So What Skiffy Should I Be Reading From This Year?

The nights are drawing in, and so it’s that time of year when a young man’s thoughts naturally turn to making a list of Hugo nominations.

Sadly, this year I don’t know what to nominate. I’ll be putting Philip Purser-Hallard’s The Pendragon Protocol at the top of the Best Novel ballot, (and probably also nominating him for best editor: short form and best short story as well), and for Best Related Work I’ll be nominating Paul Magrs’ The Annual Years, but there’s only a couple of months until the nominations open, and I can’t think of anything else I’m likely to nominate.

None of my usual places to look for nominations work. Greg Egan’s not published a new novel (first time in about five years he’s not put one out), Terry Pratchett’s not put out a novel for the first time in thirty years, Obverse haven’t published a novel this year…

And among the stuff I have read, nothing jumps out as Hugoworthy. I liked Lock-In well enough, but it’s just a decent book, not an award-winner. Stross’ new Laundry novel was fun, but had enough editing problems (bits of infodumping repeated in multiple places and things like that) that I couldn’t nominate it. And I’ve still not finished Ancillary Justice (I keep bouncing off it because my concentration’s been shot recently because of my health problems) so Ancillary Sword is out.

So what’s good? What’s come out this year that I should definitely have read (bearing in mind my tastes — I don’t much like space opera,loathe Mil-SF, am not keen on epic fantasy, but love novels of ideas)?

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8 Responses to So What Skiffy Should I Be Reading From This Year?

  1. Wesley says:

    I tend to be behind the times in my SF reading, and these are still on my to-read pile, but based just on his previous work I’d recommend Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation and its sequels. I’ve loved everything he’s written.

    One 2014 novel I’d recommend which you might not be inclined to pick up based on the blurb is The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. It’s fantasy with elves and goblins, but not really epic–it’s about one of those obscure heirs-to-the-throne who, instead of having adventures, begins the book by getting appointed emperor and actually has to learn how to govern. The climax of the story revolves around the hero’s efforts to convince the governing council to build a bridge.

  2. “I’ll be putting Philip Purser-Hallard’s The Pendragon Protocol at the top of the Best Novel ballot”

    You, sir, are a madman. But a generous one.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Very far from it. I’ve been saying for a long time — before I got to know you — that you’re probably my favourite current SF/F writer.

    • plok says:

      He is good, isn’t he?!

      He’s a bit of a wizard, that PPH. I’m a strong admirer, and want to see what he does next.

      Well done for bumping him up, Andrew!

  3. Karl Musser says:

    I forget if you like urban fantasy, but I’ve been loving Steve Bein’s fated blades series. Actually a blend of urban fantasy, police procedural, and historical fiction; set in Japan and has too parallel story lines, one in modern Tokyo and the other in medieval Japan, connected by the namesake swords.

  4. Simon BJ says:

    What determines being eligable, Brakespeare was Nov 2013? is it calender 2014 or fiscal? (not that you might think it worthy)

  5. Mark says:

    If “The Martian” by Andy Weir is eligible, it would be worthy (it was self published on his website in 2012, but got picked up by a publisher and put out this year). I also enjoyed “A Darkling Sea” by James Cambias quite a bit.

    Agreed on “Lock In”, decent but doesn’t seem award-worthy (though I fully expect it to be nominated). “Ancillary Sword” is an odd sequel, much smaller in scope, and focusing on many of the things I didn’t love about the first book. I fully expect that to be nominated though.

    I really want to check out the short story collection “Hieroglyph”, hoping to find some Hugo short fiction contenders there. I’m curious about the upcoming William Gibson (I believe it’s called “Peripheral” or something like that). Peter Watts’ “Echopraxia” also has some buzz. Someone above mentioned Jeff VanderMeer’s “Annihilation”, which is also getting a lot of buzz. I’m doubting that “The Bone Clocks” or “Broken Monsters” will get much traction with the hugos due to their more cross-genre leanings, but there’s a chance…

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