Amazon has published its list of the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year, and chances are you've got some catching up to do. There's a nice mix of books you've heard of and some you definitely haven't.
The list includes some pulpy fiction, notably Richard Kadrey's Kill The Dead, and some steampunk (Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion) as well as some ornately dreamy fantasy from N.K. Jemisin and Felix Lord. But it definitely skews literary and includes a surprisingly high number of small-press titles, including Michel Ajvaz's The Golden Age, Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo, The Fixed Stars by Brian Conn, and Grace Krilanovich's The Orange Eats Creeps.
Writing about the list over on his own site, Amazon's speculative fiction czar Jeff VanderMeer explains:
Ajvaz's The Golden Age was a brilliant act of imagination that showcased this Czech writer's amazing talent - a career-defining book. Charles Yu single-handedly revived the time travel story with a short novel both inventive and poignant. Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo is a miracle of storytelling ability and compression and generosity. The dialogue and characters and quality of writing in Felix Gilman's novel took me by surprise several times, and the book displays complexity and moral ambiguity at every turn. N.K. Jemisin's wonderful Hundred Thousand Kingdoms plots a non-trad course for fantasy in the twenty-first century. Grace Krilanovich created an amazing phantasmagorical Pacific Northwest in her The Orange Eats Creeps. Dexter Palmer revitalized retro-futurism by way of The Tempest and his own absurdist imagination, while Nnedi Okorafor's novel Who Fears Death features a brave and original heroine and a unique, often heart-breaking story. Finally, Brian Conn's The Fixed Stars is a awesomely strange post-capitalist surreal SF mosaic novel and Richard Kadrey continues to mix pop culture and genre tropes in bold, high-energy recombinations.
It's definitely a thought-provoking list, and proves that genre fiction is still producing plenty of books with literary pedigree. The list is here, and more commentary on each title is here and here.