2023 Recommended SFF List

And it's time for a new page for the new year! 



The Infinite, Ada Hoffman (4 of 5 stars, full review here). (This complex book wraps up the many plot and character threads in the Outside trilogy, bringing one of the most innovative science fiction series of recent years to a satisfying conclusion.)

Children of Memory, Adrian Tchaikovsky (4 of 5 stars, full review here). (This is the last book in the Children of Time trilogy, and a bit old fashioned as it focuses on SFF ideas and concepts, as opposed to the ongoing The Final Architecture series, which is much more character focused. For me, the latter has the edge in quality, but don't skip over this one. There are discussions of personhood and sentience, and a pivotal plot point involves the notion of the universe being a virtual reality computer simulation. It's the kind of dense, chewy SF that demands and rewards patience.)

From Interzone Magazine Issue 294 January 2023:

Novelette (there are no word counts in the magazine, or on the website that I can find, but I think that's what this is):

"Murder by Proxy" by Philip Fracassi. This is a long story with a noir/horror edge. The tone is set immediately, with the protagonist's cynical, world-weary voice. Granted, this is bordering on cliche and nothing we haven't heard countless times before. Still, as the story goes along it gets more interesting and gradually sets itself apart, especially with the introduction of the AI antagonist and the touch of the supernatural in the protagonist's phobia of puppets. The author does a very good job of describing how creepy toys can be. 

Short Stories:

"The Coming of the Extroverts" by Daniel Bennett. This is a shorter, cyberpunkish story with a protagonist (amusingly) named Moog. (Somebody remembers the Moog synthesizer, eh?) It has a nice twist to it, and it's all there in the opening sentences. The ending is also a clever little tip to UFO buffs and X-Files fans. 

"The Building Across the Street" by R.T. Ester. This is an absorbing little onion of a story. It gradually peels the layers back on an interstellar mystery, with the setting serving up a side of dystopia.

"Last Act of the Revolution" by Louise Hughes. This is a quiet character study asking an interesting question: what happens to the fiery revolutionary when she can't let go of all the years of fighting, now that she has attained her goal? I think this is my favorite story in the issue. 


The Keeper's Six, Kate Elliott (4 of 5 stars, full review here). Combine excellent worldbuilding with a sixty-year-old female protagonist who goes on a quest to protect her son and grandchildren, squaring off against a dragon in the process, and you have a winner.


The Outside trilogy, Ada Hoffman (see review of the final book above). 

Children of Time trilogy, Adrian Tchaikovsky (see review of final book above).

The Last of Us, HBO, ep 3, "Long Long Time." and ep 5, "Endure and Survive."  (If you aren't crying your eyes out at the end of ep 3, I don't know what to tell you. This beautiful, heartbreaking love story in the midst of a fungal zombie apocalypse sets the bar for good TV for the rest of the year.) (Ep 5 is another stunner, possibly more heartwrenching than ep 3, with an amazing action set piece that shows how horrifying and unstoppable the fungal zombies in this world are.)

Star Trek: Picard Season 3 Ep 4, "No Win Scenario." (I wasn't sure if I would watch this season of Picard at all, but it's so far proven to be stronger than the misbegotten Season 2, in spite of the showrunner's wallowing in nostalgia by bringing back nearly everyone from The Next Generation. This episode, directed by Jonathan Frakes, is a taut action story that also makes time for several important character moments.)

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