When compiling best-of lists at the end of the year, it’s easy to overlook certain classes of deserving books. In a year filled with massive, highly publicized releases — a new Neal Stephenson, a Vernor Vinge sequel awaited for twenty years — wonderful books with less flash can go unnoticed in the shadows. A debut novel, perhaps. Or the second book in a quiet series. Or a novel published right at the busy holiday end of the calendar year.
I have selected one of each of these oft-neglected types to bring to your attention. But besides highlighting these superior books, this essay hopes to remind you to cast your own literary nets widely when selecting your personal candidates for the year’s finest.
I read very little science fiction and fantasy myself, but here’s some thoughtful reckoning for those of you who do.