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