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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Best Contemporary Science Fiction Poll (or Series)––Nominations Needed (and New Rules!)

Edit: The nomination process is closed. Come vote in our poll.

We're going back to some of our most popular polls of the past few years, but this time we're doing it with lots more voters (and we'll be keeping the results on display.) It's all part of our new Sticky Polls--the 2019 roll out for polls here at Writing About Writing.

To start, the very latest in science fiction.

The Rules (pay close attention because some of them are new):

  1. There is a new category of nomination. It is NOT a nomination for the poll. It is an UNDERSUNG HERO nomination. Basically it is for books you think are great, tragically overlooked, but maybe not necessarily the besty bestest best. I will be listing these books along with the poll results. However, if you nominate a book it will not be considered for the undersung hero list and if you shout out something for an undersung hero, it will not be counted as a nomination. (Someone else can nominate it.)
  2. As always, I leave the niggling over the definition of genres to your best judgement because I'd rather be inclusive. If you want to nominate Worm, I'm not going to argue, but you have to convince others if you're going to get on the poll--nevermind win.
  3. Your book must be copyrighted 2009 or later. If it is a series, the ENTIRE SERIES must be written after 2009.  Of course you can nominate the most recent novel in a series if you are trying to work around the rules, but not the series itself unless it's entirely published in the last ten years. No small number of shout outs to Discworld have included only the books from the appropriate time frame. Why should we stop now?
  4. You get to mention two (2) books or series. That's it. Two. You can do ONE nomination for the poll and ONE UNDERSUNG HERO.  Or you can do TWO nominations. Or you can do TWO undersung heroes. But two is the total. If you nominate three or more I will NOT take any nominations beyond the second that you suggest. I'm sorry that I'm a stickler on this, but I compile these polls myself and it's a pain when people drop a megalodon list every decent book they can remember of in the genre. It is up to you how to divy your two choices.
  5. You may (and absolutely should) second AS MANY nominations of others as you wish. THEY WILL NOT GET ONTO THE POLL WITHOUT SECONDS. You can agree with or cheer on the undersung heroes, but they won't "transform" into nominations unless someone else nominates them as "best" (and then they get a second). Also stop back in and see if anyone has put up something you want to see go onto the poll. 
  6. Put your nominations HERE. I will take nominations only as comments and only on this post. (No comments on FB posts or G+ will be considered nominations.) If you can't comment for some reason because of Blogger, send me an email (chris.brecheen@gmail.com) stating exactly that, and I will personally put your comment up. I am not likely to see a comment on social media even if it says you were unable to leave a comment here. 
  7. You are nominating WRITTEN genre fiction, not their movie portrayals. If you thought Matt Damon was great in The Martian, but you didn't really care for the book, nominate something else.
  8. This is probably well known by vets of this blog by now, but there will be no more endless elimination rounds. I will take somewhere between 8-20 best performing titles and at MOST run a single semifinal round. So second the titles you want even if they already have one. (Yes, I guess that would make them thirds, fourths, etc...) The competition on THIS poll is going to be FIERCE so please come back and second, third, fourth, and twenty-fifth everything you want to see go on to the poll. You may have to get your friends involved. Buy them a pizza. Make it real. 


  1. Max Gladstone Craft Sequence; Malka Older Centenal File

  2. Alastair Reynolds Revenger and Shadow Captain

  3. The Legacy Hunter series by Chris Heinicke and Kate Reedwood

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  5. Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem trilogy.

  6. Ten minutes on Mars by Jonathan Fisher.

  7. The Legacy Hunter series is fantastic.

  8. Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem trilogy

  9. The Expanse series - James SA Corey
    Saturn Run - Ctein and John Sanford

  10. I would second the Three Body Problem but a second is already in place.

    And I will second Ancillary, because duh.

  11. Aside from my seconds, I'll nominate "The Martian" by Weir, and, as "Unsung hero" (which is a fair statement of its visibility in the US) 1Q84.

  12. Nominations:
    The Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor
    Redshirts by John Scalzi

    Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    Imperial Radch Trilogy by Anne Leckie

  13. Best series: The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older
    Best novel: The first of that series, Infomocracy

  14. The Host by Stephenie Meyer (Yes folks, I did nominate a Stephanie Meyer novel. Sue me.) Or rather.... I would have but I just looked and saw that it was written in 2008 which is now more than 10 years ago....

  15. Submission by someone who couldn't leave a comment on blogger.

    "I would like to second the nomination of The Legacy Hunter series written by C. Heinicke & K. Reedwood."

  16. The Broken Empire series (The Thorn Prince, The Thorn King, and The Thorn Emperor) by Mark Lawrence. It appears to be fantasy rather than science fiction on the surface, but it is revealed to be... much more than it seems (for people who have read it - "builders suns", Fexler Brews, the wheel, etc.)

    It is a brutal, dark, miserable, sadistic, awful story that spends its time inside the head of a young teenager (and follows his growing into a man) who is possibly psychotic and sociopathic, definitely violent, egotistical, and horrific. But his story is unfolded so brilliantly across the books, and the threads are all woven in such a way that it was utterly compelling and moving and tragic and awful and occasionally beautiful.

    There are scenes in these books that gave me nightmares... for weeks. I will not reread these (though I do read everything else by this author!) I don't know if I could actually recommend anyone actually reads these books (I was ready to burn the first one at the opening scene, but a VERY trusted friend convinced me it was worth forcing myself through the first few chapters).

    But I felt that the author's ability to make this... horrific character (who remains horrific, he literally never stops being horrific, and the story is told from his point of view) still compelling, and even, maybe, for a glimpse of a moment here and there almost sympathetic, or at least... comprehensible... was amazing. I was in awe at the crafting of this story (across the three books).

    If you dare risk delving into these books, be warned that the opening scene is all kinds of content warnings. After that, it's not going to get much better. But if you make it to the end of the last book, it might, in its conclusion, might be worth the brutality of the journey. Maybe.

    It is a testament to this author that I can find a character so horrific and a story so brutal, yet come to the end with something that might almost be sympathy, or at least... empathy for this gut-wrenching, dark story and this deeply terrifyingly, depressingly dark character.

  17. The nominations:
    The Martian, by Andy wier.
    The undersung hero: the coincidence makers, by yoav blum. Maybe will not count as sci-do, but still.

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  19. Hegemony, by Mark Kalinda, for the hard sci-fi space battles and exploration of mind uploading.
    Unsung Hero: A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, for a great ensemble story about the day to day lives of an interspecies starship crew.

  20. Nominations:
    Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines
    Wool by Hugh Howie

    The Expanse Series by James Corey

  21. Seconding Yoon Ha Lee’s work. Ninefox Gambit was the most unique book I’ve read in a long while.

  22. Noumenon by Marina J Losetta. (It’s sort of like Rendezvous With Rama meets Cloud Atlas)
    Clade by James Bradley. (If you’re not already scared of climate change, this will do it.)

  23. The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

    They're novellas, but pack a punch in few pages

  24. Let me nominate Arabella of Mars by David Levine.
    For UNSUNG HERO: The Manifold Worlds series by Foz Meadows. Super cool, super inclusive; kinda on the border of sci-fi/fantasy but worth the read.

  25. If it can be a series that's been going longer than ten years but had its last book come out in the last decade, The Obernewtyn Chronicles don't get enough love!

  26. I second The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey SO HARD.

  27. I nominate Amatka by Karin Tidbeck. I think it has the chance to become a great classic.

  28. I will personally second your Leckie nomination. Good shit!