Some recommended reads from 2014

This isn’t exactly an awards recommendation post, because I have a stack of reading (and re-reading and mulling) yet to do myself and can’t even begin to guess what will be on my own nomination lists. I will cram, right up to the last minute. Most of my reading time this year has been dedicated to novel research so I’m even more behind than usual. But if I wrote a blog post at the last minute, that would do no one any good.

So here is a list of some of the works of speculative fiction that have stuck with me so far in 2014. Whether you nominate for awards or not, these are works you might like to read. If you are eligible to nominate for an award you care about, though, please do exercise that right. The bigger the pool of nominators, the more representative the ballot.

I won’t give awards categories to the works below, because the categories are not homogeneous across awards. I will mark the Canadian stuff with a (C) for the benefit of people putting together nomination ballots for the Aurora Awards.

On to the good stuff!

Women Destroy Science Fiction
Women Destroy Science Fiction

Women Destroy Science Fiction, special issue of Lightspeed, edited by Christie Yant

This is a historic volume, filled with great fiction and wise essays. It’s big and brave and beautiful and deserves recognition.

Lackington’s, online magazine, edited by Ranylt Richildis (C)

I am so proud that this new magazine is not only Canadian but based here in Ottawa. It burst onto the SFF scene a year ago and consistently publishes exciting writers and fascinating art (full disclosure: two of my stories appeared in Lackington’s, to my delight.) More than that, every issue is carefully crafted to be an object of art in its own right.

The Magician’s Land, novel, Lev Grossman

The last book in Lev Grossman’s trilogy ends with a slightly altered commentary on works of imagination than the one it opened with, like a piece of music resolving its theme.

Deadroads
Deadroads

Deadroads, novel, by Robin Riopelle (C)

Robin is one of those rare writers whose story craft and prose craft are equally devastating. I honestly don’t know how she does it. This is a rich ghost story that stuck with me.

My Real Children, novel, Jo Walton (C)

Jo Walton is a genius. This is a novel about two possible lives lived by one person.

I read this book in one go, staying up until 3 a.m. on a work night because I couldn’t stop.

You are Here/Was: Blue Line to Memorial Park, poem, by Bogi Takács, at Strange Horizons

Ahhhhhh you have to go read this. That is all. Go read it.

Schools of Clay, novelette, by Derek Künsken, at Asimov’s and StarShipSofa (C)

Derek has a real talent for imagining great, strange, spacey vistas peopled by non-humanoid characters.

The End of the Sentence
The End of the Sentence

The End of the Sentence, novella, by Kat Howard and Maria Dahvana Headley

There was something about this that reminded me of Stephen King, although neither of these writers has a particularly King-like style, generally. It’s scary and compelling, intricately woven without being dense. Another one read in one gulp, robbing my sleep.

The Highwayman Come Riding, short story, by M. Bennardo, DSF

I tend to like Bennardo’s work in general; I’m not sure why this short piece at Daily Science Fiction has had such a particular impact on me. Perhaps it’s because, as a parent of a four-year-old, I’ve been thinking a lot about learning and memorization, about the way certain words strung together in certain ways can become part of us in childhood and stay that way — how long?

Dharmas, short story, by Vajra Chandrasekera, at Shimmer

Here is another writer whose work I like whenever I encounter it. This masterful story, published at Shimmer, still comes into my head when I least expect it: a turn of phrase, an image.

Makeisha in Time, short story, by Rachael K. Jones, at Crossed Genres

A very short time travel story full of energy and fun and wonder and anger.

 

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