2023 Recommended SF/F List

Cat Rambo’s Taco

This thread is for posts about 2023-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.

[Based on a post by JJ.]

26 thoughts on “2023 Recommended SF/F List

  1. Novels
    Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchiakovsky, Orbit
    The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan, Orbit
    A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K J Parker, Orbit
    Flint and Mirror by John Crowley, Tor
    Quantum of Nightmares by Charles Stross, Tor.com
    The Art of Prophecy: The War Arts Saga, Book One by Wesley Chu, Del Rey

  2. I read a lot of older stuff these days, but one 2023 book I think worth your time:

    The World We Make, N.K. Jemisin, Orbit books. Novel. Sequel to 2020’s The City We Became — itself an expansion of 2016’s “The City Born Great” (https://www.tor.com/2016/09/28/the-city-born-great/) — this one takes the concept … I won’t say “as far as it can go,” but pretty darn far into the out-there, ending up conceptually in territory as much Stapeledon’s as Lovecraft’s, but mostly Jemisin’s own. I like Big Ideas stories, and the Big Idea here is as big as any BDO offered by Clarke, Bear, or Niven.

  3. @kyra Reading and writing too late at night. They are 2022 works. I was thinking that said 2023 Hugos (i.e. published in 2022). I see now this post is tracking forward for the 2024 list.

  4. The Scarab Mission, James Cambias, Baen Books (I know, I know). Novel.
    A return to the Billion Worlds of the Godel Operation. In this one, a deep space salvage team visits a habitat known for the arts that had a catastrophic accident 16 years earlier. In 30 days, the habitat goes on a 50 year orbit to the outer system. In the mean time, the crew are free to salvage high value items.
    Needless to say, things don’t go according to plan…
    Liked: The setting and world building. Characters. Ratcheting tension. Details of salvaging the habitat.
    Disliked: The opposition. And how one character suddenly grew a conscience.

  5. @ Sean Mead. That said, the eyes of the void trilogy will probably be on my series nomination for 2024.

  6. Josh Reidel’s Please Report Your Bug Here is coming out next week. Definitely sounded fun, almost an isekai-ish premise with shades of Scalzi’s TKPS- style protagonist. Anyone else hear about that one?

  7. Best Novel
    The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz
    Lone Women by Victor LaValle

    I got access to both of these through NetGalley, and they were both excellent. The Terraformers is a far-future SF novel in which the leader of a terraforming crew discovers something that will reshape her understanding of her past, her terraforming project, and the larger society she lives in. It’s full of cool SFnal ideas, interesting characters, and thoughtful social commentary.

    Lone Women is a genre mash-up between historical horror and Westerns. Set in 1914, it follows a Black woman who moves to Montana to homestead following a family tragedy. She’s carrying a very heavy steamer trunk with her–a trunk that absolutely must never be opened. I liked this even more than LaValle’s previous books The Ballad of Black Tom and The Changeling.

  8. The Stolen Heir, by Holly Black

    Novel (YA, 1st in a duology, 4th in an overarching series, 8th in a series-setting world)

    Suren, still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains. She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag, Bogdana chases her through the night streets.

    A well-written book that presents an excellent character study of its abused and conflicted lead. The one flaw is that I was able to see the big ending twist coming from a long way away, but it didn’t ruin another great entry in Holly Black’s extensive fairy series.

  9. Now She Is Witch, by Kirsty Logan


    Lux has lost everything when Else finds her, alone in the woods. Her family, her lover, her home – all burned. Else has not found Lux by accident. She needs her help to seek revenge against the man who wronged her, and together they pursue him north. But on their hunt they will uncover dark secrets that entangle them with dangerous adversaries.

    Powerful, lyrical, and vivid. A story about the choices women are constrained to make, the stories they are forced to live, and the tangled path towards breaking free. I loved it, as I’ve loved everything Kirsty Logan has written.

  10. The Infinite, by Ada Hoffmann

    Novel (3rd in a trilogy)

    Time is running out for the planet Jai. The artificially intelligent Gods who rule the galaxy have withdrawn their protection from the chaos-ravaged world, just as their most ancient enemy closes in. For Yasira Shien, who has devoted herself to the fragile planet’s nascent rebellion, it’s time to do or die – and the odds are overwhelming.

    A fantastic conclusion to this epic, innovative trilogy. There are many praises I could heap upon it, from its empathetic moral compass to its continuing examination of non-neurotypicality. But I particularly want to mention the mid-book twist, which was so clearly apparent in retrospect that I wanted to yell at the characters for not figuring it out … except that I only figured it out around the same time they did. That’s what I call a well-done twist. Also, I highly approve of the idea that if you have access to time travel on the brink of an imminent crisis, you should use it to take a long vacation first.

  11. From Interzone Magazine Issue 294 January 2023:

    Novelette (there are no word counts in the magazine, or on the website that I can find, but I think that’s what this is):

    “Murder by Proxy” by Philip Fracassi. This is a long story with a noir/horror edge. The tone is set immediately, with the protagonist’s cynical, world-weary voice. Granted, this is bordering on cliche and nothing we haven’t heard countless times before. Still, as the story goes along it gets more interesting and gradually sets itself apart, especially with the introduction of the AI antagonist and the touch of the supernatural in the protagonist’s phobia of puppets. The author does a very good job of describing how creepy toys can be.

    Short Stories:

    “The Coming of the Extroverts” by Daniel Bennett. This is a shorter, cyberpunkish story with a protagonist (amusingly) named Moog. (Somebody remembers the Moog synthesizer, eh?) It has a nice twist to it, and it’s all there in the opening sentences. The ending is also a clever little tip to UFO buffs and X-Files fans.

    “The Building Across the Street” by R.T. Ester. This is an absorbing little onion of a story. It gradually peels the layers back on an interstellar mystery, with the setting serving up a side of dystopia.

    “Last Act of the Revolution” by Louise Hughes. This is a quiet character study asking an interesting question: what happens to the fiery revolutionary when she can’t let go of all the years of fighting, now that she has attained her goal? I think this is my favorite story in the issue.


    The Keeper’s Six, Kate Elliott. Combine excellent worldbuilding with a sixty-year-old female protagonist who goes on a quest to protect her son and grandchildren, squaring off against a dragon in the process, and you have a winner.

  12. Graphic novel

    Why Don’t You Love Me?, Paul B. Rainey

    I hate to say much about this one – I read Abigail Nussbaum’s review and bought and read this the same weekend, because she made it sound so good, and I didn’t want to encounter spoilers.

  13. Novelette

    Anais Gets a Turn, R.T. Ester, Clarkesworld, January 2023

    The world-organism is awake and has spent the last decade playing round after round of tic-tac-toe with itself.

    Short story

    Sharp Undoing, Natasha King, Clarkesworld, January 2023

    A tightly-written wetware story.

  14. For Related Work I’m considering this video essay by YouTuber Andrewism (real name Andrew Sage), titled How To Build a Solarpunk City. It’s based on the titular literary and artistic movement, which developed as a reaction to dystopian media, built around the concept of renewable energy and sustainable futures. This works as a manifesto for solarpunk, outlining its tenets and how they could be applies to real life via city planning. Also Sage just has a lovely voice to listen to, which matches perfectly to the poetic nature of his essay.

  15. Novel

    Concurring with Nina about Annalee Newitz’s The Terraformers–it doesn’t have as strong a plot as some (echoes of Becky Chambers) but the fascinating worldbuilding and well-developed characters (including a sentient train!) carry it through.

  16. Do filers have thoughts on the recent, buzzy first season of The Last of Us? Standouts of that include the surprisingly romantic “Long, Long Time” and the devastating “Endure and Survive.”

  17. “Long, Long Time” is on my short list (I liked it just a teeny bit more than “Endure and Survive”) and I’m also considering nominating the season as a whole for Long Form. I want to get it on the ballot somewhere.

  18. Short Stories

    From the February issue of Clarkesworld:

    “Somewhere, It’s About To Be Spring” by Samantha Murray and “Silo, Sweet Silo” by James Castles

    These stories have a bit of a similar premise–an artificial intelligence awakening to sentience–but diffferent executions. The former is a lovely story about a ship’s “multicore computer” losing her crew but gaining a new family, and the latter is the story of a war machine who learns it doesn’t have to fight and die. This last is the author’s first published story, and holy crap if he turns out work like that, he’s going to have a bright future.

  19. I’m curious how far a campaign for episode 2 of the web series A Fox in Space could go for Dramatic Presentation, Short Work. It’s an indie animation/fanwork based on Nintendo’s Star Fox series of games (not that knowledge of the games is needed to enjoy it), restructuring the setting with the breadth of a space opera and a more realistic, dramatic tone. This segment of the series is a prequel set before the events of the first episode, this time following Fox McCloud’s father James. Animator Matthew Gafford has been working on this thing for a literal seven years – I was in my final year of high school when the first episode came out, now I’m 25 and in awe that the second has not only met, but exceeded my expectations.

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