2014 was a productive year, even if I really understand that, like Jon Snow, I know nothing. I read (and listened) to more than I have in many years, and yet discovered that I am only an egg. There are people in the genre world with more reading experience(Fred Kiesche), more erudite reading experience(John Stevens) , stronger in comics (Jeff), more productive in terms of amounts read (Sarah).
I’m just this guy, you know?
Favorite books first published in 2014:
The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley
The prodigious talents of Kameron Hurley transfer well to epic fantasy, in a tale of diverse societies, magic based on moons, carnivorous plants, and yes, brutal women.
Steles of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear
My friend Elizabeth Bear caps off the first trilogy set in her Eternal Sky universe, with a tale of dragons, destiny and duty.
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett
Bennett, like Hurley above, jumps into Epic Fantasy with both feet, with a delicious story of post-colonialism, not so dead Gods, and amazingly nuanced characters.
Marakand (The Leopard and The Lady), KV Johansen
Cheating a bit by putting them both here, but The Leopard and The Lady really tell one story of the city of Marakand, as a half-dead Goddess, scheming devils, ancient curses and wandering wizards clash and collide in a Silk Road fantasy with notes of Siberia and the far Russian north.
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
Ann Leckie follows up her amazing Ancillary Justice with a smaller, more intimate tale of duty discharged, the logic of empire, and tea.
Hurricane Fever, Tobias Buckell
Following in the Arctic Rising universe, Buckell’s spy thriller set in the Caribbean brings back the scene stealing Roo, working hard the tropes of spy thrillers and James Bond with a whipcracking pace that keeps the reader turning pages compulsively.
The Incorruptibles, John Hornor Jacobs
In a Roman-esque world, geopolitical concerns and family dynamics come to an unexpected head as a expedition into wild territory inhabited by elf-like natives is the spark for a powder keg of dark magic, and bloody, violent retribution.
Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone
The unbelievably talented Max Gladstone returns to his Craft Sequence world, with a story of deific banking, clerical magic and lost Gods in a tropical island paradise.
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette)
The most unlikely of inheritors to the throne of fairyland is Maia, plunged into the cutthroat politics of a royal court and a society. Maia struggles to do right by a kingdom that has treated him so very badly, and yet remain true to himself. A closed room epic fantasy.
I don’t read anywhere near as many short stories as I might, and generally only read them in anthologies and a very few online magazines.
Reach for Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan
Continuing his infinity series, Strahan’s latest volume tackles near-Earth future science fiction.
War Stories, edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak
One of the best military SF anthologies ever, and one that brings the subgenre firmly into the 21st century.
There are a lot of runner ups to this list. While I did come across some books that I really, really bounced off of, and had a stretch when I wondered if I was ever going to like a book again, it was a very good year. I read a lot more fantasy than science fiction, and I am not sure how I feel about that.
Next year, I intend to focus my reviewing efforts on women authors, as part of the Skiffy and Fanty focus on women. This is likely to lead me to corners of genre that I haven’t explored as thoroughly as I might. Ad Astra per Aspera!