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.)

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305 thoughts on “2018 Recommended SF/F List

  1. +1 for Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers. I really enjoyed it. Chambers continues to tell stories which are more of a vignette of a group of people’s experiences rather than plot-driven ones. This is her third book and I think she achieves a good balance – bringing everyone’s story along at an interesting pace and bringing the whole thing to a satisfying close.

  2. For those who’ve read Record of a Spaceborn Few… do I need to re-read either of the other two books for background or does this one largely stand on its own? I remember the milieu; I’m just shaky on characters, so if it’s a different set of characters I’m good to go….

    I guess what I’m asking is, is it a direct sequel or is it a same-universe book?

  3. +1 for Semiosis by Sue Burke.
    Our SF book club read it and loved it. A well-done exploration of what plant intelligence might be like with a hilarious Easter egg:
    Bpm uiqv qvbmttqomvb xtivb bisma bpm vium Abmdtivl. Abmdtivl eia bpm nqzab vium wn Abmdqm Ewvlmz epw ezwbm iv itjcu Bpm Amkzmb Tqnm wn Xtivba.

    I have to agree, though, with the Kirkus reviewer:
    “When the prevailing trend in science fiction is to turn even the flimsiest plots into bloated trilogies, cutting this extraordinary story short feels like a deplorable waste.
    An outstanding science-fiction novel hobbled by its rushed story structure.”

    I’m glad that there is a sequel coming.
    Also, if you read it and are puzzled by a lack of explanation about one important plot point (Rot-8 Epg bpm Otiaauismza tmnb bpm kqbg), check her blog. Apparently the answer was left out by accident.

  4. An emphatic +1 for Semiosis by Sue Burke.
    Our SF book club read it and loved it. A well-done exploration of plant intelligence in episodic form with a great Easter egg:
    Gur znva vagryyvtrag cynag gnxrf gur anzr Fgriynaq, juvpu vf Fgrivr Jbaqre’f svefg anzr. Ur jebgr na nyohz pnyyrq “Gur Frperg Yvsr bs Cynagf.”
    I do have to agree with the Kirkus reviewer:
    “When the prevailing trend in science fiction is to turn even the flimsiest plots into bloated trilogies, cutting this extraordinary story short feels like a deplorable waste.
    An outstanding science-fiction novel hobbled by its rushed story structure.”
    It’s a good thing that there will be a sequel.
    Also, if you are puzzled for a lack of explanation by a plot point (Jul qvq gur Tynffznxref yrnir gur pvgl?), check the blog for the book. Apparently, the explanation got accidentally left out during editing.

  5. @Bonnie I’m sorry that I double-posted. I didn’t see the first comment post and thought I had screwed up somehow. https://www.rot13.com/ works for the second comment for me (the Rot 13 comments were the same).

  6. Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers


    I wavered a long time about whether to add my voice to those recommending it here. There isn’t any overarching plot, and that sometimes made the story feel plodding or meandering to me. Basically, it’s a slice-of-life depiction of a small town slowly losing its population to more exciting locales, except the small town in question happens to be a former generation ship orbiting an alien sun. However, Chambers is as deft as ever with her characters, and I did ultimately enjoy the book. So even though I didn’t like it quite as much as her first two entries in the Wayfarers universe, I’m still giving it a recommendation.

    It can be read as a solo work without reading the other books set in the universe first; only a few brief references to certain types of alien beings might be confusing.

  7. @Cora, I’ve just watched the sixth and final episode of Hard Sun that you mentioned (BBC One & Hulu, 2018 — Auntie Beeb are not going to go any further, even though show runner Neil Cross said he planned a five-year arc a la Straczynski). It’s difficult to know what to make of the series.

    It’s ultimately a sort of overwrought police procedural / thriller despite a SF-genre premise (something is wrong with the sun, and life will come to an end in five years) that brings little to the plot except to inspire pervasive gloom and more people going unhinged than usual. I like that the writers avoided the cliche of a police buddy movie, and instead have partners Hicks and Renko undermining, investigating, and fighting with each other. OTOH they adopted nearly the entire collection of other police cliches.

    I think I’ll consider this one proof that police/SF series based on Bowie songs aren’t always good, and give it a pass when doing nominations.

  8. Novel: The Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal

    A +1 for this, albeit if I’ve only got one slot I suspect I’ll be nomming The Calculating Stars ahead of it.

    I was expecting it to carry on directly from The Calculating Stars but it actually takes a little time jump, and this helps it stand alone better – I’d still read tCS first though. Much of what I said about tCS stands for this as well, with bonus points for portraying some previously-unexplored problems with space travel.

    A couple of things that struck me after reading both books, firstly it felt like the books went for a consciously retro feel – which fits nicely with the setting – but try to marry that with a more modern sensibility to social issues, and sometimes the two don’t quite mesh.
    Secondly, the books take a fairly US-centric approach to the story. Perhaps that’s not much of a criticism for a book by a US author primarily for a US audience, but it did strike me here and there. Although the space program in the book is nominally worldwide it is US-dominated, which isn’t entirely supported by a couple of the alt-history decisions that MRK throws in which weaken the impetus for the US to dominate.
    The one bit that did genuinely peev me is that in The Fated Sky MRK needs a character to be a full-bore racist to contrast with her lead US characters who are struggling slowly towards understanding the issues. That role gets taken by a South African, and the choice not to fill that particular role with an American character rather stands out.

    Novel: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

    Whew! I don’t know what I was expecting from this, but it wasn’t the fantasy with a cyberpunk plot that I got. I recommend this very highly.

    The setting is a city run on industrialised magic, dominated by merchant houses that rule their own areas, leaving the poorest areas to lawless anarchy. The magic based on writing complex instructions to run arcane devices is really interesting (and RJB gives a good lesson in how to ‘splain without being too ‘splainy) but the characters are where it shines. Initially you meet Sancia, an escaped slave who is surviving in the lawless areas by putting a unique talent for thievery to use. She’s not a chirpy urban thief with a heart of gold type though – she wants a big pile of cash to fix her problem and then get as far away from their as she can. Other chars come in later and probably don’t quite rise to Sancia’s level.
    When I say it’s a cyberpunk plot, what I mean is that you have a urban environment controlled by big corps, with hardscrabble thieves and other operatives running around doing jobs for mysterious (probably corporate) benefactors, getting their hands on something they weren’t supposed to and getting into Big Trouble as a result. There are some further callouts in the magic-tech that convince me RJB was doing this deliberately.
    Similarly to the Divine Cities this is all in service of exploring some big themes about power, how cities and economies work – with technology in particular – oh and the nature of his world and what gods there may be in it.
    While this is the start of a series it definitely stands together, leading up to a very satisfying high-octane ending. I’ll be very interested to see if he writes a trilogy with a tighter plot than Divine Cities, or if he goes wider again. I rather hope it’s the latter.

    If I were to criticise, I would say that having recently read some novels that tackle the subject of slavery in an unrelentingly grim manner, the treatment here comes over as a bit lightweight – honestly meant, I think, but not as strongly examined as it could be.

  9. The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark, novella (25k words)

    I picked this up on the strength of the author’s shorter work A Dead Djinn in Cairo and I’m very glad I did. The setting is the star here – a lush,evocative alternative New Orleans in a magical steampunk world where the US fractured from the civil war and New Orleans is a free city acting as a neutral zone for the various powers, including a Haiti who gained independence by calling up the power of its gods with a weapon called The Black God’s Drums. The writing really does justice to the setting.
    The lead is a young girl with the disconcerting nickname of Creeper, who survives on the New Orleans streets seemingly as much by preference as by poverty – she has friends who would look after her, it seems, but she doesn’t want to be tied down, she wants to be away to adventure! To avoid spoilers I’ll simply say that she falls into a definite Adventure and then Shenanigans occur.

    The plot is fairly straightforward as you’d expect from a shortish novella but rattles along nicely. It’s self contained but leaves room for some more steampunk airship adventures, and I really hope it does well enough that we get them.

  10. Alternate Routes by Tim Powers is fun book that uses familiar sort of urban mysticism to tie ghosts, LA freeways, math, Daedalus and the Crete Labyrinth together to make a tale of people on the run from a spy agency. Good stuff but two of the main characters interactions with each other felt off. Still Powers is almost his own sub genre and this book is another great example of him doing what he does well.

    Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. Post apocalyptic urban fantasy with Native American tribal abilities, monsters and mythos. I liked the setting, and Coyote was great, but felt that the mourning of a sort-of ex and constant character’s self doubt hijacked the momentum and while the setting and monsters were unique the story itself is similar to other urban fantasy books. If urban fantasy is your genre though there’s a lot to enjoy in it and I think that audience is going to love these books.

    This Body’s Not Big Enough For The Two of Us by Edgar Cantero is an odd detective story about a gumshoe that is actually two people who are chimeric twins that share one body. Much like Space Opera one of the things I really enjoyed about it is that the author is obviously having a great time just telling the story and it comes through in the writing. There’s a lot of fourth wall breaking and intentional subversion of genre tropes and one of the more bizarre sibling rivalries on paper. Really enjoyed it.

  11. +1 for Space Opera — some will love it, some will hate it. Wall-to-wall absurdist humor, with some warm-heartedness instead of nihilism. I had a great time with it, but definitely YMMV.

    +1 for Trail of Lightning — this one is promising more than an outstanding work in its own right. It has definite flaws, but as a first novel it sets a pretty good foundation for future books in the series.

  12. Novel: Before Mars, Emma Newman

    I hesitated before picking this up at the library, as I haaaaated the ending to Planetfall. I finally decided to take a chance, and I’m glad I did, as this is a much stronger book.

    This is the final book in the Planetfall series, which makes it eligible for Best Series (although I probably won’t be nominating it, due to my dislike of the first book’s ending). Nevertheless, this book stands alone quite well, with its story of the Mars Principia colony, and Anna Kubrin, the geologist/artist sent there to churn out expensive paintings for the gov’t-slash-corporation that owns and runs the colony. She falls into a neat little puzzle box of a mystery, which also has some interesting things to say about motherhood and how society treats women who become mothers. There’s even more pointed themes of privacy, human rights, and how corporations and capitalism can destroy democracy, which ring scarily true in the times we now live in.

    I wish the first book ended as well as this one. I had avoided the second book, After Atlas, but now I will look for it.

  13. I will second the recommendation for Before Mars. It’s a great space station mystery, and it’s on my Best Novel Hugo longlist for next year.

  14. Novella – The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky

    This is a slightly odd title. I suppose it makes sense once you’ve read the book though.

    It’s quite hard to talk about it without spoilers, because the setting is the Big Idea, and the gradual discovery of the setting is the main point of the story. It’s not a mystery as such – it’s pretty obvious what the broad strokes are from the outset – but the characters need to learn about their world. So it’s a combination of coming-of-age and exploration. The young main character, Handry, loses his place in the world through no real fault of his own beyond some youthful exuberance, and when his situation becomes very dark indeed he is tempted into take a leap into the unknown by a charismatic stranger. This reveals much more about his world than he could have guessed.
    I suppose the setting could be considered a bit of an old chestnut by some, but I thought Tchaikovsky gave it life, plus some additional interest from his perpetual obsession with putting insects in everything. I think it would be fair to say that the plot is a bit of a straight line through the job of exploring the setting, but given the limitations of novella length I’m not sure he could have done much more. Overall an enjoyable novella.

    Novel – Alternate Routes by Tim Powers

    I’m a massive Powers fan, albeit perhaps more for his historically set novels than his weird modern Americana, so if you’ve tried Powers and found him not to your liking then this is unlikely to change your mind. That said, this seems to be a bit more entry-level Powers than some other works of his, with action from the off and more-and-earlier explanations of the Weird Stuff, so it might be worth trying if you’re new to Powers.

    In this case the Weird Stuff revolves around ghosts, freeways, and some greek mythology. The main character Vickery is Tortured By His Past in a slightly cliched fashion but Powers is a good enough writer to make him a fully-featured character anyway. He was a Secret Service agent (of the more boring fraud investigation type) until he heard something Weird on the radio in a motorcade vehicle and his colleagues promptly tried to murder him. Now he’s hiding out under an assumed name and driving vehicles for a private agency that specialises in getting you past supernatural obstacles. The plot quickly kicks into high gear as former colleague Ingrid Castine pops up to warn him that he’s been spotted but she’s for some reason not prepared to let them get to him – it turns out she’s not happy with what’s she’s been learning on the inside – and the pair are quickly on the run from gunmen who can track them with intel extracted from ghosts. Without running into spoilers, the weirdness ramps up from there. It’s a quick and pacy story with Power’s trademark of Secret History interacting with Americana.

    (also read: The Accidental War by Walter Jon Williams. Starting a new trilogy in his Dread Empire’s Fall/Praxis series, albeit carrying on with the same characters a few years later. As a fan of the series I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I’m not sure you could really pick it up cold from this point, and the story in this volume isn’t really self-contained either so I personally wouldn’t recommend it as a Hugo nom. Once this new trilogy is finished then Series may be a possibility though, and if you liked the previous ones then definitely pick this up)

  15. YA Lodestar:

    Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi

    I gather this book was quite hyped when it came out. I will say this is a flawed but fascinating debut novel, based on Nigerian culture, gods and mythology. Where it falls down a bit is the characterizations: there’s an ill-advised romance that ups the teenage angst quotient considerably, and unnecessarily so, in my opinion. Still, it’s a fast-paced and interesting read, and I believe the author is also eligible for the Campbell. If so, she’s definitely on my list.

  16. Read:
    Suicide Club: A Novel About Living Which is a sci-fi dystopia book about a future where artificial augmentation essentially means living forever but you have to have the right genes for it. Basically you’re tested at birth and depending on what number it gives you it either means that you’re a ‘lifer’ or a ‘sub100’. Lifers essentially get all the privileges of good schools and optional additional life extending treatments while if you’re sub100 you’re going to be poor and die sooner.

    It’s told from two perspectives, one from a woman whose a lifer whose goal is career advancement which gives more access to life extending therapies but a run in with her estranged father starts off a chain of events that calls into question the point of focusing a while life around extending that life. The other perspective is another lifer whose mother’s body is alive though her mind is likely gone and is torn between thinking that it’s a horrible existence but unable to stop it herself.

    It’s well written and interesting. The writing is mostly focused on the internal struggles of these characters in the world and not much on the world itself and that’s my biggest problem with it. The worldbuilding is a second thought, like there’s a bunch of vegetables people consume but hardly anyone lives outside of a city anymore which makes me wonder who is growing this produce, but it’s also not the focus of the story so it’s more of a personal anecdote that I kept getting distracted by wondering about the details on all the things. Interesting read and the end goes real dark.

    Foundryside I’m a Robert Jackson Bennett fan and at this point I’m envious of his ability to write seemingly any genre and be amazing at it. This book is no different, and is one of those books I feel like I could spend all day pointing out all the little details I loved but this is a great book that’s a fantasy novel where the system of magic is essentially messing with the coding language of reality itself so it’s also oddly kind of a cyberpunk book with coders and hackers and people attempting to get admin level rights even if none of that language is used. Great characters, story, use of different themes, good action, great world, just great all around.

    Spinning Silver While I enjoyed her Temeraire books I think Novik is on another level with this and Uprooted. Spinning Silver feels less like a fantasy novel and more like a great piece of discovered folklore. It’s a wonderful book.

  17. +1 on The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

    I agree with everything Mark said about it (including the strength of the shorter “A Dead Djinn in Cairo”)

  18. I also loved “The Black God’s Drums.” I wrote a detailed review of it, but, in brief, not only does it have a very well-thought-out (and very interesting) setting, it has several memorable characters, and plenty of action and tension. Definitely one of the best of the year so far.

  19. Novel: The Robots of Gotham, Todd McAulty

    This book is 675 pages, but every page was worth it. I loved it. It’s a smart sci-fi thriller set in the year 2083, when artificial intelligence is in full bloom–in fact, a great many countries are ruled or governed by Thought Machines. The author is a software engineer, and needless to say the tech and the robot ecosystem/evolution is well thought out. He also has a deft touch with characters, especially the robots. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the characters are not stupid or do dumb things just because The Plot Demands It–they share information, and think and plan as their situation becomes more precarious (which leads to some lengthy conversations, but all this talking is relevant to plot and characterization). This book is pretty self-contained, but the worldbuilding is so interesting I would love to see further books in this universe, either about these characters or others. Definitely on my novel longlist, and probably shortlist.

  20. Thanks, Bonnie. I just finished The Babe and absolutely loved it. What was accomplished in such a short short story is writer magic.


    Long Form: “Maniac

    Miniseries directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga True Detective. Elements of Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in this one. Both a trippy, darkly comedic adventure and a moving depiction of mental illness and of human connection. Available on Netflix.

  22. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames is the second book in The Band universe. This takes place 6 years after Kings of the Wyld and stands alone for the most part.

    The book is about Tam who has grown up under the shadow of the legacy cast by her famous mercenary father and her mother who was the bard of their mercenary band. She’s tired of the dead end life set before her and has an opportunity to join Fable, a mercenary band headed by Bloody Rose who Tam is a big fan of. From there it’s a story about parents and children and the impact left by both, the reality of meeting your idols, creating familial bonds with others, forging your own path, love, sacrifice, etc.

    Plus a ton of swearing, great action, a million hard rock/metal references scattered about to find (my favorite was the Duran twins), along with some video game and movie references, all of which wouldn’t stand out at all to people who wouldn’t recognize them but are fun to catch. I really liked Kings of the Wyld and Bloody Rose just turned the volume on the concept up to 11.

  23. Novella

    The Adventure of the Dux Bellorum by Cynthia Ward (c34,000 words)

    This is a sequel to last year’s The Adventure of the Incognita Countess which made the Locus recommended list. That book was good pulp fun with Lucy Harker (British intelligence agent with a small vampirism problem) dispatched on the Titanic by Mycroft Holmes to safeguard some plans stemming from captured Martian war machines….you get the idea. Anyway, that story had her running into Countess Karnstein (sometimes known as Carmilla, but now going by Clarimal…) and so this new volume opens several years later during WW1. Lucy has been parted from Clarimal by the call of duty, the latest of which is bodyguarding Winston Churchill as he takes up a post on the Western Front amid reports of German werewolves, hollow earth expeditions, and the like. So, again, good pulpish fun to be had but this time mixed with a bit more meditation on the conflict, Lucy and Clarimal’s relationship, and so on. There’s a bit of tension between the swift-moving adventure, the portrayal of Lucy as being somewhat “of her time” in her support for her country, and the desire to show the consequences of war on Europe’s civilians. This shows up most in the rather pulpish German super-scientist whose handling brings to mind the misuse of Ludendorff in Wonder Woman.
    Overall, good pulpish fun whose flaws are brought on by trying to stretch the conventions a bit – and that’s no bad thing.

  24. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, tor.com. Novella.

    The fourth book in The Murderbot Diaries brings the story to a thrilling conclusion. Murderbot’s research into GrayCris corporation’s illegal activities has provoked a desperate response. Forces are searching for the rogue SecUnit. Murderbot’s former client Dr. Mensah has been abducted. The chances of saving her are very low. But Murderbot’s risk assessment module is wonky. If need be, it can shut the module down.

    Highly recommended.

  25. +1 for Exit Strategy. A great conclusion to the story arc, and the return of characters from the All Systems Red was welcome. I will admit to being the kind of reader who likes it better when Murderbot is Dealing With Feelings instead of having shoot-outs, but this one, as always, has both, so there’s something for everyone.

  26. Novella

    Enthusiastic thumbs up for Exit Strategy. Murderbot is crankier and funnier than ever, and this story has both All the Feelz and All the Fights. This brings the four-volume novella arc to a satisfying conclusion, and sets things up nicely for the forthcoming novel.

  27. Best Graphic Novel: Oblivion Song

    Ten years ago, something happened that transferred 300 000 people to Oblivion, an other dimension filled with monsters. One lone scientist is trying to bring those left back, one at a time.

    This is a story of PTSD, of adjusting both to Oblivion and to earth for those who come back. There is a sadness in the story where everyone tries to cope. I will nominate this one, if nothing else shows up.

  28. I posted this on the most recent Pixel Scroll, but I wanted to post it here too for more opinions:
    I have a Hugo nominating question for everyone here. Would it be possible to nominate all of this year’s Murderbot novellas together under Section 3.2.4 of the WSFS Constitution since all the Murderbot novellas have a through story? They’re all so good, and I’d rather not have to pick a favorite. And if they can be nominated together would they go into Novella or would the combined word count dictate that nomination be in Novel? What does everyone think?

  29. By my count, the four Muderbot novellas together total 134,609 words. That’s more than enough to constitute a novel, but they’re explicitly marketed as novellas, so I don’t see any reasonable way to nominate those as a single novel. Also, to qualify for best series, it would need to be 240,000 words, so it can’t be nominated in that category either.

    There is a tradition of letting the last installment of a completed series stand as a proxy for the series as a whole. In that spirit, people who loved the series would nominate and vote for “Exit Strategy” as if it were the whole series. That may be the best way to accomplish what you want. It’s what I intend to do, anyway. 🙂

  30. Lorien Gray: Would it be possible to nominate all of this year’s Murderbot novellas together under Section 3.2.4 of the WSFS Constitution since all the Murderbot novellas have a through story?

    My take on that would be “yes”, as it’s the equivalent of a serialized novel. I have been considering doing this. Considering that Blackout/All Clear and The Wheel of Time were allowed in the Best Novel category by the Hugo Administrators, and they tend to follow the preferences indicated by Hugo voters, I suspect that such a nomination would be allowed to stand if it got enough nominations to make the ballot as Murderbot Parts 1-4 in the Novel category. And I think that would be more preferable than having 2 of the parts appear on the Novella ballot after the first part won that category last year.

    Whether I do that also depends on whether I have 5 huge favorites to nominate in the Novel category. Thus far I have Before Mars, Foundryside, the Clocktaur War duology, and The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle on my shortlist — and Murderbot stands at least as strong as any of them. Although I thought Revenant Gun, Record of a Spaceborn Few, Spinning Silver, the new Praxis novel The Accidental War, and the Vatta novel Into the Fire were all very good, none of them screams “Hugo Best Novel” to me (though I will likely be nominating the Kylara Vatta and Praxis series for Best Series).

  31. Thanks, Greg. I thought the word count would be too low for Best Series. But I wasn’t really thinking of that so much as the bit about “However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part.” Since the three Murderbot novellas I’m thinking of were all published in the same year that part doesn’t matter but I remember that Wheel of Time was nominated altogether as Best Novel under the theory that all the separate novels were separate parts telling one story. The three novellas really felt like a series of chapters of the same story to me so I was wondering about a way to reflect that instead of just going with Exit Strategy. Although I may end up nominating just Exit Strategy if it comes to that.

    Edited to add: Thanks, JJ. Is it a complication that the first Murderbot novella already won? Would it be safer to nominate Murderbot Parts 2-4?

  32. Yeah, I think the fact that the first novella was a finalist means that is a stand-alone work — not a part 1. It was the fact that none of the Wheel of Time novels had ever been nominated that allowed them all count as one story.

  33. Martha’s count for the Murderbot series so far is 134,905 words. (From her Murderbot Info post.) There is going to be a Murderbot novel. If it is at least 105,095 words, which seems likely, then it would make the Murderbot series eligible for the Best Series Hugo.

  34. I suppose you could say Murderbot 1 is a novella expanded into a novel published in 4 parts. If you think novellas 2-4 are enough of their own story arc, you could nominate them as a novel in 3 parts. However, I think if one of the novellas became a finalist on its own next year, it would mean that it couldn’t also be a part of a novel finalist.

  35. Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

    “The New Colossus,” The Man in the High Castle, S3 ep 5, Amazon Prime. This new season of The Man in the High Castle is more twisty than ever, juggling several storylines, but they came together in this high-stakes episode of several Oh Crap! moments, which showed off the ruthlessness of John Smith and the badassery of Juliana Crane. Rufus Sewell is chilling as John Smith.

  36. BDP Short Form: A Final Offer

    Henry, a disheveled lawyer, wakens up on the floor of a doorless room, finding out that he has been chosen as earths representative for a trade deal that might threaten human existence – and he has only five minutes to close it. This one would feel at home in an old episode of Outer Limits.

  37. Novella: The Emotionless, in Love by Jason Sanford (from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, or as a standalone from Amazon) approx 28,000 words.

    A sequel to Blood Grains Speak Through Memories although I think it would stand alone fine. It continues the story of a strange world where humanity is highly restricted by the nanobot “grains” which permeate the environment and prevent them using destructive technologies – unless you are a grain-controlled “anchor” in which case you get spectacular powers in their service. This story delves more into the lives of the nomadic caravans of “daywalkers” who the grains will not allow to settle down lest civilisation damages the environment, and does a good job of exploring a bit more of the backstory in a quite action-filled story. Like Blood Grains, I think that the worldbuilding is the star here.

  38. * The Moons of Barsk, Lawrence M. Schoen, Tor
    * Hugo Category: Novel
    * Very Good
    * This is the 2nd book, after Barsk the Elephants’ Graveyard, about the elephant people (and other species). The only possible warning I see is that one or two things aren’t tied up at the end and the 3rd book may not be out for quite some time.

  39. https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/bj43m5/exploring-the-uncanny-sci-fi-dystopias-of-simon-staalenhag

    Simon Stålenhag hasn’t gotten much notice from the Hugo voting committee, has he? Which is a shame, because he’s easily one of the finest artists this generation in terms of crafting sci-fi imagery. So, for Best Graphic Story, I submit for consideration his most recent book The Electric State, published in 2017 in his home country of Sweden but published in 2018 in the US and UK.



  40. Out of the Blue, by Sophie Cameron

    Novel (YA, fantasy)

    When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, not a single one has survived. Jaya can’t stand her father’s new obsession with the “Beings” and, still reeling from her mother’s recent death and the sudden disappearance of her girlfriend, she’s determined to stay out of it. Then something incredible happens …

    A touching and affecting novel with great characters. If I could see a couple of the plot beats coming, it was more than made up for by the emotional heft of the story. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’d definitely recommend it.

  41. @N
    I nominated Simon Stålenhag for best artist before, but unfortunately no one agreed with me. Though The Electric State for best graphic story is a great idea.

  42. Just finished the third season of The Man in the High Castle (on Amazon Prime) and I have to say, they’ve upped their game in every way. Good performances, particularly Rufus Sewell, Chelah Horsdal and Alexa Davalos, but the other characters (especially DJ Qualls as Ed McCarthy) are also given a chance to shine. The horrifying realities of the Third Reich are brought to the fore in the final three episodes, where American’s icons (such as the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty) are destroyed to make way for the Reich’s “New Tomorrow.” (And there is an absolutely chilling scene of a mob of Hitler Youth marching down the streets of New York, chanting “Blood and soil”–an eerie mirror of what happened a year ago in Charlottesville, North Carolina.) To me, the standout episodes are ep 5, “The New Colossus,” and ep 8-10, “Kasumi (Through the Mists,” “Baku,” and “Jahr Null” respectively (where an explanation for the ability to “travel” is given, which opens up fascinating possibilities for future seasons). It’s unflinching, brutal stuff, but it’s good.

  43. Another Best Graphic Story hopeful: don’t sleep on Tom Parkinson-Morgan (aka Abbadon)’s Kill Six Billion Demons, a dense and epic fantasy story in the running for one of the greatest webcomics ever made. Book 3: Seeker of Thrones is already completed online and is eligible, print date TBA, but if any webcomic deserves notice from the category, it’s this one.


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