I’ve read to date it was by far the most enjoyable. I smiled frequently as I read it. A rich book full of interesting extrapolation, action, politics, and fun.

  17. I’ll agree with those who have previously mentioned:

    Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer


    In a city ruled by a psychotic giant flying bear, a woman finds and raises a strange organism.

    Fans of Jeff VanderMeer will be unsurprised that the setting of this book is on the weird side, and longtime fans will be unsurprised that it is set in a decaying, dystopic city ruled by organic nightmares made flesh. This time around, it’s in the service of a meditation on parenting, marriage, and love. I rather liked it.

  18. Best Dramatics Presentation: Short Form

    Gremlins Recall:This fan-film is from 2017 is actually eligible. It is a spoof of the Gremlins franchise, so I guess there would be some kind of trouble if it got nominated, but it is kind of good.

  19. Hampus Eckerman on February 15, 2018 at 1:44 pm said:

    Gremlins Recall:This fan-film is from 2017 is actually eligible. It is a spoof of the Gremlins franchise, so I guess there would be some kind of trouble if it got nominated

    Other derivative works have been finalists without the sky falling on them. Specifically Lucas Back in Anger, a satirical musical more or less based on Star Wars.

  20. Charlie Jane Anders has posted a tweet confirming this thread’s earlier conclusion that “Don’t Press Charges and I Won’t Sue” falls under short story. (The figure she gives is 7,430 words.) This puts me in the somewhat daunting position of going into nominating with four of my five short story slots already locked in, so that everything else I read or have already read is competing for just that final slot.

    I don’t feel up to writing reviews of them just now, but for the record, here are the other three I feel sure about:

    – Max Gladstone, “The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom” (Tor.com; 6,718 words)
    – Jo Walton, “A Burden Shared” (Tor.com; 3,200 words)
    – Sofia Samatar, “An Account of the Land of Witches” (Tender: Stories (Small Beer Press), reprinted online in The Offing; 6,650 words)

  21. Thirding the story mentioned above, “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance,” by Tobias S. Buckell. This originally came from the Saga anthology Cosmic Powers. I wish there was a Best Anthology category (please, Kevin Standlee, can we work on that this year?)–that book would be perfect for it. I really enjoyed another story in this anthology, Kameron Hurley’s “Warped Passages,” a prequel/origin story to her fantastic, sprawling, sometimes icky space opera The Stars Are Legion.

    Ms. Marvel Vol. 8: Mecca (Graphic Novel) After the disappointing volume 7, this has returned to the series’ normal standard of excellence. We see Kamala’s family once again, which has always been the heart of the story, and serious questions are asked about the existence of superheroes and the fallout of their actions.

    I’m woefully short on Best Related Works thus far, but Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal, will make my list even if I can find nothing else. This comes from Twelfth Planet Press, the same folks who published Letters to Tiptree (which was cheated out of a Hugo nom by puppy shenanigans). The format is the same: many authors and scholars writing about Butler and her work and what it has meant to them. The most affecting section is Section 4, “I Am an Octavia E. Butler Scholar.” These people won the scholarship to Clarion established in Butler’s name, and write powerfully about what this opportunity has done for them.

  22. I finished In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan, totally thanks to @Arifel for recommending it here. File 770 recs really do work! 😀

    This was an amazing book! It was hilarious (I literally LOL’d many times), sad, and heartwarming. The voices of the main characters, especially protagonist Elliott’s, were perfect. Oh, just read Arifel’s comment upthread; I’m not eloquent like that.

    I’ll take it on faith that it changed enough from the original, shorter version, so I’m nominating it somewhere (Best Novel? Best YA? sigh, I really dislike the Best YA category; is it legal to nominate something in both?).

  23. @Kendall

    Yes to double noms, in my not-an-admin opinion. Interestingly the YA award doesn’t have a word count so you could double-nom a novella.

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