Popular SF/F/H Books of 2017

Although there’s still almost a month left in 2017, at least ten different sources have already selected their best SF/F of the year. File 770 has also posted a round-up of the year’s novellas. The SFWA has dozens of novels on the suggested reading list for Nebula voters, and the SPFBO project currently has one finalist that was published in 2017. Combining all those sources with the lists of new books posted at Locus and the new book lists posted at The Verge (including the list for December), I arrived at a list of over 700 probably Hugo-eligible titles that have ratings at Goodreads. For each title, I expressed the Goodreads rating as a percentage, squared it, and multiplied it by the log of the number of people who’ve rated the book, generating a single popularity score used to sort the lists below. This is obviously a little unfair to books that are just now coming out. I’ve also categorized the results in other ways that may be unfair:

  • I’ve removed around two dozen “general fiction” titles when I have trouble imagining recommending them on the basis of their SF/F content. For example, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders rated very highly. In spite of its Booker Prize win this year, I don’t think any SF/F blog I read has even mentioned it, and although that could be a blind spot of my own, I suspect the way the story is put together limits its appeal to genre readers. Incidentally, I think the same author’s short story “Escape from Spiderhead” is one of the best works of SF/F that I’ve ever read.
  • I’ve classified around 125 books as “young adult,” but this is often a judgment call, and I’ve neglected to distinguish middle grade from YA. To decide whether a book was aimed at younger readers, I relied in part on whether the book was shelved as young-adult at Goodreads and in part on what reviews said there about the content.
  • I’ve separated standalone and “starting-point” novels from sequels that assume knowledge of the series. What counts as a standalone or starting-point novel is debateable, and although I’ve consulted reader reviews, it isn’t always clear.
  • Finally, although I did initially look at distinguishing urban fantasy and horror from SF/F, there really weren’t enough examples of them among non-YA standalone / starting-point novels to worry about. There were well over 50 urban fantasy sequels, but only around 30 standalone or series-starting urban fantasies, most of which did not rate very well. So relatively few appear on the lists below.

Top 125 standalone or starting-point books (non-YA)

  1. Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology
  2. Mark Lawrence, Red Sister
  3. Katherine Arden, The Bear and the Nightingale
  4. Nicholas Eames, Kings of the Wyld
  5. E. William Brown, Perilous Waif
  6. John Scalzi, The Collapsing Empire
  7. Andrew Rowe, Sufficiently Advanced Magic
  8. Martha Wells, All Systems Red
  9. Naomi Alderman, The Power
  10. Brandon Sanderson, Snapshot
  11. Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland, The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.
  12. Jeff VanderMeer, Borne
  13. Omar El Akkad, American War
  14. Stephen King and Owen King, Sleeping Beauties
  15. Austin Chant, Peter Darling
  16. Daryl Gregory, Spoonbenders
  17. Andy Weir, Artemis
  18. S.A. Chakraborty, The City of Brass
  19. Catherynne M. Valente (with illustrations by Annie Wu), The Refrigerator Monologues
  20. Joe Hill, Strange Weather
  21. Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
  22. Daniel Suarez, Change Agent
  23. Ed McDonald, Blackwing
  24. Mira Grant, Into the Drowning Deep
  25. Ann Leckie, Provenance
  26. Natasha Pulley, The Bedlam Stacks
  27. Marcus Sakey, Afterlife
  28. Mur Lafferty, Six Wakes
  29. Michael Poore, Reincarnation Blues
  30. Seanan McGuire, Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day
  31. Victor LaValle, The Changeling
  32. C. Robert Cargill, Sea of Rust
  33. Kevin Hearne, A Plague of Giants
  34. Theodora Goss, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter
  35. Cory Doctorow, Walkaway
  36. Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia
  37. Kathleen A Flynn, The Jane Austen Project
  38. Ellen Klages, Passing Strange
  39. Rob Reid, After On
  40. Lara Elena Donnelly, Amberlough
  41. Kameron Hurley, The Stars Are Legion
  42. Linda Nagata, The Last Good Man
  43. Edgar Cantero, Meddling Kids
  44. Kory Shrum, Shadows in the Water
  45. Rivers Solomon, An Unkindness of Ghosts
  46. Vivian Shaw, Strange Practice
  47. Robyn Bennis, The Guns Above
  48. Kim Stanley Robinson, New York 2140
  49. Jim C. Hines, Terminal Alliance
  50. JY Yang, The Black Tides of Heaven
  51. Curtis Craddock, An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
  52. Dan Moren, The Caledonian Gambit
  53. Nicky Drayden, The Prey of Gods
  54. Peter S. Beagle, In Calabria
  55. Daniel H. Wilson, The Clockwork Dynasty
  56. Kat Howard, An Unkindness of Magicians
  57. Caitlín R. Kiernan, Agents of Dreamland
  58. Ruthanna Emrys, Winter Tide
  59. Karin Tidbeck, Amatka
  60. Annalee Newitz, Autonomous
  61. D.J. Butler, Witchy Eye
  62. Angus Watson, You Die When You Die
  63. Sarah Gailey, River of Teeth
  64. Jeremy Robert Johnson, Entropy in Bloom
  65. Mira Grant, Final Girls
  66. Jacqueline Carey, Miranda and Caliban
  67. Alex Wells, Hunger Makes the Wolf
  68. Hugh Howey, Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories
  69. Pajtim Statovci, My Cat Yugoslavia
  70. Ann Claycomb, The Mermaid’s Daughter
  71. Zachary Mason, Void Star
  72. Tade Thompson, The Murders of Molly Southbourne
  73. Tom Merritt, Pilot X
  74. Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Beautiful Ones
  75. Michael Johnston, Soleri
  76. Anna Stephens, Godblind
  77. Marina J. Lostetter, Noumenon
  78. Naomi Kritzer, Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories
  79. Elizabeth Bear, The Stone in the Skull
  80. Tom Holt, The Management Style of the Supreme Beings
  81. Corey J. White, Killing Gravity
  82. Scott Oden, A Gathering of Ravens
  83. Tim Pratt, The Wrong Stars
  84. Tracy Townsend, The Nine
  85. Sofia Samatar, Tender: Stories
  86. Dave Hutchinson, Acadie
  87. Daniel Kehlmann (translated by Ross Benjamin), You Should Have Left
  88. Gregory Benford, The Berlin Project
  89. Giorgio de Maria (translated by Ramon Glazov), The Twenty Days of Turin
  90. Stephen Graham Jones, Mapping the Interior
  91. Spencer Ellsworth, Starfire: A Red Peace
  92. Fonda Lee, Jade City
  93. David Drake, The Spark
  94. Orson Scott Card, Children of the Fleet
  95. Frank Chadwick, Chain of Command
  96. David Walton, The Genius Plague
  97. Angela Roquet, Blood Vice
  98. Marshall Ryan Maresca, The Holver Alley Crew
  99. James Brogden, Hekla’s Children
  100. K.J. Parker, Mightier Than the Sword
  101. Carrie Vaughn, Bannerless
  102. J-F Dubeau, A God in the Shed
  103. Charlie Jane Anders, Six Months, Three Days, Five Others
  104. Walter Jon Williams, Quillifer
  105. Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin (eds.), The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories
  106. Emma Newman, Brother’s Ruin
  107. John Crowley, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr
  108. Molly Tanzer, Creatures of Will and Temper
  109. John Kessel, The Moon and the Other
  110. Paul Cornell, Chalk
  111. Chris Sharp, Cold Counsel
  112. Cherie Priest, Brimstone
  113. Dale Lucas, First Watch
  114. Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton (eds.), Haunted Nights
  115. Gardner Dozois (ed.), The Book of Swords
  116. Jeannette Ng, Under the Pendulum Sun
  117. Brad Abraham, Magicians Impossible
  118. Margaret Killjoy, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion
  119. Christopher Golden, Ararat
  120. Tim Lebbon, Relics
  121. Maggie Shen King, An Excess Male
  122. Anna Smith Spark, The Court of Broken Knives
  123. Steve Erickson, Shadowbahn
  124. Anne Corlett, The Space Between the Stars
  125. Joseph Brassey, Skyfarer

Top 25 sequels (non-YA)

  1. Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Fate
  2. Brandon Sanderson, Oathbringer
  3. Ilona Andrews, White Hot
  4. Ilona Andrews, Wildfire
  5. V.E. Schwab, A Conjuring of Light
  6. Patricia Briggs, Silence Fallen
  7. N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky
  8. Karen Marie Moning, Feversong
  9. Dennis Taylor, All These Worlds
  10. Anne Bishop, Etched in Bone
  11. Brian McClellan, Sins of Empire
  12. Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Miracles
  13. Faith Hunter, Cold Reign
  14. Marko Kloos, Fields of Fire
  15. Jodi Taylor, And the Rest is History
  16. Michael J. Sullivan, Age of Swords
  17. Sylvain Neuvel, Waking Gods
  18. Seanan McGuire, The Brightest Fell
  19. Peter V. Brett, The Core
  20. Alice Hoffman, The Rules of Magic
  21. Benedict Jacka, Bound
  22. John Connolly, A Game of Ghosts
  23. Nnedi Okorafor, Home
  24. Glynn Stewart, Duchess of Terra
  25. Diana Gabaldon, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall

Top 25 YA standalone or starting-point books

  1. Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
  2. Marie Lu, Warcross
  3. Stephanie Garber, Caraval
  4. Sarah Rees Brennan, In Other Lands
  5. Pittacus Lore, Generation One
  6. Christina Henry, Lost Boy
  7. Claudia Gray, Defy the Stars
  8. Emily R. King, The Hundredth Queen
  9. Veronica Roth, Carve the Mark
  10. Ibi Zoboi, American Street
  11. Wen Spencer, The Black Wolves of Boston
  12. Lisa Maxwell, The Last Magician
  13. Maggie Stiefvater, All the Crooked Saints
  14. Alastair Reynolds, Revenger
  15. S. Jae-Jones, Wintersong
  16. Ryan Graudin, Invictus
  17. Julie C. Dao, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
  18. Garth Nix, Frogkisser!
  19. Kelley Armstrong, Missing
  20. Vic James, Gilded Cage
  21. Jennifer Trafton (with illustrations by Benjamin Schipper), Henry and the Chalk Dragon
  22. Cindy Pon, Want
  23. Elle Katharine White, Heartstone
  24. Laurie Forest, The Black Witch
  25. Jodi Meadows, Before She Ignites

Top 25 YA sequels

  1. Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin
  2. Cassandra Clare, Lord of Shadows
  3. Sarah J. Maas, Tower of Dawn
  4. Jay Kristoff, Godsgrave
  5. Philip Pullman, The Book of Dust
  6. V.E. Schwab, Our Dark Duet
  7. Victoria Aveyard, King’s Cage
  8. Seanan McGuire, Down Among the Sticks and Bones
  9. Megan Whalen Turner, Thick as Thieves
  10. Susan Dennard, Windwitch
  11. Elizabeth May, The Fallen Kingdom
  12. Alison Goodman, The Dark Days Pact
  13. Libba Bray, Before the Devil Breaks You
  14. Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, The Silver Mask
  15. Rachel Caine, Ash and Quill
  16. Mercedes Lackey, Apex
  17. Scott Sigler, Alone
  18. Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Warrior
  19. April Daniels, Sovereign
  20. Dan Wells, Nothing Left to Lose
  21. Isaac Marion, The Burning World
  22. Sarah Beth Durst, The Reluctant Queen
  23. Arwen Elys Dayton, Disruptor
  24. Kathleen Baldwin, Refuge for Masterminds
  25. Kate Elliott, Buried Heart