“There has been an ongoing debate for the last few decades about whether science fiction is dead but if this year’s bumper crop of exciting new novelists is any indication,
I’d say that there is a glorious renaissance just over the horizon…”– Paul Goat Allen
2011 was a surprisingly – I would say even shockingly – good year for science fiction. There were solid releases from genre giants like Ben Bova, Robert J. Sawyer, Vernor Vinge, etc. but the most remarkable aspect of the year was the quantity and quality of debut novels: my top five picks were all written by first-time novelists!
Will McIntosh’s debut novel, an unconventional work of apocalyptic fiction entitled Soft Apocalypse, was so good, I stated in my review: “If Soft Apocalypse isn’t nominated for a Hugo or Nebula Award, I will eat the entire book page by page…
Hannu Rajaniemi’s debut novel The Quantum Thief was an intriguing fusion of hard science fiction à la Greg Egan, Stephen Baxter, etc. and labyrinthinely plotted Hitchcockian cat-and-mouse mystery that features a master thief and an intuitive, young amateur detective against a breathtaking backdrop of a colonized Mars.
“The effects of dumping tons of chemicals into the soil to produce vast swaths of monoculture corn and cows finally combined with the effects of dumping garbage in the water, air, and everywhere else. The result made the old hype about Global Warming seem like worrying about getting gray hair and then finding out you’ve got lung cancer. The environment couldn’t have gotten more messed up if God himself grabbed the Earth and gave it a good hard shake…”
There has been an ongoing debate for the last few decades about whether science fiction is dead but if this year’s bumper crop of exciting new novelists is any indication, I’d say that there is a glorious renaissance just over the horizon…
So, without further ado, here are my best science fiction releases of 2011…
• Leviathans of Jupiter by Ben Bova
• Divergent by Veronica Roth
• The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
• Embassytown by China Mieville
• Basilisk by Rob Thurman
• The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell
• Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
• The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
• The Apocalypse Gene by Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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