Hadron Age SF: 75 Favorites from 2004–2023

This page will eventually list my favorite 75 science-fiction adventures — novels, graphic novels, an album or two — published during the Twenty-Oughts (2004–2013, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema) and the Twenty-Tens (2014–2023). At the moment, it is very much a work in progress. As HILOBROW readers know, for some years now I’ve been focused on (re-) reading the best adventures — across all genres, including sf — of the twentieth century. Now, I need to catch up.

Science fiction’s 2004–2023 era doesn’t seem to have a moniker… so for the moment I thought I’d dub this the “Hadron Age.” In honor of the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider, which opened for business in 2009… and the goal of which is to investigate the basic laws governing the interactions and forces among the elementary objects, the deep structure of space and time, and in particular the interrelation between quantum mechanics and general relativity. Seems like a decent metaphor, at least for now, for the knotty, challenging, breathtaking sf of this era.

I don’t want to have repeat this in every relevant entry, so let me say right here that several of the sf authors whose work is praised below are friends or acquaintances of mine. Lucky me!

Hope this list-in-progress is helpful to your own sf reading. Please let me know what I’ve overlooked.

— JOSH GLENN, DECEMBER 2021

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JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES (IN PROGRESS) | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.

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SOME PRE-HADRON AGE TITLES

The following titles from science fiction’s Diamond Age (1984–2003) era are listed here in order to provide historical context.

  • William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984).
  • Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985).
  • Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen (serialized 1986–1987).
  • Iain M. Banks’s Use of Weapons (1990).
  • Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents (1998).
  • China Miéville’s The Scar (2002).

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HADRON AGE SF: 2004–2013

Notes on sf from the Twenty-Oughts (2004–2013, according to HILOBROW’s periodization scheme) TBD.

Here’s the Twenty-Oughts list, so far. My tentative plan is to write up one title each week, beginning in January 2022.

  1. Iain M. Banks‘s The Algebraist (2004). Two thousand years from now, humans have spread outward from Earth across the galaxy — which is largely ruled by the hierarchical Mercatoria empire. Fassin Taak is a Slow Seer, a scholar who has devoted his life to studying the eccentric Dwellers, fabulously long-lived, slow-existing non-humanoids who inhabit gas-giant planets… in this case, Nasqueron. Some years ago, Fassin’s star system was cut off from the rest of the galaxy when their wormhole portal was destroyed… presumably by the Beyonders, space marauders may or may not be as bad as they’re made out to be. What they’re after, we’re given to understand, is the fabled Dweller List of coordinates for their own super-secret system of wormholes. Now Fassin must revisit the anarchic, semi-absurdist Nasqueron Dwellers in search of this MacGuffin… while wrestling with his conscience, which tells him not to turn the list over to the Mercatoria. There are a lot of villains in this fast-paced, complex, mind-expanding yarn… including a (literally) devilish warlord, whose fleet of crack soldiers is moving rapidly toward’s Fassin’s homeworld (Ulubis), not to mention one of Fassin’s oldest friends, a sociopathic industrialist. There’s also a backstory, here, about the Mercatoria’s persecution of Artificial Intelligences — which becomes, by the end, the main story. The space battles are epic, the Dwellers are weird and wonderful, and Fassin emerges as an inspiring figure — a middle-aged former radical who finds himself still willing to risk everything for a good cause. Fun facts: This is Banks’s third science fiction novel that isn’t set in The Culture… though in some ways it feels like a prequel to that series. His earlier two non-Culture sf novels are Against a Dark Background (1993) and Feersum Endjinn (1994).
  2. Daniel Clowes‘s The Death-Ray (serialized 2004; as a book, 2011). Superhero comics are OK for adolescents, Clowes would have readers of his own work — for example, the “Dan Pussey” stories — understand, but adults who still enjoy them are pathetic. (“When that [2002] Spiderman movie came out, journalists called me asking for my opinion,” he told me in an interview that same year. “I told them, ‘Um, I liked Spiderman when I was 13 or 14.'”) With The Death-Ray, first published as the final issue of his 1984–2004 solo anthology comic Eightball, Clowes expands upon this mordant line of thought — giving us a bullied high-school dweeb, Andy, whose vengeful fantasies are given an outlet when he miraculously develops superpowers and acquires a ray gun. Several years before the Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. comic Kick-Ass would explore similar territory, Andy his nihilistic buddy Louis — Andy is Louis’s sidekick, then vice-versa — wage a campaign of terror on the jocks and jerks of 1970s Chicago. In a series of vignettes that vary in tone and style, jump backward and forward in time, and make masterful use of panel layout and perspective, we see Andy evolve into the kind of callous, misanthropic “superman” about whom Radium Age science fiction authors tried to warn us. A series of possible endings to this grim parable suggest that a superhero would necessarily be an emotionally stunted figure. Fun fact: In a 2011 interview, Clowes articulated the story’s autobiographical impetus: “I’m… interested in kind of exploring why as a teenager I was sort of interested in the kind of power fantasies behind being a superhero, and I’m kind of exploring what would happen if someone like myself at age 16 were to be given this kind of ultimate power and what kind of awful things would I have done.”
  3. Theo Ellsworth’s Capacity (serialized 2004–2007, as a book 2008).
  4. Minister Faust’s The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad (2004).
  5. Octavia E. Butler‘s Fledgling (2005). Shori, the protagonist of Butler’s last novel, is a member of the Ina — a vampiric species of biological rather than supernatural origin, who for millennia have cohabitated symbiotically with selected humans in non-hierarchical, interdependent communities. (The nocturnal, long-lived Ina drink human blood; the humans live up to 200 years in excellent health.) While traditionally Ina have always been white-skinned, Shori — who, although 53 years old, resembles a 10-year-old — wakes up to discover that she has been experimented upon. Her genetic makeup now includes human melanin — allowing her to stay awake during the day, and to survive exposure to the sun. She represents an evolutionary leap forward. However, she has lost her memory… and is ravenous for blood! Shori gathers together a group of human “symbionts” (with whom she begins to form deep emotional connections, despite such hurdles as their sexual possessiveness and biphobia… which contrast sharply with her own pansexuality) and goes on the run, attempting to escape raiders who keep burning down the settlements where she lives; are they motivated by racist disdain for her newly dark-skinned appearance? Or by speciesist disdain for humans? During an Ina-symbiont trial scene (which slows the novel’s pace quite a bit), Shori may finally get answers to her questions about race, family, and free will. Fun facts: In an interview, Butler would confess that she read vampire novels — and wrote Fledgling — as a diversion after becoming overwhelmed by the grimness of her Parable series. In 2021, HBO gave production a pilot order to a TV adaptation of the novel, to be executive produced by Issa Rae and J.J. Abrams.
  6. Geoff Ryman’s Air: Or, Have Not Have (2005).
  7. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006).
  8. Charles Stross’s Glasshouse (2006). “When people ask me what I did during the war, I tell them I used to be a tank regiment. Or maybe I was a counter-intelligence agent,” explains our protagonist, Robin. “I’m not exactly sure: my memory isn’t what it used to be.” It’s the far future, and Robin has just finished up a course of radical memory surgery; while in recovery, he starts a romantic relationship with another memory-altered human, Kay. It’s the twenty-seventh century, and we find ourselves in the Invisible Republic, a splinter-polity recovering from the Censorship Wars. (There’s quite a bit of Hard SF stuff going on here, involving molecular-reconstructing “gates” that — having been infected by a virus — alter people’s understanding of civilization itself.) Robin, he’ll eventually discover, played a crucial role in freeing humanity from this virus; but now he’s being targeted for assassination. So he and Kay agree to take part in an experiment which will assign them new identities and bodies, and place them into a more-or-less accurate simulation of a late twentieth/early twenty-first century Euro-American society. As a housewife, now named “Reeve,” our protagonist encounters the sexism and cultural conformity of humankind’s so-called Dark Ages; meanwhile, s/he begins to recover Robin’s memories. What’s the true purpose of this “glasshouse” (19th century British slang for a glass-roofed military detention barracks based in Aldershot — that is to say, for a panopticon)? And what did Reeve/Robin used to know that makes her/him so dangerous? A fun read, particularly for well-read sf fans who will catch all sorts of references. Fun facts: In an interview about Glasshouse, which won the Prometheus Award, Stross recalled: “I’d been reading up on the Stanford Prison Experiment and Stanley Milgram’s studies on how to make ordinary folks commit atrocities. And I got this crazy idea: what if you ran the Zimbardo prison study protocol in something not unlike [sf author John] Varley’s Eight Worlds universe, with gender roles instead of prisoner/guard roles?”
  9. Elizabeth Bear’s Carnival (2006).
  10. Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem (serialized 2006, Chinese:三体, Ken Liu translator).
  11. Charles Stross’s Halting State (2007).
  12. Matthew Sharpe’s Jamestown (2007). In a not-too-far off, post-apocalyptic America, the gangsterish Manhattan Company that controls New York (and does battle with Brooklyn) sends a high-tech, armored bus of bearded explorers to establish an outpost in Virginia — where they hope to make contact with the local “Indian” population and exploit such resources as trees, oil, and uncontaminated foodstuffs. The adventure is narrated by the least depraved of the invaders, the soulful if spotty Johnny Rolfe, whose journal entries and IMs recount his love affair with the smart, precocious, teenaged Indian princess Pocahontas… who at first leads the explorers into a sybaritic trap. This wildly imaginative, funny, raunchy, and violent story recapitulates the Jamestown settlement of 1608 from Pocahontas’s rescue of Captain John Smith on… while satirizing 9/11-era American society, culture, and politics. At the level of the sentence, particularly whenever Pocahontas is speaking, the writing here is much better than it needs to be; it’s a dazzling high-lowbrow tour de force, on Sharpe’s part, equal parts Shakespeare and YA chick lit and horror. Meanwhile, the Indians — who speak better English than they let on, and whose red coloring turns out to be sunblock — are not at all what they seem! Fun fact: In an interview, Sharpe once explained that “the story of Jamestown functions as one of the founding myths of our nation, and I wanted to highlight how America began in violence, bloodshed, and a level of incompetence that would be ridiculous had it not been so deadly; in other words, Jamestown was a lot like the administration of George W. Bush.”
  13. Matthew De Abaitua’s The Red Men (2007). Nelson, who formerly worked for an edgy British youth culture magazine, lives in a near-future London — the streets of which are patrolled by “Dr. Easy” androids programmed to de-escalate conflict (as can be seen in this 2013 film short based on the book). Monad, his employer, is a mega-corporation that manufactures not only Dr. Easy but virtual corporate workers known as the Red Men. Put in charge of developing Redtown — a suburb inhabited entirely by Red Men who (as artificially intelligent emulations of real people) make perfect subjects for various testing scenarios — Nelson struggles with the realization that he’s participating in a neo-authoritarian effort to figure out what makes people tick. There’s also a story here about the ethics of AI, and the dangers — comedic, but also chilling — of downloading an AI into a robotic form. Another strand in this ambitious novel is a gnostic/occult one involving possession by transplanted pig organs; and there are some terrific psychedelic and psychogeographic passages as well. The book is suffused with an aging hipster’s cynical but never nihilistic perspective on recursive cultural forms (in this case, nostalgia for England’s post-WWII moment), corporate political in-fighting and the creeping intrusion of work into one’s private life, and the difficulty of ascertaining just exactly where and how you’ve sold out. Fun facts: The Red Men, which was shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, is the first installment in the loosely connected Seizure trilogy; the others are If Then (2015) and The Destructives (2016). Also highly recommended by the same author is Self & I: A Memoir of Literary Ambition (2018).
  14. Jonathan Lethem & Farel Dalrymple’s Omega the Unknown (2007–2008).
  15. Iain M. Banks‘s Matter (2008).
  16. Lauren Beukes’s Moxyland (2008). In a not-all-that-futuristic Cape Town, the system of segregation and discrimination that divides South African society centers around class, race, and health… and is enforced via one’s cellphone and SIM card. Those who rebel against the status quo can not only be “defused” — knocked unconscious — via their phones, but they can be denied access to everything that’s controlled via smartphone, from unlocking doors to using public transit to accessing one’s bank account. One of our four young narrators, Tendeka, is a naive idealist whose concerns about the corporatocracy are channeled by Skyward — a powerful presence within the online game Moxyland — into increasibgly revolutionary actions. Tendeka enlists the aid of Toby, a DJ, social media influencer, and gamer who is less concerned about activism than participating in viewership-boosting pranks. Toby recruits his sometime lover Lerato, a software engineer who started life as an AIDS orphan and is now focused on advancing her career. Kendra, our fourth narrator, volunteers to be injected with nanotech that transforms her into a soft-drink billboard. The characters are unsympathetic, and the plot a bit shambolic, but Beukes’s first novel is a powerful exercise in world-building… complete with future slang and technospeak. Fun facts: Beukes, who grew up in Johannesburg, is perhaps best known for The Shining Girls (2013), a novel about a time-traveling Depressionn-era serial killer; and Zoo City (2010), a hardboiled sf thriller — set in an inner0-city Johannesburg suburb — that won the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
  17. Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009).
  18. Iain M. Banks‘s Transition (2009).
  19. Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker (2009).
  20. Hannu Rajaniemi’s The Quantum Thief (2010).
  21. Iain M. Banks‘s Surface Detail (2010). The ninth installment in the Culture series takes place, at least part of the time, in Hell. Thanks to personality back-ups and body re-growing tech, in advanced galactic societies like the Culture one never need die permanently; however, one can also opt to retire into a realistic virtual Heaven in which one’s mind-state will enjoy itself for what subjectively seems like an eternity. Other galactic societies that are not so enlightened as the Culture, though, have created virtual Hells in order to control their citizens. These various Hells have fused into a Boschian nightmare-scape within which one of our characters, Vatueil, a policy-setting soldier in the war between the pro- and anti-Hell societies of the galaxy, must fight. (He turns out to be more than that, too.) A second character, Veppers, is a sociopathic, fabulously wealthy tech bro who seems to have something to do with these Hells; and a third, Lededje Y’breq, is a slave whom Veppers killed — but who has come back to life and seeks revenge. In this, she is aided by the Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints, a powerful if deranged warship — which, as is always the case in the Culture, is an Artificial Intelligence. Meanwhile Yime, a Culture agent who assists those entities who have died and been “revented,” is tasked with preventing Y’breq from killing Veppers. Why? Another complex, fun epic from Iain M. Banks. Fun fact: “The idea of the hells came from thinking over the approach from one of the other novels, Look to Windward, in which there’s a mention of a civilisation that has a kind of Valhalla-ish virtual world for their fallen dead,” Banks said in an interview. “At the time that was treated as something very special. Then I began to think, if that was possible then it’s the kind of thing that civilisations would do as a matter of course….”
  22. Janelle Monáe’s album The ArchAndroid (2010). Monáe’s The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III) is the sequel to the singer, songwriter, and actress’s debut EP, Metropolis: The Chase Suite (2007); together with The Electric Lady (Suites IV and V) (2013), these releases form a single sci-fi “Emotion Picture” titled Metropolis. A psychedelic, futuristic funk and soul concept album, The ArchAndroid pays homage to P-Funk, Sun Ra, and OutKast, as well as to Ziggy Stardust (which I’ve included on my list of the best New Wave Sci-Fi adventures). Our protagonist, Cindi Mayweather, is an android cloned from Monáe. In Metropolis: The Chase Suite, she was punished for falling in love with a human; here, as well as in Electric Lady, Cindi evades Droid Control and starts an uprising to liberate Metropolis. Highlights include the funk-rap “Dance or Die,” the jazz-funk “Locked Inside,” the new wave and Afro-funk “Cold War” (the minimalist video for which is very moving), the fiery “Come Alive (War of the Roses)”; and the Lauryn-Hill-esque “Neon Valley Street.” Not to mention “Tightrope”, one of the best songs of the era — about which I’ve written before. The ArchAndroid is a call to “androids” — those othered by a society that discriminates based on creed, sex, orientation and identity — to figure out who and what they love. Fun fact: In interviews, Monáe has explained that she was inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis — and in particular by an intertitle from the 1927 movie insisting that “the mediator between the hand and the mind is always the heart.”
  23. Charles Burns‘s X’ed Out (2010).
  24. Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story (2010).
  25. China Miéville‘s Embassytown (2011). Human colonists on a far-distant planet, which is accessible only by “sailing” through the immer (hyperspace, depicted as an oceanic medium complete with monsters), interact with the natives — known as Ariekei — in the colonial city of Embassytown. The Ariekei are capable of speaking two words at once, which is expressed in this narrative via fractional notation; anyone wishing to negotiate for their valuable biotech must communicate in their language, which they call simply “Language.” What’s more, the Ariekei are extremely literal, and don’t traffic in metaphors or similies. (They recruit individuals to perform literal similes — bizarre ordeals that can then be alluded to. Miéville adapted this fun idea from Gulliver’s Travels.) When EzRa — a human capable of speaking Language, but in a subtly unusual fashion — arrives on the planet, the Ariekei become addicted en masse to his intoxicating speech-forms… with potentially catastrophic results. In order to avert disaster, Avice, a recently returned immer traveler, who has gained the trust of the Ariekei by acting as a human simile (specifically, “the girl who was hurt in the dark and ate what was given to her”) for them, attempts to train a group of them to use metaphors… and to lie! Which changes hearts and minds…. Fun facts: Embassytown won a Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. In an interview, Miéville would explain that “the book is not so much about actually existing linguistics necessarily so much as it is to do with a certain kind of more abstract kind of philosophy of language of symbols, and of semiotics, and indeed some of this crosses over into theological debates.” I’ve included Miéville’s sf/fantasy/horror hybrid novels Perdido Street Station (2000) and The Scar (2002) on the Diamond Age sf list; this is his first sf-only novel.
  26. James S.A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes (2011).
  27. Iain M. Banks‘s The Hydrogen Sonata (2012).
  28. Michel Fiffe’s COPRA (serialized 2012 – ongoing). The sf action comic COPRA began as an homage to John Ostrander’s 1987–1992 run on DC’s Suicide Squad; the titular crew of super-powered (or just badass) mercenaries were — prior to the events of the first issue — deployed on impossible missions by a shadowy government agency. The homage is explicit: COPRA’s Lloyd, for example, has the same costume and abilities as the Suicide Squad’s marksman Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot. Sharp-eyed readers will also spot versions of old-school DC supervillains Count Vertigo, Captain Boomerang, and Dr. Light, not to mention the Suicide Squad’s handler, Amanda. Versions of Steve Ditko’s Shade the Changing Man, as well as Ditko’s Dr. Strange — imported from the Marvel universe — show up, too. But COPRA is much more than fanfic. It’s a fast-paced, violent, sometimes gory tale of revenge and redemption that is written, drawn, colored, published, packaged, and shipped by the creator himself… who, back in 2012, embarked on a mission impossible of his own, when he committed to serializing a monthly, 24-page, full-color action comic. Fiffe did so, he’s said, in order to break the “Kirby barrier” — that is to say, to produce so much, and so quickly, that the resulting work is eccentric, utterly unself-conscious, and even at times visionary. “I really wanted to develop different ways of drawing violence, of pacing a fight scene, of rendering the relationship from one object to another in a way that had nothing to do with the way those kind of comics are being drawn now,” Fiffe has said. He has succeeded: Each page of COPRA — which, in its first few issues, introduces us to a motley crew of characters (some of whom are truly bizarre figures, though no one seems to notice), a multidimensional network, a political power struggle back in our own world, and a superweapon — is a trip! Fun facts: COPRA began as a self-published series, and was then briefly published by Image Comics… but it has since returned to being self-published. You can support Fiffe’s ongoing efforts via Patreon.
  29. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (2013). In the distant future, the Radch — a tyrannical empire that has conquered the galaxy — employs centuries-old AI technology linking sentient starships with ancillaries… which is to say, individual soldiers, with reanimated human bodies, who have been “slaved” to a ship’s hive-mind and are considered disposable, replaceable pieces of equipment. If at first we have trouble making sense of our protagonist, Breq, a badass whom we encounter on an ice planet, it’s because — we’ll discover — she is the sole surviving ancillary of Justice of Toren, a warship destroyed twenty years earlier by treachery. Formerly able to perceive the world through thousands of pairs of eyes and ears, she struggles with her current limitations… and seeks revenge on whoever was responsible for the treachery. The story’s first-person POV is complicated, in fascinating ways, by the perspective of an intelligent warship which can carry on conversations internally with its ancillaries; another device that takes some getting used to, is the fact that everyone is referred to as “she,” since members of the Radch civilization do not draw distinctions between genders. As in an Iain M. Banks space opera, we flash back and forward in time. In the present day, Breq and Seivarden, an entitled jerk who’d been an officer (not an ancillary) on Justice of Toren struggle to survive; and twenty years earlier, we catch glimpses of what happened to their warship. All of which may sound overly complex, but in fact this is a fast-paced, gripping adventure. Fun facts: Leckie’s debut novel, the first in the so-called Imperial Radch trilogy (which includes 2014’s Ancillary Sword and 2015’s Ancillary Mercy), is the only novel to have won the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke awards.
  30. Gordon Dahlquist’s The Different Girl (2013). Red-headed Veronika lives on an isolated (post-apocalyptic?) island, along with three other teenage girls of exactly the same height, weight, and age. Each day, the four girls — whose parents, they’ve been told, died in a plane crash — go on walks, make observations, engage in dialogue with their caretakers/instructors Irene and Robbert, prepare dinner, sing, sleep. Until one morning when Veronika discovers May, a different girl, a shipwreck survivor who doesn’t look or behave like the others. Whereas Veronika and the others speak and act deliberately and calmly, for example, May is emotional, volatile, and prone to irrational behavior. In fact, as the story progresses, we begin to suspect that it’s Veronika and her peers who are different. May, meanwhile, poses a problem for Irene and Robbert — who don’t want their little community (or is it a science experiment?) to be discovered and disrupted. Readers of this YA novel expecting it to be anything like most YA out there will be disappointed; it’s much more subtle and fascinating. It’s a puzzle, the full solution to which Veronika, who proceeds in an inductive fashion, observing and reporting rather than jumping to conclusions or offering general interpretations, is incapable of revealing… although her thought processes do begin to change, thanks to May, and she does begin to ask previously unthinkable questions. We’re forced to rely on imagination and inference — perfect! Fun facts: The story “works in two different ways – which perhaps touches on two strains of science fiction,” Dahlquist commented in a 2013 interview. “One is simply exploring ideas of cognition and identity, in very much a classic science fictional manner. The other is more social, and floats around the edges of the story, and speaks to the role of science in society now.”
  31. Margaret Atwood‘s MaddAddam (2013).

The following titles are ones I intend to read or re-read before making a selection of my favorites from this period. (Not every title here, that is, will make the final list.) I may add other titles to this list, too; it’s a work in progress.

  • Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris’s comic Ex Machina, Vol. 1 (2004-2010).
  • Peter F. Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star (2004).
  • Joe Haldeman’s Camouflage (2004). Nebula winner.
  • David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (2004).
  • Jack McDevitt’s Polaris (2004).
  • Ken MacLeod’s Newton’s Wake (2004).
  • Ian McDonald’s River of Gods (2004).
  • Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005).
  • Grant Morrison‘s run on Seven Soldiers of Victory (serialized 2005–2006).
  • Michel Houellebecq’s The Possibility of an Island (French: La Possibilité d’une île, 2005).
  • Jack McDevitt’s Seeker (2005). Nebula winner.
  • Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin (2005). Hugo winner.
  • Charles Stross’s Accelerando (2005).
  • John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War (2005).
  • Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It (2006).
  • Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman (serialized 2006-08).
  • Peter Watts’s Blindsight (2006).
  • Daniel Suarez’s Daemon (2006).
  • Max Brooks’s World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (2006).
  • John Scalzi’s The Ghost Brigades (2006).
  • Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End (2006).
  • Warren Ellis and Mike Deodato Jr.’s run on Thunderbolts (2007).
  • Joe Haldeman’s The Accidental Time Machine (2007).
  • Minister Faust’s From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain (2007).
  • Tobias S. Buckell’s Ragamuffin (2007).
  • Ian McDonald’s Brasyl (2007).
  • Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother (2008).
  • Charles Stross’s Saturn’s Children (2008)
  • Liu Cixin’s The Dark Forest (2008, Chinese: 黑暗森林).
  • Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War (2008).
  • Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (2008).
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s Galileo’s Dream (2009).
  • Margaret Atwood‘s The Year of the Flood (2009).
  • Connie Willis’s Blackout/All Clear (2010). Hugo winner.
  • Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010).
  • Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death (2010).
  • Moebius‘s Arzak: L’Arpenteur (Arzak: The Surveyor, 2010).
  • Mira Grant’s Feed (2010).
  • Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010).
  • Liu Cixin’s Death’s End (2010, Chinese: 死神永生).
  • Andy Weir’s The Martian (2011).
  • Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (2011).
  • Marie Lu’s Legend (2011).
  • Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (2012).
  • Minister Faust’s The Alchemists of Kush (2011).
  • Charles Burns‘s The Hive (2012).
  • Matthew Battles’s The Sovereignties of Invention (story collection, 2012). Not a novel, but excellent stuff.
  • Sabrina Vourvoulias’s Ink (2012).
  • Emmi Itäranta’s Memory of Water (Finnish: Teemestarin kirja, 2012).
  • Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples’s Saga (serialized 2012 – 2018; 2022–ongoing).
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 (2012).
  • Mike Mignola with Dave Stewart and Clem Robins’s Hellboy in Hell (serialized 2012–2016).
  • Madeline Ashby’s vN (2012).
  • Brian Wood with Ming Doyle, et al’s Mara (serialized 2012–2013?).
  • James S.A. Corey’s Caliban’s War (2012).
  • John Scalzi’s Redshirts (2012). Hugo winner.
  • Douglas Rushkoff with Goran Sudžuka and José Marzán Jr.’s A.D.D. — Adolescent Demo Division (2012).
  • Farel Dalrymple’s It Will All Hurt (serialized 2012–2015).
  • Malinda Lo’s Inheritance (2013).
  • Janelle Monáe’s album The Electric Lady (2013).
  • Matt Haig’s The Humans (2013).
  • Brian K. Vaughan with Marcos Martín and Muntsa Vicente’s The Private Eye (serialized 2013).
  • Yuri Herrera’s The Transmigration of Bodies (2013, Spanish: La transmigración de los cuerpos).
  • V.E. Schwab’s Vicious (2013).
  • Linda Nagata’s The Red: First Light (2013).

HADRON AGE SF: 2014–2023

Notes on sf from the Twenty-Teens (2014–2023, according to HILOBROW’s periodization scheme) TBD.

Here’s the Twenty-Tens list, so far. My tentative plan is to write up one new title each week, beginning in January 2022.

  1. Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon (2014). Adaora, a Nigerian marine biologist and mother, Anthony, a famous Ghanian hip-hop artist, and Agu, a troubled Nigerian soldier, each happens to be on Bar Beach — along the shoreline of Lagos — when an alien spacecraft lands in the lagoon. Things rapidly get weird; the lagoon’s polluted water is purified, for example, while the local marine life becomes faster, strong, and smarter. Adaora, Anthony, and Agu become acquainted with Ayodele, a mutable alien ambassador who has assumed human-like form — and who requires them to act as her intermediaries. Aliens, Okorafor would have us understand, don’t necessarily have to land in New York or Los Angeles; and what’s more, aliens aren’t necessarily a worse problem than the ones we currently face. There’s an explosion of violence across Lagos, as competing factions struggle to control or (in most cases) merely profit from this bizarre turn of events; and the story veers into science-fantasy territory as West African gods, witches, folk characters, and genii loci make the scene. Adaora, Anthony, and Agu develop folktalish superpowers — I’m reminded of Nancy Farmer’s 1994 children’s sf adventure The Ear, the Eye and the Arm — as they race to do what’s right for their city… and the world. Our sense of exactly what’s going on depends on who is telling the story, but there are so many story tellers here — from children to corrupt politicians, and from spiders to swordfish! Fun facts: Okorafor is a Nigerian-American writer of fantasy and science fiction (Africanjujuism and Africanfuturism, in her terminology) for children and adults. She began writing Lagoon in response to Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9, which portrays Nigerians in a stereotyped way.
  2. Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014). In this Ballardian/Kafkaesque exercise in science-fictional psychological horror, a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor are transported to Area X — an unspoiled stretch of US coastline that for years now has been held under quarantine by a government agency, the Southern Reach. Previous missions have ended in catastrophe or worse. In fact, the husband of our narrator, the biologist, served as a medic on one such foray; he returned home an eerily altered person — was it really him? The biologist’s marriage had been an unhappy one, we learn, because of her propensity to objectify everyone and everything… but this failing is what allows her to remain psychologically intact when Area X begins to affect the rest of her team in uncanny ways. I’m reminded, actually, of Captain Kirk’s solution to the problem of alien spores that transform his crew members into blissed-out hippies (in the episode “This Side of Paradise”); he simply refuses to go with the flow. There are alien spores here, too — inside an underground structure where a mysterious organism writes biblical admonitions on the walls. Then the anthropologist goes missing; they find her body inside the structure. The psychologist vanishes, too; and soon enough, the surveyor attempts to ambush the biologist. What’s going on? The biologist doggedly tracks down clues: journals from previous expeditions, piled in a secret chamber inside a lighthouse; biological samples suggesting that the flora and fauna of Area X is not what it appears to be; a confession from the psychologist. But it’s only via cold-blooded analysis of the “brightening” that she’s undergoing that she begins to comprehend what’s really going on. Fun facts: Annihilation, which won a Nebula Award, was adapted into a 2018 film — starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Óscar Isaac — by Alex Garland. Its sequels in the Southern Reach trilogy, Authority and Acceptance, were also released in 2014.
  3. William Gibson‘s The Peripheral (2014). The first installment in Gibson’s Jackpot trilogy is a mystery thriller braiding together two stories. One of these, set perhaps thirty years in the future, depicts a pre-apocalyptic America in which “Homes” (Homeland Security) is running the show, and the denizens of small-town America acquire most goods at Hefty Mart, or else fab them at a 3D-print shop… which is where one of our protagonists, Flynne, works. Set maybe another seventy years in the future, in an all-but-deserted London, the other story line is a post-apocalyptic one. A series of events known as the Jackpot, because everything shitty that had been threatening to happen did happen, has wiped out eighty percent of the world’s population. London is controlled by “klepts” (Russian oligarchs), and our protagonist here is Wilf, an alcoholic PR man whose klept friend Lev is a “continua enthusiast.” Using Lev’s black-market time-travel tech, Wilf has hired Flynne’s brother, Burton, for a security job in what Burton believes is cyberspace. In fact, he is piloting a drone through the London of Wilf’s future… where Flynne, filling in for Burton, witnesses the nanobot murder of Wilf’s celebrity client. This leads to an assassination contract being put out on Burton, which in turn leads to some typically frantic Gibsonian action scenes… and meanwhile, Flynne is transported into the future via a peripheral (a cyborg avatar) in order to help solve the murder case! Fun facts: “If the Jackpot is going to happen,” Gibson has said in an interview, “it’s already happening. It’s been happening for at least 100 years.” Amazon has tapped Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan to develop a TV series adaptation of The Peripeheral. The second installment in the Jackpot series, Agency, was published in 2020; the third is forthcoming.
  4. M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts (2014).
  5. Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014).
  6. Matthew De Abaitua’s IF THEN (2015).
  7. Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2015). When Rosemary, an introverted young human from Mars, signs up as clerk on the patched-up Wayfarer, all she wants is the opportunity to start over. She quickly proves her value to the ship’s ragtag crew — Sissix, the female Aandrisk (reptilian) pilot; mech and comp techs Kizzy and Jenks; doctor and cook Dr. Chef; algaeist Artis; navigator Ohan; and Ashby, the ship’s captain — when they’re boarded by Akarak pirates. Later, when the the Wayfarer is offered the lucrative job of helping to build a hyperspace tunnel (allowing interstellar communications and transportation to commence) between two distant points in the galaxy, the crew thinks they’ve finally got it made… but can they survive their voyage across the war-torn galaxy? There are thrills and chills galore, here, but what makes this space opera so charming and re-readable is its characters, and specifically their generous open-mindedness regarding race, gender, sexuality, and species. The use of xe or they as pronouns is normalized, there are many formidable female characters, and perhaps most importantly we find within the Wayfarer an infectious spirit of optimism. (“It’s as though Firefly and Guardians of the Galaxy had one hyperactive and excited baby,” Andrew Liptak enthused in his review for io9.com.) And I haven’t even mentioned Lovey, the ship’s AI, who falls in love with a crewmember… and vice versa! Fun facts: Originally self-published with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Chambers’s debut novel was included in the win for the 2019 Hugo for Best Series.
  8. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora (2015). Ship, an artificially intelligent generation starship, despatched from Earth to found a human colony on Aurora, an oxygenated moon in the Tau Ceti system, is our narrator. Ship’s two enormous wheels, which are fixed around a central axis, contain twenty-four biomes, designed for maximum diversity of flora and fauna. The colonists who dwell in each ecosystem have, during the past 160 years, formed micro-cultures of their own. Instructed by Devi, the colonists’ de facto chief engineer, to tell their story, Ship chooses to focus on Devi’s mixed-up daughter, Freya — who travels from one community to another during her teenage wanderjahr, until she is called home when Devi grows sick from cancer. Ship’s account of the colonists’ resourcefulness — they’re faced with one life-threatening technical challenge after another — is gripping; and there is plenty of social commentary as well, as the two thousand colonists have very different ideas about how best to govern themselves as a group. It’s also entertaining to observe Ship get better at writing, and feeling emotions, as the story progresses. Once they arrive at Aurora, things do not go according to plan… which leads to a violent political schism among the colonists. Can Ship, who has decided that the expansionists who built it were “criminally negligent narcissists,” defuse the situation and work out a compromise between those colonists who choose to remain in the Tau Ceti system and those who want to go home? And can they even get home, at all? Undoubtedly one of the best generation-ship adventures I’ve ever read. Fun facts: Kim Stanley Robinson is best known as author of the Mars Trilogy, which is on my list of the 75 Best Diamond Age (1984–2003) sf novels. Two of the three installments in the series, Green Mars (1993) and Blue Mars (1996), won Hugo Awards.
  9. N.K. Jemisin’s Fifth Season (2015). Every few centuries, the single supercontinent of the planet on which this story takes place is rocked by earthquakes and volcano eruptions; this inevitably leads to a “fifth season” of cataclysmic climate change involving darkness, famine, and poisonous water and air. Previous civilizations have failed to survive such seasons — the planet is littered with forgotten technology, including floating obelisks. The Sanze empire, however, has harnessed the magical powers of “orogenes” — mutants who can manipulate earth and stone by absorbing or redirecting heat and energy — to forestall the next eco-catastrophe. The three stories in this, the first installment in Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, explore this world via the experiences of three female orogenes. Essun discovers that her husband, from whom she’d concealed her abilities, has murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter; she’s also attacked by a mob of her fellow villagers. As she travels in search of her daughter, it becomes apparent to Essun that a truly apocalyptic geologic upheaval is in the offing. Damaya, meanwhile, is taken by the Guardians — an ancient order of humans with supernatural abilities whose sole task is to manage and control her kind — to the Fulcrum, a training facility for young orogenes. Syenite, finally, is rescued from the Fulcrum — by a Stone Eater, a moving sculpture-like being that can move through solid rock — and transported to an island community of pirates! In the book’s final scene, we learn that the latest Fifth Season was triggered intentionally… and perhaps for a good reason. Fun facts: Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Its sequels, The Obelisk Gate (2016) and The Stone Sky (2017), won the same prize — making Jemisin the first sf author to win the Hugo three years in a row or for all three books in a trilogy.
  10. Charlie Jane Anders’s All the Birds in the Sky (2016). Anders’s debut speculative fiction novel is set in a near-future Earth facing ecological and social collapse: earthquakes, superstorms, wars. Laurence, a brilliant young scientist and inventor, has developed a wormhole generator that may help ten percent of humankind escape to a new planet… but that’s not acceptable to the planet’s secret society of witches and wizards, who intend to repair the damage done to Nature by humankind, even if it means triggering an apocalyptic “unraveling.” One of these witches, Patricia, was briefly Laurence’s best friend in middle school — before a sinister guidance counselor schemed to turn them against one another. If this sounds totally epic, it is — and yet, at the same time, the world depicted here is refreshingly… real. If this genre-hybrid narrative must be described as science fantasy, then, I’d say the fantasy is descended from E. Nesbit, while the sf is MSF-ish — which is to say, plausible and more or less realistic. As avatars (in their fictional world) of magic and science, and (in our world) of the fantasy and sf genres, we root for this dynamic duo to figure out how to resolve their differences and work together…. Will you will enjoy this coming-of-age story in which Patricia and Laurence grow up, developing their outlandish abilities along the way — while being ostracized by their peers, and misunderstood by their parents? If you believe, as I do, that the best hope of the world lies in the hands of nonconformists, eccentrics, and outcasts, then this one is for you. Fun facts: All the Birds in the Sky won the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Time magazine selected it as one of its 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time. Also highly recommended is the author’s 2019 cli-fi adventure The City In the Middle of the Night.
  11. Madeline Ashby’s Company Town (2016). New Arcadia, a a city-sized oil rig off the coast of the Canadian Maritimes, is more or less owned by Zachariah Lynch, patriarch of a wealthy family of energy barons, who has revitalized “Company Town” by using it to develop an alternative undersea reactor. Most of the city’s inhabitants have been gene-tweaked or augmented with implants — and can therefore be hacked. Go Jung-Hwa, a close-combat whiz working as a bodyguard for New Arcadia’s sex workers’ union, is an exception; despite having been born with a syndrome that leaves her seizure-prone and disfigured, she is unmodified. Hired to provide training and protection for the teenaged Joel Lynch, she finds herself not only going back to high school but dealing with death threats — seemingly coming from another timeline — that may be targeting Joel, or her sex worker friends… or Hwa herself. (Fans of the movie Outland will appreciate the isolated setting and atmosphere.) There’s a political and economic angle, here, too: Thanks to her new gig, Hwa has access to privileged information — which leads to revelations about unsettling plans in store for her community. And meanwhile an unlikely romance — with Daniel, head of Joel’s security detail — also complicates things for our emotionally shut-down heroine. Fun facts: “It’s a novel about not having access to the things that other people do that make them feel valid and desirable, like body modifications and augments and abilities and the money that makes all those things possible,” Ashby has said in an interview. “It’s a novel about never feeling good enough, about always feeling like you have to apologize just for existing….”
  12. Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein , Black Hammer (serialized 2016–present).
  13. Becky Chambers’s A Closed and Common Orbit (2016).
  14. Nisi Shawl’s Everfair (2016).
  15. Tade Thompson’s Rosewater (2016, revised 2018).
  16. Kameron Hurley’s The Stars are Legion (2017).
  17. Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous (2017). In a mega-corporation-dominated future world, Judith “Jack” Chen, an idealistic piratical scientist, reverse-engineers prescription drugs and makes them available to those who need them most. To support her Robin Hood-esque (or perhaps I should say Nemo-esque, since she travels by private submarine) exploits, she also reverse-engineers entertainment drugs — including a new one, Zacuity, that makes one’s work addictively enjoyable. When Jack’s drug leads to a social crisis, the powers that be sic Paladin, a newly created military bot, on her; Paladin is accompanied by Eliasz, a driven Polish military agent. The novel’s title is an ironic one; despite its programming, the bot is the most autonomous — and self-aware — of the book’s characters. Persuaded that because she is subverting intellectual property law that can harm people, she must be one of the good guys, Jack fails to comprehend that indentured servitude — which in the future is legal — also destroys lives. So she exploits Threezed, an indentured human described as resembling one of the handsome submissive characters in yaoi manga, who is much younger than her — and not capable of saying no to her. Eliasz, meanwhile, does recognize that harmfulness of indenture… but he can’t comprehend how intellectual property can also damage the defenseless. Also, Eliasz is a homophobe who can’t engage in a loving sexual relationship with Paladin… until the genderless bot arbitrarily self-identifies as female. It’s a complex chiasmus of a plot — and a rollicking hunted-woman adventure, at the same time. We’re all culturally programmed, is the idea — can we ever deprogram ourselves? Fun facts: Newitz’s subsequent sf novel, The Future of Another Timeline (2019), is also excellent. (Note that one of their early sf stories, “The Great Oxygen Race,” first appeared here at HILOBROW.) Please check out their nonfiction, too — including Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop Culture (2006), Scatter, Adapt, and Remember (2013), and Four Lost Cities (2021).
  18. Annie Nocenti and David Aja’s The Seeds (serialized 2018–2021). In a not-too-distant future, ecological disaster is upon us… and American society has split into those who continue to live in cities and use advanced technology… and the Luddites who live on the other side of a massive wall. On the non-Luddite side of the wall, we meet the newspaper reporter Astra, who yearns to tell a story that matters — even though her editor cares only about ratings. On the other side of the wall, we discover a strange group whose mission involves collecting “seeds” (specimens of all sorts) to preserve… for profit. One of their number, Race, is less cynical and materialistic than the others… in fact, he falls in love and plants a seed of his own. I mention love and caring because these are the true themes of this gritty, atmospheric graphic novel — serialized by Karen Berger’s Berger Books, an imprint of Dark Horse Comics. What we care about, and who we love, are what matter most. It’s a lovely message, and the visual story telling is mesmerizing too — recurring patterns and motifs remind us that ultimately we’re like bees who can’t survive if we destroy our hive. Fun facts: HILOBROW’s Adam McGovern reviewed the graphic novel upon publication. Excerpt: “Zooming in on subliminal hexagon/honeycomb motifs, crisscrossed with old-school mechanical dot-matrix tones for shading, the world of The Seeds looks like it is disintegrating before our eyes, but perpetually reconstituting.”
  19. Lydia Millet’s A Children’s Bible (2020). When a multi-family summer holiday at an East Coast beach house is disrupted by a climate-charged hurricane, the sardonic adolescent children of the group — who already despised their elders, and who are particularly incensed at their elders’ inability to take constructive action in the face of eco-catastrophe — commandeer a car and split. Yes, this is a generational parable… about the futility of trusting your elders to do the right thing for anyone other than themselves (or even for themselves). The kids wind up squatting in a farm in Pennsylvania whose wealthy owner is elsewhere; there’s an incursion of armed invaders. Millet pulls off something extraordinary here — balancing the story’s charming Ransome-ish, kids-on-the-own aspect with an increasingly ominous sense of foreboding. Our narrator, Evie (a throwback to Radium Age sf, when the female protagonist of a catastrophe story was often named Eve), is fiercely protective of her young brother, Jack — who has become fascinated by a children’s book of Bible stories, which he interprets in eccentric yet insightful ways. As a result, Millet’s story makes reference to the Hebrew Captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, the Flood, the Virgin Birth, even the Crucifixion — adding to the apocalyptic vibe. Fun facts: “I swear on a stack of copies,” writes the Washington Post reviewer, of Millet’s book, which was shortlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, “that it’s a blistering little classic: Lord of the Flies for a generation of young people left to fend for themselves on their parents’ rapidly warming planet.”

The following titles are ones I intend to read or re-read before making a selection of my favorites from this period. (Not every title here, that is, will make the final list.) I may add other titles to this list, too; it’s a work in progress.

  • Simon Stalenhag’s Tales From The Loop (2014, Swedish: Ur Varselklotet).
  • Farel Dalrymple’s The Wrenchies (2014).
  • Piers Torday’s The Dark Wild (2014).
  • Lydia Millet’s Pills and Starships (2014).
  • Charles Burns‘s Sugar Skull (2014).
  • Kevin J. Anderson’s The Dark Between the Stars (2014).
  • Grant Morrison with Ivan Reis and others’ The Multiversity (serialized 2014-2015).
  • Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine DeLandro, Cris Peters, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and Clayton Cowles’s Bitch Planet (serialized 2014-2017).
  • G. Willow Wilson with Adrian Alphona, and others’ Ms. Marvel (2014-ongoing).
  • Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword (2014).
  • Pierce Brown’s Red Rising (2014).
  • Catherynne Valente’s Radiance (2015).
  • Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves (2015).

  • Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti (2015).
  • Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Rico Renzi’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (serialized 2015–2020).
  • Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not (2015).
  • Margaret Atwood‘s The Heart Goes Last (2015).
  • Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy (2015).
  • Veeraporn Nitiprapha’s The Blind Earthworm in the Labyrinth (2015, Thai: ไส้เดือนตาบอดในเขาวงกต).
  • Claire Vaye Watkins’s Gold Fame Citrus (2015).
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time (2015).
  • Matthew De Abaitua’s The Destructives (2015).
  • Tom Taylor and David López’s All-New Wolverine (serialized 2015–2018).
  • Simon Stalenhag’s Things from the Flood (2016, Swedish: Flodskörden).
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates with Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin’s Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (serialized 2016–2021).
  • Mishell Baker’s Borderline (2016).
  • Aditi Khorana’s Mirror in the Sky (2016).
  • Basma Abdel Aziz’s The Queue (2016).
  • Malka Older’s Infomocracy (2016).
  • Ezra Claytan Daniels’s Upgrade Soul (2016).
  • Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit (2016).
  • Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter (2016).
  • N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate (2016). Hugo winner.
  • Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning (2016).
  • Ann Leckie’s Provenance (2017).
  • Charles Glaubitz’s Starseeds (2017).
  • Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes (2017).
  • John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire (2017).
  • Omar El Akkad’s American War (2017).
  • Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts (2017).
  • Jeff VanderMeer’s Borne (2017).
  • N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky (2017). Hugo winner.
  • John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire (2017).
  • JY Yang’s he Black Tides of Heaven (2017).
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140 (2017).
  • Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland’s The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. (2017).
  • Martha Wells’s All Systems Red (2017). Hugo winner.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars (2018).
  • Farel Dalrymple’s Proxima Centauri (serialized 2018 – ?).
  • Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun (2018).
  • Janelle Monáe’s album Dirty Computer (2018).
  • Olivia A. Cole’s A Conspiracy of Stars (2018).
  • Becky Chambers’s Record of a Spaceborn Few (2018).
  • Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera (2018).
  • Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam (2018).
  • Katie Williams’s Tell the Machine Goodnight (2018).
  • Vita Ayala with Emily Pearson, Jessi Jordan, Chris Shehan, Isaac Goodheart, Marissa Louise, and Jim Campbell’s The Wilds (serialized 2019).
  • Margaret Atwood‘s The Testaments (2019).
  • Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade (2019).
  • K. Ancrum’s The Weight of the Stars (2019).
  • Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire (2019). Hugo winner.
  • Charlie Jane Anders’s The City in the Middle of the Night (2019).
  • Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s This Is How You Lose the Time War (2019).
  • Annalee Newitz’s The Future of Another Timeline (2019).
  • William Gibson‘s Agency (2020).
  • Jenny Offill’s Weather (2020).
  • Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness (2020).
  • Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds (2020).
  • Nikhil Singh’s Club Ded (2020).
  • Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future (2020).
  • Yudhanjaya Wijeratne’s The Salvage Crew (2020).
  • Cadwell Turnbull’s The Lesson (2020).
  • Martha Wells’s Network Effect (2020). Hugo winner.
  • Jonathan Lethem’s The Arrest (2020).
  • Becky Chambers’s The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (2021).
  • Neal Stephenson’s Termination Shock (2021).
  • Ken Macleod’s Beyond the Hallowed Sky (2021).
  • Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife (2021).
  • Matt Bell’s Appleseed (2021).
  • Nnedi Okorafor’s Noor (2021).
  • Jeff VanderMeer’s Hummingbird Salamander (2021).
  • Rae Carson’s Any Sign of Life (2021).
  • Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow (2021).
  • Nnedi Okorafor’s Remote Control (2021).
  • Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace (2021).
  • P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn (2021).
  • Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun (2021).
  • Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars (2021).
  • Charlie Jane Anders’s Victories Greater Than Death (2021).
  • Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2022).
  • Annalee Newitz’s The Terraformers (2022).
  • Charlie Jane Anders’s Dreams Bigger Than Heartbreak (2022).
  • Alex Shvartsman’s The Middling Affliction (2022).
  • 2022 and 2023 titles TK

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JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES (IN PROGRESS) | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.