I’ve seen the first of this year’s “for your consideration” blog posts, wherein an author lists his works and says, basically, “hey, if you liked it, think about it for a Hugo/Nebula/Locus/whatever.” Now, I have no problem with this; I did it last year. In fact, I should note that The Enceladus Crisis came out in 2014 and received some nice reviews.
But here, already having tooted my own horn in a very unsubtle way, I want to highlight a handful of works I’ve read over the past year that I really liked and that you should at least consider reading, if not nominating for a shiny trophy. I should point out that I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to, and that the bulk of my reading is non-fiction. (Putting the historical in historical fantasy takes work!) But I did read some cool SF/F stuff, such as:
Shield and Crocus by MIchael R. Underwood: A book so awesome I was happy to blurb it. I like to think of it as four-color fantasy — a cross between urban fantasy and superheroes, set in a city nestled in the bones of a dead titan. There’s also hints of Torg in here, for those who came up through ’90s RPGs. Really gripping, tense and exciting, with some soulful moments, too. An excellent novel.
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome by John Scalzi: No, I haven’t gotten around to reading Lock In, John’s latest novel, but it’s only a matter of time, because this novella was pretty damn cool. As a former journalist and long-time history buff, I really enjoyed the format used here to describe a near-future plague — and how those locked into their own bodies by this terrible illness are freed by linking up with robotic replacement bodies. Really solid worldbuilding told in a very believable way.
“Fear Itself” (One Story) by Katie Coyle: This piece was just plain crazy and fun. Basically, a girl on a high school field trip to a museum with her friends ends up getting a new boyfriend — in the form of a wax figurine of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Yes, it’s as funny as it sounds, until it becomes fantastically creepy and surreal. Lots of great insight into the teenage mindset, too, which I hope helps me as my kid gets older. Fantastic concept, excellent writing-craft. Not available for free, at least from what I could see, but worth the $2.50 to grab it.
“As Good As New” (Tor.com) by Charlie Jane Anders: If you like good short fiction, Tor.com is a good place to find it (along with a decent helping of geek news, too). In this story, a failed playwright is the apparent sole survivor of a global apocalypse, and copes by watching The Facts of Life over and over again in her panic room until she decides to brave the outside world. There she finds a bottle, home to a genie who was once a theater critic. Really, I’m probably not doing it justice. It’s a really great read. Check it out.
Bonus Daughter Recommendation: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler: OK, this one I didn’t read, but my 10-year-old daughter did. Correction: she ravenously consumed it. In fact, she gave it to her BFF for said BFF’s birthday. So that’s a pretty strong endorsement. In summary, a talking cat sneaks a girl into a forbidden library, whereupon she gets trapped in a book and has to battle the creature imprisoned in the book along with her. Perfect for the middle-grade kid in your life, or if you’re a middle-grader at heart.
That’s my short recommended list for 2014. My to-be-read list is longer, and I’m hoping to get to it at some point. But I have a ton of nonfiction reading to do for my next project, so…we’ll see. If you like, feel free to drop your own recommendations in the comments.