Kirkus Review’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2014

Kirkus Revies has put up their “Best of 2014” lists. Here’s the Science Fiction and Fantasy list, in alphabetical order:

Bear, Elizabeth. Steles of the Sky.
Graedon, Alena. The Word Exchange.
Gregory, Daryl. Afterparty.
Grossman, Lev. The Magician’s Land.
McIntosh, Will. The Defenders.
Moon, Elizabeth. Crown of Renewal.
Morden, Simon. Arcanum.
Scalzi, John. Lock In.
Stross, Charles. The Rhesus Chart.
VanderMeer, Jeff. Annihilation.
Weir, Andy. The Martian.

A fairly interesting list. While they played it safe with some of this year’s heavy hitters (Grossman, Scalzi, Stross VanderMeer, Weir), it was good to see some lesser known books like the Bear and McIntosh. I’m a big Gregory fan, although I found Afterparty a little disappointing. I’d recommend We Are All Completely Fine for Best Novella consideration. No Ancillary Sword or City of Stairs on the list, which is a little surprising. Still, Kirkus is a very mainstream site, and, as such, they tend to reward mainstream texts.

They do have one oddity: a “Best 2014 Fiction with a Touch of Magic” list. For fans of magic realism and slipstream writing who are afraid of fantasy? Here’s that list:

Galchen, Rivka. American Innovations.
Millet, Lydia. Mermaids in Paradise.
Malerman, Josh. Bird Box.
Mitchell, David. The Bone Clocks.
Smith, Ali. How to Be Both.
French, Tana. The Secret Place.
Buekes, Lauren. Broken Monsters.
Darnielle, John. Wolf in White Van.

Make of that what you will. Bird Box seems pretty interesting, and Mitchell and Beukes are obvious Nebula/Hugo contenders.

Lastly, there are a couple of other borderline SFF novels mixed into the Top 100 Best Fiction Books of 2014. All the books above also appeared on the top 100 list, but we can add:

Elliott, Julia. The Wilds.
Harkaway, Nick. Tigerman.
King, Stephen. Mr. Mercedes.
Kowal, Mary Robinette. Valour and Vanity. (Why isn’t this on the SFF list?)
Mandel, Emily St. John. Station Eleven.
Oyeyemi, Helen. Boy, Snow, Bird.

All told, that means 25 out of the top 100 books at least had some trace of speculative elements. That’s pretty friendly to the SFF world for a mainstream list.

These lists are coming fast and furious now. Any surprises?

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2 responses to “Kirkus Review’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2014”

  1. booksbrainsandbeer says :

    I’m really pulling for VanderMeer. I think that, despite the weakness of Authority and Acceptance, Annihilation was truly great. Checking out the “Touch of Magic” list now.

    • chaoshorizon says :

      VanderMeer certainly deserves it, although deserves doesn’t equal wards. For my money, City of Saints and Madmen was the best fantasy book of the 2000s, narrowly beating out Storm of Swords (Martin was already getting long-winded) and the Mieville novels.

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