Here’s a good column by Jo Walton at tor.com, reprinted from 2013, listing 8 (relatively) recent SF novels that, she says, made her excited about the genre. One of the interesting things about this column is that I’ve only read one (1) of the novels: THE SPEED OF DARK, which is in fact one of my all-time favorite SF novels, though I can’t say I think of it as recent. (It was published in 2003.)
Jo Walton says: The “sense of wonder” is easy to get when you’re twelve, because everything is new, but books that can give it to me now are valuable.
Then she lists these eight titles — seven because I already mentioned THE SPEED OF DARK — with comments that you can click through to read:
Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes (2005), which Walton describes as “post-everything SF.”
Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin (2006), which sounds like it has a truly unique premise.
Susan Palwick’s Shelter (2007), which she describes as “a thoroughly imagined near future US” about “the medicalization of character flaws.” Hmmm.
Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (2008) is evidently “a big novel about the history of philosophy and science” in an alternate world.
Geoff Ryman’s Air (2005), which Walton says is “about a future mind-internet coming to a little third world village that has been on the edges of technological civilization for a long time.” That doesn’t necessarily sound fun, but it does sound interesting.
Kasuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), I have to say, this one sounds like something I do not want to read: “dystopia that uses the mode usually used for writing about privilege and nostalgia to talk about appalling things.” Um, okay, not sure I’m up for that.
M.J. Locke’s Up Against It (2012), which Walton describes as “doing what old SF did, taking current science and engineering and writing fun stories with it, only with current science and engineering. And current practice of characterisation and plot.” Now, that sounds fun.
Now, if I were asked to recommend exciting SF — not fantasy — titles that came out within the last decade, well, hmm. I couldn’t recommend THE SPEED OF DARK because, published in 2003, it is no longer within the ten-year window.
So, then, what?
Though I read a lot more fantasy than SF, I think I would feel good recommending these five SF novels:
LEVIATHAN WAKES by “James S A Corey”, though I haven’t read the sequels. This first book of the series does big things, and it does them well, with good character development and an ambitious setting.
A DARKLING SEA by James Cambias, because great alien species like these are exactly why I love science fiction.
THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, which does the science/engineering thing wonderfully, on a very small scale.
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson, which does the science/engineering thing on a very big scale.
AND ALL THE STARS by Andrea K. Höst, for a different kind of alien invasion plus superpowers.
How about you all? Any other recent-ish SF titles that leap to your minds?