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The Best SFF Novels of 2012 - First Half Edition

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Best SFF Novels of 2012 - First Half Edition

I was planning on writing this post for a few weeks then the Mad Hatter, Pornokitsch, the OF Blog, and a host of others beat me to it. Jerks. In any case, it's the halfway mark for the year. I've read 49 genre novels so far this year. Included below are very brief and very early looks at my best/worst of lists for the year.


Best Novel of 2012:
  1. The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett (Review)
  2. Year Zero by Rob Reid
  3. Faith by John Love (Review)
  4. The Killing Moon by NK Jemisin (Review)
  5. The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham (Review)
It should bear noticing that three of the novels are from Orbit, and the sixth would have been K.J. Parker's Sharps, yet another Orbit title. With Joe Abercrombie and Jesse Bullington both due out with novels later this year from Orbit, it appears to be a banner year for Hachette's genre imprint.

Faith, has been Night Shade's best debut novel from 2012. It's a shame it came out so early this year (January 3), as I worry it'll be forgotten by many come year's end. And while I haven't reviewed Year Zero yet on the blog (next week), I've been raving about it since I finished it back in April. It's the funniest book I've ever read, hands down.

Best Novel Not From 2012 (tie):
  • Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones (Review)
  • Devices and Desires by K.J. Parker

My review of Desert of Souls speaks for itself, I think. As for the first book in Parker's Engineer Trilogy,  it's amazing, as is nearly everything Parker writes. I don't plan on reviewing it until I finish the whole trilogy, but I already recommend it with great vigor.

Worst Novel (tie):
  • The Pillars of Hercules by David Constantine (Review)
  • Seven Princes by John R. Fultz (Review)
Orbit makes an appearance here as well and I'll never figure out how Seven Princes made it into the Orbit catalog. It doesn't seem to fit with the editorial perspective of the rest of the novels they've released this year. Nevertheless, there it is, in all its pulpy deus ex machina Mary Sue glory.

Pillars of Hercules, is just a jumbled mess. As I stated last week, Night Shade occasionally suffers from subpar "creative" editing. I think Constantine's novel might be the best example. The novel has a fascinating conceit, and Constantine seems a capable writer writer, but the whole novel is a confusing ping pong match of switching PoVs and unexplained occurrences. Total face plant as far as I'm concerned.


Be sure to check back in December for my Juice Box Awards where I'll recognize the Best Novel of 2012, the Best Debut of 2012, and a host of others.

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At June 27, 2012 at 8:48 AM , Blogger RobB said...

We'll only have one of those in common when my post goes live on July 2nd, though I've only read that one book on your list.

At June 27, 2012 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Mad Hatter Review said...

Right there with you on Faith. I have The Killing Moon in the stacks and just got Year Zero so we'll see how those work out. I enjoyed The King's Blood. It was even stronger than The Dragon's Path, but I haven't been too into Epic Fantasy this year for some reason.

At June 27, 2012 at 10:18 AM , Blogger Carl Duzett said...

I was really disappointed by Faith. It was great enough to get my expectations really high, and then as the book went on I just became more disappointed, and then all the flaws I'd forgiven in the first half of the book came back to mind.

At June 27, 2012 at 11:29 AM , Blogger Bob Milne said...

The Killing Moon & The King's Blood are both in my TBR pile. I actually won a copy of Seven Princes from a fellow blogger, but the more reviews I read, the less inclined I am to give it a read.

At June 27, 2012 at 11:30 AM , Blogger James said...

I got Rob Reid's Year Zero yesterday and read two-thirds of it before bed. It is entertaining and quite funny, but might be too enmeshed with current pop culture to remain relevant beyond the next decade or so (maybe even less time). In that, it is very much unlike the book it has been most compared to: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But beyond that, it is very good.

At June 27, 2012 at 11:34 AM , Blogger Justin said...

You're right James. In fact, it's almost more enmeshed with the culture of 10 years ago, particularly the whole Napster music divide that most of us in our late 20's and early 30's lived through.

It is however, fucking hilarious. At least to me. I'd put it more in the category of Christopher Moore than Douglas Adams, myself.


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