The Great SF/F Novels of the Post-Millenium?


There have been a lot of lists recently of SF/F books everyone should read from *insert older decade here.*  While I enjoy these lists — occasionally you discover something new or unusual — I’m always driven to annoyance by the endless nostalgia for the “good ole days.”  Don’t get me wrong here.  I don’t hate the classics.  Some of the best works of SF/F come from before my time.  But I think we need to have more discussions about the works being produced now.  Maybe that’s because I like to pretend that I’ll have a bead on what will be remembered 50 years from now.  Or maybe I like seeing what people feel are great works of SF/F from the 2000s (ish) so I can rub my chin and ponder.  It doesn’t really matter.

Today’s post is about this very question:

What do you think are the great works of science fiction and fantasy from the post-millenium period (the 2000s to the present)?  Why?

Some rules:

  1. They obviously have to have been originally released at some point between 2000 and the present.  Re-releases or re-writes or pickups of self-published books published prior to that do not count.
  2. “Great” should be taken to mean “a book that contributes to the genre in some significant way.”  Interpret that how you will.  Entertainment value, however, is not enough on its own.
  3. The books must be science fiction or fantasy.  I will not define what these mean; we can hash out suspect entries in the comments if people feel the need to do so.
  4. The publisher or marketing strategy for the book is not strictly relevant.  If a great SF novel was published as a literary work in the general fiction section, then so be it.

The comments are yours.  Suggest away.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

4 thoughts on “The Great SF/F Novels of the Post-Millenium?

  1. I don't think there have been many. For my money, two stick out more than any other:

    The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
    The Scar by China Mieville

    These two books both reinvigorated rotting genres (SF/F respectively). They mixed great prose with great characters and great stories. Changed the face of literature, in my opinion

  2. So I made a list of books that I thought people would find important to the genre, and narrowed it down to just the ones I'd read.

    Clarke – Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
    Doctorow – Little Brother
    Gaiman – American Gods
    McKinley – Sunshine
    Mieville – The City & the City
    Moon – Speed of Dark
    Pratchett – I Shall Wear Midnight
    Pratchett – Night Watch
    Sanderson – Mistborn: The Final Empire
    Stross – The Atrocity Archives
    Williams – This Is Not A Game

    Doctorow and Williams both made good use of emerging technology. Both Pratchett books made me cry despeite being comedy. Sanderson and Mieville blew my mind with their hook concepts. McKinley is what modern vampire novels SHOULD look like. Stross made Lovecraft intriguing. Moon wrote an autistic POV character. Clarke's doorstopper was an amazing addition to the fantasy genre and I'm not sure we'll see its like again. Gaiman is, well, Gaiman. American Gods is no Neverwhere but it still stands out.

  3. I didn't like Anathem all that much, but I agree it should be on the list. I've heard good things about the Quantum Thief but haven't read it. I liked The Scar, but I feel like City&City is even better.

    Additions from my bookshelf include Soulless (the best of the steampunk books, in my opinion), His Majesty's Dragon (a well thought out alternate history), and Fledgling (noteworthy because it was originally a web serial).

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