Best of 2015: Publishers Weekly

It’s that time of year: Best of 2015 lists are going to come pouring in. Here at Chaos Horizon, I keep track of these and total up how often books show up on these lists. I did two meta-lists last year: one a mainstream list and one SFF critics list. I’m going to do that again for 2015; I’ll debut the full lists once I have 5 in each category.

The Goodreads Choice Awards, Amazon, and now Publishers Weekly have already posted their “Best of 2015” lists. It may seem too early, but most major SFF novels come out before November, so it’s actually not that unreasonable. Sure, a few late-in-the-year books will get missed, but these websites want clicks, and moving early helps cut through the crowd.

Publishers Weekly gives an annual top “Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror” list. Here it is:

Ghost Summer: Stories, Tananarive Due
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata
Uprooted, Naomi Novik
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Kai Ashante Wilson

Two of those aren’t eligible for the Hugos/Nebulas: the Due is a story collection and The Red was originally published in 2013 and got a Nebula nomination in 2014. It was originally published by Mythic Island press (i.e. indie published), but has since been picked up and reissued by Saga Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. Good military-SF, but I’m not sure it belongs on a 2015 list. The Sorcerer of Wildeeps is refered to as a novella by Publishers Weekly. I can’t speak to that, as I don’t know the exact word count (40,000 is the cut off). I imagine this book might be competitive in the Novella category but not at all competitive in the Novel category.

I do think Uprooted is a good bet for both the Hugo and Nebula in 2016, and that The Fifth Season is a strong Nebula contender as well. Picking 2 awards contenders is actually better than this list has done in the past. Publishers Weekly has historically been an eccentric list, not lining up well with the Hugos or Nebulas at all. They managed not to pick a single Hugo/Nebula nominee in 2014 or 2013, which is quite a challenge! Of course, that’s not the point of their list, but it’s what I’m looking for here at Chaos Horizon.

It doesn’t look like any speculative novels made the “Fiction” category. A couple SFF novels show up in “Young Adult,” including Daniel Jose Older’s Shadowshaper and Terry Pratchett’s The Shepherd’s Crown.

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