The 5 best science fiction and fantasy novels of 2016

The 5 best science fiction and

 fantasy novels of 2016

 

 We’re living in a world that looks increasingly like science fiction, so I find myself looking to the genre not for predictions of what the future holds but for some guidance for dealing with this strange and changing world. 2016 was a difficult year, but a bounty of fantastic science fiction and fantasy novels were helpful in not simply escaping the present, but confronting it.

 

 

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky is as witty as it is smart It is about Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead who didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.
But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.
 

 

 

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers


A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers' beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and is perfect for fans of Firefly, JossWhedon, Mass Effect and Star Wars.

It follows two protagonists: a genetically modified orphan struggling to survive, and a ship’s artificial intelligence, dumped into a humanoid body, trying to learn how to pass for a human.

 Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for - and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.


The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
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The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.
It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.
It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken
.

Jemisin won this year’s Hugo Award for best novel for The Fifth Season, and in these two novels she used her brilliant characters, vivid world, and pacing to examine the use of power in all of its facets. The Obelisk Gate is an incredibly ambitious and important novel, one that has us eager for the final installment of the trilogy. 



The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu


 In the much-anticipated sequel to the “magnificent fantasy epic” (NPR) Grace of Kings, Emperor Kuni Garu is faced with the invasion of an invincible army in his kingdom and must quickly find a way to defeat the intruders.
Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Then an unexpected invading force from the Lyucu empire in the far distant west comes to the shores of Dara—and chaos results.

But Emperor Kuni cannot go and lead his kingdom against the threat himself with his recently healed empire fraying at the seams, so he sends the only people he trusts to be Dara’s savvy and cunning hopes against the invincible invaders: his children, now grown and ready to make their mark on history.

 Liu is one of the best authors writing at the moment, and he was particularly busy this year with publishing an anthology of Chinese science fiction, translating a major novel, and releasing his own collection of short fiction. The Grace of Kings looked at how an empire is overthrown and rebuilt; The Wall of Storms is about how one holds everything together. 

 

 

I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas

In his latest novel, I Am Providence, Nick Mamatas takes a shot at sci-fi and horror fandom, creating Lovecraftian murder mystery that’s set during a Lovecraft convention.


Lovecraft’s writing has been examined more critically in recent years, and the arguments over his legacy have been a sort of microcosm for the larger conversations about race and representation in sci-fi and horror. Mamatas is sharp but fair, never mocking Lovecraft fans, but pulling the veil reveal the complexities of fandom for the late writer.