Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 Hide
25 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Everything Else » Chit Chat

Subject: Good 2016 Sci-Fi Novels? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: books [+] SciFiBooks [+] [View All]
Neil Carr
United States
Barre
Vermont
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As in previous years...

2015
2014
2013
2012

I've asked the hive mind for recommendations on recently released sci-fi books that I could pick up for my wife as a Christmas present. Now it's time for 2016!

As before, big interesting ideas are more her thing over military sci-fi. If Ian Banks was still alive I could just pick up whatever he wrote that year and I'd be set. Of late she has enjoyed China Miéville.

As with last year's caveat, which isn't a hard rule, is that with a 21 month old and a 3 year old, both of us are overwhelmed and have little time. Thus, thinner, single volume stories are preferable over thick tomes or trilogies right now. However, if there are no incredible novellas out there to suggest then I'll still happily give her some 800 page tome if need be.

The question does come up almost every year, but why limit to just the current year? Books kind of flow through our household like water and I can't keep track of what she is reading, so sticking to the last year helps me avoid getting her something she has already read.

Thanks everyone!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
OK in no particular order.

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds. 432pp space opera. In a way quite an old fashioned SF tale, however the writing is first class, and a female protagonist and antagonist.
Infomocracy by Malka Older. 382pp SF thriller. 20 years and 2 election cycles since Information (a big search engine) pioneered the switch from warring nation states to global micro-democracy.
The Gradual by Christopher Priest. 352pp literary SF. A book of the Dream Archipelago it is about the power of music, and inspiration, and how time is never what it should be.
The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville. 224pp literary SF with a side order of weird. Alternate history where a surrealist bomb explodes in the Nazi-occupied Paris of 1941 which unleashes manifestations of surrealist art.
False Hearts by Laura Lam. 384pp. SF thriller.
Tila and Taema are conjoined twins who escaped the cultish upbringing at 16, and were surgically separated. Ten years later, Tila arrives at Taema’s apartment, accused of murder - which should be impossible. Taema has to go undercover as her sister to solve the mystery.
The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds. 336pp. A sequel of sorts to Arthur C. Clarke's "A Meeting With Medusa".
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. 384pp. Only vaguely SF if you squint. Set in the 1950s the Black protagonists experience the real horror of racial discrimination and violence as they are inveigled into various Lovecraftian plots.
The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo. 304pp. Dystopia. Vanna is looking for her sister while dealing with a chili pepper addiction that's a major offense against the Eusistocratic Republic of Finland. Actually a 2013 book but 2016 was the first publication in English.
Medusa's Web by Tim Powers. 368pp. Secret history with a large slice of conspiracy. Spiders are certain images which connect whoever views one with other viewers, throughout time and space. Even at times exchange consciousness with the other viewer.
8 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
flag msg tools
All the little chicks with crimson lips, go...
badge
Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andyl wrote:
OK in no particular order.

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds. 432pp space opera. In a way quite an old fashioned SF tale, however the writing is first class, and a female protagonist and antagonist.
Infomocracy by Malka Older. 382pp SF thriller. 20 years and 2 election cycles since Information (a big search engine) pioneered the switch from warring nation states to global micro-democracy.
The Gradual by Christopher Priest. 352pp literary SF. A book of the Dream Archipelago it is about the power of music, and inspiration, and how time is never what it should be.
The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville. 224pp literary SF with a side order of weird. Alternate history where a surrealist bomb explodes in the Nazi-occupied Paris of 1941 which unleashes manifestations of surrealist art.
False Hearts by Laura Lam. 384pp. SF thriller.
Tila and Taema are conjoined twins who escaped the cultish upbringing at 16, and were surgically separated. Ten years later, Tila arrives at Taema’s apartment, accused of murder - which should be impossible. Taema has to go undercover as her sister to solve the mystery.
The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds. 336pp. A sequel of sorts to Arthur C. Clarke's "A Meeting With Medusa".
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. 384pp. Only vaguely SF if you squint. Set in the 1950s the Black protagonists experience the real horror of racial discrimination and violence as they are inveigled into various Lovecraftian plots.
The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo. 304pp. Dystopia. Vanna is looking for her sister while dealing with a chili pepper addiction that's a major offense against the Eusistocratic Republic of Finland. Actually a 2013 book but 2016 was the first publication in English.
Medusa's Web by Tim Powers. 368pp. Secret history with a large slice of conspiracy. Spiders are certain images which connect whoever views one with other viewers, throughout time and space. Even at times exchange consciousness with the other viewer.


Damn you Andy, my reading list just got THAT much longer. I didn't know Powers had a new book out, I really like his SF.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J J
Australia
flag msg tools
The Nightmare Stacks, by Charles Stross.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Loveland
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

I loved Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It is 600 pages, but it never felt too long, and it's a standalone novel.

Earth is on the brink of destruction, so in a last-ditch effort to save humanity, they launch ark ships into space. One ark ship is nearing a planet that had been terraformed long ago. The original plan for the planet was to send down primates and then infect them with a nanovirus that would Uplift them. But the primates didn't make it, so the nanovirus made do with what it had. And it's awesome.

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chapel
United States
Round Rock
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
"Don't be humble... you're not that great."
Avatar
mbmbmb
andyl wrote:

The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds. 336pp. A sequel of sorts to Arthur C. Clarke's "A Meeting With Medusa".



This is next on my queue after my, err, big read.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scott Firestone IV wrote:

I loved Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It is 600 pages, but it never felt too long, and it's a standalone novel.


I didn't mention it because I read it in 2015 and recommended it last year.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Loveland
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andyl wrote:
Scott Firestone IV wrote:

I loved Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It is 600 pages, but it never felt too long, and it's a standalone novel.


I didn't mention it because I read it in 2015 and recommended it last year.


Uh...it didn't get over the pond until 2016? I dunno. What do you want from me?!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Jones
United States
Round Rock
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville
Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchison
Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley



3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Khexhu

Plainfield
Illinois
msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
Babylon's Ashes - i.e. Games of Thrones in Space, i.e. The Expanse (written under the pen name James S. A. Corey) - Also now a SyFy Channel Series. New book in series just released they are pretty small.

The End of All Things - John Scalzi - i.e. Also soon to be a SyFy series in 2017 under the name Ghost Brigades (i.e. Old Man's War) short books.

A Night Without Stars
- Peter F. Hamilton

Perfect State
- Brandon Sanderson (Novella, One of his few strictly Sci-Fi Works Thus Far) I thought I would never go back to reading fantasy though until I found Brandon Sanderson. The Mistborn Series, Warbreaker and others are all 5 star but absolutely everyone should read "The Way of Kings", Book 1 of the Stormlight Archive. It is leaps and bounds the best book I've ever read. The sort of book cults are formed around its beyond that good.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Loveland
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Khexhu wrote:
Babylon's Ashes - i.e. Games of Thrones in Space, i.e. The Expanse (written under the pen name James S. A. Corey) - Also now a SyFy Channel Series. New book in series just released they are pretty small.

The End of All Things - John Scalzi - i.e. Also soon to be a SyFy series in 2017 under the name Ghost Brigades (i.e. Old Man's War) short books.

A Night Without Stars
- Peter F. Hamilton


I like these books, but they're all part of series, and he wants standalone books.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Khexhu wrote:
Babylon's Ashes - i.e. Games of Thrones in Space, i.e. The Expanse (written under the pen name James S. A. Corey) - Also now a SyFy Channel Series. New book in series just released they are pretty small.

544pp for Babylon's Ashes. It is book 6 of an ongoing series. The other books average out at around 590pp. That's a lot of reading.

Quote:
The End of All Things - John Scalzi - i.e. Also soon to be a SyFy series in 2017 under the name Ghost Brigades (i.e. Old Man's War) short books.

384pp and isn't really a suitable starting place for the series.

Quote:
A Night Without Stars- Peter F. Hamilton

782pp and part of a series.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clay Blankenship
United States
Owens Cross Roads
AL
flag msg tools
designer
badge
That's a moray!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andyl wrote:
OK in no particular order.

The Gradual by Christopher Priest. 352pp literary SF. A book of the Dream Archipelago it is about the power of music, and inspiration, and how time is never what it should be.


Whoa, he's still alive?! I remember reading one of his books from our town's library's small SF section around the early 1980's, shelved with a bunch of old Asimov, Bradbury, etc.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Etkin
United States
Gloversville
New York
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
biddi biddi biddi
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Can anyone recommend me a (relatively) new written space opera that meets the following criteria?

- Preferably standalone (ie. not part of a trilogy, series, or "universe," or at the very least has a self-contained story that doesn't require further reading or makes me feel like I've missed stuff)

- Not military focused - battles are ok, but I'm not interested in Honorverse style opera

- Not remotely centered on explaining how the faux tech works

- Interstellar travel, multi-planet, "people in the future" stuff

- Fast paced

In short - something sorta like Valerian, Battlestar, Star Wars, or Star Wolf
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
snoweel wrote:
andyl wrote:
OK in no particular order.

The Gradual by Christopher Priest. 352pp literary SF. A book of the Dream Archipelago it is about the power of music, and inspiration, and how time is never what it should be.


Whoa, he's still alive?! I remember reading one of his books from our town's library's small SF section around the early 1980's, shelved with a bunch of old Asimov, Bradbury, etc.


He isn't that old - he is 73. Still writing and still going to SF conventions too.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MOTHDevil wrote:
Can anyone recommend me a (relatively) new written space opera that meets the following criteria?

- Preferably standalone (ie. not part of a trilogy, series, or "universe," or at the very least has a self-contained story that doesn't require further reading or makes me feel like I've missed stuff)

- Not military focused - battles are ok, but I'm not interested in Honorverse style opera

- Not remotely centered on explaining how the faux tech works

- Interstellar travel, multi-planet, "people in the future" stuff

- Fast paced

In short - something sorta like Valerian, Battlestar, Star Wars, or Star Wolf


Revenger by Al Reynolds is the closest fit to that brief. It does leave the ending somewhat open so we might see a sequel, but it also brings the main narrative to a neat close.

The main problem is looking for a single volume story not part of a series.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Etkin
United States
Gloversville
New York
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
biddi biddi biddi
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
andyl wrote:


The main problem is looking for a single volume story not part of a series.


Tell me about it.

To clarify, I'm less concerned with it being part of a series, IF the novel itself isn't predicated on setting up a "to be continued" or requires further reading to get satisfaction from the story.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Clay Blankenship
United States
Owens Cross Roads
AL
flag msg tools
designer
badge
That's a moray!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MOTHDevil wrote:
Can anyone recommend me a (relatively) new written space opera that meets the following criteria?

- Preferably standalone (ie. not part of a trilogy, series, or "universe," or at the very least has a self-contained story that doesn't require further reading or makes me feel like I've missed stuff)

- Not military focused - battles are ok, but I'm not interested in Honorverse style opera

- Not remotely centered on explaining how the faux tech works

- Interstellar travel, multi-planet, "people in the future" stuff

- Fast paced

In short - something sorta like Valerian, Battlestar, Star Wars, or Star Wolf


I quite enjoyed "The Great North Road" by Peter Hamilton. It's a few centuries in the future with interplanetary gateways, but the surveillance tech and powerful corporations feel like they could be just around the corner.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Carter
United States
Marion
Iowa
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
MOTHDevil wrote:
andyl wrote:


The main problem is looking for a single volume story not part of a series.


Tell me about it.

To clarify, I'm less concerned with it being part of a series, IF the novel itself isn't predicated on setting up a "to be continued" or requires further reading to get satisfaction from the story.


I am so tired of endless series in scifi and fantasy. I get the commercial reasons for it, but not everything needs to be "epic".
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Riddle
United States
Oxford
Michigan
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Man, I appreciate China Melville but I cannot actually like his stuff. It wears me out.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Khexhu

Plainfield
Illinois
msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
mlcarter815 wrote:
MOTHDevil wrote:
andyl wrote:


The main problem is looking for a single volume story not part of a series.


Tell me about it.

To clarify, I'm less concerned with it being part of a series, IF the novel itself isn't predicated on setting up a "to be continued" or requires further reading to get satisfaction from the story.


I am so tired of endless series in scifi and fantasy. I get the commercial reasons for it, but not everything needs to be "epic".


It's not strictly commercial it is what a lot of the buying public wants. You see this in TV as well where the whole season is one longer story vs. the one and done type of episodes. World building and character development can often be better with series and the interest and reception are great enough that one-and-done movies are having a harder time competing with some of the excellent Television programs out there as well.

Books are no different. If an author builds a world and characters you truly care about its natural to want to know more about it all. In the kindle world the first book in a lot of good series is either free or nearly free so its easy to try a lot of them out. Additionally the first chapter or so of any kindle book can be read for free on any device (even PC). As a boardgamer I get the desire for physical things but your own tastes and opinion far outweighs anyone elses and there is nothing more efficient than literally being able to try out a dozen novels in an evening if you so chose and decide for yourself...
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Carter
United States
Marion
Iowa
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Khexhu wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
MOTHDevil wrote:
andyl wrote:


The main problem is looking for a single volume story not part of a series.


Tell me about it.

To clarify, I'm less concerned with it being part of a series, IF the novel itself isn't predicated on setting up a "to be continued" or requires further reading to get satisfaction from the story.


I am so tired of endless series in scifi and fantasy. I get the commercial reasons for it, but not everything needs to be "epic".


It's not strictly commercial it is what a lot of the buying public wants. You see this in TV as well where the whole season is one longer story vs. the one and done type of episodes. World building and character development can often be better with series and the interest and reception are great enough that one-and-done movies are having a harder time competing with some of the excellent Television programs out there as well.

Books are no different. If an author builds a world and characters you truly care about its natural to want to know more about it all. In the kindle world the first book in a lot of good series is either free or nearly free so its easy to try a lot of them out. Additionally the first chapter or so of any kindle book can be read for free on any device (even PC). As a boardgamer I get the desire for physical things but your own tastes and opinion far outweighs anyone elses and there is nothing more efficient than literally being able to try out a dozen novels in an evening if you so chose and decide for yourself...


I think people will eventually get tired of series that never end.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Leighton
England
Peterborough
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mlcarter815 wrote:
Khexhu wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
MOTHDevil wrote:
andyl wrote:


The main problem is looking for a single volume story not part of a series.


Tell me about it.

To clarify, I'm less concerned with it being part of a series, IF the novel itself isn't predicated on setting up a "to be continued" or requires further reading to get satisfaction from the story.


I am so tired of endless series in scifi and fantasy. I get the commercial reasons for it, but not everything needs to be "epic".


It's not strictly commercial it is what a lot of the buying public wants. You see this in TV as well where the whole season is one longer story vs. the one and done type of episodes. World building and character development can often be better with series and the interest and reception are great enough that one-and-done movies are having a harder time competing with some of the excellent Television programs out there as well.

Books are no different. If an author builds a world and characters you truly care about its natural to want to know more about it all. In the kindle world the first book in a lot of good series is either free or nearly free so its easy to try a lot of them out. Additionally the first chapter or so of any kindle book can be read for free on any device (even PC). As a boardgamer I get the desire for physical things but your own tastes and opinion far outweighs anyone elses and there is nothing more efficient than literally being able to try out a dozen novels in an evening if you so chose and decide for yourself...


I think people will eventually get tired of series that never end.


To some extent that is usually the case. Most writers cannot sustain the interest in a continuing story that long. Series which are just disparate episodes in a single universe - for example The Culture series by Iain M. Banks - are easier to sustain and generally easier for people to dip into and out of.

I can only think of one really long continuing series which still works well. That is the Foreigner series by CJ Cherryh which has already hit 17 books.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Etkin
United States
Gloversville
New York
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
biddi biddi biddi
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mlcarter815 wrote:
Khexhu wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
MOTHDevil wrote:
andyl wrote:


The main problem is looking for a single volume story not part of a series.


Tell me about it.

To clarify, I'm less concerned with it being part of a series, IF the novel itself isn't predicated on setting up a "to be continued" or requires further reading to get satisfaction from the story.


I am so tired of endless series in scifi and fantasy. I get the commercial reasons for it, but not everything needs to be "epic".


It's not strictly commercial it is what a lot of the buying public wants. You see this in TV as well where the whole season is one longer story vs. the one and done type of episodes. World building and character development can often be better with series and the interest and reception are great enough that one-and-done movies are having a harder time competing with some of the excellent Television programs out there as well.

Books are no different. If an author builds a world and characters you truly care about its natural to want to know more about it all. In the kindle world the first book in a lot of good series is either free or nearly free so its easy to try a lot of them out. Additionally the first chapter or so of any kindle book can be read for free on any device (even PC). As a boardgamer I get the desire for physical things but your own tastes and opinion far outweighs anyone elses and there is nothing more efficient than literally being able to try out a dozen novels in an evening if you so chose and decide for yourself...


I think people will eventually get tired of series that never end.


I think (the original) Dune series is the poster child for this. Dune itself is incomparable, but Messiah and Children had diminishing returns and felt ad-hoc. FWIW, I really enjoyed God Emperor, but then again I read that during my young adult emo/can't understand me/holier-than-thou phase, and the whole "undying emperor" crap resonated with me. Never made it to Chapterhouse, though.

Dragonlance is another one that springs immediately to mind. Loved the hell out of Legends and to some extent Chronicles, but everything else? I guess it didn't help that they cranked out 100+ novels all taking place "before" the main series.

I think public acceptance for diminishing returns has greatly increased, however. We eat-up every movie remake or prequel that comes down the road, but we stay away from "new" like the plague. There was a time when you hit "number 3" and everyone knew you were working with something exponentially lesser than the original. Now we have Transformers 25, Fast N' Furiouser 12, Ice Age 9, Fantastic 4 take 2, Spiderman take 3, etc.

Something about 9/11, IMO, turned the whole country inward for entertainment comfort food. Couple that with the over-the-top foreign market appeasement, and you have the makings of some amazingly generic stuff.

Book-world seems to be running a lot on the same bet-hedging. The 15th book in an established series might have less readers than the 3rd or 4th, but those readers are asses-in-seats, while the new thing is an unknown gamble. There's a huge diversity of small-pubs out there now, cranking out some cutting edge stuff, but good luck finding out about them.



1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Neil Carr
United States
Barre
Vermont
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What a tough list to pick from! So many good stories to mull over and see the various ways my wife might enjoy them.

The order has been placed for...

andyl wrote:

Infomocracy by Malka Older. 382pp SF thriller. 20 years and 2 election cycles since Information (a big search engine) pioneered the switch from warring nation states to global micro-democracy.


and

Scott Firestone IV wrote:

I loved Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It is 600 pages, but it never felt too long, and it's a standalone novel.

Earth is on the brink of destruction, so in a last-ditch effort to save humanity, they launch ark ships into space. One ark ship is nearing a planet that had been terraformed long ago. The original plan for the planet was to send down primates and then infect them with a nanovirus that would Uplift them. But the primates didn't make it, so the nanovirus made do with what it had. And it's awesome.



My wife is a language arts teacher, and after enduring the 2016 election she has a newfound interest in American politics (she's Canadian) and so Infomocracy feels like it will target both the timeliness of current events, but also wade through a lot of the issues that she grapples with in the classroom.

Children of Time looks like it will be a bit more of the "escapist" route that she also needs for her sci-fi reading, but it might also, in a very broad sense, still seem timely with current events. So still a bit more of an escape on the surface, but still potentially having good nutrients due to art-reflecting-life angle.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions! Over the years I've soured on the whole gift giving aspect of the holidays, but this part I still really enjoy and my wife really appreciates everyone's ideas.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.