Best of 2014: NPR
NPR (National Public Radio) has put up their “Best Books of 2014” webpage, including a long list of SFF novels from 2014. While certainly leaning more to the literary than the genre world, NPR is a little more tuned in to what’s happening SFF than some other mainstream outlets. I’ve listed just the novels below; they include plenty of comics, picture books, collections, reprints, etc.
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell
On Such a Full Sea, Chang-Rae Lee
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix
Afterparty, Daryl Gregory
The Martian, Andy Weir
The Memory Garden, Mary Rickert
The Bees, Laline Paul
The Man with the Compound Eyes, Wu Ming-Yi
Valour and Vanity, Mary Robinette Kowal
California, Edan Lepucki
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, David Shafer
The Tropic of Serpents, Marie Brennan
The Peripheral, William Gibson
The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber
Southern Reach, Jeff VanderMeer
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu
Note the near total absence of epic fantasy—no Sanderson, Weeks, Hurley, Bear, Hobb, Rothfuss, etc. Other than that, this includes a lot of the Hugo and Nebula favorites. Echopraxia once again fails to make a year-end list, and The Peripheral continues to make these lists. On the basis of that popularity, I’d have to consider Gibson much more likely to make a slate than Watts this year.
A pattern for theses lists is emerging: the big “literary” SFF novels of the year (Mandel, Mitchell, Lee, Faber) joined with the big “genre” novels of the year (Gibson, Leckie, Weir, VanderMeer). I wonder if that’s how the Nebula is going to play out, as a battle between “literary” and “genre.” It would be interesting to see what kind of debates a Nebula slate of VanderMeer/Leckie/Gibson on one side versus Mitchell/Mandel/Lee would generate.