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.

78 thoughts on “2022 Recommended SF/F List

  1. I’ll second the praise for

    Locklands, by Robert Jackson Bennett

    Novel (3rd in a Trilogy)

    Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win. This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

    The Founders Trilogy comes to a conclusion that is both sweeping and epic. I did miss the greater presence of Sancia and Gregor in the other two books, but that did allow more scope for Berenice and Clef. Altogether, this series was thought-provoking in the best of ways, using a fantasy lens to examine questions more often posed by science fiction — what happens when our technology outpaces our wisdom, and how we might evolve as a species to bridge that gap.

  2. Spear, by Nicola Griffith

    Novella

    The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.

    Arthurian retellings can be pretty thick on the ground, but it’s still always nice to come across a good one. This one benefits from being both a well-told, well-researched story and one that acknowledges that not everyone in history looked or acted the way many of us have been taught to expect. That’s a winning combination.

  3. The Language of Roses, by Heather Rose Jones

    Novella

    A Beauty. A Beast. A Curse. This is not the story you know. Meet Alys, eldest daughter of a merchant, a merchant who foolishly plucks a rose from a briar as he flees from the home of a terrifying Beast and his seemingly icy sister. Now Alys must pay the price to save his life and allow the Beast, the once handsome Philippe, to pay court to her.

    It’s nice to read a version of Beauty and the Beast which acknowledges that there’s more than one kind of love. And of course, it comes with Heather Rose Jones’ beautiful prose.

  4. Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel

    Novel

    When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended. A novel about time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later.

    This is a moody, introspective book about living life in the shadow of pandemics — or, more broadly, living in the shadow of death — that features an extremely inept time traveller. I liked it a lot. The book shares some characters with The Glass Hotel, but either can be read without having read the other.

  5. Novel
    Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
    This is the sequel to Black Sun, and I enjoyed it as much as the first book. We get deep characters, a complex conflict with multiple factions, and vivid description of magic. Roanhorse makes her fantasy world, inspired by pre-Columbian American civilizations, feel alive. This left me looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy.

  6. Short Story:

    “Company Town,” Aimee Ogden, Clarkesworld Magazine June 2022. (This is a horrific and original combination of sword-and-sorcery, a hero’s journey, and a future South American River company town.)

    “Marsbodies,” Adele Gardner, Clarkesworld Magazine June 2022. (Ordinarily, you’d think manned missions to Mars have been done to death–until you read something like this.)

    “In Pictures of Gunmetal Gray,” Wendy Nikel, Daily Science Fiction 7/21/22. (This is a haunting story of a court reporter and what they are actually sketching in the courtroom.)

    Novel

    Eyes of the Void, Adrian Tchaikovsky

    I loved Shards of Earth, the first book in the Final Architecture series, and this is just as good. The fight against the moon-sized entities that carve inhabited planets into terrible works of art continues; we find out more about where they come from, but this only spawns further questions. It’s a bit more of a typical middle-trilogy book in that it’s clearly setting things up for the final chapter, but I don’t think that takes away from the story. (Also–a huge plus in my book!–it has a “Story So Far” prologue. I wish more publishers did that, especially with series as big and complex as this one.)

  7. DRAMATIC PRESENTATION WATCH

    Nope (in theaters, later on Peacock) is difficult to talk about without getting spoilery, partially because there’s so much to unpack from it. So I’ll just ROT-13 my review:

    Gur genvyref jrer zber pyrire guna gurl frrzrq, yrnqvat ivrjref gb oryvrir guvf jnf n fgnaqneq nyvra vainfvba svyz jura Crryr npghnyyl tnir hf n Ybirpensgvna evss ba Wnjf. V fnl “Ybirpensgvna,” juvpu vf vebavp tvira Crryr’f nyjnlf pbafpvbhf pbzzragnel ba enpr; vagrerfgvatyl, qrfcvgr gur svyz’f obzonfg, guvf znl or gur zbfg fhogyr bs fnvq pbzzragnel npebff nyy guerr bs uvf svyzf fb sne, zretvat jvgu gurzrf ba tevrs, obgu gur bccbeghavfgvp angher naq qrfgehpgvirarff bs gur ragregnvazrag vaqhfgl, naq n zber harkcrpgrq gurzr ba ubj, qrfcvgr nyy gur grpuabybtl jr’ir nppehrq naq ohvyg nf uhznaf, jr’er fgvyy navznyf. Vs n ynetre navzny jrer gb pbzr nybat naq znxr hf vgf cerl, jr’q svaq bhefryirf sbeprq gb cynl ol vgf grezf vafgrnq bs bhef.

    Not ROT-13: Terrific acting and action across the board, a heartfelt sibling relationship at its heart, the best mainstream sci-fi horror I can think of in a while, and definitely going on my ballot for Long Form.

  8. A Fox in Shadow, by Jane Fletcher

    Novel

    Politics in the Kavillian Senate is a dangerous, high-stakes game, and the odds aren’t on Cassie’s side. As imperial envoy, she’s tasked with adding a new region to the empire. Without military support, success will require all her guile and cunning, plus a good dose of luck.

    This one can definitely be counted among Jane Fletcher’s hits — tricky political machinations, and both romance and nuanced conflict between the two main characters, all in a lived-in feeling historical fantasy setting. I liked it a lot.

  9. Novella

    What Moves the Dead, T. Kingfisher

    Poe meets Kingfisher meets some eerie hares. The mycologist was a fun little touch.

    For the non-horror readers, I will say this one expanded my personal T. Kingfisher horror scale slightly. I put “those two creepy scenes in The Wonder Engine” at the “slightly creepy” end, and The Twisted Ones is now near but not at the “most creepy” end. What Moves the Dead is the new “creepiest Kingfisher” for me, but not much more so. If you could handle TTO you’ll probably be fine.

    I had thirty pages left at bedtime, stayed up late to finish, and slept fine, so there’s that. But Kingfisher doesn’t write the kind of horror I just can’t read. Though if she did, I’d probably try.

  10. +1 for What Moves the Dead

    To add: This is not supernatural or Lovecraftian cosmic horror, but more towards the SF/horror blend of the spectrum, if that helps. Either way, it’s damn good.

  11. The Pharmacist, by Rachelle Atalla

    Novel

    In the end, very few people made it to the bunker. Now they wait there for the outside world to heal. Wolfe is one of the lucky ones. She’s safe and employed as the bunker’s pharmacist. But when the leader starts to ask things of Wolfe, favours she can hardly say no to, it seems her luck is running out. How much more is Wolfe willing to give to stay alive?

    It’s easy to root for a heroic protagonist. It’s harder to sympathize with one who becomes horrific in order to survive in a horrific situation. Rachelle Atalla pulls off the difficult trick of keeping us on the main character’s side as she trades away pieces of her conscience and soul bit by bit. It’s not difficult to believe that in the same situation, most of us would make similar choices.

  12. “The Sound of Her Wings” – The Sandman Season 1, Episode 6

    Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

    Morpheus, now aimless after obtaining his tools, is visited by his sister, Death, and accompanies her as she escorts the deceased to the afterlife. In a flashback to the Middle Ages, Morpheus and Death visit a tavern where they encounter Hob Gadling, a commoner who wishes to never die. Death agrees to spare Gadling for as long as he wishes.

    I don’t normally recommend TV shows or movies here, but this episode was perfect in every respect.

  13. I would think that the entire season would be nominated in Long Form: that would preclude any individual episode from winning Short form? But certainly I’ll agree that if I had to pick one single episode, that would be it.

  14. Seconding Kyra’s recommendation of “The Sound of Her Wings.” Kirby Howell-Baptiste knocks it out of the park as Death and the entire episode is just pure beauty.

    I’d also recommend that episode for Short Form over the entire season as Long, as the show did have a few pacing problems as a whole. Hopefully those are just growing pains.

  15. Our Sister, Again, by Sophie Cameron

    Novel (YA)

    On a small island off the Scottish coast, Isla and her family are grieving the loss of her older sister Flora, who died three years ago. Then they’re offered the chance to be part of a top-secret trial, which revives loved ones as fully lifelike AI robots using their digital footprint.

    This book is both thought-provoking and well-written, but it’s the characters who really shine here; they always feel like real, vulnerable people trying their best. Sophie Cameron is an author who deserves a wide audience.

  16. Hi all, any recommendations for nonfiction books published this year that would be eligible for best related work? Or a good resource to help browse what nonfiction has been published this year?

  17. @Michael

    Two books on my list are Cosplay: A History by Andrew Liptak and Blood, Sweat and Chrome: the Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan.

    Cora Buhlert also has an ongoing series of articles spotlighting non-fiction work. The latest post, with helpful additional links, is here.

  18. DRAMATIC PRESENTATION WATCH
    Primal, “The Red Mist”

    This show came up in a conversation I had with Cora Buhlert, and it made me realize that it totally is fantasy, being set in a world where humans co-exist with dinosaurs (mythological beasts, witches and zombifying diseases notwithstanding). For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, Primal is a primetime animated drama series chronicling the companionship between one such human (Spear) and one such dinosaur (Fang), as they traverse a prehistoric landscape attempting to survive, more than willing to tear apart anything that gets in their way. Primal is especially unique in that, with Spear being a caveman that communicates via grunting and Fang being a dinosaur, most of the action is told visually without dialogue, and any dialogue in the show usually comes to us via ancient languages.

    Season 2’s “The Red Mist” sees Spear, having fallen in love with a woman named Mira, protecting her village with Fang against a roving horde of Vikings. This seemingly simple premise gets complicated as we simultaneously see events occur from the Viking’s perspective in a way that builds sympathy and makes us all-too aware of the consequences of Spear and Fang’s actions. This year’s ballot is the first time two animated shows (Arcane and Lower Decks) made the Short Form ballot, both showing a rise in mature animated shows and Hugo voters’ rising interest in the medium; Primal, for my money, is the best animated show on television right now and this particular episode will be tough to beat.

    CW for this episode: blood, gore, child death

    Where to stream: HBO Max in the US (for now? I think? I don’t know what’s happening with that service right now), check for international

  19. When Women Were Dragons, by Kelly Barnhill

    Novel

    In the Mass Dragoning of 1955, hundreds of thousands of ordinary wives and mothers sprouted wings, scales and talons, left a trail of fiery destruction in their path, and took to the skies. Was it their choice? Why did Alex’s beloved Aunt Marla transform but her mother did not? Alex doesn’t know. And it’s taboo to speak of it.

    Ultimately, I think this book is about memory, both personal and societal, and what happens when attempts are made to erase, suppress, or deny it. But it’s also a book about rage, joy, and of course, women who turn into dragons. That’s a pretty winning combination.

  20. Our Wives Under the Sea,, by Julia Armfield

    Novel

    Miri thinks she’s got her wife back, when Leah finally returns after a deep-sea mission that ended in catastrophe. It soon becomes clear, though, that Leah is not the same. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying on the ocean floor, Leah has brought part of it back with her, onto dry land and into their home.

    If Kirsty Logan had been asked to write the screenplay for The Abyss, it might have ended up looking something like this. This is not a book for those who like clear explanations of what’s going on. But it isn’t about that. It’s about the difficulty of mourning someone you don’t know for certain is dead — and the difficulty of mourning someone who’s still right there. I liked it a lot.

  21. Novel: Hokuloa Road by Elizabeth Hand.
    Grady has taken a job as caretaker of a remote property on one of the smaller Hawaiian islands. His first night there, he sees something unnerving, but chalks it up to jet lag and sleep deprivation. But strange occurrences keep piling up, and now a young woman he met on the plane has gone missing…

    I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Hand’s writing for a long time, and I was excited to read something new by her. She does a masterful job of bringing Hawaii to life, from its natural beauty to the tensions between residents and tourists. Grady and his friends Dalita and Raina were engaging characters, and the mystery kept me turning pages.

    Novelette
    “To Embody a Wildfire Starting” by Iona Datt Sharma, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies
    The evil empire has finally been overthrown and all its political prisoners released. Tishrel, one of those prisoners, makes an arduous journey home, only to discover that his homecoming is going to be a lot more complicated than he expected.

    Fundamentally, this is a story about healing, on both a personal and societal level. Both Tishrel’s family and his nation need to be patched back together after enduring something truly terrible. The fantastical elements are introduced and explained in a way that feels very natural, and the complicated relationships between the characters make them feel very real. I loved this one.

  22. Eversion by Alastair Reynolds.

    At the beginning this novel looks like a homage to Jules Verne . Dr. Silas Coade is the surgeon on a sailing ship sailing to the far North, searching for a mysterious fissure. The fissure is the entrance to an uncharted lagoon – and at the far end of that lagoon is the mysterious Edifice, a massive construction of unknown origins. But it soon becomes apparent that something much stranger is going on.

    To go much further really gets into spoiler territory, but things are wrapped up satisfactorily – for the reader, if not the characters – and the bitter-sweet coda is very fitting.

    While it is still recognisably the work of Reynolds, it is different enough and good enough to be ranked as one of his best (at least IMHO).

  23. Novel
    The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart
    Time travel has been invented, and tourist excursions can be sent into the past. Small changes to the timeline can be accommodated–this isn’t “A Sound of Thunder”–but large ones could have catastrophic consequences. January Cole built a career with the Time Enforcement Agency, stopping people from making those potentially catastrophic changes. When a medical condition made it unsafe for her to continue hopping around through time, she was moved to a position as head of security at the hotel where time-tourists tend to say. But this hotel has secrets, and some very powerful and unscrupulous people want to exploit them. January may have been sidelined, but she’s about to face her toughest case yet.

    This is a sci-fi thriller, with lots of action. But there’s also deep character development and a surprising amount of philosophy. This is one of my favorite reads so far this year.

    And if none of that sells you on the book, it also has feathered velociraptors.

  24. Novel

    Babel, R.F. Kuang (the title proper is a lot longer)

    I want to shout about this one from the rooftops, because I think it’s a masterpiece. As good as the Poppy War trilogy was, this is even better. The author takes one crucial diversion from our history–the metal silver being discovered to have magical properties when paired with two translated words in similar languages to produce a specific magical effect–and runs with it, creating an entire alternate history that focuses on what this would do to our real-world twin cancers of white supremacy and capitalism.

    There are many different themes in this book–colonialism, the British/European exploitation of other countries, racism, sexism, cultural appropriation–and the author adroitly manages all of them, while building up to what ends as a tragedy for many of the characters. It’s R.F. Kuang, and as any reader would know from the Poppy War books, it’s grim. But it’s also fantastic.

  25. The Golden Enclaves, by Naomi Novik

    Novel (YA, 3rd in a series)

    The one thing you never talk about while you’re in the Scholomance is what you’ll do when you get out. And now the impossible dream has come true. El is out. And the first thing she’s got to do is turn straight around and find a way back in.

    Honestly, I think this one is the best of the Scholomance books. The main character has matured, the thematic content is pointed, the humor is sharp, and the plot twists are the best kind — the ones that make you go either “I should have figured that out!” or “Ha! I knew it!” rather than “… What?” Five stars, couldn’t put it down.

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