This is the fourth time I've attempted to put together a list of the books I am most looking forward to in the coming year.
If you take a look at the previous three lists you'll note that there are two particular novels which are frequent inhabitants of these lists. Hopefully 2011 is the year both are completed and published. I feel hopeful.
1. A Memory of Light, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (??): I expect that it is more likely we’ll see this final Wheel of Time novel in early 2012, but on the off chance that it is published this year…well, this is any year's #1.
2. A Dance With Dragons, by George R. R. Martin (??): I will hold out hope every year that GRRM finishes the book and we get to read it. I am due a series re-read to prepare, but I’m waiting until the announcement is made. I have faith like a child.
3. The Sea Thy Mistress, by Elizabeth Bear (February): To be fair, I’ve already read this one and it is an outstanding conclusion to Bear’s Edda of Burdens trilogy. You really need to have read All the Windwracked Stars and By the Mountain Bound to get the full emotional impact for the character arcs, but it is well worth the journey.
4. Machine, by Jennifer Pelland (August): I love, love, love, love Jennifer Pelland’s short fiction. I’ve been raving about it since I read “Captive Girl” on the Nebula ballot a few years back, have searched it out wherever I could find, and picked up her collection Unwelcome Bodies. Debut novel. EXCITED.
5. The Coldest War, by Ian Tregillis (October): The second volume of the Milkweed Triptych, following 2010’s excellent Bitter Seeds. Must. Read.
6. The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch (June?): As much as I want to read this next adventure of Locke Lamora, I want Scott Lynch to be healthy and whole. If that means that we have to wait longer for future volumes, so be it. I won’t be mad, though, if Lynch has finished the book and we see publication in 2011.
7. Grail, by Elizabeth Bear (March): The conclusion to the Jacob’s Ladder trilogy. Dust and Chill were excellent and I yearn to see how Bear wraps this up.
8. Eclipse Four, by Jonathan Strahan (May): Might I state for the record just how highly I think of Strahan’s work on the Eclipse series?
9. Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, by Genevieve Valentine (May): I have no idea what this is about, though I’ll hazard a guess that a circus of some sort will figure into it. What I know is that I’ve been following Genevieve Valentine’s short fiction for several years now and have been hoping for a novel. Here it is. Also, Kelly Barnhill has already read it and loved it, and we seem to have some overlapping taste in what we find delightful.
10. The Diviner, by Melanie Rawn (August): Out of all of the books listed here, and even out of all the books NOT listed here, I never expected to learn that Melanie Rawn had written The Diviner, let alone finished it. The Diviner is the prequel to the outstanding generational fantasy novel The Golden Key co-written by Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott. With everything that has gone on with Rawn and her recent focus on the Spellbinder novels, I just assumed this was one of those ideas that just wasn’t going to come to fruition. I am SO glad that it did.
11. The Tempering of Men, by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear (August): The follow up to A Companion of Wolves. That novel was all sorts of awesome. As if I needed a reason to anticipate a novel written, in part, by Elizabeth Bear.
12. Dark Jenny, by Alex Bledsoe (April): It’s a new Eddie LaCrosse novel. Have sword, will travel; it’s a mystery of sorts set in a fantasy world. Think Glen Cook’s Garrett PI novels, only Eddie can be more of a bruiser. Still got plenty of quick wit. I already have a copy of this.
13. His Father’s Fists, by Matthew Stover: It’s a new Caine novel from Matthew Stover. You know, the guy who wrote Heroes Die, The Blade of Tyshalle, and Caine Black Knife? Yeah, him.
14. City of Ruins, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (May): This is Rusch’s follow up to the outstanding Diving Into the Wreck. Another story about the explorer / scavenger Boss. Yes, please.
15. Fort Freak, by GRRM (June): New Wild Cards.
16. Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente (April): I confess, the cover art is doing a lot of selling here. Deathless is tied to Russian folklore and the product description says “All told, Deathless is a collision of magical history and actual history, of revolution and mythology, of love and death, which will bring Russian myth back to life in a stunning new incarnation.” We should also expect more of Valente’s stunningly beautiful and descriptive prose. That’s just my assumption.
17. Raising Stony Mayhall, by Daryl Gregory (July): Author of Pandemonium and The Devil’s Alphabet. Gregory isn’t working with a series, but each volume is a gem. You want to watch this guy.
18. Never at Home, by L Timmel Duchamp (June): Listed on the Locus list as a collection. Duchamp's Marq'ssan Cycle is excellent, and I'm always on the eye out for more from Duchamp.
19. The Mostly True Story of Jack, by Kelly Barnhill (August): Honestly, I don’t really care what this is about. I’m going to read it. Kelly Barnhill is a friend and she’s absolutely delightful, and I’ve enjoyed what stories of hers I’ve had the chance to read. I’m thrilled that her first novel is coming out this year.
I could probably make another list or three of all the books I'm looking forward to. Here, I've mostly stuck with the SFF genre. Step outside of the genre, and the list will grow exponentially.
So. What do YOU want to read this year?