2016 is almost over which means that it is the time for me to wrap-up the year and tell you all about the amazing things I read this year. According to Goodreads, I read 120 things (books, SFF Magazines, novellas etc…) which is incredible for me, I don’t know how I managed to do it, I always think that I don’t have much time to read but well, an average of 10 books by month is actually a fairly good number.
2016 was the year of short fiction for me, I am terrible at tracking how many I read (I’ll try to do better in 2017) but I must have read at least 150 stories. It has been a great experience and hopefully, I will continue to read as much if not more in the future.
My average rating was 3.4/5 stars (and this would be slightly more if Goodreads did half stars but oh well..) which is normal for me since most of the books I read tend to have a 3 stars or a 4 stars rating. If I don’t count rereads, I gave eight books five stars. However, you’re not here to read boring stats, let’s move on to my favorite reads of the year!
I discovered Solaris earlier this year and they have managed to become on of my favorite publishers of all time. Three of my favorite books of the year happened to be published by them and I highly recommend their works. I hesitated a bit to put two books by the same authors on this list but you can count them as one, it was just too hard to choose which was was the best between the two so I decided to put them both. The Fractured Europe Sequence by Dave Hutchinson is one of the most relevant series of all time and it deserve so much more attention. Those books are fast paced clever spy/political thriller with a pretty unique science fiction twist. Of course, I also had to mention the incredibly clever military sci-fi Ninefox Gambit, if you like complex books with fantastic characters and great concepts, look no further.
Too Like The Lightning and Anathem completely blew my minds when I read them. Those books are quite diferent from one another, Palmer’s novel is a based on a utopian society where the main character is a mass murderer who becomes entangled in political intrigues, it’s fascinating, challenging and quite brilliant. Those terms could be used as well to describe Anathem, a hard science fiction novel set in an alternate universe where scientists live secluded like monks and where they don’t have access to any technologies. It took me three attempts to finally finish this book but I am glad I persevered, it was well worth the time.
I read those two books when I decided to read the 2016 Arthur C. Clarke shortlist, I don’t think I would have pick them up if it weren’t for this challenge. The Book of Phoenix is one of the most angry books I read this year, you can fill the rage flowing through the words and it’s the book you wish to give to all the racist and misogynistic people out there. I had some issues with it but it’s a book everyone should read nonetheless. Children of Time is wonderful tale of uplift and a compelling commentary on conciousness which I did not expect from a book featuring giant spiders as main characters.
Well fantasy was missing from this list, I haven’t read as much as I did in 2015 but I still managed to find amazing titles. An Accident of Stars is your typical coming of age portal fantasy novel… with a twist. It is full of great characters, feminism and it’s not at all as cheesy as the cover would make you think. I read this earlier this month and I am so glad I did, this is fantastic! The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is also a novel that has a lot to say about gender, it is a blend of SF and fantasy and it is both quiet and brutal. It’s an experience I would recommend to open-minded readers, I read it twice this year and I will come back to it again several times again in the future.
SFF MAGAZINES & ANTHOLOGIES
My favorite SFF magazine this year definitely was Interzone, they always feature fantastic and clever authors and so far, I have really enjoyed all the issues I have read. They also have really interesting reviews of books that are always a pleasure to read. I am planning on getting a subscription for 2017.
My favorite anthology of 2016 unsurprinsingly was The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu. I would recommend this collection of short stories to everyone, even if you don’t really like short fiction, I am pretty sure that it will change your opinion.
Those are some of the best short stories and novellas I read this year, I provided links to the ones you can find online for free.
- The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.Com)
- The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik (Tor.Com)
- Anything written by Sam J. Miller but Things with Beard, When Your Child Strays From God and Calved are my top 3. (Clarkesworld for the first two and Asimov)
- Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong (Nightmare Magazine)
- And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices by Margaret Ronald (Clarkesworld)
- Balin by Chen Qiufan (Clarkesworld)
- Other People’s Thoughts – Chinelo Onwualu (Cyber World)
- Small Offerings – Paolo Bacigalupi (Cyber World)
- Coral Bones – Foz Meadows (Monstrous Little Voices)
- The Literomancer – Ken Liu (The Paper Menagerie & Other Stories)
- Rusties – Nnedi Okorafor (Clarkeworld)
- Sideways – Ray Cluley (Interzone)
- Starlings – Tyler Keevil (Interzone)
FAVORITE AUTHORS OF 2016
This year, I discovered some amazing authors that really impacted my reading. Sam J. Miller and Kai Ashante Wilson definitely were the authors I most fangirled about this year. Their short fiction is top notch and I just cannot wait for The Art of Starving, Miller’s debut novel, forthcoming next year. If it’s half as good as his short fiction, it’s going to be glorious.
As for the ladies, my two picks are Nnedi Okorafor and Foz Meadows. When I first read Lagoon at the beginning of 2016, I never thought once that Okorafor would become one of my favorite authors, her fiction is angry and unsettling but oh so clever. I think that her prose just needs a bit of an acquired taste because I realized that the more I read her stuff, the more I like them but I am glad I gave her works a chance. For Foz Meadows, it was a completely different experience, I discovered her with Coral Bones, a novella of the Montrous Little Voices anthology and I immediatly fell in love with the way she discuss genders and feminism through a fantastical setting.
Those books didn’t make it to my favorite of the year list but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t excellent!
Have you read any of those books and what did you think of them ? What are your favorite books that you read this year ? 🙂