It was an exceptionally good year for new sci-fi and fantasy releases. It was also a great year for film and television, with adaptions of Phillip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle
, James S. A. Corey's Expanse series
, Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End
, and, of course, The Martian
. Early next year, Terry Brooks's Shannara
and Lev Grossman's The Magicians
will be airing. And on top of all that, we got a new Star Wars
There were so many wonderful books in 2015 that my nightstand teetered under the weight of all that excellence. What follows are some of the highlights of my reading year in science fiction and fantasy.
Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Saga #2)
by Kameron Hurley
One of my very favorite authors, Hurley continues to hone her craft. Her world building has always been first-class, but more recently she has put in a great deal of work to improve her plotting, and it really shows. The Worldbreaker Saga is a complex fantasy with intriguing characters and a well-built plot. From blood magic and carnivorous plants to parallel universes and an intriguing magical system, there's a lot of juicy stuff here! Mirror Empire
, the first book in the series, introduced the characters and the world. In Empire Ascendant
, everything explodes and things go badly wrong for many of the characters, to the point where I really wonder how the third book will resolve things.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant
by Seth Dickinson
This is a first novel with phenomenal writing, tons of political intrigue, and an elegance and melancholy that remind me of earlier Le Guin
. Baru is captivating. Her mission is to destroy the empire that devastated the world she grew up in, but her methodology is fascinating. She sacrifices a great deal to achieve her goals, which makes her both admirable and more than a bit scary.
by Nnedi Okorafor
This year, Tor began releasing a series of very interesting novellas, including this one. I loved the story and definitely wanted to learn more about Binti. She's the first of her people to attend university, and since they tend not to travel, their ways seem strange to outsiders. There's a lot of good reflection here on otherness, and how that informs the choices one makes.
by Emma Newman
is an excellent piece of sociological science fiction. The main character has a great deal of anxiety, and as I read this novel, I felt more and more anxious. She's also a hoarder, and I felt this issue was sensitively portrayed. Although the book utilizes a familiar theme — in an off-world colony, an outsider appears, throwing the social equilibrium out of balance — Newman has a fresh and striking perspective.
Thicker Than Blood (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #6)
by Annie Bellet
After hearing about this series for years, I finally dove in and gobbled Bellet's books up. This falls firmly into the urban fantasy whodunit category. Jade is a sorceress who runs a comic book and game shop. She lives in Idaho in a town of shifters, where mysterious situations seem to crop up often. Thicker Than Blood
is delightfully geeky, with lots of nerd culture references.
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More Best Books of the Year from Powell's: