Notable SF/F of 2013

In 2012 and 2013, I tracked all the SF/F releases mentioned on SFSignal’s monthly round-ups of new books, and I gathered Goodreads scores for all of them and re-ranked them by the square of the score (expressed as a percentage) times the log of the number of people submitting ratings.

Defining SF/F for this purpose involved tons of purely subjective and terribly biased judgments, but the data suggested that either young adult and urban fantasy fiction are objectively better than SF/F that doesn’t qualify for those labels or else (far more likely) some selection bias or differences in their audiences’ judgment criteria cause the genres to be rated on different scales. So I tried to remove UF/YA, at least for this project. I removed sequels for the same reason. I also removed horror, new age, and mainstream allegorical fiction. And of course I removed reprints (though not translations or novels published earlier in the UK).

If the list of things I removed isn’t enough to make this project dubious, I should add that I’ve read half the books that popped up as notable for 2012, and I wouldn’t say this effort helped me in finding the ones I liked most–I’d have found them by other means anyway. I’ve also read about a third of the books on the 2013 list, and I could have done without many of them too. That’s sort of the backstory to why I’ve begun a different experiment, reading so many sample chapters for new books instead of going by Goodreads scores. Goodreads scores have given me interesting results under other circumstances, but I’ll probably discontinue this particular way of using them.

Anyway, with those caveats in mind, the top 25 results for 2013 are below, and from what I know, these books all merit general notice, even if I’m not the ideal reader for all of them.

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni
Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
Brian McClellan, Promise of Blood
Miles Cameron, The Red Knight
Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Guy Gavriel Kay, River of Stars
Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice
Django Wexler, The Thousand Names
Yangsze Choo, The Ghost Bride
Marcus Sakey, Brilliance
Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls
Wesley Chu, The Lives of Tao
Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
Rachel Bach, Fortune's Pawn
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fall of Arthur
Mira Grant, Parasite
Donato Carrisi, The Lost Girls of Rome
Jason M. Hough, The Darwin Elevator
Nathan Ballingrud, North American Lake Monsters: Stories
Catherynne M. Valente, Six-Gun Snow White
Nicola Griffith, Hild
Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds
Robert Jackson Bennett, American Elsewhere
Will McIntosh, Love Minus Eighty