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.

159 thoughts on “2017 Recommended SF/F List

  1. It’s not out yet, but I read an ARC of HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS by Aliette de Bodard. Not quite a straight sequel to her HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS, it takes place after the first novel, and is, if anything, better than its predecessor.

  2. @Rail. It doesn’t strictly need HOSW. It’s set in a different House and in the Dragon Kingdom, and the number of crossover characters are very few. What you need to know about what happened at the end of HOSW is enfolded into the narrative.

    So, no, you really don’t. You can start here if you want. This novel doesn’t “start from zero” in explaining its world as deeply as HOSW does but all you really need to know is that Fallen Angels in the aftermath of a disastrous war feudally rule noble Houses in a ruined early 20th century Paris. GO. 🙂

  3. Since it’ll be eligible, I’ll once again put in a rec for:

    The Power, by Naomi Alderman

    Novel. Eligible due to U.S. publication date.

    Brief synopsis: Teenage girls all over the world develop the power to cause agonizing pain and even death. The world changes utterly.

    Comments: Easily the most powerful novel I read last year, thought provoking in a lingering way. Margaret Atwood had an editorial hand in shaping this book, and it shows; in some ways it’s an homage to The Handmaid’s Tale, and could perhaps even be viewed as a companion to that book in a reverse-mirror kind of way. But the book stands on its own and is in no way an imitation. There are minor writing quibbles I could take with the book — the characterization of one of the four main characters is a little thin, and her motivations for certain actions in the later part of the story are perhaps not as clearly drawn as they could be. But these issues were for me overwhelmed by the, well, power of the idea behind the book, and the way it leaps off the page into your mind.

  4. Novella: Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire. A compelling ghost story… written from the point of view of the ghost.

  5. Iron Gods by Andrew Bannister, Transworld, £14.99, hrdbk, ISBN 978-0-593-07650-7.
    Eligible for Best Novel in 2018

    The Spin, an ancient artificial cluster of eighty-eight planets and twenty-two suns – is in decline. The boundaries of the formerly prosperous Inside have shrunk to a mere eleven planets, their trade routes are cut off, and their last remaining source of income comes

    From selling the services of their vast industrial slave-colony – The Hive. A group of Hivers escape. Led by Seldyan, they steal the last legacy battleship and leave. Their destination: the free colony of Web City. However when they arrive they realise all is not well – a new green star has appeared in the sky…This is Andrew’s second novel and is set in the same universe as his Creation Machine that has something of Iain Bank’s culture voice.

    Also Best Novel…

    The Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett, Macmillan, £12.99, hrdbk. ISBN 978-1-509-83352-8.

    Not read it myself but this is getting some cautious profile within the British Isles bookselling trade and especially notable as its a debut.

    It is actually a romance tale set against a post-apocalyptic, widescreen space opera background. It is a novel of love, the choices we make, and billed as what it means to be human. It’s also billed as a dramatic road-trip across the stars. A woman journeys across a plague-ravaged universe to the place she once called home, and the man she once loved. After a virus wipes out most of humanity, Jamie leaves her isolated posting on the planet Solitaire and heads for Earth. She must reach the Northumberland coast, to see if her ex-partner Daniel is still alive. Joining a band of misfits and fellow survivors, each with their own agenda, she struggles to survive while wrestling with loss and heartache.

  6. Mira’s Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
    Novella
    Spectrum
    Available as an e-book from the usual e-tailers. No doubt there will be a spiffy hard cover from Subterranean Press in due course.

    Mira’s Last Dance is my least favorite so far of her Penric stories. There doesn’t seem to be as much there there, this time. There will probably be another Penric story as this one ends in a good place for it to end, but there’s obviously more to come. It takes up immediately after Penric’s Mission with the same three characters (or 15 if you count the Lioness and the Mare).

    I find Bujold’s stories always, always, improve on re-reading. It’s extraordinary how she manages to do that! So I suspect I’ll like it better the next time around.

  7. The Stars Are Legion, Kameron Hurley

    Novel: published by Saga Press

    I think this is a book people will love or hate. Like so much of Hurley’s work, it’s messy, gory and brutal. She pulls no punches with either her characters or her worldbuilding, and in the case of the latter, follows it all the way to its logical, nasty ends.

    But in my view, this particular book’s worldbuilding is fascinating: living, moon-sized (and larger) organic worldships, with humans–and humans far different from what we know as homo sapiens today–inhabiting their guts like our intestinal flora, or maybe parasites. The Legion is a cluster of such worlds orbiting an artificial sun, and our two main characters, Zan and Jayd, are caught up in a war that has been going on for generations, a war for control of the Legion–and ultimately a war for humanity’s survival, since many of the worldships are dying.

    I think Hurley’s craft and ability as a writer has taken a huge leap forward with this book. Yes, the year is young, but to me, this is a standout.

  8. For short fiction, the year is off to a slow start. So far there are just 4 stories I’d strongly recommend (as in, I gave them five stars because I think they’re award-worthy).

    One short story:

    Concessions, by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

    And three novellas:

    And Then There Were (N-One), by Sarah Pinsker

    Nexus, by Michael F. Flynn

    Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire

    I recommend a further 19 stories (4-stars), which means I wouldn’t nominate them, but I’d cheerfully vote for them.

  9. Oh, I’ve got a golden ticky…. [been listening to a soundtrack/showtunes channel as background music a lot lately]

    Most of my recent reading has been older stuff, but I always like reading other people’s current recommendations.

  10. I don’t have any yet (ticky), since I’ve mostly been focused on catching up on my reading for the ballot which was due Friday. But I’m sure that I will.

  11. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden
    Novel, published by Del Rey.
    A story from a fantasy-medieval Russia, about old forces warring against new as well as against each other, with a young girl caught in the middle.
    I liked the book especially for its vivid and realistic world building. The Russian winter is cold, the nights are dark, and people huddle around the fireplace indoors. Stores of food and firewood run low at the end of winter. People work the fields and long for rain during the summer.
    First in a planned trilogy, and it tells – the book doesn’t exactly end in a cliffhanger, but it ends in Rivendell and not in the Grey Havens.

  12. Feel as though I’m already behind on 2017, but I’m about halfway through Spaceman of Bohemia and it’s shaping up to be one of my favorites from recent memory.

  13. Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty, published by Orbit
    Novel

    This book packs a lot of interesting stuff: clones, a murder mystery on centuries-long (IIRC) voyage to found a colony on a far-away planet, secret pasts, AI, hacking, nasty people, et al. It starts with 6 clones waking up to find what appears to be the violent deaths of all their previous incarnations. Here and there between the current plot, the clones’ back stories are revealed via flashback-ish chapters. Overall, an interesting read that kept me reading late into the night!

    There were a couple of times where a character’s actions (or inactions, really) based on recently-acquired knowledge didn’t make sense to me, and some end-of-book tech was a little tough to suspend disbelief for, but overall it was great and I recommend it. ? It’s way, way too easy to say this will be on my ballot, but IMHO it’s a worthy contender.

  14. @Brian Vander Veen: I’d be very interested to hear what you think when you’ve finished it; the description is really intriguing.

  15. Can I rec Seven Surrenders in advance? Haven’t gotten it read yet, but based on my love for Too Like the Lightning I’m very excited about it.

    Seven Surrenders (Terra Ignota #2) by Ada Palmer
    Novel, published by Tor Books

  16. @Contrarius: I’m happy to bolster that recommendation. 🙂

    Too Like the Lightning set all the dominoes up; Seven Surrenders knocks them all down. It’s fantastic, and I’ve already pre-ordered the next volume…

  17. Feel as though I’m already behind on 2017, but I’m about halfway through Spaceman of Bohemia and it’s shaping up to be one of my favorites from recent memory.

    I just finished the sample of that for the Nook. I’m glad to hear a recommendation because I’ve been contemplating whether to read it. The way it’s being marketed by publisher Little, Brown and Company made me wonder whether it strays too far out of genre for my tastes.

  18. Pingback: The Hugo Awards 2017 – Nomination Worthy Novelettes – Book Reviews & Reading Guides

  19. Kyra, Meredith, anyone?

    I’m very interested in reading The Power by Naomi Alderman, but is it available in an ink and paper version in the US? Amazon only has them from third party sellers, which might be fine, but I’m a little squeamish. The only others I see seem to be in E-book form, which doesn’t work well for me.

  20. @Beth in MA: I recommend The Book Depository; they’re my go-to for UK-only print books. I think they’re now owned by Amazon, but they have the great benefit of free shipping to the US. I’ve never had any problems with them (just the opposite, the one time a book didn’t make it to my mailbox, they sent me another copy without hesitation).

  21. I can second this recommendation for The Book Depository. The worst problem I had was a book taking a few weeks longer than promised, but since I was paying nothing for transatlantic shipping, I was okay with this.

    (And it still beat the US release date)

  22. @Beth in MA

    I could be wrong, since I haven’t found anything useful and really obvious saying ‘USA release date! not out til then!’, but a poke around the internet seems to indicate that the USA edition might not be out until later this year – Octoberish. Sorry. 🙁 Kyra might know better.

  23. Thank you, Meredith! I’ll keep my eyes open!

    Recc: Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
    This book felt like a version of CABARET set in a different world. It started a little slow, but about halfway through I could not put it down and zoomed through it. Definitely got the creeping fascism right, and I really felt for the characters in the situation. There were some unpleasant surprises in the story, but they made sense after the fact, though I was shocked in the moment. On my longlist, which is not very long at the moment.

  24. I like the Book Depository, but I’m also okay with new/used copies from third-party Amazon resellers. I’ve ordered things via Amazon resellers and never had a problem. Amazon’s always been very good at resolving problems with orders through them from them; I’d expect them to be as helpful for others through them that are fulfilled from another party.

    That said, if it’s coming out later – as it sounds from @Meredith’s comment – and if you’re okay with waiting, I suggest waiting. Then the author gets the sale in your own country and the publisher doesn’t think “huh, she doesn’t sell well here.” Of course, it’s one of those “if everyone did X” things, and you’re just one person, soooo take my suggestion (partially inspired by a publisher complaining about people buying overseas before the book came out in their own country) with a grain of salt. 😉

    /ramble

  25. Beth in MA: Amazon only has them from third party sellers, which might be fine, but I’m a little squeamish.

    I’ve bought tons of out-of-print books from 3rd-party sellers on Amazon. It’s a great way to get hold of books which aren’t available on Kindle (and may well never be. I’ve had a great experience in terms of shipping times and quality as advertised.

    Things to keep in mind when buying from Amazon 3rd-party sellers:
    1) All books cost $3.99 each for shipping. There is no discount on shipping for ordering several books from the same seller.
    2) However, you can get a lot of books for between $4 and $5 because they are priced for almost nothing, since the seller knows they will get the $4 shipping fee for each one.
    3) Pay attention to the condition descriptions. It’s quite common to get de-accessioned library books if the quality is “Good” or “Acceptable”. “Very Good”, “Like New”, and “New” are better choices if you want higher-quality used books. I don’t keep physical books any more, because of reasons, so I generally just get the cheapest and give it away somewhere such as the File770 used book table at Worldcon, but if I’m getting the book for someone else, I’ll pay a little more for a better-quality version.
    4) Pay attention to the seller’s satisfaction rating and number of sales. I tend to buy from the bigger dealers who have sold thousands of books and have a rating of 93% or above.

  26. PhilRM–I apologize for missing your comment before–thank you for the information about The Book Depository! I’ll check it out tonight!

    Thank you, Filers, for your suggestions about 3rd party sellers and The Book Depository. I appreciate it! Round of beverages for all!

  27. 3rd Party Sellers/Book Depository is good advice (I’ve bought from both often, and would agree with JJ’s advice about using them; also, on the very rare occasions when I have had problems, I have never had an issue getting a refund or replacement.)

    If you do want to wait for the U.S. release for some reason, it looks like it will be out in the States on October 10, 2017.

  28. Seconding the rec for And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker, Uncanny Magazine March 2017 issue. Throughly enjoyable multiverse murder mystery where all the suspects are the same person. Ish.

  29. Agents of Dreamland, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Tor.com
    Hugo Category: Novella
    Classification: Lovecraftian horror

    Two agents from separate, mysterious government agencies – a man known only as the Signalman, and a woman who is even more mysterious than the agency she works for – meet in Winslow, Arizona to trade information on a horrifying event that occurred in a decaying house near the Salton Sea, an event that proves to be only the latest in a series, and will not be the last.

    No one does modern-day Lovecraft better than Kiernan: this searing, disturbing novella takes place in a universe that, at best, is bleak and indifferent. It also lies at the SF end of the SF/horror spectrum, as in most of late Lovecraft. You will benefit from having read Lovecraft’s The Whisperer in Darkness, but it’s not required. Beautifully written and as dark as a dream of Yuggoth.

  30. SFReading: I finished Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman last night, first of two (or four, if they sell well!) in the Industrial Magic set of novellas, which Tor’s calling gaslamp fantasy. IIRC it’s around the 1850s, around the industrial revolution, but powered by magic. Magi are required to work for the Crown via the Royal Society and can’t marry or pursue other endeavors. Hiding your magic (or even not reporting someone else you know has magic) is against the law. It’s all a bit dire and draconian, which makes a good setup for tension and paranoia on the part of the main character – a woman hiding her magic, and a career as an artist, to boot.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this a lot. As I believe @JJ said, there’s a lot of setup here, but for me there was enough plot and intrigue that it felt like a complete story, while obviously setting up the next novella(s). I hope there are more than two; I enjoyed it a lot. It’s way to early to say whether it would be on my Hugo list, but I definitely recommend it!

  31. @Kendall. When I was reading it, I kept getting a “Psi Corps” Babylon 5 vibe out of Charlotte, her plight and her world. But maybe that’s because of the B5 rewatch I’m doing.

  32. Novel rec: Lotus Blue, Cat Sparks, published by Talos Press.

    Longer review here on Goodreads, but in short: This book has dense, chewy worldbuilding, good characterization (the two protagonists in particular have nice arcs) and a rip-roaring story. (A front cover blurb from Peter Watts also doesn’t hurt.) I’ve never heard of this author before, but now I’ll be on the lookout for her work.

  33. While I’m here, I’m about halfway through Clarkesworld 124 and greatly enjoying it so far. Possibly my favorite Rich Larson story to date, a fun story by Vina Jie-Min Prasad, who’s a new author to me, and I’ve got a de Bodard reprint to look forward among the remainder of the issue.

  34. I just finished Mira Grant’s novella Final Girls, and I’m still unpacking some of my thoughts. There are aspects I found underdeveloped though not central, a central story with layers to its horror, and an ending and implications to think through.

    A scientist has immersive VR technology that’s being used to help people shed psychological trauma; a skeptical reporter comes to write a story about it. Matters develop from there.

    In general, I don’t like horror, and probably wouldn’t have read this without the combination of picking it up in a Humble Bundle, and generally enjoying Seanan McGuire. Probably worth a look and opinion from someone better suited to weighing it up.

  35. I just finished Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes and Uncanny Fifteen (including Sarah Pinsker’s And Then There Were (N-One)) back to back – multiple selves and murder all over the place. A good compare-and-mostly-contrast.

    For me, Six Wakes had a lot of worldbuilding to dump, but I enjoyed learning about the characters and the unraveling mystery. I did think of Christie in places.

    And Then There Were (N-One) is a different, introspective read. A bit more con experience could’ve been fun, but what we saw worked. I was also pleased that whodunnit vf bar ynlre qrrcre guna gur boivbhf fbyhgvba jvgubhg orvat bhg bs yrsg svryq.

    I’m always happy to encounter Even Better, but these are my first entries into this year’s Novel and Novella categories that I’ll be satisfied with if they aren’t displaced.

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