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.

296 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.

  24. @Kendall woo, virtual high five for a successful recommendation exchange! I’m fairly certain (based on the Hugo spreadsheet of doom) that double nominations in YA and novel ARE allowed, but I haven’t checked the fine print myself yet.

    I just finished Null States by Malka Older – the sequel to Informocracy. I thought this was another excellent near-future political thriller, focusing on a series of political assassinations and a war between some of the surviving nation-states which threatens to bring down the “Centenel” system of democracy to which most of the world now subscribes. Older brings a strong and interesting grasp of international politics to bear and while I’m still not sold on whatever inciting event caused the world to transform to microdemocracy in the first place, I certainly enjoy following the fallout and the characters who have to deal with it. Plus, as someone who works in a similar field to some of the characters (not the spy!), I found her characterisation of aid and development and “capacity building support” etc to be believable to the point of discomfort. Which is a good thing. (Also I bloody love that “pbafhygnag nffnffvaf” exist in this world!)

    I must add a vehement anti-recommendation for the audiobook, which detracted significantly from my reading experience – the narrator has a really limited range of accents and mispronounces several regularly-used names of places and nationalities. In particular, “Ürümqi” was butchered throughout – it’s ur-um-chi not urum-key, as you can learn from five seconds on Wikipedia. She does learn how to say “Xinjiang” (shin-jang) after the third time it turns up, but the variation in pronunciation is another problem in itself. So yeah, read the words off the page for yourself for this one, or perhaps hire an expert consultant to do it for you.

  25. 2018 recommendation, thought it was a 2017 release in Europe, I just finish Gnomon by Nick Harkaway and holy crap that’s a good book.

    It’s set in a future where the System has a program called Witness which watches everything and provides that data for everyone with the idea that transparency makes everyone safer. Sort of like the above Malka Older’s Information system but without the micro-governments. In this future a person’s memories can be downloaded and viewed through a surgical procedure in order to find criminal intent/activities/co-conspirators/etc. People who relive these memories are trained Inspectors for the government.

    During the course of obtaining memories of a person who had turned themselves in, the person dies, which never happens. An investigator assigned to the case uploads the memories in a way that they’ll unpack slowly, mostly while she’s asleep. Only the memories she’s reliving belong to several other people instead which shouldn’t be possible.

    Maybe I’m biased because Gone Away World by Harkaway is one of my favorite books, but this was amazing. Not just as a narrative either, the whole thing is like a complex jigsaw where you can feel the edges of the puzzle pieces and yet don’t know what the final picture is supposed to look like. It’s a masterful act of storytelling that drops idea bombs in the middle of a page casually then moves on while you’re recovering to questioning things like identity, reality, individual freedom versus government overreach, . It puts all the pieces together wonderfully and leaves you wondering about all the clues and puzzles within the puzzle that you might’ve missed somehow.

    It’s brilliant.

  26. Jade City, by Fonda Lee


    In a city where jade means literal power, two clans go to war for dominance.

    Pros: A well-done mix of gangster drama and magical martial arts thriller, with memorable characters in a complex, interesting world.

    Cons: There’s a bit less resolution at the end than there is in some books, but since it’s intended as the first part of a series, that’s not necessarily the worst flaw.

  27. Campbell Award, Novel

    Rivers Solomon, An Unkindness of Ghosts

    The most distinctive new-to-me voice I encountered this year. As far as I can tell, Unkindness is Solomon’s first published work – they’re listed in year 1 on the Campbell eligibility list at Writertopia.

    It’s the story of a generation ship that’s segregated by deck and infested with slavery. I was bemused to learn that I expect my generation ship books to be hard SF, which this isn’t – the science isn’t handwavium, but this is a story about people and experiences, not mass balance. This is much more SF-y than Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, but would be a good read for people who enjoyed that book.

    I’m weighing up my Best Novel longlist, but entirely certain Solomon is on my Campbell list.

  28. The Bear and the Nightingale is Katherine Arden’s first published work. She should be Campbell eligible. I’m running a little short in this category, thanks for posting the link to writertopia!

  29. Best Graphic Story: Animosity

    What happens in a world where animals suddenly become sentient and start to question their relationships with humans? Where humans will have to decide if they should give the animals equal voice, how to do with eating meat, revenge issues…

    This is the story about a girl and the dog that still remains her best friend. But it is also a story about a world where humans only are one animal among others. Beautiful artwork, well written story line. This will get my nomination.

  30. Kings of the Wyld is super fun. Takes the concept of a band that’s split up and goes their separate ways but due to circumstances decides to get back together and tour again even though they’re past their prime, only it’s a mercenary band named Saga. Manages to create characters that are endearing, that are the results of both the challenges they’ve overcome and the mistakes they’ve made, what the band meant to each other, and all while turning the fun and action up to 11. In a way it reminded me of how Pratchett used fantasy with real world parallels, made you laugh, and also made you care. After the puzzles within puzzles within clever world play of Gnomon reading the equivalent of Ozzfest but with a couple more monsters was a blast.

  31. Sea of Rust was ok. It’s kind of got a future dystopia westernish thing going on where all the characters are robots and has some fun action and good ideas but for me the book kept breaking immersion because I had trouble believing the robots were robots. They’re emotional, which I guess makes sense for the ones which are Caregiver bots where they specifically state they’re intended to be, but if that’s the case why are all the other bots also pretty emotional? They use gendered pronouns which the book tries to lampshade at one point as bots don’t like to be called It however it never really makes sense and the bots apparently determine gender by tone of voice which also seems super weird for machines that I’d assume could modulate their voice pretty easily. Add on top of that the story lets us know the ones with fake skin to look human disposed or melted it off it becomes difficult to understand when the books mentions a robot smiling in response to something, or why they use phrases like ‘Suck my…’

    The story requires them to be robots, but the fact that they’re robots gets in the way of the story being told all over the place.

  32. Worldcon 75 Restaurant Guide, ed. by J. Robert Tupasela, Graphic Design by M.Pietikäinen, Cover Illustration by Maya Hahto.
    Published by Worldcon 75
    Category: Best Related Work

    This guide gave attendees of Worldcon 75 a welcoming and comprehensive introduction to the Helsinki restaurant scene. The guide organized restaurants by area of the city, standardizing the reviews based on price range, operating hours, location/contact information and accessibility. This publication stands as an enduring contribution to the enjoyment of Worldcon 75 attendees, many enjoying their first visit to Helsinki, from the local fans and staff.

  33. Incidentally, it looks to me like April Daniels, who has been recc’d a few times here (including by me) for Dreadnought and Sovereign, would be eligible for the Campbell. As far as I can determine, 2017’s Dreadnought was her first publication.

  34. Read Artemis, enjoyed it and it featured some of the same smart assed sharp writing along with actual science that I enjoyed from The Martian but this didn’t stick out as much to me. For one thing the character is made out as though she sleeps around a ton judging from the constant reactions of the guys around her but it’s never really shown in the book as if that’s a thing, there’s two relationships mentioned and she specifically is monogamous for one and cared for the other deeply, but her friends and father treat her as though she sleeps with anything with a pulse and it’s weird.

    The end I also felt like it conflicted with what’s been told about the character up until that point, but I can’t go into that without huge spoilers.

    Anyways it was entertaining, had a lot of problems that needed SCIENCE to solve their way out of, and is a quick read.

  35. In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan

    Novel (YA)

    I’ll add an enthusiastic voice in support of this one, which has just easily launched itself somewhere into my 2017 top five. It’s just wonderful. It’s a novel that gleefully inverts, interrogates, and explodes all the tropes of portal fantasy, magical boarding school fantasy, war fantasy, young adult fantasy, and fantasy centered on a male protagonist, while somehow at the same time having a stunning level of emotional realism and depth. I laughed a lot. I teared up once. Thumbs way up.

  36. Always Human by Ari Walkingnorth

    Graphic Story (webcomic)

    I just spent the evening binge-reading this webcomic, which completed in 2017, and I’m glad I did. Great characters, wonderful science fiction setting, realistic emotions, and meaningful subject matter. And beautiful art.

  37. Fansplaining, hosted by Flourish Kink and Elizabeth Minkel


    I never thought I would be recommending a podcast, but this one has solved my usual listening-to-things-is-hard problem: It has transcripts. They’re so beautiful. *sniff*

    By, about, and for fandom, this podcast covers a wide range of fannish topics, largely about the various ins and outs and events of fandom, including interviews with fannish experts. I’ve been reading my way through and there’s a lot of interesting discussions from a variety of perspectives. I think most Filers, and anyone else with an interest in fandom as an entity, will find a lot to appreciate here.

  38. Meredith: I never thought I would be recommending a podcast, but this one has solved my usual listening-to-things-is-hard problem: It has transcripts.

    Thanks for pointing to that! That is the only way a podcast will ever get me as a fan: through transcripts I can read in a reasonable amount of time. Audiocasts take SO much time to convey even a modicum of material — time during which I could be reading 5 or 10 times as much material.

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