I bought three books this year:
Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord, was on last year's list of best science fiction and fantasy. It's a retelling of a Senegalese folk tale about a glutton whose wife leaves him, and the powers she gains. It's published by the great Small Beer Press.
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever is a collection of short stories by James Tiptree Jr., and some of Tiptree's only work that's in print. Tiptree was the pseudonym for author Alice Sheldon. She was known for edgy, feminist science fiction and so far I'd have to agree with that assessment! I see a lot of Margaret Atwood in Tiptree.
But what made folks' best-of lists this year? Four critics gathered for the Year in Novels panel, offered their picks and then asked for audience favorites.
ReaderCon's Year in Novels tracks novels from the ReaderCon year rather than the calendar year, so from July 2011 through July 2012.
The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun, by N.K. Jemisin, stood out for its "great worldbuilding"; inspired by ancient Egypt, one critic called it "multilayered" and "wonderful." Osama by Lavie Tidhar is unavailable currently in the U.S. but was praised for the risk-taking by author Tidhar, who recreates the real world as fiction within fiction. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore was a YA pick with Cashore receiving praise as one of the most thoughtful writers for young adults.
The audiobook of Bitterblue was noted as a standout as well, as was the audio of John Scalzi's Redshirts, narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Audience picks included A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The critics noted great early buzz for Iain M. Banks' forthcoming Hydrogen Sonata and Paolo Bacigalupi's Drowned Cities, which is out now.
On Sunday the 2011 Shirley Jackson Awards were handed out to the following writers and works:
- "The Corpse Painter's Masterpiece," by M. Rickert, won in the Short Fiction category. It appeared in the Sept./Oct. 2011 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
- After the Apocalypse: Stories, by Maureen McHugh and published by Small Beer Press, won for Single Author Collection.
- Ghosts by Gaslight, edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers, published by Harper Voyager, won for Anthology.
- "Near Zennor," by Elizabeth Hand, won for Novella. It was published in A Book of Horrors, published by Jo Fletcher Books.
- "The Summer People" by Kelly Link won best Novelette. It was published in Tin House 49/Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, Candlewick Press.
- Witches on the Road Tonight, by Sheri Holman, won Best Novel. It was published by Grove Press.
Of the books mentioned, I want to read 2312, Witches on the Road Tonight and Hide Me Among the Graves. I tend to wait for paperbacks so I'll get them later on.
Now you know what to look for on the science fiction shelf of your local independent bookstore! Happy reading!