Best Fiction From 2017

My favourite new reads in 2017
I only ended up reading four new novels this year, so these are (by default) my best fiction from 2017.  I would highly recommend the first two to almost anyone , while the second two are possibly more niche reads that will be loved by many readers of science fiction.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
(Book Depository)
Even though I am not a massive Jane Austen fan, I am a huge Connie Willis fan, and this time travel novel was similar in some ways to Connie Willis’s Oxford novels.  It was contemporary in tone, really brought the Austen family to life, and provided wonderful insight into the social history of Regency England.  It also contains a gorgeous easter egg for any fans of A. S. Byatt’s Possession.

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson
(Apple iBooks)
One of the few times in living memory that I have read an entire novel in less than 24 hours.  Fred Lothian’s cramped retirement village unit and his inability to address significant failure of character in his own life sucked me in, and I didn’t come up for air until I was finished.  Deeply satisfying.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland
(Public Library)
While there were lots of things that were far from perfect about this time travel novel (that is actually not in fact a time travel novel, but a novel about the history of science, magic and the systemic failures of bureaucracy), there was an absolutely sublime Viking raid on Walmart that made the hard slog totally worth it.  Mostly, this novel made me miss the wonderful Kage Baker and her Company novels, with their secret society of time traveling cyborgs.

Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald
(Kinokuniya)
As a long time fan of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars books, I think I can safely say that Ian MacDonald’s Luna books are a worthy inheritor of the kind of epic political science fiction that Kim Stanley Robinson is celebrated for.  An ensemble cast with complex back stories and a fully realised frontier setting sucked me into the first book, Luna: New Moon, but it was the civil war in Luna: Wolf Moon that made this one of those books you just couldn’t put down.  Game of Thrones on the moon, indeed.

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Still on My To Read List for 2017

Still lots of books I didn’t get to, and I am ashamed to say some of them I have wanted to read since at least 2015!

Zero K by Don DeLillo
It’s sitting on my phone waiting to be read.  I should probably get myself a paperback.  An unread ebook is one way to immortality, I guess.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Victorian England, Naturalism.  I don’t know much about this book yet, but it popped up on lots of favourite lists at the end of 2016, and those two keywords are enough to pique my interest.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
This seems like a logical next read after The Last Painting of Sara de Vos for anyone who wants more of the Dutch Golden Age.  I am hoping for Dorothy Dunnett meets A. S. Byatt.

The Girls by Emma Cline
Much anticipated in 2016, but didn’t really cross my radar or catch my interest at the time.  Now that I have read and loved Commonwealth, a dangerously edged tale of adolescence at the violent end of the 1960s sounds perfect.

A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
To tie me over until The Mirror and the Light comes out, an epic French Revolution tale from a Booker Prize winner sounds wonderful.  Nobody makes historical figures quite so human or vulnerable as Hilary Mantel.

And the ones from last year that I didn’t make it to, but that are still high on my list…

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
A fictional account of the reintroduction of wild wolves in the UK? Wolves, English Gentry and Country Estates, Female Scientist Protagonist, Returning home to family ghosts? What’s still not to love? I don’t know why I haven’t got to this yet, but did make sure I set it for Book Clubs in 2017 (just to make sure I finally read it)

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
One of the most popular science fiction novels in China, and increasingly hyped now that it has been published and widely read in English.  I still hope that the Cultural Revolution background story for this novel will be the driver for some really serious political science fiction.