fantasy and science fiction book reviewsHappy 2014, all ye subscribers to the Gregorian Calendar (you think I’m joking, but my Ethiopian roommate informed me that it’s 2006 in Ethiopia right now, and New Year’s is in September).  Also, writing that date was a struggle for me, I just want everyone to know.  If it had been on paper, I’d have been stuck trying to smoothly turn a 3 into a 4, which we all know is doomed to failure.

Awards and things arranged in lists

You see, there are actually several different species of end-of-the-year lists.  The commercial ones come out a couple of weeks before Christmas, with the sinister aim of encouraging you to buy a ton of books for your relatives.  Then there are more blogger-ly lists, which come out at the actual end of the year.  Without further ado:

  • i09 has provided a predictable-but-not-too-predictable Best of 2013 post.
  • So has Stefan Raets at Far Beyond Reality, including such made-up awards as “Best Genre-bending Twin-Peaks-Meets-X-Files Americana Headtrip,” which was American Elsewhere.
  • Bookworm Blues has a nice long list of their most-loved speculative fiction of 2013.
  • The Book Smugglers were also all over it, with two separate lists for each respective Smuggler.  There’s a stronger YA presence, for sure, but they also have nice best-books-we-read-regardless-of-publication-date lists.
  • There’s someone else who had a Best of the Year post, too, of unparalleled diversity and depth…Who was it?  Us?  Yes, it was us.

And then there are the savvy types who immediately started listing the books we have to look forward to next year.  Including:

  • The Fantasy Book Café, which includes two authors I’m doing little excited dances for already (Elizabeth Bear and N.K. Jemisin).
  • Kirkus Reviews, whose list was compiled by a real live and very trustworthy Book Smuggler (also, dudes, Ancillary Justice has a sequel)
  • Buzzfeed, which is has a much different list than the previous two.
  • Fantasy Faction, who has a really long list and the first mention I’ve seen of Garth Nix’s new book in the ABHORSEN series.

In awards news, The Ocean at the End of the Lane just won the 2013 Specsavers National Book Award (I think I might die of not-surprise, at this point).  Also, the John W. Campbell Award for the best new fantasy or science fiction writer is now open for voting, under the same membership rules as the Hugo.

Writing and publishing news

Speaking of awards, Strange Horizons has a very heartfelt (and enlightening) article about the machinery of the Hugos and their possible future.  If you find yourself winning a Hugo, you might also need to sit down with your family and have a talk about the genre you write in.  Kameron Hurley has a really sweet piece on how to introduce the non-SFF-reader to your SFF work, without selling the whole thing short.  Just for kicks (pun intended, but somewhat regretted), here’s the Mythic Scribes advice on writing the best fight scene you can write.  You know, in pursuit of that Hugo.

Articles and miscellany

Three completely unrelated articles caught my eye this week, which means I won’t even try for cohesion here.  First, there’s a rather lovely conversation between Jo Walton and Claire from The Captive Reader on reading books when you’re too young, and whether that’s even a thing.  As someone who read The Hobbit  in second grade and missed almost everything except the idea of an invisible man, giant spiders, and a dragon I…strongly support rereading.  Next, Alison Herman argues that it’s time to let Harry Potter die a natural, peaceful death, rather than letting it become a horrible shambling corpse animated by fandom and corporate gold-digging.  Or something like that.  Lastly, a note of celebration: Suvudu feels that we (being the geeks) have successfully conquered television this year.  Now for wrath, now for ruin, and the red dawn.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsShiny stuff

In order to make art history compelling—at least Western art history, because doesn’t everybody have a dark-sad-portrait limit?  Or a naked-white-lady limit?—this must happen (add C3PO to Duchamp, and everything is better).  Then there are also these sculptures which look so much like people that I kind of feel like the artist stole live humans and freeze-dried them.  He’s also vaguely connected to the movie Labyrinth, so that’s how I’m connecting the dots back to SFF.

And finally, because I’m drunk with the heady power of the Websday post, let’s all go admire one of my favorite Golden Age illustrators: Kay Nielsen.  They just have such…poise, and drama, and fearful symmetry.  And a very Art Noveau Meets East Asian Artistic Traditions and Steals Them feel.


  • Alix E. Harrow

    ALIX E. HARROW, who retired from our blog in 2014, is a part-time historian with a full-time desk job, a lot of opinions, and excessive library fines. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Strange Horizons,, Apex, and other venues. She won a Hugo Award for her fiction in 2019. Alix and her husband live in Kentucky under the cheerful tyranny of their kids and pets. Find her at @AlixEHarrow on Twitter. Some of her favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Ursula LeGuin, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Susanna Clarke.

    View all posts