At some point over the weekend, I’ll put up a proper index, with links to all the week’s posts, but for now, that’s a wrap. Thank you to Duncan Lawie, Nic Clarke, Nick Hubble and David Hebblethwaite for taking part in the discussions of Ancient Light and Lightborn; thanks to everyone who’s linked and commented during the week; and most of all, thanks to everyone who sent in nominations for the Future Classics poll. And thanks to everyone who’s been reading this week — hopefully some books have piqued your curiosity! If not, then behind the cut are 200 more — the complete list of every eligible novel that received at least one nomination in the poll.
(And BSFA members, I remind you that nominations are now open for this year’s BSFA Awards…)
Grimspace, Ann Aguirre
Bitter Angels, CL Anderson
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
The Bind Assassin, Margaret Atwood
The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood
The Empress of Mars, Kage Baker
The Graveyard Game, Kage Baker
Hammered, Elizabeth Bear
Carnival, Elizabeth Bear
Dust, Elizabeth Bear
Undertow, Elizabeth Bear
By the Mountain Bound, Elizabeth Bear
Of Wind and Sand, Sylvie Berard
Exodus, Julie Bertagna
Moxyland, Lauren Beukes
Zoo City, Lauren Beukes
The Etched City, KJ Bishop
Watermind, MM Buckner
Cryoburn, Lois McMaster Bujold
Diplomatic Immunity, Lois McMaster Bujold
A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
Refining Fire, Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear
Fledgling, Octavia Butler
Veracity, Laura Bynum
Kushiel’s Dart, Jacqueline Carey
Santa Olivia, Jacqueline Carey
Soulless, Gail Carriger
Graceling, Kristin Cashore
Explorer, CJ Cherryh
Regenesis, CJ Cherryh
Deceive, CJ Cherryh
Destroyer, CJ Cherryh
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke
Revise the World, Brenda Clough
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
In the Company of Others, Julie Czernada
Survival, Julie Czernada
The Explosionist, Jenny Davidson
Dark Space, Marianne de Pierres
Nylon Angel, Marianne de Pierres
Chaos Space, Marianne de Pierres
Code Noir, Marianne de Pierres
Chrash Deluxe, Marianne de Pierres
A Paradigm of Earth, Candas Jane Dorsey
Alanya to Alanya, L Timmel Duchamp
Hy Brasil, Margaret Elphinstone
The Mount, Carol Emshwiller
Blonde Roots, Bernadine Evaristo
The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
Principles of Angels, Jaine Fenn
Consorts of Heaven, Jaine Fenn
The Temple at Landfall, Jane Fletcher
The Wilding, CS Friedman
Ilario: The Lion’s Eye, Mary Gentle
1610: A Sundial in a Grace, Mary Gentle
Cloud and Ashes, Greer Gilman
In War Times, Kathleen Ann Goonan
Light Music, Kathleen Ann Goonan
Kalpa Imperial, Angelica Gorodischer
The Kappa Child, Hiromi Goto
Feed, Mira Grant
UFO in Her Eyes, Xiaolu Guo
Mindscape, Andrea Hairston
The Carhullan Army, Sarah Hall
Fool’s Errand, Robin Hobb
Fool’s Fate, Robin Hobb
Golden Fool, Robin Hobb
The Salt Roads, Nalo Hopkinson
The New Moon’s Arms, Nalo Hopkinson
DarkShip Thieves, Sarah A Hoyt
Heart of Valor, Tanya Huff
The Invention of Everything Else, Samantha Hunt
Half-Life, Shelley Jackson
The Rapture, Liz Jensen
Evil Genius, Catherine Jinks
Spirit, Gwyneth Jones
Life, Gwyneth Jones
Bold as Love, Gwyneth Jones
Siberia, Gwyneth Jones (as Ann Halam)
Castles Made of Sand, Gwyneth Jones
Braided World, Kay Kenyon
City Without End, Kay Kenyon
The Red Tree, Celine R Kiernan
The Language of Power, Rosemary Kirstein
The Lost Steersman, Rosemary Kirstein
The Steerswoman’s Road, Rosemary Kirstein
Dreamhunter/Dreamquake, Elizabeth Knox
The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
Crossfire, Nancy Kress
Dogs, Nancy Kress
Probability Moon, Nancy Kress
Steal Across the Sky, Nancy Kress
The Privilege of the Sword, Ellen Kushner
Salt Fish Girl, Larissa Lai
Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan
Stormlord Rising, Glenda Larke
Lavinia, Ursula K Le Guin
Gifts, Ursula K Le Guin
Voices, Ursula K Le Guin
Anno Mortis, Rebecca Levene
Redemption in Indigo, Karen Lord
Warchild, Karin Lowachee
Romanitas, Sarah McDougall
Blue Silence, Michelle Marquardt
Warring States, Susan R atthews
Time Future, Maxine McArthur
Freedom’s Ransom, Anne McCaffrey
The Outback Stars, Sandra McDonald
Nekropolis, Maureen McHugh
Empress of Mijak, Karen Miller
Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, Lydia Millet
Burning the Ice, Laura J Mixon
The Bird Shaman, Judith Moffett
The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon
Trading in Danger, Elizabeth Moon
Moving Target, Elizabeth Moon
Spin State, Chris Moriarty
Spin Control, Chris Moriarty
Hav, Jan Morris
Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell, Pat Murphy
Memory, Linda Nagata
The Time-Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik
Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor
The Shadow Speaker, Nnedi Okorafor
Time’s Child, Rebecca Ore
White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
The Icarus Girl, Helen Oyeyemi
Clockwork Heart, Dru Pagliassotti
Shelter, Susan Palwick
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary Pearson
Life as We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer
Boneshaker, Cherie Priest
Dreadnought, Cherie Priest
Packing for Mars, Mary Roach
Memory in Death, JD Robb
Natural History, Justina Robson
Living Next-Door to the God of Love, Justina Robson
Mappa Mundi, Justina Robson
Keeping it Real, Justina Robson
Strange Robby, Selina Rosen
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
Diving into the Wreck, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Disappeared, Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
The Dead-Tossed Waves, Carrie Ryan
The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold
The Alchemy of Stone, Ekaterina Sedia
Accidental Goddess, Linnea Sinclair
Rebels and Lovers, Linnea Sinclair
Distances, Vandana Singh
Century, Sarah Singleton
Law of Survival, Kristine Smith
The Taming, Heather Spears
Tinker, Wen Spencer
Maul, Tricia Sullivan
Double Vision, Tricia Sullivan
Sound Mind, Tricia Sullivan
Lightborn, Tricia Sullivan
The Year of Our War, Steph Swainston
No Present Like Time, Steph Swainston
The Modern World, Steph Swainston
The Visitor, Sherri S Tepper
PopCo, Scarlett Thomas
The End of Mr Y, Scarlett Thomas
Our Tragic Universe, Scarlett Thomas
City of Pearl, Karen Traviss
Hard Contact, Karen Traviss
501st, Karen Traviss
Order 66, Karen Traviss
Aspho Fields, Karen Traviss
My Death, Lisa Tuttle
Palimpsest, Catherynne M Valente
In The Night Garden, Catherynne M Valente
The Labyrinth, Catherynne M Valente
Plague of Memory, SL Viehl
A Game of Perfection, Elisabeth Vonarburg
Dreams of the Sea, Elisabeth Vonarburg
Farthing, Jo Walton
Ha’Penny, Jo Walton
Lifelode, Jo Walton
Fingersmith, Sarah Waters
The Maker’s Mask, Ankaret Wells
In Great Waters, Kit Whitfield
Bareback, Kit Whitfield
Banner of Souls, Liz Williams
Nine Layers of Sky, Liz Williams
Empire of Bones, Liz Williams
Darkland, Liz Williams
Ghost Sister, Liz Williams
The Poison Master, Liz Williams
Passage, Connie Willis
Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis
The Stone Gods, Jeanette Winterson
24 thoughts on “The List”
Fingersmith? That takes an impressive amount of ingenuity – I couls see The Night Watch represented as Sf somehow but not sure about Fingersmith – like to hear the train of thought there…
Spotted a typo – you have Sophia McDougall listed as “Sarah MacDougall”.
Thank you for doing all this, Niall. I for one am enormously appreciative; these posts have been very stimulating, interesting and educative … for one thing, it’s brought half a dozen books to my attention that I’m going to read as a matter of urgency. And, vaingloriously enough, I considered myself fairly well read in contemp. sf — my structures of prejudice are more deeply embedded than I realised, or liked to think.
David: thanks, fixed.
Great Job, Niall. You are a legend in my book.
ps (typo on Crash Deluxe as well)
Typo: You have the author of The Red Tree listed as Celine R. Kiernan.
And thank you for doing this – I think it’s been tremendously useful.
Fingersmith was my nomination. I rationalised it to Niall as having that sense of Otherness that SF readers like, a feeling or texture to the work that SF and some Historical Fiction have in common. This link probably goes back to the Gothic roots of SF. Fingersmith does also have a concern with identity that seems to fit in with this ongoing discussion. I think that anyone here who hasn’t read this or other books by Sarah Waters will enjoy them.
Wow. To have a novel of mine sandwiched between Margo Lanagan’s and Ursula Le Guin’s on a list like this is pretty mindblowing…
Sean, that’s answered me. I like Waters’ work very much. I wonder if it would be possible to identify that texture a bit and whether there are other works that could be listed? Basically, could we make a list of such books?
I find that the most enjoyable historical novels work in a similar way to SF, using distance in time as a way to give me a chance to explore an alien culture – one backwards, one forwards. In this exploration, I often get a feeling of peeling back layers, especially in a lot of the historical fiction, such as that by Waters as mentioned. Solving problems, even if they are subtle rather than overt CSI style problems, probably appeals to a lot of SF readers.
Iain Pears has written three novels with a similar feeling to Waters, though a bit more coolly intellectual, perhaps. (That’s not to say that Waters’ books aren’t intellectual, but I find hers have a bit more fire to them. ) These are An Instance of the Fingerpost, Stone’s Fall and The Dream of Scipio. They are all good, the last a bit hard going in the early pages but worth continuing with. I found An Instance of the Fingerpost to be fascinating and his best. It’s set in the age of Newton and amongst some of his contemporaries, so it would probably interest anyone who enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s Baroque cycle, though Pears is less interested in showing off his research and more in telling a fascinating story. Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold might also interest some SF readers. It’s about a magician in the early 20th century, when electricity was spreading into the home and Houdini was world famous, and it has a sense of being astounded by the workings of the new world that is coming into being. In fact, using the word ‘astounded’ makes me realise how much it has of the atmosphere of pulp SF of the Campbell era. It would probably appeal to readers who enjoyed the films The Prestige or The Illusionist.
This peeling back of layers to reveal what’s underneath reminds me of PKD and his ‘Veil of Maya’ way of looking at the world beneath the world, or the Lovecraftian view of the known universe as a thin skin of rationality masking a hidden world of madness and the inexplicable. I think this peeling back is what a lot of these genres have in common, at least those works in them that I like.
Sean when you say ‘it would appeal to readers who liked the film The Prestige.’ Do you mean to distinguish the film from the novel by Christopher Priest who should already be well known to SF readers?
This was very useful, very illuminating. I am charged in particular to seek out some intriguing looking Gwyneth Jones novels (I have read little by her except for a bunch exceptional short stories because I bounced very hard off her early novel DIVINE ENDURANCE, and because the subject matter of BOLD AS LOVE and sequels seems tedious to me (One review you cited talked about it appealing to people who fantasized about the Stones playing concerts in liberated cities or something — well, I’m not one of those people — and not because I don’t like the Stones). Also Justina Robson — I read the first of her Quantum Gravity books and was distinctly unimpressed, but for instance NATURAL HISTORY looks fascinating. And I shall put Tricia Sullivan on my list as well (I read one earlier novel and enjoyed it, but not enough to actively seek out the later books).
I remain convinced that Steph Swainston is overrated, but chacun a son gout, I suppose.
My own list (which I neglected to send, partly because it seemed inadequate to me) had Niffennegger and Walton and Bear and Moon and Bujold and Willis, for example … but not LAVINIA, for all that it’s perhaps the very best novel listed above, because you asked for Science Fiction, after all! (Likewise not Susannah Clarke, an amazing writer, but unambiguously a writer of fantasy.)
I still think it’s worth asking if women writers are as a group more drawn to writing fantasy, or if the market is pushing them in that direction, either explicitly or sort of subconsciously. Every time I’ve counted short story writers by genre and gender, about 50% or more of fantasies are by women, and 20% or so of science fiction stories. (Keeping in mind that the SF/Fantasy boundary is porous and hard to define (though not, it seems to me, so hard to define that LAVINIA or JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL can be usefully placed on the SF side).)
I can’t help thinking that the inclusion of the Moon on this list suggests a lack of depth.
Lois, I BEG your pardon? We are talking books here, and I suspect you are referring to other matters. Please do not equate the two, no matter how strongly you feel about a person. It is not dignified.
I haven’t read The Prestige so I could only use the film version as my benchmark.
Now that you’ve done all the work here, isn’t there one extra thing you need to do to finish it off – a press release for the various big bookshops, chains, newspapers, journals etc? A list like this is great, but if it only preaches to the converted it won’t change much in the long term.
It’s asking more work of you, I know, but if you do the heavy lifting for the big boys and girls in publishing/reviewing, I’ll do my small bit by printing off a press release for my local independent bookshop.
Thanks for having the great idea and doing all the legwork.
Sean, the BSFA will certainly be building on this poll over the next year.
Glenda, your comment is highly offensive and uncalled for.
I am of course talking about the book, which I believe has no place on any “best” list.
It seems a bit strange to single Moon out in that respect since there is plenty of ropey old crap on that list and half of it isn’t even SF.
Martin, I seem to have been looking at a much shorter list than the one that’s up there now.
I haven’t followed this long discussion since its inception perhaps as closely as I ought, but one reason is my relative unfamiliarity with many of the works under discussion. There may be ropey old crap that I’m not aware of; I was only struck with the one inferior work I was familiar with.
Sean, I’ll have to check out the Pears at some point. On the history connection, I think Pat Barker shares certain textures with sf – not just the regeneration triology but the more recent pair of Border Crossing and Double Vision (which are not history, of course, but display certain genre devices and have Ballardian moments).
In that case, I do of course apologise abjectly. As you mentioned Moon’s name rather than which of her three books on the list was so lacking in depth, I jumped to the conclusion that you were making a remark about Moon herself. Silly me.
Glenda – thank you.