- The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers. This book is so hopeful about humanity’s future, our ability to accept other ways of life and make diplomatic relations possible with alien races. It’s a book to turn to, for inspiration and courage, in the face of populism and division.
- Railsea – China Mieville. By contrast, Railsea is pretty angry and sarcastic, an attack on capitalism and global consumption, “shaped in the shit in which it sits“. It’s also a fantastic story about storytelling, and hunting giant moles in desert sands.
- Embassytown – China Mieville. I really like Mieville. Did you notice? He’s one of those authors – relatively rare in the SFF world – who you can tell is thinking about every word he uses, fully aware of its whole range of connotations. There are whole depths of thought and concept in his novels.
- God’s War – Kameron Hurley. I am vocal in my love for God’s War‘s first sentence – “Nyx sold her womb somewhere between Punjai and Faleen, on the edge of the desert.” As that sentence suggests, the book is confrontational, angry, and ultimately all about women.
- Saga – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Maybe this isn’t strictly speaking a novel, but I’m counting it. It’s set in this utterly absurd world of rocketship trees and cyclop authors and spider-women, yet it manages to tell these incredibly intimate and touching stories about people.
- How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe – Charles Yu. This is science fiction as metaphor, a playful novel about memory and paternity and fictionality. I’ve never read anything like it, which is a shame, because it’s the kind of thing that SF is uniquely set up to do.
- The Clockwork Rocket – Greg Egan. It’s rare to find an SF novel so astute about the relationship between scientific endeavour and society – much less one that throws first-wave feminism into the mix.
- Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer. This has a place on the list mainly for sentimental reasons – I haven’t read it for several years, but I re-read it countless times as a child. Its high-tech fairies are absolutely badass.
- The Long Earth – Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. Pratchett and Baxter aren’t so hot on character and plot, but the worldbuilding in The Long Earth is worth the price of admission all by itself. It’s basically two very geeky, very clever people working out all the consequences of the sudden appearance of an infinite number of extra-dimensional Earths, in a way that’s accessible and interesting.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams. But of course. Awake to the absurdity of the universe, and at micro-level to the absurdity of humanity, this is a classic through and through.
(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)