The Best Books of 2011

Here they are!

First of all, I am so entirely thrilled that Maureen McHugh’s collection After the Apocalypse made it onto the top 10 list. It’s become almost a running joke that every year, I have book #11 of the top 10. This year, I pushed hard for Maureen’s book to be considered, and to my shock and delight, the other editors read it and agreed that it deserved top billing. Well done, Maureen!

The list for SF/F/H:

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes — I have been waiting to list this for something like a year and a half, since it was originally slated to come out in the U.S. in October 2010. It has continued to astonish and delight me since then.

Triptych by J.M. Frey — This book has aliens, time travel, queer polyamorous romance that feels absolutely real, loss and grief and soldiering on, languages, family… in short, it was written for me. I haven’t felt this loved and acknowledged by a book in a very long time.

Unpossible by Daryl Gregory — Discussed here. In very brief, this collection blew my head off and then dumped cold water down the bleeding stump of my neck. Fortunately that’s how I like it.

Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan, Vol. 1 by Caitlín R. Kiernan — Yes, that makes three collections out of these six books, but there was no way I was going to pass this one up. Kiernan is one of the most consistently powerful, surprising authors writing today, and this collection is a must for anyone who likes exploring the dark interstices between genres with only a half-dead flashlight and some matches to light the way.

Erekos by A.M. Tuomala — Plenty of people have tried to combine zombies and romance, but Tuomala combines zombies with sororal love and love of country in a meditation on just how far we’re willing to go to preserve the things we care about, even if it means we’re really not preserving them at all.

Those paying attention will note that six out of six of these titles were put out by ambitious, daring small outfits. I hope a lot of people are paying attention. Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to Small Beer, Angry Robot, Dragon Moon, Fairwood, Subterranean, and Candlemark & Gleam for taking chances on these extraordinary books.

Honorable mentions: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie, Broken by Susan Jane Bigelow, The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham, Dead Iron by Devon Monk.

Onward to 2012!

26 thoughts on “The Best Books of 2011

  1. Sally

    Great choices! I absolutely loved Triptych, so I am extremely excited to see it getting some much-deserced year end recognition.

    I think Erekos just jumped onto my to-be-read list. :)

  2. Jeanie Pantelakis

    If you like Sci-fi, check out [elided]

    Editor’s note: Neither this post nor any other post on this blog is an appropriate place to comment with an ad for your book or any other book.

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      Embassytown just didn’t quite do it for me–though it should have, since I love hard SF and linguistics. But I won’t be at all surprised to see it on award shortlists.

  3. Laer Carroll

    Who are the Publisher’s Weekly WE who picked out these titles? What qualifies them to proclaim their choices are superior to those of anyone of us? Are they smarter? Are their literary taste buds somehow more delicate, refined, and discriminatory?

    Why should anybody outside of their tiny friendship circle care what they think?

    1. Rose Fox Post author

      Who are the Publisher’s Weekly WE who picked out these titles?

      Our masthead is here (and in every issue).

      What qualifies them to proclaim their choices are superior to those of anyone of us? Are they smarter? Are their literary taste buds somehow more delicate, refined, and discriminatory?

      Yep.

      Why should anybody outside of their tiny friendship circle care what they think?

      The same could be said about anyone. But I’m glad you cared enough to spend time and effort leaving us a comment!

        1. Rose Fox Post author

          I’m a bit baffled as to why you would sneer at my employer and the host of this blog, then.

          1. Laer Carroll

            Not sneer. I dispute the claim that they have any right to proclaim a BEST BOOKS list. A RECOMMENDED BOOKS list would have gone over well. NEW & EXCITING would have been even better.

            In fact, I would like to see you and PW have a weekly or monthly NEW & EXCITING list. With a link to each book so your readers could instantly look up the book.

            1. Rose Fox Post author

              As it happens, I’m planning to resurrect my old feature of the current month’s starred SF/F/H reviews, which sounds more like what you’re looking for. Stay tuned.

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