First Look: 2016 Mainstream Meta-List
I don’t have many lists on my Best of 2016 meta-list yet, but some patterns are beginning to emerge. So far, I’ve collated 8 “Best Of” lists by Library Journal, NY Times, NPR, Guardian, Amazon, Washington Post, Publisher’s Weekly, and Goodreads. Rules are simple: I take a look at their “Best SF and F” of the year list, and if you show up on the list, you get one point. I don’t make any judgments about eligibility, publication date, or genre. Lots of comics, short story collections, older books, etc., show up on these lists. If the venue has a dedicated SFF list, I only look at that. If they only have a single Best Of list, like the NY Times, I use that. The point of this list is to get an idea of what the mainstream thinks the best Science Fiction and Fantasy novels of the year are, which is always interesting and often confusing. I’ll complement this with another list of more specialty SFF websites.
You can check out the developing spreadsheet here. If you click on the 2015 tab at the bottom, you can see how things wound up last year.
Here are the early results:
|4||All the Birds in the Sky||Anders, Charlie Jane|
|4||The Obelisk Gate||Jemisin, N.K.|
|4||Death’s End||Liu, Cixin|
|3||Every Heart a Doorway||McGuire, Seanan|
|2||City of Blades||Bennett, Robert Jackson|
|2||Morning Star||Brown, Pierce|
|2||Star Nomad||Buroker, Lindsay|
|2||A Closed and Common Orbit||Chambers, Becky|
|2||Dark Matter||Crouch, Blake|
|2||The Book of the Unnamed Midwife||Ellison, Meg|
|2||Ninefox Gambit||Lee, Yoon Ha|
|2||The Paper Menagerie||Liu, Ken|
|2||Too Like the Lightning||Palmer, Ada|
|2||Version Control||Palmer, Dexter|
|2||Age of Myth||Sullivan, Michael J.|
|2||Central Station||Tidhar, Lavie|
|2||The Invisible Library||Cogman, Genvieve|
I will note that if I included works from the “Best Fiction” lists many of these sites have, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad would have been the clear winner, as it’s going to appear on basically every list this Holiday season. Whitehead’s novel has only light speculative elements (an actual underground railroad), so I’m betting it won’t make an impact on the Hugo or Nebula, but your mileage may vary. Whitehead didn’t get any nominations for his more obviously speculative Zone One, a clear zombie novel.
This, of course, is the Mainstream list, put together by big newspapers and websites that may have only a passing familiarity with Science Fiction and Fantasy. These tend to be drawn to big bestsellers and big names, and they tend to prefer SF to Fantasy. The trio of works at the top, by Anders, Jemisin, and Liu, all figure to be players in the 2017 awards, particularly Jemisin. The McGuire book is pretty short and, in my opinion, more likely to compete as a Novella than a Novel. It’ll be interesting to see who from that big group of “2” votes separates themselves over the next couple weeks. My guess is the Yoon Ha Lee and the Ada Palmer, but only time will tell.
My big surprise so far is that Mieville is not showing up for Last Days of New Paris, a weird novella where Surrealist paintings come to life. Seeing any other surprises or interesting trends?