Category Archives: Science fiction

Best of 2014 So Far – Part 1

I am going to do my best to summarise the #BestSFF2014 discussion happening here, on Twitter and on Facebook.  The list below is a quick summary of the first day of recommendations, omitting my own recommendations (this is about you!) and where someone recommends their own work (you need someone else to like it too!).  So here goes. If there are errors or omissions let me know!

[updated 30 November 2014]


Joe Anderton, Guardian
Alan Baxter, Bound
Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road (first novel)
James L. Cambias, A Darkling Sea, (first novel)
Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things
Daryl Gregory, Afterparty
William Gibson, The Peripheral
Peter F. Hamilton, The Abyss Beyond Dreams
Nick Harkaway, Tigerman
Dave Hutchinson, Autumn in Europe
Simon Ings, Wolves
Chang-Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Sword
Liu Cixin, The Three-Body Problem
Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven
David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks
Claire North, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Paul Park,  All Those Vanished Engines
Richard Powers, Orfeo
Hannu Rajaniemi, The Causal Angel
Adam Roberts, Bete
James Smythe, No Harm Can Come to a Good Man
James Smythe, The Echo
Charles Stross, The Rhesus Chart
Sarah Tolmie, The Stone Boatmen
Jeff VanderMeer, The Southern Reach Trilogy
Jo Walton, My Real Children
Peter Watts, Echopraxia
Will Wiles, The Way Inn
David Wingrove, The Empire of Time


Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor
Elizabeth Bear, Steles of the Sky
Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters
Robert J. Bennett, City of Stairs
Rene Denfield, The Enchanted
Max Gladstone, Full-Fathom Five
Lev Grossman, The Magician’s Land
Robin Hobb, Fool’s Assassin
Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician.
Kameron Hurley, The Mirror Empire
Jay Kristoff, Endsinger
Richard K. Morgan The Dark Defiles
Brandon Sanderson. Words of Radiance
Mark Smylie, The Barrow
Brian Stavely, The Emperor’s Blades


Joe Abercrombie, Half a King
Gwenda Bond, Girl on a Wire
Alaya Dawn Johnson, Love is the Drug
Robin LaFevers, Mortal Heart
Marie Lu, The Young Elites
A.S. King, Glory O’Briens History of the Future
Jaclyn Moriarty, The Cracks in the Kingdom
Garth Nix Clariel
Danielle Paige, Dorothy Must Die
Tricia Sullivan, Shadowboxer
Greg Van Eekhout, California Bones


The End is Nigh, John Joseph Adams ed.
Upgraded, Neil Clarke ed.
Suspended in Dusk, Andrew Dewar ed.
War Stories, Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak eds.
Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Fantasy, Alisa Krasnostein & Julia Rios eds.
Infinite Science Fiction One, Dany G Zuwen & Joanna Jackson eds


Mike Allen, Unseaming
Chaz Brenchley, Bitter Waters
Adam-Troy Castro, Her Husband’s Hands and Other Stories
Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad
Eileen Gunn, Questionable Practices
Stephen Graham Jones, After the People Lights Have Gone Off
Helen Marshall, Gifts for the Ones Who Come After
K.J. Parker, Academic Exercises
Robert Shearman, They Do the Same Things Different There
Angela Slatter, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Stories


Octavia Cade, Trading Rosemary
Adam-Troy Castro, The Thing About Shapes to Come, Lightspeed
John Chu, Double Time, Kaleideoscope
Haddayr Copley-Woods, Belly
Ruthanna Emrys, The Litany of Earth,
K.M. Ferebee , The Earth and Everything Under, Shimmer
Eugie Foster, When it Ends, He Catches Her
Maria Dahvana Headley, If You Were a Tiger
S.L. Huang, Hunting Monsters, Book Smugglers
Nancy Kress ,Yesterday’s Kin, Tachyon
Eliot Langley, A Place Without Monuments and Endings, Clarkesworld
Ken Liu, In The Loop, War Stories
Ken Liu, Running Shoes, SQ Magazine 16
Karin Lowachee, Enemy States, War Stories
Usman T. Malik, Resurrection Points
Sunny Moraine, To Increase His Wondrous Greatnesse More
Sunny Moraine, What Glistens Back
T R Napper, Dark on Darkling Earth, Interzone 254
Garth Nix, Shay Corsham Worsted, Fearful Symmetries
Yukimi Ogawa, Rib, Strange Horizons
Thomas Olde Heuvelt, The Day the World Turned Upside Down, Lightspeed
Suzanne Palmer, Shatterdown, Asimov’s
Tony Pi, No Sweeter Art, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Alastair Reynolds, In Babelsberg, Reach for Infinity
Mary Rickert, The Mothers of Voorhisville,
Chris Roberson, Gold Mountain, Clarkesworld
Sofia Samatar, Walkdog, Kaleidoscope
John Scalzi, Unlocked,
Angela Slatter, The Way of All Flesh, Suspended in Dusk
Natalia Theodoridou, The Eleven Holy Numbers of the Mechanical Soul
E. Catherine Tobler, Migratory Patterns of Underground Birds
E Catherine Tobler, We As One Trailing Embers, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Genevieve Valentine, The Insects of Love,
LaShawn M. Wanak, 21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One)
Kai Ashante Wilson, The Devil in America,
J Y Yang, Patterns of a Murmuration in Billions of Data Points, Clarkesworld
Nathan Ballingrud, Atlas of Hell, Fearful Symmetries
Kaaron Warren, Bridge of Sighs, Fearful Symmetries
Sean Williams, The Cuckoo, Lightspeed

If I get a chance, I’ll try to add links and publication references, but no promises on that. This is a crazy time of the year, after all. And thanks to everyone who has taken part so far!

The Best of 2014 – Getting Started

Every year I end up spending a lot of time thinking and writing about the best science fiction and fantasy of the year. I started doing it for fun back in the 1980s and ended up doing it professionally starting back in the 1990s. I suppose it’s somewhere between insider pool and “Hey, read this!”

Basically, i spend a month talking to people about this. From early December through to early January I pour over year end lists, seasonal gift lists, emails from experts, notes from friends, and so many, many more people and lists emerge. I play a part in the main Locus Recommended Reading List and I help compile the Locus Short Fiction Recommended Reading List, and I compile my own table of contents for my best of the year.

This is work, but it’s also fun. And there’s always something overlooked. So every day for the next month I’m going to both you on Facebook and Twitter, and post stuff on my blog too. I want YOUR favorites of 2014. There are only two rules:

  1. the book or story must have been published for the first time in English in 2014, and
  2. you must LOVE it.

I want you to copy this and retweet it. I want you to tell friends. I’m going to try to respond to everyone and to look at new stuff as much as I can. And it will likely change what I recommend and what I think was the best of the year.

You can recommended anything to me, but I especially want:

  • your favorite novels of the year
  • your favorite short story collections of the year
  • your favorite anthologies of the year
  • your favorite short story of the year

Please recommended away! The hash tag is #BestSFF2014. Get involved! Tweet! Retweet!

Live and in person!

Next week I climb aboard a Qatar Airways jet for the first time and head to Washington DC (via sunny Doha) where I will be attending the 2014 World Fantasy Convention.

I fully expect there to be talking, drinking, more talking, and lots of time spent with friends both old and new across the four days of the event (along with a little business).

I hadn’t thought I’d be doing anything official or in-person this trip. Instead, it was supposed to be a quiet, informal time. That hasn’t quite worked out. While I won’t be doing any signings or panels, I will be recording several episodes of The Coode Street Podcast (with Gary K. Wolfe).

At the moment we have plans to record episodes with convention Guest of Honor Guy Gavriel Kay,  long-time friends and collaborators Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, writers Helen Marshall and Robert Shearman, and possibly others (depending on time).

Exciting, for me at least, is that Gary and I will also record only the second ever episode of the Podcast to be presented in front of a live audience (having recorded #200 in London in August). We’ll be joined by good friends Peter Straub and Caitlin R. Kiernan for this:

The Literary Uses of Fantasy
Time: 4pm-5pm, Nov. 8, Conference Theater

Panelists: Jonathan Strahan, Gary K. Wolfe, Peter Straub, Caitlin R. Kiernan

Description: The Coode Street Podcast discusses the literary uses of fantasy with Peter Straub and other special guests.  Why do writers clearly capable of realistic, character-driven stories choose to introduce fantastic elements, some of them extreme, into their stories?  What does the fantasy enable them to do that the more realistic narrative doesn’t?

Please consider joining us for what should be a lot of fun.   I also hope to announce some ‘official’ times Gary and I will be in the convention bar if you just want to stop by and say hi.


Fearsome Magics in store

Tomorrow is the publication date for my second fantasy anthology for Solaris, Fearsome Magics.  It’s available from all good bookstores, online and offline, and features the following terrific stories:

  • Introduction, Jonathan Strahan
  • The Dun Letter, Christopher Rowe
  • Home is the Haunter (A Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz story), Garth Nix
  • Grigori’s Solution, Isobelle Carmody
  • Dream London Hospital, Tony Ballantyne
  • Safe House, K J Parker
  • Hey Presto!, Ellen Klages
  • The Changeling, James Bradley
  • Migration, Karin Tidbeck
  • On Skybolt Mountain, Justina Robson
  • Where Our Edges Lie, Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  • Devil’s Bridge, Frances Hardinge
  • The Nursery Corner, Kaaron Warren
  • Aberration, Genevieve Valentine
  • Ice in the Bedroom, Robert Shearman

As I’ve come to appreciate , the most important time in a book’s life is the first month or so. If you like books like Fearsome Magics consider buying them soon after they’ve been published.

It’s available from,, and all sorts of other great places.


We’ve been away for more than a day already.  Miss 12 and I were dropped at Perth International Airport at around 2pm, checked in quickly and easily, and then stopped for coffee and hot chocolate at the Alisa Krasnostein Memorial Dome (i.e. the coffee place we stopped at when going to Toronto).  We were excited and a bit restless.

We boarded the flight to Singapore at 5pm and were in the air quickly. The plane was an older Singapore plane but was comfy. We had a spare seat between us and, after some chatting, settled down to watching movies on the terrible quality in-flight screens. I watched Spiderman 2 and Miss 12 watched the Veronica Mars movie (a rematch to her).

The plane touched down at Changi Airport a little early, giving us time to wander around shops before heading to the gate for our 11.55pm departure. This time we got a big, new-ish A380 and another (!) empty seat between us. All seemed charmed. Miss 12 settled down to watch something or other, while I settled in to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

All was going well. We ate. I fell asleep and then, about 6hrs into the flight, Miss 12 woke me to tell me she’d been sick. The poor girl had vomited all over herself.   It was either something she ate, or the remnants of a virus she’d had, but even after replacing the seat cushion and doing everything that could be done (the Singapore staff were lovely and helpful) she still had another seven hours of flight to get through. It wasn’t pretty.  We dozed and tried to pretend   we didn’t smell.

We arrived at Charles de Gualle at 7am,  cleared customs and had picked up our bags by 8am, before hopping on a shuttle to Terminal 2 to get the train to Rennes. The train station was ok, but nothing special. We were both pretty tired so conversation amounted to an occasional when do we leave or “We’re in France!”.

The train finally left at 9.50am (on time in fairness) and we were on our way to Rennes. Miss 12 dozed and read Divergent, while I watched my way through Suits. We did stop to admire the increasingly lovely countryside and small towns, as we approached our destination, but mostly we were tired.

We got to the Rennes train station at 12.50pm, wandered around a bit, then caught a cab to our hotel. It was only a 5 min walk away, but neither of us speak French, and we were tired.

There were showers etc, and then a wander around town looking for a patisserie (which failed), before  stopping for coffee and crepes (Miss 12s Chocolate Viennoise had TONS of cream on it). And then back to the hotel.  The idea was we’d rest till dinner, have an early meal then bed. Miss 12, though, slept 13hrs, and our day ended there.

We’re about to head off for breakfast, and then off to here! Between here and there, though, driving on the wrong side of the road in a manual vehicle in a place where we don’t speak or read the language. Wish us luck!