2018 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2018-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.

63 thoughts on “2018 Recommended SF/F List

  1. @Kendall and Mike Glyer: Thanks so much for the fix! It looks like a weird extra “file770.com” got added in on my attempt, probably as testament to my deep, unconditional love of the site (or something…)

    @Greg good to know on the Taste of Wrath length and eligibility. Raising the hard cut-off to 48,000 words also brings the category more in line with what is actually being published as a novella at present (I believe, for example, that tor.com’s cut-off is 50,000 words), so I hope the amendment goes through without issue this year.

  2. Arifel’s adventures in ARCs, Pt. 2. Elevenfox Gam- er, Ninefox’s Eleve- no, wait: REVENANT GUN by Yoon Ha Lee (Machineries of Empire book 3)

    The final volume in this trilogy stuck the landing for me, bringing the series to a close in a highly satisfying way.

    In terms of content, it’s more in the vein of Raven Stratagem than Ninefox Gambit – i.e. more political strategising and broader glimpses of life in the Hexarchate, fewer space-magic battle sequences – and while I did miss all the intentionally incomprehensible formations and sigils, there’s more than enough new worldbuilding elements to make up for it, including plenty of time with the servitor robots, who continue to be wonderful.

    Some great character work, including the interesting choice to bring in another iteration of General Shuos Jedao as a teenager with no memory of his future actions; it took me a while to warm up to this decision but it ends up working well with several of the book’s themes and plot points without feeling like too much of a retread of old material.

    All in all, if you enjoyed the first two books in this series then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this – I strongly suspect it’s going to be a contender for next year’s Hugos and is definitely in play for my ballot, although its early days yet…

    Longer review with spoilers for first two books is here, this time with added URL-proofing…

  3. Space Opera by Cat Valente – A really fun book that my biggest complaint of is that joy beaming through each sentence is almost overwhelming trying to digest the paragraph before when then next is all up in your face. It’s like the book equivalent of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Still a lot of fun, and lots of brilliant lines throughout.

  4. Matt Y, I’m a third of the way through Space Opera and enjoying the hell out of it; I gather from your post that it sticks the landing. If it does, it’s on my Hugo Longlist. (Granted, it’s early days yet…)

  5. Cassy – I felt it did, it pulls together many things referenced earlier in a super bombastic way, which is pretty much the only way anything happens in the book.

    Last year I read Blues Horror (White Tears), Rock Horror (Mad Black Wheel), and Metal Fantasy (Kings of the Wyld). Musically themed is almost a sub-genre on it’s own and I’m a-ok with that.

  6. “The Rabbit”, by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
    Short Story
    Creepy and evocative, a sharp little horror story told with just the right number of words.

    “The Six Boy-Coffins”, by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
    Short Story
    A retelling of “The Six Swans” with a hefty dose of sardonic humor and a nice feminist punch at the end.

    These stories both come from the collection The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Mallory Ortberg (it may be listed as being by Mallory Ortberg). The two above are, in my opinion, the standout stories of the collection, and they’re great.

    The collection overall is somewhat hit-or-miss, and I wouldn’t give a high recommendation to some of the stories. However, other stories in the collection that I did enjoy included:
    “The Daughter Cells”
    “Some of Us Had Been Threatening Our Friend Mr. Toad”
    “The Frog’s Princess”, and
    “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”.

  7. N: There’s an annual rec list on Goodreads; the 2019 rendition is up.

    It looks as though that is all categories mixed together? I see novels, novellas, nonfiction, graphic novels, and semiprozines in that list.

  8. @JJ: Uh, yeah. I brought up the possibility of splitting the lists, but as of now the main Hugos are all lumped together, as is tradition. There is the benefit of looking at each choice on the list more closely.

  9. I’m listening to Space Opera, and while the lines the reader delivers are delightful, I can’t tell one of his character voices from another.
    FWIW, if someone did an audio play adaptation, this would ROCK! And I’m mostly amusical…
    Going get the book and temporarily shelve Barbary Station to read this and reread Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  10. (I posted this in a scroll but forgot to post it here too)

    The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Boddard (Novella, c20,000 words)

    This is set in her Xuya series of Space Opera stories, but I suspect it will stand alone reasonably well as the characters are all new.

    The official blurb is

    Once, the mindship known as The Shadow’s Child was a military transport. Once, she leapt effortlessly between stars and planets, carrying troops and crew for a war that tore the Empire apart. Until an ambush killed her crew and left her wounded and broken.Now the war is over, and The Shadow’s Child, surviving against all odds, has run away. Discharged and struggling to make a living, she has no plans to go back into space. Until the abrasive and arrogant scholar Long Chau comes to see her. Long Chau wants to retrieve a corpse for her scientific studies: a simple enough, well-paid assignment.But when the corpse they find turns out to have been murdered, the simple assignment becomes a vast and tangled investigation, inexorably leading back to the past–and, once again, to that unbearable void where The Shadow’s Child almost lost both sanity and life…

    The less respectful blurb might be “She’s a Mindship, traumatised by previous military service. She’s a consulting detective with a shadowy past. Together, they fight crime….”

    Although it’s quick and easy to call it Space Opera Sherlock Holmes I do think it quickly rises above just being a pastiche or homage – the characters aren’t just tributes to the classic stories, they have their own origins that fit into the Xuya universe and work within it. I think it’s most successful as a character piece – the mystery is decent but there’s only 20,000 words or so to work with – and that’s what makes me really like it, as the two characters very slowly open up just enough to let the other want to stick around with them.

    If you already like the Xuya stories then this is well worth your time. If you’ve not tried them then I think this is a good jumping on points, and it’s also the best novella of the year I’ve read so far.

  11. Just finished The Human Dress by Graydon Saunders. It was dense, and chewy, and skaldic. It felt like a fantastical Norse epic, with feathered dinosaurs and magic and a certain amount of chemistry (once you realize that “soot-stuff” is carbon and “breath-stuff” is oxygen and so forth….

    I enjoyed it, but it’s NOT a quick read. It’s currently on my Hugo longlist, but it’s early days yet…

  12. For those (like me) interested in seeing more webcomics in serious contention for the Graphic Story award, Ophiuchus just finished its run on Tumblr.

    Ophiuchus is a comic created by Natasha Tara Petrovic and Ali Leriger de la Plante. It follows the story of two robots and a skeleton as they set out on a pilgrimage to defeat the virus that’s infecting their world.

    I’ve seen high praise for it, so I’m definitely giving it a shot. Hey, it’s free. And the art style’s really beautiful.

    First page here.

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