2022 Recommended SF/F List

By JJ: This thread is for posts about 2022-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 eligible for the Hugos or other awards (Nebula, Locus, Asimov’s, etc.) next year.

If you’re recommending for an award other than / in addition to the Hugo Awards which has different categories than the Hugos (such as Locus Awards’ First Novel), then be sure to specify the award and category.

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 or other Award Category: (Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Related Work, Graphic Novel, Lodestar, Astounding, etc)
  • link (if available to read/view online)
  • optional “Brief, spoiler-free description of story premise:”
  • “What I liked / didn’t like about it:”
  • (Please rot-13 any spoilers.)

There is a permalink to this thread in the blog header.

49 thoughts on “2022 Recommended SF/F List

  1. DRAMATIC PRESENTATION WATCH
    Two big ones off the bat:

    Everything Everywhere all at Once (currently in theaters): If you’re not familiar with the work of Daniels, the all-out gonzo nature & at-times intentionally immature humor here may take you off-guard at first. But once you get on this film’s wavelength, you get a take on the multiverse that’s…really, it’s about a lot of things: the toxicity and destructiveness of nihilism, learning to better understand your family, the different paths one’s life can take, the propensity for one to change themselves for the better…it’s a fitting title. Michelle Yeoh is of course terrific and the rest of the cast is also on top form, which is no small feat considering how this movie toes the line from insanely hilarious to heartbreakingly emotional and cathartic. It’s on my ballot for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and I imagine it’ll stay there for the rest of the year. I really haven’t seen a film like this…ever? I don’t even wanna post a trailer; experience this movie for yourself.

    Severance (season one) (Apple TV+): Work can suck. This has been a persistent theme throughout media, and throughout many sci-fi works that use it in a larger critique of capitalist systems. What Severance does is take the struggle to separate one’s work life from their non-work life and turn it into a top-notch mystery thriller where the work life is literally a separate person from the non-work life. Of course this procedure has consequences, leading the series to delve in on topics like worker’s rights, personhood and how those two are intertwined, told in a stylistic, tension-filled way. I think the entire season is good enough for Long Form, but if you’d rather pick episodes for Short Form, then I’d recommend the episodes “Defiant Jazz” and/or the season finale “The We We Are”.

  2. The Thousand Eyes, by A. K. Larkwood

    Novel (2nd in a series)

    Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. When an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power. Meanwhile, when a magical catastrophe befalls Tlaanthothe, Tal Charossa tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future.

    A. K. Larkwood continues to impress me with her ability to backspin a plot in a completely unexpected direction that still makes perfect sense. I maybe could have wished for a little bit more from Csorwe’s point of view in this one, but Shuthmili was as amazing as always and it was great to see Tal finally grow up. Highly recommended.

  3. Age of Ash, by Daniel Abraham

    Novel (1st in a series)

    When Alys’s brother is murdered, she sets out to discover who killed him and why. But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives.

    I liked this book quite a bit — great characters, interesting story, intriguing world. The set-ups all had worthwhile payoffs, and I loved the examination of grief and the skeptical eye it turns on hero-worship. I did, however, also think it could have used another editing pass. Uncharacteristically for Abraham, there were some clunky sentences, oddly repeated phrases, and other small problems. Nonetheless, a good read and I’ll definitely pick up the next one in the series.

  4. Gallant, by V. E. Schwab

    Novel (YA)

    Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home; it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

    On the plus side, this YA gothic horror fantasy had lovely prose and a clever way of integrating graphic elements into the story. On the minus side, the story could have used more development, and the plot was very similar to that of some of Schwab’s other books. Overall, though, I did enjoy it.

  5. Legends & Lattes, by Travis Baldree

    Novel

    Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

    Is cozy fantasy a genre? If it is, this is a charming entry in it. If like me, you’re delighted by the idea of an orc adventurer who wants to hang up her sword and open a coffee shop, then this is a book that does exactly that.

  6. Seconding Kyra on Legends & Lattes. I appreciated that it really stuck with its central conceit – Viv has opportunities to make her life simpler by going murder hobo on things, but she’s trying to be done with that.

  7. Not something I’m going to nominate form a Hugo Award fbut I just finished the second entry in Simon R. Green’s Gideon Sable series, a Matter of Life and Death. It’s a series that I will eventually nominate for a Series Hugo on the grounds that I feel that not enough fantasy series are getting nominated and it’s definitely got potential to be an outstanding series.

    Besides it’s a lot of fun as a series so I recommend it to anyone who likes his fiction.

  8. (rubs hands) I’ve already started my 2022 Recommended Page on my blog, so now it’s Copy Paste time!

    Novel

    Mickey 7, Edward Ashton (I called this Andy Weir-lite, but I also think it could be known as “Andy Weir done better.” This book has a hard science edge but avoids Weir’s downfall of stalling the story in the scientific/engineering minutiae. This book is a lean, fast-paced machine that nevertheless deals with issues of survival and identity.)

    The Kaiju Preservation Society, John Scalzi (This book is classic Scalzi: fast, breezy, snarky and fun. What sets this one apart for me is the interesting world and ecology of the kaiju.)

    Last Exit, Max Gladstone (This book’s ending didn’t quite stick the landing for me, but the journey getting there was so good I’m tempted to overlook it. It’s a science fantasy/horror mashup about the multiverse, alternate worlds, and Lovecraftian-style horrors, with six deep character studies and a stark examination of loss, pain, guilt and determination to right a long-ago wrong, whatever the cost.)

    Short Story

    “Lily, the Immortal,” Kylie Lee Baker, Uncanny Magazine January/February 2022. (This is the quiet, thoughtful story of the forgotten girlfriend of a YouTube makeup vlogging queen whose channel and image is bought up by a corporation that resurrects her. This is a meditation on death and immortality, and the protagonist’s powerful reason to reject the latter.)

    “The Cure for Loneliness,” M. Shaw, Apex Magazine January-February 2022. (This story is equal parts humor and horror, very much set in our time of pandemic and isolation. The author weaves the very real-world idea of a fungus that takes over ant brains, plants that are taking over the protagonist’s apartment, an evolving philodendron that got its start after being stuck in a jar of pickle juice instead of water, and at the very end, the “bright people,” angels or aliens that use the protagonist’s mutated plants to break into our world. The story swings towards horror at the end, similar to the fungus-zombie movie The Girl With All the Gifts.)

    “No One at the Wild Dock,” Gu Shi, translated by S. Qiouyi Li, Clarkesworld Magazine January 2022. (This is an entertaining treatise on AI learning with a stinger of horror at the end. No, not like Skynet deciding to kill humanity off–humanity does that all on their own, the collateral damage of building a self-aware AI. The final line is chilling.)

    “The Book of the Blacksmiths,” Martin Cahill, Fireside Magazine February 2022. (This is the story of a short-lived clone army working in a Dyson sphere to reignite a star, and the protagonist, One Thousand and Sixteen, attempting to put together the story of his people and why they’re doing this.)

    “The Last Passenger,” Melissa Mead, Daily Science Fiction 2/25/22. (This is a lovely story of Charon’s sentient skiff, made all the more poignant by the author’s recent passing.)

    “You Can Have the Ground, My Love,” Carlie St. George, and “The Invisible Man: The Fire This Time,” Maurice Broaddus, both from the anthology Classic Monsters Unleashed, edited by James Aquilone. (This Kickstarted anthology is a gorgeous book, but unfortunately most of the stories are average. These two, the former a feminist take on the Bride of Frankenstein and the latter giving the Invisible Man trope a racial twist, are the best.)

    “The Apples,” Mari Ness, Daily Science Fiction 4/4/22. (This flash story of what happens after the queen in Sleeping Beauty dies carries a creepy, stark reminder that sometimes evil doesn’t die with the people who started it.)

    “Gentle Dragon Fires,” T.K. Rex and Lezlie Kinyon, Strange Horizons January 2022. (This has surprising layers to it, themes of identity, environmentalism and cultural erasure, wrapped into an absorbing story.)

    “To Live and Die in Dixieland,” Russell Nichols, Apex Magazine March-April 2022. (This is a raw, primal scream of a story about a VR simulation where slavery is reversed and black people are the masters, built to let white people “experience the unspeakable horrors of America’s racist history.” It’s powerful, unsettling and deeply uncomfortable, and it was intended to be.)

    “The First Promise We Break,” Risa Wolf, Apex Magazine March-April 2022. (This is a fresh take on the story of Beauty and the Beast, mixed with Greek gods.)

    “Intimacies,” Filip Hadjar Drnovsek Zorko, Strange Horizons February 2022. (This is a quiet, thoughtful story about a seahorse/merman and their take on childbearing, sex and gender, contrasted with the human one.)

    “The Dragon Project,” Naomi Kritzer, Clarkesworld Magazine March 2022. (This whimsical story of a bioengineer who designs 3D-printed dragons and the consequences thereof is utterly delightful.)

  9. Part II

    Novelette

    “The Dominion of Leviathan,” Manish Melwani, Tor.com 4/13/22. (Building off the Greek legend of Prometheus, this far-future tale tells of a humble Ceres librarian’s fight against a god-tyrant.)

    Novella

    Where the Drowned Girls Go, Seanan McGuire (This is volume #7 of the Wayward Children series, but it can be read and understood even if you haven’t read any of the previous volumes. These stories of children who don’t fit in and find Doors leading to alternate worlds are a combination of updated fairy tales with teeth and commentary on the unrealistic expectations society and/or parents place on many children, especially girls.)

    Servant Mage, Kate Elliott (This novella packs a large amount of worldbuilding in only 164 pages, and has an interesting exploration of power, privilege and revolution.)

    “Bishop’s Opening,” R.S.A. Garcia, Clarkesworld Magazine January 2022. (This is an adventure story of a polyamorous family of deep-space haulers pitted against a society rather like the Mob or Yakuza in space, save that they name themselves after chess pieces and play the so-called Great Game.)

    Dramatic Presentation Short

    The Expanse, Amazon Prime, Season 6 Ep 5, “Why We Fight.” (The penultimate episode of the final season slowed down and concentrated on the characters and their motivations–not only for this season, but the show as a whole. Cara Gee, as Camina Drummer, and Shohreh Agdashloo, as Chrisjen Avasarala, are outstanding.)

    The Expanse, Amazon Prime, Season 6 Ep 6, “Babylon’s Ashes.” (And now it’s over, but it went out with a bang, with a hair-raising action, a magnificent comeuppance for the villain, and a lovely final scene with Holden and Naomi that summed up the entire series.)

    The Book of Boba Fett, Disney Plus, Season 1 Episode 5, “Return of the Mandalorian.” (Unfortunately, this stealth episode of The Mandalorian overshadowed Boba in his own show. If I was Temuera Morrison I would complain. Bryce Dallas Howard also did a bang-up job directing.)

    Star Trek: Prodigy, Paramount Plus, Season 1 Episodes 9 & 10, “A Moral Star” Parts 1 and 2. (This animated show is fun for the kids and also has solid character development and action scenes for the adults.)

    Moon Knight, Disney Plus, Season 1, episodes 1 and 2, “The Goldfish Problem” and “Summon the Suit.” (Only three episodes in, this series is crowding WandaVision and Loki as my favorite Marvel series. Oscar Isaac is doing an excellent job with the titular character–or rather, two titular characters sharing the same body–and Ethan Hawke is so far one of the better Marvel villains.)

    Dramatic Presentation Long

    Everything Everywhere All At Once, directed by Dan Kwan/Daniel Scheinert. (I agree wholeheartedly with N above. This is the story of a Chinese woman, Evelyn Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh, who journeys across the multiverse after she discovers she is the one who is destined to stop a “black hole bagel” constructed by an alternate villainous version of her daughter Joy. The premise is gonzo, but the execution is brilliant, because the story is firmly grounded in Evelyn’s relationships with her father, husband and daughter. This movie explores themes of reflection and regret, and the roads not taken. Michelle Yeoh is great, and the fanny pack fight scene had my fanny-pack-wearing heart stand up and cheer.)

    Related Work

    Blood, Sweat and Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road, Kyle Buchanan (This is the incredible oral history of a modern action-movie masterpiece. It’s a wonder the film was made at all, never mind turning out to be as good as it is.)

    Series

    Nnedi Okorafor, The Nsibidi Scripts: 3rd book, Akata Woman. (I don’t know if this will count as the best YA book I read this year; it was very good, but it wasn’t quite knock-my-socks-off amazing. However, I do think the series as a whole is more than the sum of its parts.)

  10. Clickity! Thanks for this, @JJ & @Mike Glyer!

    On April 21, 7576 at 4:51 pm, books write us!

  11. Dead Collections, by Isaac Fellman

    Novel

    When archivist Sol meets Elsie, the widow of a moderately famous television writer who’s come to donate her wife’s papers, there’s an instant spark. But Sol has a secret: he suffers from an illness called vampirism, and hides from the sun by living in his basement office. On their way to falling in love, the two traverse grief, delve into the Internet fandom they once unknowingly shared, and navigate the realities of transphobia and the stigmas of carrying the “vampire disease.”

    This is the vampire romance you would expect from the author of The Breath of the Sun — cerebral, moody, melancholy, and queer. I think, more than anything else, it’s a book about laying ghosts to rest, whether they be the ghosts of other people or past selves. I liked it.

  12. Novel

    Nettle & Bone, T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon)

    Oor Wombat has another winner in this whimsical, funny and sometimes dark story that takes the tropes of fairy tales–including the princess, prince and the fairy godmother–and turns them inside out, with delightful extras including a bone dog and a demon chicken.

  13. @Kendall – ooohh, excellent news; thanks for the heads up. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for that.

    An unrelated recommendation- Kaiju Preservation Society by Scalzi. I loved it, and in fact ended up getting the audiobook to listen to after I finished the ebook. I found it lighthearted and funny, and a good antidote to the last couple years. I will say though, that if you don’t like your books to mention current events, you may not enjoy this as much – my spouse (who is the one who introduced me to Scalzi’s work) had a very “meh” opinion of KPS, primarily because of the current events portrayed in the book. To me, they only set the scene and didn’t detract from the world building of the alternate earth, but to each their own.

  14. @Lace: Good story, and yes, very 2022, though I wonder when it was actually written.

  15. Aspects by the late, great John M Ford.

    This is an unfinished novel, but that hurts it less than you might expect – plot takes a back seat to character and world-building. I’m very glad this was published even in it’s incomplete state, and only regret that we will never see the rest of it or the intended sequels. Good enough for a Hugo nod? I think so.

  16. Missed that this had gotten started. Clickity.

    Highly enjoyed Legends & Lattes. Started Kaiju Preservation Society last night; a lot of fun so far.

    Lord Quillifer, by Walter Jon Williams, wraps up the Quillifer trilogy, which I’ve described elsewhere as “entrepreneurial fantasy”; Quillifer has a keen eye for business opportunities, investments, and ways to take advantage of new technologies and discoveries in a world transitioning between steel blades and gunpowder. He also has an eye for the ladies (and the ladies for him), and between the two keeps finding himself reluctantly involved in duels, feuds, battles, wars and conspiracies. A strong flavor of George MacDonald Fraser runs throughout the series. The ending leaves open possibilities of a future continuation.

  17. Novel

    Braking Day, Adam Oyebanji

    This is a fine debut novel that takes the trope of the generation ship and puts a unique spin on it. It’s fast-paced but has a lot of interesting layers, from the culture of the ships to the clash between the different ships’ societies, that makes for a fascinating stew.

  18. Another rec here for:

    Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher

    Novel

    Pretty much echoing what was said about it above. 🙂

  19. In the Serpent’s Wake, by Rachel Hartman

    Novel (YA, 2nd in a duology / 4th in an overarching series)

    At the bottom of the world lies a Serpent, the last of its kind. Finding the Serpent will change lives. There are those who would give their lives to keep it hidden. And those who would destroy it. Tess is a girl on a mission to save a friend. Spira is a dragon seeking a new identity. Marga is a woman staking her claim on a man’s world. Jacomo is a priest searching for his soul.

    Tess of the Road wasn’t my favorite Rachel Hartman book, but its sequel packs a hefty punch. It takes a hard look both at the effects of colonialism and the extremely problematic fictional “savior” model of ending oppression. There’s a lot to think about throughout.

  20. The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
    Novel

    Great, fun read! Interesting world-building, enough snark without being too much, action, danger, and humor and I inhaled it. 😀

  21. Haven’t seen it yet but Stranger Things season 4 (Netflix) is getting solid reviews. For all the money they’ve invested in it, I’d hope so. Specifically I’m listing an episode that’s been getting a lot of buzz: the final episode of Part 1, “Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab.”, which seems to be an action-packed hour that furthers Eleven’s story and sheds light on a key event that takes place before the series started. Could be well worth a watch.

  22. re: Stranger Things

    I haven’t made it to ep 7 yet but that one will have to be hella good to top ep 4, “Dear Billy.” The reported $30 million was well spent on this episode, and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

    Also, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. 4 out of the first 5 episodes have been very good, but if I had to choose one, I’d go with episode 4, “Memento Mori.” It’s about a nail-biter of an encounter with (rot-13) gur Tbea, expanding on La’an Noonien-Singh’s backstory, and is written and shot in a way to make it a direct descendant of the original series’ “Balance of Terror,” with its own modern spin.

  23. @Bonnie: Haha, I was just coming here to shout out that episode! I hadn’t seen the (rot-13) “Ehaavat Hc Gung Uvyy” fprar yet. Honestly “Chapter Four: Dear Billy” is probably the episode to put on one’s ballot.

  24. Eyes of the Void, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

    Novel (2nd in a series)

    Facing impending extinction, the Human Colonies are in turmoil. While some believe a unified front is the only way to stop the Architects, others insist humanity should fight alone. And there are those who would seek to benefit from the fractured politics of war – even as the Architects loom ever closer.

    I liked this one even better than the first one; fewer action scenes meant there was more time for the plot, characters, and concepts to take center stage (although there was plenty of action, too.) There was one place where my suspension of disbelief broke down a bit — gur enqvbnpgvir qrngu sybjref; V qba’g xabj jul gurl jrer gbb zhpu jura fb zhpu ryfr jnf abg, ohg fb vg tbrf. But that was a minor point, and I’m excited to find out where all this is going.

  25. Hide, by Kiersten White

    Novel

    The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught. The prize: enough money to change everything. But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than she imagined.

    I liked this. Sometimes it was a little on-the-nose with its messaging, but it’s always nice to read a supernatural horror story where the real monster is capitalism.

  26. The Middling Affliction, Alex Shvartsman, Caezik
    Fantasy Novel
    (I’ve never done one of these reviews before.)
    Conrad Brent is the member of the Watch who protects the mundanes of Brooklyn from magical threats, making a living on the side as a private detective for the magically gifted. But he has a disability he can’t reveal.
    The book is both humorous and well-plotted, with a number of surprises. It has a lot more violence and monster-fighting than I like, but this won’t be a problem for the vast majority of readers.
    Although intended to be the first of a series, the book stands alone.

  27. Novella

    “Kora Is Life,” David D. Levine, Clarkesworld Magazine May 2022. (This is the story of an alien motorized hang-gliding race, and the first human to participate in it. It has nail-biting action scenes and a fascinating exploration of the alien culture.)

  28. Bonnie McDaniel on June 5, 2022 at 8:36 pm said:

    re: Stranger Things

    I haven’t made it to ep 7 yet but that one will have to be hella good to top ep 4, “Dear Billy.”

    Episode 4 is definitely the strongest

  29. Novella
    “All the Horses of Iceland” by Sarah Tolmie
    A historical fantasy set in the 9th century. When a trader from Iceland tries to help a potential customer deal with a haunting, he stands to gain a fortune if he succeeds. Of course, things might not go so well if he fails. And even a boon can sometimes come with unexpected strings attached.

    This story reads like a folktale. I loved the emphasis on language and on encounters between different cultures.

  30. DRAMATIC PRESENTATION WATCH
    The Boys: S3E06 “Herogasm” (Amazon Prime)

    This whole season in general has been getting some discussion on social media for cranking The Boys’ more base adult elements (Read: gore and sex) up to eleven. In between all that has been an ever-sharpening blade of satire (the right-wing fans have finally caught on to the fact that Homelander’s a bad guy. After 3 seasons) and conntinuous character evolution. “Herogasm,” despite its goof of a name (it’s based off a side The Boys comic that’s been integrated into the main TV series), is a showcase of the last one, showing how far some characters have come and how far some have degraded. I’m avoiding spoilers yet focusing on the more “stately” talking points because most online talk on this episode is focused on how absolutely bugnuts it gets. Which is arguably another point in its favor. The craziest, most soulful installment of The Boys yet.

  31. Short story

    Future Tense, Danny Macks, Daily Science Fiction, June 28, 2022

    To riff on Charlie Jane Anders, the mom who sees the futures has a kid who’s learning to see the futures.

  32. Deathless Gods, by P. C. Hodgell

    Novel (10th in a series)

    Jamethiel Knorth, Priest’s Bane and Dream-Weaver, has returned victorious from Tai-tastigon, but trouble dogs the Kencyrath. While Tori defends Gothregor, and Kindrie rots, a secret captive, Jame rides south to Bashti. Here she confronts an unready and presumptuous heir, a withholding and manipulative paymaster, and invisible assassins. Her formal errand, meanwhile, is to compete in martial games with secret stakes — which she fears are a cloak for a massacre, or worse.

    I’ve been reading this series for 40 years now, and nothing in book 10 gives me any reason to stop. I do think this one feels like it’s spinning its wheels a little bit at the beginning, but the story takes off and stays great about when the trip to the Transweald begins. Looking forward to the next one!

  33. Novel
    “Other Birds” by Sarah Addison Allen

    Zoey has inherited a condo on Mallow Island from her deceased mother. Seeking to escape an unhappy home life with her father and stepmother, she moves in, accompanied by her pet bird–who happens to be invisible. As she builds connections with her neighbors, she becomes embroiled in the mysteries of their pasts, some of which have supernatural elements as well.

    The character work in this book is wonderful, and I loved the theme of found family. There were a couple of mysteries whose resolutions genuinely surprised me.

    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me access to the eARC.

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