The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor
A genetically modified woman is the protagonist of this Afrofuturist prequel to Who Fears Death, Okorafor’s compulsively readable post-apocalyptic vision of epic fantasy. The setting and protagonists — a biracial east African young woman and her fellowship that grew out of a core group of childhood girlfriends — make the 2011 World Fantasy Award winner totally fresh in spite of the use of many traditional epic fantasy tropes, and this mythic sci-fi prequel is at the top of my 2015 must-read list.
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
In an alternate Hollywood in an alternate universe in which all the planets are inhabited, Severin is a rebellious documentary filmmaker whose project, in which she investigates the disappearance of divers on an oceanic Venus, may be her last. I highly anticipate next year’s Fairyland book, but this “decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery” — I don’t even know what that means, but yes.
The Year’s Notable Feminist Science Fiction, Volume 1 edited by Nisi Shawl
I can’t wait to see what Nisi Shawl, co-founder of the Carl Brandon Society and editor of the Bloodchildren anthology, selects for Aqueduct Press’ first feminist SFF collection. You can nominate 2014 short stories for consideration here.
Labyrinthian by Sunny Moraine
Did I mention I love the combination of mythic fiction and science fiction? This retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur is part space opera, part love story. The author’s short fiction I’ve read, in which an uncomplicated genre concept is a backdrop for complex characters and the relationships between them, convinced me to stray from my comfort zone (i.e. ladies) to read this m/m romance in space.
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Hwa is the only human that isn’t part cyborg on the oil rig in which she lives in this novel of genetic enhancements, far futures, and a time-traveling serial killer. Winning.