Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I rarely participate. (In theory, I should be posting release-day reviews on Tuesday. In theory.) But I loved the Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors of 2015 topic last year so much I went ahead and did 2014 too. I’m happy to be back at it. My initial draft was 17 authors, but unlike last year, I decided to be strict and whittle my list down to the requested 10. There is a little diversity, with two non-fiction books and three authors from Throwback SF Thursday showing up.
Linda Nagata (The Red Trilogy)
The Red was a really excellent military SF trilogy released in quick succession, full of interesting tech and exciting fight scenes.
Nick Cole (CTRL ALT Revolt!)
Don’t let it be obscured by the controversy, Cole wrote a near-perfect cyberpunk yarn (and, really, what’s more punk than getting shitcanned by your publisher for not toeing the orthodox line?). It features evil AI, deadly drones, chainsaw-wielding LARPers, and one very cool MMO. Cole ably solves the stakes problem with that last one that I understand plagues Ernest Cline’s work. Review of CTRL ALT Revolt! here.
Holly Jennings (Arena)
Speaking of cyberpunk. Arena isn’t quite so punk, but it does also feature a game that’s a very big deal. Jennings goes for a sports mashup, with players in the virtual reality game as athletes. That the virtual reality game in question involves swords allows Jennings to sneak in the sort of action we more usually get in fantasy into her science fiction. Book 2 in the Arena series, Gauntlet, will be out on April 4. Review of Arena here.
Lian Hearn (Tale of Shikanoko)
Hearn released her entire 4-volume Tale of Shikanoko this year. Imbued with a real epic and mythic quality, Hearn makes good use of her deep knowledge and understanding of Japanese myth and history. I look forward to picking up her Tales of the Otori series. Review of Book 1 here and Books 2-4 here.
Ezekiel Boone (The Hatching)
I’m not even afraid of spiders, but it’s hard not to be by Boone’s nightmare vision of flesh-eating arachnid hordes. Although I feel much safer being in Florida. It’s not like the native spiders won’t fight back (I have a pretty good spider web wall going around my house too). I said it in my review and I’ll say it again, The Hatching is better than The Stand or World War Z. My only complaint is that is emphatically the first book in a series, not a standalone. Thankfully, the next book, Skitter, will be out on April 25. Review of The Hatching here.
Bishop Morris (The Middle Ages)
It’s hard to believe there could be an even decent single volume history of the European Middle Ages. I still don’t understand how Morris did it. But it’s much, much better than decent. It’s necessarily cursory and surely knowledge has marched on since it was originally published in 1968, but it is still very much worth your time.
Schuyler Hernstrom (Cirsova No. 1 and 2, Thune’s Vision)
Schuyler Hernstrom immediately jumped out as my favorite product of new Retro SF semi-pro mag Cirsova. His self-published collection is pretty dang good too. There is a lot of retro stuff out there. Most of it doesn’t come close to capturing the magic. Hernstrom does, and his work can stand in its own right. We’ll stick with “Vancian” for now and save “Hernstromian” for a few years hence. Review of Thune’s Vision here.
C.L. Moore (Women of Futures Past)
I only read a single, lone short story by Moore this year. It was enough. (For the record, it was Shambleau from the Women of Futures Past anthology.) Moore is forms one leg of the Big 3 of female pulp writes along with Andre Norton and Leigh Brackett. Each was featured in Women of Futures Past, but Moore’s story was by far my favorite (and by far my favorite from the very good anthology).
Robert Heinlein (Double Star)
Of the new writers Throwback SF Thursday exposed me to, Heinlein had my favorite novel-length treatment. (Yes, I never read Heinlein before this year. Hey, I just read Vance last year.) Heinlein is as famous for his politics as he is for his science, and it shows to good effect in Double Star, a wonderful contemplation on any number of matters political. Review of Double Star here.
Chip and Dan Heath (Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die)
Don’t mistake this for some second-rate airport business book. The Heath brothers give concrete guidelines to making your ideas stick. Stories are used frequently to amplify and illustrate their points. Both of which are part of what makes ideas sticky according to the Heaths. And the ideas are backed up by solid social science, more to my direct interests. These aren’t cheap tricks; this is next-level communication. Whether you’re a teacher, a marketer, or anyone who needs to present your ideas from time to time (it’s very oral communication focused).
Honorable mention: Joseph Loconte, Allen Steele, Elizabeth Bonesteel, Kurt Busiek, N.K. Jemisin, Guy Gavriel Kay, Poul Anderson, Martha Raddatz, Nnedi Okafor, S.C. Flynn, Malka Older