With the new year I’m feeling a little nostalgic for some of my great reads from 2017, so I thought I’d compile a few that I’d recommend to any SFF fans. Most of them aren’t exactly obscure books, or ones you won’t come across on any other list like this, but they were my best reading experiences of the last year and I love them so here goes:
1) Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Uprooted was an amazing book and was actually my first read of 2017. It follows the tale of a young girl taken hostage by the local village dragon, seems pretty standard right? Except the dragon is actually the name of the local wizard, and though he seems terrifying, the haunted forest creeping ever closer each year seems more so.
Okay so this book has everything you could possibly want from fantasy, it has interesting characters, believable magic, enemies on every front, stunning sub-plots, a royal family in distress, a young farm girl in even more distress, and some raunchy scenes. This is the first of Novik’s work I’ve read, but she also has a nine part historical fantasy series Temeraire about the Napoleonic wars, except with dragons, so obviously I’ve got the first of that. This year though she has another stand alone novel coming out; Spinning Silver based on the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, which I am definitely looking forward to.
2) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
This debut novel from Chambers was astounding. Despite it being her first book Chambers has a brilliant awareness of her craft, and somehow manage to pull me away from my usual post-apocalyptic reads to a much more light hearted and comforting brand of SF that I never knew existed. The story focuses on the crew of the Wayfarer as they travel the galaxy creating wormhole super-highways through space with fraught political tensions only being half of their problems.
Fans of Star Trek or Firefly or any SF that has a plucky gang exploring space will love this book, and seeing as we all love plucky gangs exploring space you will definitely love this.
3) Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng
Back to some fantasy here, Under the Pendulum Sun follows Catherine Helstone as she tries to find her missionary brother Laon. The only problem is Laon hasn’t travelled to Africa to spread the word of god, he’s travelled to Arcadia, the land of the Fae where a faerie queen has taken a liking to him.
This tale weaves folklore, history, and the gothic tradition into a tapestry of horror, unease and suspense that I just couldn’t put down, this combines with a beautiful insta-worthy cover meant it was definitely a big favourite of my year.
4) The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin
I loved Ursula Le Guin from the moment I read The Left Hand of Darkness I thought there was no better book on this planet. Of course I was wrong, The Dispossessed follows Shevek a young physicist as he leaves his anarchist utopian planet in favour of a planet much like our own, ruled by money, borders, and power-hungry governments.
The utopia Le Guin creates is unlike anything I’ve come across in my studies in that it is entirely believable, flawed, and somehow still a better option and still a utopia. The main character even willingly leaves the utopia because it is restrictive, only to find the alternative just as restrictive. Le Guin’s understanding of humanity and its flaws are unparallelled in the SF genre, and The Dispossessed is definitely a must read.
5) The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
Jen Williams in general was an amazing find for me this year. I first heard about her work when she was interviewed on the Breaking the Glass Slipper podcast and knew I had to read her, she didn’t disappoint. This first installment in The Copper Cat Trilogy follows two sellswords and their mysterious employer into the citadel, a makeshift prison for the old gods, can you guess what they unleash there?
This book was fun, well paced and packed in so much brilliant stuff. I’ve already read the second book The Iron Ghost and have bought the first book in her new series Ninth Rain and I’m so excited to read more of her. Aside from her books though, Jen Williams is just a treat to follow on social media, you can find her delightful tweets @sennydreadful where you’ll become as addicted to her as her books.
So that’s about it for my list, I could go on but I’d end up telling you about every book I read last year which you can easily find out about on my goodreads if you have time to waste and for some reason want to waste it on me.
I hope at least I’ve helped you find some reads for 2018. Happy New Year!