2019 Hugo Awards Best Series Discussion

By JJ: With the Hugo Award nomination deadline only a month away, I thought it would be helpful for Filers to have a discussion about the potential nominees for Best Series. What follows is a précis of the series which I’m considering nominating for the Hugo Awards, telling you why I think these series are worthy.

Of the (as of this writing) 170 series listed on the Best Series Hugo: Eligible Series from 2018 page, I’ve read all or most of 43 series, 2 or 3 books each in five of the series, and 1 book each in thirteen of those series. That gives me more than 60 possibilities which I have to whittle down to a shortlist of 5 series.

While I do feel that some of the Best Series finalists from the past two years are Hugo-worthy, I’d like to highlight excellent series for which the individual volumes have not received much in the way of Hugo recognition thus far. So I’ve selected 10 series which I’ve especially enjoyed to feature in this post. These series, I feel, epitomize what the Best Series Hugo Award should be about: groups of works which, as a whole, are greater than the sum of their parts, and which, even if they’re still ongoing, can be said to have told a complete story at this point.

Because this post is about what I’ve read and liked, please bear in mind the following:

  1. I read predominantly science fiction, though I do read a fair bit of fantasy, and I especially enjoy science-fictional mysteries.
  2. I apparently had a stunted, defective childhood and do not find Tolkien-style fantasy, nor fairytale retellings or subversions, particularly compelling.
  3. I am not a big fan of urban fantasy or horror, especially not of vampires or Lovecraft.
  4. I have very definite opinions about what I like and don’t like, but these are of course entirely subjective, and the opinions of people who disagree with me are just wrong  as valid.

This means that I am counting on you Filers to make a compelling case for your own favorites, to broaden the scope of this post. Please talk about the series you like in the comments, and tell everyone what you think makes them Hugo-worthy.

(As always, please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

Hyperlinks are to stories and excerpts which are available to read for free on the internet.

Sin du Jour by Matt Wallace (list of works)
2018 work: Taste of Wrath (novella)
Notes: series contains 7 novellas and 1 short story; author has verifed that it meets the word count

What it’s about: Sin du Jour Catering has a specialty: they prepare banquets and dinners for supernatural beings and extraordinary events. But of course, no catering plan survives contact with the diners… the big question is whether the Sin du Jour crew will survive the inevitable catastrophes which ensue.

Why I think it’s great: This is an unexpected, clever, slyly-witty delight. The catering staff members are a diverse, idiosyncratic group of people who have managed, despite their annoying habits and their weaknesses, to make a true family with each other – and the author manages to weave his supernatural worldbuilding in with the real world so deftly that the reader can almost believe it’s all really true. Each volume tells a new story, but only the first novella really stands well on its own. As a whole, this series is the story of that family’s journey: lots of amusing and terrifying subplots to enjoy, full of adventure, heartbreak, humor, and caring.

Kylara Vatta / Vatta’s Peace by Elizabeth Moon (list of works)
2018 work: Into the Fire (novel)
Notes: subseries contains 2 novels; previous subseries Vatta’s War contains 5 novels; must be nominated under the main series, as the subseries has insufficient volumes. The author’s notes in the most recent novel give me concern that there won’t be any further volumes; I’d really like to see this series recognized while it’s still eligible.

What it’s about: Forced to resign in disgrace from the spaceforce academy due to another cadet’s treachery, Vatta’s family gets her out of the way by assigning her to captain one of their decrepit merchant cargo ships. She proves to be a capable, inventive captain, who must marshal her crew and allies when her extensive family group and their mercantile empire are attacked and assassinated on multiple planets and in space. Her strategic skills and leadership ability aid in her rise to lead the fleet in a galactic war… but even in victory, there are enemies lying in wait to take down her family’s company and the government.

Why I think it’s great: This is smart, fast-paced space adventure with a complex, clever, and competent main character and a supporting cast whose personalities become more deeply-developed over the course of each book. The strength of the series is that, while each book works as a standalone entry, the individual plots are woven into a larger, complex story, full of edge-of-the-seat action and political machinations.

Diving Universe by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (list of works)
2018 works: Searching for the Fleet (novel), The Rescue of the Renegat (novella), Dix (novella), Joyride (novella), and “Lieutenant Tightass” (novelette)
Notes: series contains 7 novels, 11 novellas, and 2 novelettes

What it’s about: The owner of a small spaceship-wreck exploration company discovers tantalizing clues to an ancient, more advanced spacefaring civilization, and embarks on an obsessive search for the relics which will bring more knowledge of those who came before… resulting in one really big, unexpected answer – which leads to many further mysteries.

Why I think it’s great: Scuba diving, but on spaceships! Time Travel! Ancient Mysteries! With an ever-widening cast of well-developed, complex characters, its extensive worldbuilding for a vast spacefaring civilization, mysteries to be solved, and adventures on many worlds, this series hits all of my sweet spots.

Andrea Cort / Draiken by Adam-Troy Castro (list of works)
2018 work: Blurred Lives (novella) and A Stab of the Knife (novella)
Notes: subseries contains 4 novellas; main series contains 3 novels, 4 novellas, and a novelette; must be nominated under the main series, as the subseries has insufficient word count

What it’s about: A brilliant, tenacious investigator and prosecutor, Andrea Cort serves the Diplomatic Corps of the Hom.Sap.Mercantile Empire, sent on missions to preserve the fragile peace between humans and other races. But Cort has a very dark past, and there are a lot of beings who, in their anger and contempt for her, wish to bring her a death from which the Corps protects her only as long as it suits their purposes. Draiken has retired from a profession as a highly-skilled spy and assassin for a powerful galactic organization… but his past, and his own demons, won’t let him escape so easily. Each of them faces encounters where only their own brilliance at finding the answers keeps them from being killed – but eventually their courses are destined to collide, in a game of cat-and-mouse that one of them may not survive.

Why I think it’s great: Not only is each of the stories in this series a standalone science-fictional mystery, they are so deftly-plotted, featuring intricate twists, that it’s only when the pieces slot into place that the brilliance of the plotting becomes apparent. The author has created compelling, well-fleshed-out characters, and fascinatingly-alien races and worlds, served up with intriguing spycraft and detective work.

Planetfall by Emma Newman (list of works)
2018 work: Before Mars (novel excerpt 1 excerpt 2)
Notes: series contains 3 novels

What it’s about: The first novel in the series tells the stories of the colonists on a distant, far-from-ideal planet and their gradual disintegration after their charismatic leader disappears. The second tells the stories of the people left behind on Earth, especially that of the son of one of the colonists and the resentment he faces from the rest of the planet. The third novel tells the story of an artist who accepts a position in-residence at a Mars habitat funded by an extremely wealthy man.

Why I think it’s great: Each of the novels in this series stands alone well, though they are set in the same near-future Earth universe and do have some interlinked threads. Each novel features a different compelling mystery and main character who must solve it in order to save their own life. The worldbuilding is plausible, and the characters wonderfully multi-faceted. I think that each novel has been progressively more intricate and skillful, creating a well-crafted vision of a possible not-too-distant future.

Xuya Universe by Aliette de Bodard (list of works)
2018 work: The Tea Master and the Detective (novella – scroll down for excerpt)
Notes: series consists of 25 short stories novelettes, and novellas; author has verifed that it meets the word count

What it’s about: Xuya is an alternate history universe where China discovered the Americas before the West, which led to a global Asian domination of the globe rather than the Western one – and to a space age initially dominated by Chinese and Vietnamese galactic empires.

Why I think it’s great: The author’s worldbuilding through the numerous stories in this universe is deep and extensive. The different cultural perspective makes it a refreshing change from Western-oriented science fiction. It features sentient ships capable of subdimensional intergalactic travel, resulting in widespread colonization of space, and mysterious technologies of weaponry and teleportation. Rather than featuring a small core cast of characters, this series finds its strength in the breadth of the worldbuilding details and insights into the personalities of many different characters.

Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (list of works)
2018 work: The Mortal Word (novel)
Notes: series contains 5 novels

What it’s about: As a librarian for the mysterious Library, Irene is not only a researcher, but a professional spy and thief, acquiring variant versions of significant works from alternate realities (some of which are very like our own, and some which differ wildly). Time spent in The Library is outside of real time – librarians do not age while they are there, and thus are nearly immortal. However, Irene is at the beginning of her career, just out of training, and after being viciously betrayed by her mentor, must undertake missions to prove her value. After being saddled with her own inexperienced apprentice – who has some dark secrets of his own – she is sent to various worlds, where others with their own nefarious purposes will try to thwart her success in favor of her own.

Why I think it’s great: Like many avid readers, I admire and adore librarians, with their seemingly-magical powers of knowing which books will meet various needs, and their ability to find almost anything. The adventures in this series include mysteries, dragons, fae, magical language which can compel objects to behave contrary to their ordinary nature, endless alternate timelines to explore, complex villains, and books, books, and more books. The author’s storytelling skills have leveled-up as the series has progressed, and each new entry released is an automatic addition to my TBR.

Fractured Europe by Dave Hutchinson (list of works)
2018 work: Europe at Dawn (novel)
Notes: series contains 4 novels

What it’s about: This fantasy series features a near-future Europe where the Union has fallen apart in the wake of a catastrophic pandemic and subsequent economic collapse. The borders of countries are constantly shifting and increasingly fragmented with the political winds, making mail and freight service unreliable and impractical. A mysterious spy/courier organization has come into existence, with agents who are heavily trained in spycraft and subterfuge and who will, for a hefty fee, deliver packages in a timely fashion across what are now frequently tightly-controlled and policed – or even impassable – borders. The main character, a chef who moonlights as a courier, discovers a shocking revelation: na nygreangr jbeyq shyy bs crbcyr ybfg va gvzr, juvpu pb-rkvfgf jvguva gur fnzr trbtencul nf Rhebcr, naq juvpu pna or npprffrq ivn n srj frperg ragenaprf. Naq vgf erfvqragf unir gurve bja frperg ntraqn, bar juvpu znl cebir sngny gb gur Rhebcr ur xabjf.

Why I think it’s great: The first novel can be read on its own, but the full depth of the worldbuilding slowly develops over the course of the series, with each successive volume producing new revelations which gradually weave a larger tapestry. The mysteries and spycraft are of the sort found in Le Carré novels, with some deadpan humor and lots of suspense as the mysteries unfold and random events take on significance. This is one of those series which richly rewards a re-read, as hindsight provides a new perspective on events as they occur.

The Praxis by Walter Jon Williams (list of works)
2018 work: The Accidental War (novel)
Notes: series contains 5 novels, 2 novellas, and a short story

What it’s about: This series begins with the end of the rule of a powerful alien race who conquered humans as well as numerous other alien species, setting them all under a rigid doctrine of laws known as The Praxis. The power vacuum created by the end of their empire (bored with life after many millennia, they have deliberately wiped themselves out) provides the opportunity for one of the other races to attempt a takeover – one in which the humans will be on the receiving end of some serious oppression. However, two different officers of the Terran navy, each a brilliant tactician in their own way, fight on different fronts to prevent that takeover and change the empire into some version of democracy (or at least an approximation of equality among species).

Why I think it’s great: Readers who appreciate military and social strategy, tricks, and tactics will find a lot to enjoy here – and there are some good mysteries and suspense thrown in, to boot. The main characters are well-developed and sympathetic, while still being complex and flawed, and the author continues to expand the worldbuilding with each entry in the series. As a whole, this series is very much a greater adventure than the sum of its parts.

Hail Bristol / Farian War by K. B. Wagers (list of works)
2018 work: There Before the Chaos (novel)
Notes: first novel in this subseries; previous subseries Indranan War contains 3 novels; must be nominated under the main series, as the subseries has insufficient volumes

What it’s about: After her father is killed, a younger daughter of the Empress, who disdains life in the royal court, runs off to become a feared gunrunner with criminal ties. When her sister-heirs are assassinated, with the Empress deathly ill, the royal bodyguards come to drag her, unwillingly, back to her obligations to the throne. But there are forces still hiding within the empire who want her – and her family – out of the picture for good, and she must fight to stay alive while she tries to bring some stability to her planet and her people.

Why I think it’s great: Not only does this series feature a kickass strong protagonist, it also portrays a matriarchal ruling structure which she recognizes as being inherently sexist and wrong, and must work to reform. Even her enemies are people who do what they do for the sake of what they believe is right, and there is no simple good vs. bad story here. It’s also a story of finding your family among the people around you, of obligation and duty versus desire, of loyalty and betrayal, of cruelty and kindness, and of hope.

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27 thoughts on “2019 Hugo Awards Best Series Discussion

  1. Sin du Jour, Planetfall and Xuya are all on my ballot.

    I’m also going to be nominating the Centenel Cycle by Malka Older: this trilogy ended with State Tectonics last year and I think it combines well-realised near-ish future political machinations with some great characters and fun spy thriller type stuff. Older works in the international development/humanitarian sphere and her expertise really shows when it comes to developing local and international political dynamics and the level of control that individual characters have over them. Start with Informocracy.

    The Arcadia Project by Mishell Baker is also a frontrunner for me. This urban fantasy trilogy, which deals with the existence of a secret organisation dedicated to maintaining relationships with the fae, who are in turn responsible for most great human creativity, does some really interesting things with portrayal of mental health and disability through its protagonist Millie – who has borderline personality disorder. Millie is put through the ringer over the series and there’s a great balance of portraying her BPD without making her an unreliable narrator, and of making her a competent, mostly likeable protagonist while not undermining or excusing the level of trauma her job puts her through.

    Also, while I’m keen to nominate 5 series that haven’t been recognised before, I have to give an honourable mention to October Daye, which is eligible again and which has only got better and more expansive (the Tybalt Patreon stories have been fab!) over the intervening two years. I hope Seanan McGuire’s blood-drenched changeling knight will have her day, even if I’d prefer to see fresh blood this year while the award is finding its feet.

  2. Hmm … a lot of series I particularly liked this year would be ineligible due to wordcount. I would probably lean towards:

    Wayfarers, Becky Chambers. Charming books with a focus on interpersonal and interspecies relationships, understanding, and misunderstanding. If there were such a thing as cozy space opera, this would be it.

    Alpennia, Heather Rose Jones. The genre of historical Ruritanian girl-meets-girl fantasy novels cannot be a huge one. Even if it was, these books would be its shining exemplars. Intrigue, religion, magic, romance, and more.

    The Shadow Campaigns, Django Wexler. Gripping musket-fantasy novels. Come for the tales of war, revolution, and demons. Stay for the awesome characters.

  3. Three of my five are series you list-Diving, Xuya and Invisible Library. My fourth is Wild Cards. It’s just such a wild ride, with a fascinating concept behind it that I’ll keep nominating it when it’s eligible until it makes the ballot.

    Andrea Cort is one of my candidates for the fifth spot. I might check out Praxis, as I love Williams’s work.

    Here in 3905, all Hugos must go to works featuring our feline overlords.

  4. Although they are not your cup of tea, JJ, I am a big fan of Charles Stross Laundry Files. I don’t read a lot of UF, but the Laundry Files, yes, I make time for, especially as his world has gone further and further toward a Lovecraftian Singularity.

  5. I know you said you don’t like urban fantasy, so I’d like to toot a couple of horns there.

    Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews (qualifying work: final book in series, Magic Triumphs, 2018)

    This is a fascinating world with an irreconcilable clash between tech and magic, with most of our characters dwelling in the dangerous no man’s land (or being’s, in this case) in between. Kate has grown tremendously from the first book to the last, and she has collected a large found family of great supporting characters. I thought the final book was a bit overstuffed, but it brought the series to a good close.

    Also, the author has spun off a sub-series, the story of Hugh d’Ambray, starting with Iron and Magic, the first novel published this year. This is a planned trilogy, and if the next two books are as excellent as the first, that’s going straight on my ballot when it’s finished.

    The Iron Druid Chronicles, Kevin Hearne (qualifying work, final book in series: Scourged, 2018)

    Whether you like this depends upon your liking stories filled with quips, snark, and pop-culture references. I’m sure this is tiresome for some, but in my case the depth of the worldbuilding won out. Atticus O’Sullivan is a two-thousand-year-old Druid who has survived to the present day mainly by hiding from the legions of gods he managed to piss off during that time–but when the series starts, he finds he can’t hide anymore. Atticus is a deeply flawed character, and the choices he makes over the course of the series only dig him in deeper–and in the final book, he faces the consequences.

    (And whooo, this last book really set the frat boys off. The entry on Scourged at Goodreads is rife with one-stars and whines about SJW’s. Which may elevate the series in some people’s minds–it did mine, at least a bit.)

  6. I’m seconding the recommendation for the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (Magic Triumphs). It’s one of the IMO best urban fantasy series out there and since the last book (bar spin-off series) appeared in 2018, this may likely be the last chance to honour it.

    Simon R. Green also brought his two urban fantasy series, the Nightside series and the Secret History series, to a joint close in 2018 with Night Fall. Green is massively underrated IMO and once more this may well be the last chance to honour his series, especially since Green isn’t in the best of health.

    These two are definitely on my shortlist with a third spot reserved for the In Death series by J.D. Robb (Dark in Death, Leverage in Death), which I (and my Mom) will keep nominating until it finally makes the shortlist.

    The other two spots on my shortlist are still open. Of JJ’s list, the Hail Bristol and Kylara Vatta series are also on my personal longlist, as is the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers, which Kyra suggested above.

    Other titles on my longlist are:

    The Machineries of Empire trilogy by Yoon Ha Lee (Revenant Gun). I’m a big fan of this trilogy, though the chances of the individual volumes winning a Hugo were hampered by the fact that they happened to be published at the same time as The Broken Earth trilogy.

    The Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Neogenesis). A perennial favourite that deserves more recognition.

    The Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs (Burn Bright): More excellent urban fantasy by another author who’s IMO unjustly overlooked.

    The Arabella series by David D. Levine (Arabella, Traitor of Mars). It’s Horatio Hornblower/Patrick O’Brien crossed with Jane Austen set in a solar system that never was where airships travel between the planets. It’s great fun and Arabella, Traitor of Mars is also on my longlist for the Lodestar.

    The Raymond Electromatic series by Adam Christopher (I Only Killed Him Once). A hardboiled detective series with an amnesiac robot sleuth set in an alternate 1950s. Once again, this is a series that is IMO unjustly overlooked.

    Ars Numina by Ann Aguirre (The Wolf Lord): More great urban fantasy by an author whose a personal favourite and yet overlooked by the SFF community at large. Honor Among Thieves, Ann Aguirre’s YA science fiction collaboration with Rachel Caine is also on my shortlist for the Lodestar.

    The Wildings series by Kyra Halland (Mages’ Home): This one is a really long shot, because it’s a self-published romantic western fantasy series, but it’s one of my favourite self-published discoveries. And I’m not normally a western fan, so for me to fall for a Wild West with magic series is high praise.

  7. Even if I were a Worldcon member/Hugo voter, I would not vote in this award category. The series that have come to dominate SF and fantasy in recent decades are much more often a matter of publishing imperatives than of artistic ones.

  8. gottacook: Can you explain that? As phrased, I can’t see why you’d ever participate in any popularly-voted award, and therefore it sounds like a null comment.

  9. gottacook: The series that have come to dominate SF and fantasy in recent decades are much more often a matter of publishing imperatives than of artistic ones.

    The “publishing imperative” is to publish what readers will buy. The series being published today — not just the ones I’ve highlighted, but all the series being published — are getting published because enough readers enjoyed and bought the first (and second) books that publishers recognized the demand for them.

    I have no idea what you consider “artistic”. All that matters to me is that I enjoy what I read. A lot of what I read is not only enjoyable, it makes me think, and it makes me feel.

    If that’s not “artistic” enough for you, then I feel sorry for you. It must be a very sad and lonely world in which you live, where you can’t enjoy books for what they have to offer, and feel compelled to be a jerk and come and shit on someone else’s joy in books.

  10. I was trying to cover two different points, perhaps clumsily. One is my own inability to get invested in series – which is simply a personal opinion not meant to denigrate anyone else’s. I appreciate self-contained novels and have never been able to get interested (during some 50 years of reading SF) in novels that cannot be read independently. Of course I know of novels that straddle this line – serving as an element of a series but to some extent self-contained as well – but in my experience there haven’t been many of those.

    My other point: As Brian Aldiss wrote in Trillion Year Spree, referring to the present (i.e., 1986), “It was never easier to sell a trilogy, never harder to sell a single, difficult but well-crafted novel.” Please tell me whether it’s no longer true that it’s easier to sell a series to a publisher.

  11. Eh. I like series. It feels like traveling to a place where there is a lot of time and space to explore everything at my leisure.

    The only series on my ballot not already listed is The Devil’s West, by Laura Anne Gilman, with Red Waters Rising as the 2018 entry. I might have a special affinity for weird west novels (another book at the very top of my personal favorites list for recent releases is the first book in a new series by Rebecca Roanhorse), but I also thought this was extraordinarily well done fiction.

  12. Series that are high on my list thus far:

    Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
    It’s a seminal and influential series that I love.

    Alpennia by Heather Rose Jones
    For all the reasons Kyra mentioned above. Plus I love the realistic building of a community of women, and the deep and wide and effortless-seeming worldbuilding.

    World of Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)
    I just love the practical characters. The gnoles. The dialogue. The relationships. The creepiness contrasted with the practicalness.

  13. Cheryl S. I like series. It feels like traveling to a place where there is a lot of time and space to explore everything at my leisure.

    That’s how I feel, too. I am always sad when I come to the end of a novel I really enjoyed, and there are no more new stories left for me to experience in that world with that character(s).

  14. Thanks for another helpful post, JJ. (I’m woefully behind on series so I’m just here to check the box and follow the discussion for now.)

  15. Paul Weimer on February 17, 2019 at 10:04 am said:
    Although they are not your cup of tea, JJ, I am a big fan of Charles Stross Laundry Files. I don’t read a lot of UF, but the Laundry Files, yes, I make time for, especially as his world has gone further and further toward a Lovecraftian Singularity.

    I’ll second what Paul says. It’s a lot of fun.

    Also, I think that the Infomocracy trilogy is eligible, and it’s excellent.

  16. I will third or fourth the recommendation for the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. This is a series which has maintained a high level of quality in the writing and the mythic worldbuilding through ten books and a number of side stories. I liked some books better than others, but overall the series has been both entertaining and thoughtful. This is not easy to do. I tapped out on the October Daye series around book 7 because it just bogged down for me. I also respect the authors for wrapping up the major plotlines and concluding the series in Magic Triumphs which is this year’s entry. Too many writers would be tempted to let the series linger on.

    I’m also nominating the Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. The qualifying novel is Neogenesis plus several short stories. I think the first books in the series were published in the late 80s so it certainly has staying power. It’s space opera, but with a high level of political intrigue and family/clan dynamics. I especially appreciate the emphasis on AI and the challenges faced by free intelligence in the most recent stories. Can society change in the face of new evidence? We will see!

    Probably Patricia Briggs will take another slot for Alpha/Omega series with Burn Bright. I actually prefer the Mercy Thompson universe but there is no eligible novel this year. She’s another author who maintains a high-quality output who I’d like to see get more recognition.

    I’ve enjoyed Charles Stross for years and Merchant Princes is my favorite of his series although I haven’t read the updated versions.

    I’ll be following the thread for more suggestions!

  17. @JJ: Thanks for starting this conversation!

    Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman and Wayfarers by Becky Chambers are both on my ballot.

    I’m also nominating The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. The qualifying work is An Argumentation of Historians. There are nine books and one collection of short stories in the series.
    What it’s about: St. Mary’s is an organization dedicated to investigating and documenting major historical events via time travel. Historians travel back to observe history but one wrong move can thrust them into danger – either from the event they’re witnessing, or from History herself who protects the timeline. They frequently come into conflict with the authorities and a former staffer with a grudge.

    What I love about it: The historians are disaster magnets and there’s tons of humor in the series. But there are also heart-breaking moments as there are often deadly consequences. It’s a female-led series with lots of great characters. There’s a real feeling of family within St. Mary’s and strong emotional ties, which add to the exploration of themes like love and loss, emotional growth, dedication to principles and defining/defending what really matters in life.

  18. Tastes do vary; I was so underimpressed by the first Sin that I haven’t bothered with the others, and I thought the first book of Planetfall was the sort of self-indulgent because-the-author-said-so mess that I wish we’d seen the last of when the 1960’s New Wave faded out — not as bad as Amatka, but lord it wasn’t good.

    IMO the Vatta series started slowly, but I was hooked enough after #2 to buy the rest of the originals and thought the new books were good (despite a slow start to #2.)

    I hadn’t realized Xuya was big enough to qualify. I’d love to see it nominated, not just because they’re fascinating and diverse but also because AFAIK there’s no other series-length work in short pieces these days; it’s nice to have something that doesn’t require an all-out commitment to make sense of.

    Cogman has been hit-or-miss to my taste; the latest was moderate fun but nothing I’d push on people.

    I’d call Fractured Europe some sort of hybrid (at most) rather than fantasy, based on one reading of the first 3 books, but the author is more interested in story possibilities than in fitting neat categories; this series would be high on my list.

    I thought the first Praxis was ignorably routine space opera, although I may have been put off partly because it seems such a step down from the thinky work WJW used to do. Hail Bristol OTOH had a lot of action without being routine; I don’t know where I’d rank it but I wouldn’t be unhappy if it were nominated.

    @Arifel: I think Older overreacted to the Arisia mess, but the Centenal Cycle did indeed have a lot of thinky bits entangled in several good stories. And I agree Daye just keeps getting better.

    @Paul Weimer: yes on Laundry — another taste divider that I love, especially as he gets more sardonic about the US while not losing plausibility.

    @Cora Buhlert: I like the current Liaden thread, but it’s getting more and more verbose — not quite Wheel of Time or Khaavren Romances, but an awful lot of talk. I’m not sure Arabella is eligible yet — is there a shorter work with the two novels, or have I missed a novel? (By “shorter” I was thinking of “independent”; the rules are silent on whether a fixup counts in both pieces and together, which is just as well.)

    @gottacook: there are series-for-series-sake (or grossly inflated series — Wheel of Time was planned as many fewer books, then inflated when it was a hit), and then there are series worth reading. If you can’t find any of the latter I think you haven’t been reading enough — or are not thinking of the long history of serial publishing (e.g., Heinlein’s Future History, the Flandry stories). wrt your later extenuation: just how independent do books have to be? (If you say “completely”, go read some Xuya.) I’ve skipped pieces of several series whose later members I’ve enjoyed; I’m not put off by knowing I can find more story about the characters if I care to, since peoples’ lives usually aren’t encompassed by what will fit in a normal book. (I’m looking at you, Dumas factory….)

    @Lorien Gray: another taste split; I found the latest St. Mary’s on the new shelf, read the first just to see if it was less messy, and decided to pass on the rest. ISTM that the author is pasting cliches around mostly-cartoon characters without enough thought — or plausibility — to hold my interest.

  19. Ticky. I don’t have a whole lot to add because I am woefully behind on series (and generally prefer not to nominate series for which I am eagerly awaiting the next installment), but one things I really do love about this award is the discovery factor.

    I currently expect to be nominating Malka Older’s Centenal Cycle and Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire. The former in particular does a very good job of scratching my “science fiction as fantasy of political agency” itch.

  20. @Chip Hitchcock re Chron of St. Mary’s: This is one of those ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ things. There are a lot of characters and in any given installment some can get only a cursory depiction. But I found that the more I read, the more character development I found. For instance, the main character is deeply flawed and those flaws cause her quite a lot of trouble. In the beginning I found her unwillingness to deal with those flaws frustrating, but then I gradually learned that gung znal bs ure synjf ner ebbgrq va ure uvfgbel bs frkhny naq rzbgvbany nohfr. V ernyvmrq ure ershfny gb qrny jvgu ure synjf jnf ernyyl n srne bs shyyl pbasebagvat ure zrzbevrf naq rzbgvbany genhzn, which made me more understanding. Even the comic relief characters grew more complex over time. The tone of the series’ humor does lean toward the slapstick end of the spectrum, but I hesitated to describe it as a comedy due to the times it veers toward tragic consequences. Is there such a thing as Time Opera? If so, this series is it. Overall I found it a series that benefits from sticking with it.

  21. Thanks for this entry. I hadn’t planned on nominating in this category. But I see that Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle series is eligible due to an additional novella. So I will be nominating that series.

    The premise is that there are demons living under the earth’s surface. The demons are damaged by the sun, so they only come out at night.

    Humanity’s only protection is the ability to create signs with sigils or “wards” on them. When arrayed correctly, the wards prevent the demons from entering a protected space. Might there be other types of useful wards? You have to read the series to find out. (there is lots of ward wonkery that is slowly revealed throughout the series)

    On that framework, Mr. Brett hangs more extensive explorations on issues relating to culture, religion, and individual courage.

    This is the type of series that the “best series” award was created to recognize.

    “Too often … we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” – John F. Kennedy

  22. @Chip Hitchcock – On Sin du Jour, I’m with you – I didn’t make it through the first book at all. I wanted to like it, but something about the writing style that I couldn’t put my finger on I found off-putting about it. So when I got to “So where’s the rooster?!” it was easy to simply put it down and never pick it back up.

    I’m way behind on series reading, so this thread makes a good suggestions list. For one thing, I’m reminded that I need to finish reading the Alpennia series. The first book was excellent.

  23. Chip Hitchcock: I’m not sure Arabella is eligible yet — is there a shorter work with the two novels, or have I missed a novel?

    There have been three: Arabella of Mars, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, and Arabella, The Traitor of Mars.

  24. Paul Weimer: Although they are not your cup of tea, JJ, I am a big fan of Charles Stross Laundry Files.

    I’ve actually read all of the works in the series and have enjoyed them! Though I did feel that the most recent entry was a bit of “second verse, same as the first”.

  25. Lorien Gray: I’m also nominating The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. The historians are disaster magnets and there’s tons of humor in the series. But there are also heart-breaking moments as there are often deadly consequences. It’s a female-led series with lots of great characters. There’s a real feeling of family within St. Mary’s and strong emotional ties, which add to the exploration of themes like love and loss, emotional growth, dedication to principles and defining/defending what really matters in life.

    I first became aware of this series back when only the first couple of novels were out. I was skeptical because it sounded like a rip-off of Connie Willis’ Oxford Time Travel series, which I have really enjoyed. I was pleasantly surprised; it is very much its own thing, and I found the first two novels enjoyable, if perhaps a bit lightweight.

    But I agree with you: over time, the series has really developed a depth and heft in terms of character development and worldbuilding. Any time a new novel or short fiction work comes out, it’s an instant read for me.

    Taylor has a new series out, about a woman with psychic abilities. I got the first novel (White Silence) from the library a bit dubiously, but I was really impressed, and the follow-up, Dark Light, was just as good. (And I say this as someone who is not a fan of the psychic abilities subgenre.)

  26. Pingback: Best Series Hugo: Eligible Series from 2018 | File 770

  27. @Lorien Gray: to me your rotated text was visible by somewhere in the first book (which I read second) — although gung uvfgbel znxrf zr jbaqre nobhg ure fhpphzovat gb obqvpr-evccre frk va gung obbx. I may give #2 a go based on your recommendation; it’s possible the latest was not representative — stopping (in effect) the book for a chunk of a completely different book seemed self-indulgent to me.

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