Some of us at Shoreline Base have managed to pull ourselves out of the festivities and merriment long enough to share with you the best science fiction books we read this year. Some were published this year, others scrambled to the top of reading lists during what future historians will call ‘The Year We Don’t Talk About.’ Hopefully you can find something here to get you through the January blues and Dry February (if you’re that way inclined, personally February in Scotland strikes me as the one month when alcohol should be reclassified as a human right) but if not, check back through our reviews archive, and make sure you’ve got issue 6, fresh off the press. After the year that was, many of us want to move to the other side of a galaxy far far away, rather than simply read about it. However until Elon Musk tells us it’s time to put our seat backs in the upright position and our tray tables away, mental escapism is all we have. Enjoy:

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
Ecco, 2014
Nominated by Monica Burns

Don’t look outside. If you do, you’ll go mad, you’ll kill people – even the ones you love – and then you’ll die. To be on the safe side, just keep your nose in this book for the entire day and don’t even look up. Bird Box is that gripping, it won’t be too difficult!

 

Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen & Salvador Larocca
Marvel, 2016
Nominated by Chris Heyman

My pick would have to be Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca which concluded a twenty-five issue comic series this year. The joy of this modern archetype returning to form was tremendous and a reminder that darkness and a sense of fun are not mutually exclusive.

 

Starfield by Duncan Lunan (editor)
The Orkney Press, 1989
Nominated by Chris Kelso

I’ll go for Starfield, an anthology edited by Duncan Lunan. I picked it up second-hand on the Internet and didn’t have any expectations, but it was fantastic! It originally came out in the late 80’s and for some reason flew under the radar! There are some great stories by Alasdair Gray and Chris Boyce, a real hidden gem!

 

The Folger Variation & Other Lies by Chris Kelso
Nominated by Noel Chidwick
Published by Weirdo Magnet. To be published in digital formats by Shoreline of Infinity Publications on 1st Feb 2017

You’re hauled into the tale by the lapels, and kicked out at the end with a firm foot up your backside. You start by playing Russian Roulette with jazz playing Pancake Patterson and you’re dragged inside a time-shifting, SF-noir short novel written so tightly you can barely breathe.

 

Aurorarama (The Mysteries of New Venice #1) by Jean-Christophe Valtat
Melville House, 2012
Nominated by M. Luke McDonnell

I picked up Aurorarama a few years ago but didn’t read it until recently. Wow. Just wow. Sex, drugs, revolutionaries, ghosts, dirigibles… the book takes place in an alternate history in an arctic city in 1908. This book isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to be willing to get about a quarter of the way through before you have any idea of what is going on. Don’t give up! It is so beautifully written. Enjoy the pages and the mystery and don’t worry if you catch only glimpses of the plot.

 

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
Head of Zeus, 2016
Nominated by Iain Maloney

Ken Liu may be the only person who can lay claim to a fantastic 2016. Four books out in one year – The Wall of Storms the second part of his Dandelion Dynasty series (to be reviewed by Shoreline in the new year), his translation of Death’s End the concluding part of Cixin Liu’s wonderful Three Body trilogy (also to be reviewed by Shoreline in the new year) and as editor of Invisible Planets, an anthology of Chinese science fiction – but it is this short story collection that really blew me away. Complete control over form, fluid movement between styles and genres, and a keen understanding that literature can be both entertaining and elucidating. My full review is here.