Below are the novels and stories I'll be nominating for this year's Hugo and Nebula Awards. Now, I'm well aware that many people don't like these award-promotion lists. In fact, last year someone went full rocket to the moon on me after I encouraged people to consider certain works for the Hugos.
If you feel like that, don't check out the novels and stories below. But if you are interested in the stories and authors I'm hoping will hit the awards this year, and the stories and authors who are influencing our genre right now, read on.
- The Mirror Empire: Worldbreaker Saga 1 by Kameron Hurley. See my original review of the novel.
- The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu. This is why we need translated fiction! This novel, which spans recent Chinese history as it revolves around a strange case of alien contact is one of the best hard science fiction novels I've read in years. Can't wait to read the next book in the trilogy.
- Defenders by Will McIntosh. Just when I thought I'd read every type of alien invasion and military SF story out there, along comes Will McIntosh with something new.
- Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor. Wow. That's all I could say after reading this novel, which explores what happens when first contact happens in Lagos, Nigeria. I've always loved Nnedi Okorafor's amazing ability to create true-life characters which both resonate with readers and stories and twist you into new directions — and Lagoon does this and far more in superb ways. Unfortunately, the novel is hard to find in the USA (I had to order a copy from the UK). The USA release is slated for later this year.
- Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. If I could, I'd nominate the entire Southern Reach series as one complete work. See my original review of the series.
- "We Are All Completely Fine" by Daryl Gregory. It's surprising more fictional genre characters don't enter therapy, what with all the supernatural horrors they continually experience. Daryl Gregory explores this topic in a unique and interesting manner.
- "Where the Trains Turn" by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, Tor.com. Another great example of why we need more translated fiction. I'd never even heard of Finnish author Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen until I read this novella. Now I want to read more of his fiction. Warning: This novella will forever change how you view trains.
- "The Regular" by Ken Liu, from the anthology Upgraded. Only Ken Liu could compel me to read a futuristic tech-based version of detective noir. Only Ken Liu could pull off such an amazing story.
- "The Mothers of Voorhisville" by Mary Rickert, Tor.com. Motherhood will never be the same after this story by award-winning author Mary Rickert.
- "Entanglement" by Vandana Singh, from the anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future. It's rare to read an optimistic hard science fiction story about climate change, but Vandana Singh creates one by showing how ordinary people fight to save their world. An all-too-rare fictional look at how humans work together in the face of disaster.
- "Marielena" by Nina Allan, Interzone 254
I've long been a fan of Nina Allan's beautiful stories, and "Marielena" must surely rank among her best. The story is the tale of a refugee in near-future Britain who is both haunted by a literally demon from his past who lives alongside the demons of the present and future.
- "Sleep Walking Now and Then" by Richard Bowes, Tor.com. One of the tragedies of the SF/F genre is that so few people read Richard Bowes' touchingly disturbing stories. Well, now's your chance to change this damned trend with this lovely near-future theater story.
- "Steppin' Razor" by Maurice Broaddus from Asimov's Science Fiction, Feb. 2014.
This impressive steampunk novelette is a great introduction to Maurice's fiction. The story is set in an alternate-history Jamaica, where competing factions and beliefs compete for dominance and power.
- "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i" by Alaya Dawn Johnson, F&SF July.Aug 2014. One of my frustrations with F&SF in recent years is that many of the stories seem to blur together in my reading mind. Not this strong story by Johnson in the issue guest edited by C.C. Finlay. This is also the only vampire story I've read in the last decade which I'm recommending to people. Warning: Don't read before you visit a certain tropical island.
- "Wine" by Yoon Ha Lee, Clarkesworld. I'm always hesitant to say too much about one of Yoon Ha Lee's stories because part of the joy of reading them is in approaching them with fresh eyes. This "space opera but not a space opera" story is no exception. And if you haven't read her short story collection Conservation of Shadows, track it down today.
Best Short Stories
- "The Breath of War" by Aliette de Bodard, Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Another story which is pointing toward a revitalization of military SF, or perhaps more accurately an expanding of possibilities for a subgenre which until recently limited itself in unacceptable ways.
- "When it Ends, He Catches Her" by Eugie Foster, Daily Science Fiction. This story is both touching and disturbing, and an beautiful elegy on life and death. I was blown away by this story when I read it and immediately knew it'd be on my year's best list, with this story ranking in my mind with Eugie's Nebula Award winning "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast." I only wish I'd been able to tell Eugie how much I loved this story before she passed away.
- "Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points" by JY Yang. This is why we read science fiction and fantasy — to discover an exciting new story by a new author who opens our eyes to new realms of possibility and imagination.
- "Five Stages of Grief After the Alien Invasion" by Caroline M. Yoachim. Another great story by one of my favorite short story writers. The title is both self-explanatory and totally unable to capture the depth of this story.
- "Santos de Sampaguitas" by Alyssa Wong, Strange Horizons. Alyssa Wong had an amazing year as a short story writer. Her horror story "Scarecrow" (originally published in Black Static 42, reprinted in Tor.com) was on my award shortlist, as was "The Fisher Queen" from F&SF. But in the end this disturbing tale from Strange Horizons is what refused to leave me in peace. My prediction: Alyssa Wong is beginning an amazing journey as an author and everyone will be reading many more great stories from her in the years to come.