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General SF&F Chat > 2012: The Year of SF&F Books in Review

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

With the Winter Solstice now upon us (or the end of the world, if you're Mayan), perhaps we can reflect and share our impressions of 2012. What did you think of the new science fiction and fantasy reads of the year? What your favorites? Biggest disappointments? Events? Trends? Whatever....


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 21, 2012 09:33AM) (new)

FYI, here's the truncated GoodReads Choice voting for favorite Science Fiction books for 2012 (top ten only below; click link for full list):

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett The Long Earth
Darth Plagueis (Star Wars) by James Luceno Darth Plagueis
Redshirts by John Scalzi Redshirts
Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) by Hugh Howey Wool (Omnibus)
Shadows in Flight (Shadow, #5) by Orson Scott Card Shadows in Flight
Year Zero by Rob Reid Year Zero
The Janus Affair (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #2) by Philippa Ballantine The Janus Affair
Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway Angelmaker
Alien Proliferation (Katherine "Kitty" Katt, #4) by Gini Koch Alien Proliferation
Caliban's War (Expanse, #2) by James S.A. Corey Caliban's War

Note GoodReads voted separately for "Science Fiction" and "Fantasy" genres.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

G33z3r wrote: "Here's the truncated GoodReads Choice voting for favorite Science Fiction books for 2012 (top ten)"

(I was a little surprised not to find Insurgent on this list, since it's predecessor, Divergent, ran away with the 2011 GoodReads voting. Insurgent did easily top Goodread's Young Adult F&SF list, tho; in fact, it got three times as many votes as the SF winner The Long Earth.)


message 4: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 21, 2012 04:09PM) (new)


message 5: by Jonathan, Reader of the fantastic (new)

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 525 comments I haven't read any of these yet. It wasn't a great year for fantasy really. Not a lot of exceptional titles and very few top new titles that I've seen that are interesting.


message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 22, 2012 09:28AM) (new)

Jonathan wrote: "I haven't read any of these yet. It wasn't a great year for fantasy really."

I have to admit I haven't read many of these myself. Buying a title as it's published is usually something I reserve for only a few series and authors I'm already avidly following. I usually wait for reviews and the award nominations to learn what's really new and wonderful. (Except for short stories and novella, which I get exposed to through the usual SF&F magazines; that's my exposure to lectum incognita.)

GoodReads, like most of the rest of the world, tends to skew a little younger than I am, anyway. I think they did well to include separate categories for Paranormal Fantasy and Young Adult SF&F. If you factored in those votes, they'd completely dominate the two lists above. (Not that I didn't read some of both categories last year, but those appear to be much more popular here on GoodReads.)

I'm going to look over my “read” list to see if I can make a list of my personal favorite 10 SF&F published in 2012, but I'm not sure I'll be able to even find 10 actually published in 2012, much less 10 I want to recommend.


message 7: by Jonathan, Reader of the fantastic (new)

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 525 comments G33z3r wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "I haven't read any of these yet. It wasn't a great year for fantasy really."

I have to admit I haven't read many of these myself. Buying a title as it's published is usually somet..."


I do the same. I wait for reviews and generally read books after they've been out for a few months to many decades. My reading tends to be coming back to find those gems and books I've heard about but haven't read. Next year I plan to have read at least three of the best fantasy books of that year (A Memory of Light, The Crown Tower and Neil Gaiman's book The Ocean at the End of the Road are all priorities). Apart from that it's all old books again...


message 8: by Jonathan, Reader of the fantastic (new)

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 525 comments G33z3r wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "I haven't read any of these yet. It wasn't a great year for fantasy really."

I have to admit I haven't read many of these myself. Buying a title as it's published is usually somet..."


I plan to make a list of the best ten books in all I read in 2012. The top two are fantasy and the rest are all classics/literary.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

The Geekgasms of 2012? Two "insider" novels got a lot of discussion this year in my neighborhood (the outer spiral arm of the Milky Way):

Redshirts by John Scalzi Redshirts
John Scalzi turned his sci-fi humor on many tropes of Star Trek by crossing it with The Purple Rose of Cairo and The Last Action Hero. (Like mocking fish in a barrel.)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Ready Player One.
Screenwriter Ernest Cline creates a made-for-TV book wallowing in 80s geek culture. (I'd call this a YA book, but I doubt today's teens have much nostalgia for Joust or Matthew Broderick. By the way, how do you write a book about geek culture and not mention a single book?) In the movie rights were sold before the book was even printed, suggesting it was written for Hollywood. (Technically, this book was first published in late 2011, but my friends and I are cheap and waited for the 2012 paperback :)

To complete the Geekaholic binge, the audio books of both novels were read by Wil Wheaton.

These kinds of stories are a lot of fun for hard-core scifi fans, and I certainly got a few laughs out of each (not to mention some nostalgia). These books aren't great literature; they're almost meaningless outside their niche target audience, but they amused.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

It's interesting that Goodreads decided to make separate lists for "Science Fiction" and "Fantasy". It's a process fraught with danger. (Being lazy, I usually just interpret "SF" as "speculative fiction" and don't worry about it.). For example, Redshirts, the satire by John Scalzi about the junior crewmen of a starship definitely has a major fantasy element. (view spoiler)


message 12: by Jonathan, Reader of the fantastic (new)

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) | 525 comments Alif the Unseen and Throne of the Crescent Moon look interesting...


message 13: by Stephen (new)

Stephen St. Onge | 117 comments         So much that looks interesting that I don't have time to get to!!!


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 31, 2012 01:18PM) (new)

Stephen wrote: "So much that looks interesting that I don't have time to get to!!!"

Yeah, a couple of those titles look interesting. I already read a couple of them (such as the aforementioned Redshirts, which was funny but not "year's best" material in my opinion.) I put a couple of others on my to-read list, including Alif the Unseen, because it sounded unusual (and appeared on several lists.) Also The Long Earth (on several lists.) Plus vN, which a friend previously recommended, too. ince I enjoyed Dauntless, I expect to enjoy The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight, but I thought I'd let Campbell get a few more books into the series (I'm getting tired of having so many open-ended series cluttering my head!)

Maybe a couple of these will get nominated for our Contemporary Monthly Group Read, and we can all explore one of them together.

So many books, so little time...


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Some of my favorite short SF&F fiction from 2012:

Brandon Sanderson makes my list twice with the excellent fantasy novella The Emperor's Soul and his entertaining contemporary sci-fi novella Legion.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Becalmed was a nice space opera novella, and also a prequel to her "Diving" series.

John's Scalzi's novelette The Tale of The Wicked was an amusing little space opera fable of cyber warfare in fleet-based military sci-fi. Sort of.

I also flipped through some of my old Magazines from 2012, at least the ones I still have around, to pick out some of my favorite short stories for the year:

Ken Liu has been writing up a storm in the magazines the last couple of years: Ken Liu becomes more awesome & prolific each year. His "Arc" (from Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sep 2012) is just as brilliant as his last year Hugo and Nebula-award winning "Paper Menagerie". The man infuses his words with compelling elegiac emotion. His "Waves" (from Asimov's, Dec 2012) was pretty good, too. (His "Perfect Book" was cute, but a bit predictable and barely a page long.)

Naomi Kritzer's "Liberty's Daughter" (from Fantasy and Science Fiction, May 2012) & "High Stakes" (Nov/Dec) began a series of novellas set on a future artificial, freewheeling floating city somewhere out in the Pacific, and featuring an enchanting Nancy Drew-like heroine. Fun light read. I'm eagerly awaiting the third installment (I hope Kritzer will collect these stories all into a YA fixup novel or anthology when she's done.)

I wouldn't call Sandra McDonald's "The Black Feminist’s Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing" (from Asimov's, Dec 2012) great literature, but it was funny! (What more do you want in entertainment?)

Also, John G. Hemry's "The War of the Worlds, Book One Chapter 18: The Sergeant-Major”, is an amusing hypothetical "lost chapter" of HG Wells's classic. (Mr. Hemry is better known these days by his Lost Fleet pseudonym, Jack Campbell; is it surprising he's still writing under his own name?)

Whatever, those are my personal favorites from last year (obviously restricted to things I actually had a chance to read.) Anyone else here read short SF&F? Care to share?


message 17: by Xdyj (last edited Jan 21, 2013 09:13PM) (new)

Xdyj | 418 comments Just read "The Black Feminist’s Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing", it's indeed hilarious & I think it's a quite successful piece of meta-sf w/ some subtle & clever social commentary. And I like the Leigh Brackett reference.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Xdyj wrote: "Just read "The Black Feminist’s Guide to Science Fiction Film Editing", it's indeed hilarious & I think it's a quite successful piece of meta-sf w/ some subtle & clever social commentary."

It also suggests a great party game, "new titles for re-focused science fiction movies". :)


message 19: by Xdyj (last edited Jan 21, 2013 09:10PM) (new)

Xdyj | 418 comments Actually the alternative Avatar she mentioned is almost the same as the one I've seen on a sf blog which does some postcolonial/feminist critique a while age. :)


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

SFSite is finally out with SF Site's Top Ten of 2012 Reader Poll, yet another best of the year list:


1. Dragon Ship (Theo Waitley, #4) (Liaden Universe, #15) by Sharon Lee Dragon Ship (Theo Waitley, #4)

2. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (Vorkosigan Saga, #15) by Lois McMaster Bujold Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

3. Monster Hunter International (MHI, #1) by Larry Correia Monster Hunter International

4. Redshirts by John Scalzi Redshirts

5. Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14) by Jim Butcher Cold Days

6. 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson 2312

7. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan The Drowning Girl

8. Elfhome (Elfhome, #3) by Wen Spencer Elfhome

9. Queen of Wands (Special Circumstances, #2) by John Ringo Queen of Wands

10. War Maid's Choice (War God, #4) by David Weber War Maid's Choice

Plus:
Railsea by China Miéville Railsea
A Rising Thunder (Honor Harrington, #13) by David Weber A Rising Thunder
The Fractal Prince (The Quantum Thief Trilogy #2) by Hannu Rajaniemi The Fractal Prince
Caliban's War (Expanse, #2) by James S.A. Corey Caliban's War

You can view a longer list of runner-ups on SF Site's website.


To me it seems a disappointing list, since it's almost all continuation of establish series by established authors, or in a couple of cases (2312, Redshirts, The Drowning Girl) new books by major authors. Apparently SFSite's readers just aren't much more adventurous than I am.


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