Monday, December 29, 2014

The Top Nine Author Discoveries of 2014

Monday, December 29, 2014
It seems I have not put together one of these lists in several years, the most recent being 2011.  My mistake. But, since we are coming to the end of another year, it's time to start reflecting on all of the awesome stuff that I've read throughout the year.  This has been a year for discovering authors I should have read twenty years ago, but for no reason I can articulate, did not.  It is also a year for discovering some of the hotter new authors. 

Here then, are my top nine author discoveries of 2014. In the spirit of acknowledging that there is always something or someone I’ve missed, either by a slip of memory or just lack of opportunity, the traditional tenth spot on my list remains blank.

1. Ann Leckie: I've been familiar with Ann Leckie for years, having read her short fiction and eagerly following her excellent short fiction zine GigaNotoSaurus while she was the editor.  To that point, Leckie isn't really an author "discovery", but then came Ancillary Justice (my review) and the follow up Ancillary Sword and holy crap, you can still be absolutely blown away and amazed by this wonderful writer who you knew was good but still didn't see this coming.  That's Ann Leckie, and that's why she is still a discovery.

2. Rosemary Kirstein: I love discovering authors I should have been reading long ago, and sometimes I hate it.  I hate it because The Steerswoman (my review) is a friggin excellent novel and I feel like I've missed out on something by not having discovered this years ago.  I love it, because there are all these old "new" novels I haven't read before.  Either way, I am so happy that I discovered Rosemary Kirstein this year.  I've read The Steerswoman and The Outskirter's Secret and I am looking forward to the next two. 

3. Elizabeth Moon: Another writer I discovered much later than I would have liked, but unlike some of the others, I think I hit Moon at just the perfect time.  I don't know what my level of appreciation for Sheepfarmer's Daughter (my review) would have been years ago since it is mostly a grunt's level military fantasy novel.  Which is to say that I loved it, but like Glen Cook's The Black Company, I needed distance from my teenage years to appreciate it.  I am about to start the third Paksenarrion novel, Oath of Gold.  I'll be reading Elizabeth Moon for years now.

4. Kate Elliott: You know when you see a series of novels on a shelf for years (maybe fifteen years) and you think, "I should read that soon", but you wait another month and then another and then another year and then more time passes and you keep seeing the book and keep thinking "I should really read that, it looks awesome", but then you don't?  Then, some more years pass and you finally do read the book and you seriously get mad that you passed it over for more than a decade because the novel was stupid good and you can't wait to read the next one that you could have also read a decade ago?  Yeah, that's Kate Elliott and her Crown of Stars series which begins with King's Dragon.  I'm now two books in and I'm still pissed off I waited this long.  I feel like I should apologize to someone, but I'm not sure who. 

5. Katherine Addison: Despite being on my radar for years and years as Sarah Monette, I had never read any of her solo novels (I had read A Companion to Wolves (my review), which she wrote with Elizabeth Bear and it was excellent), but then The Goblin Emperor (my review) was published under the pseudonym of Katherine Addison and I finally picked up one of Sarah's novels.  It just felt like it was time and the book to read.  Folks, it is excellent and one of the best novels of 2014 (spoiler alert for my forthcoming Best Of list).

6. Wesley Chu: What can I say, I'm apparently a sucker for stories where aliens crash land on earth and inhabit humans as "hosts" and shape the direction of human history for their own purposes.  I'm sure I've read other books with that overall subject, but if not, Chu's Tao novels are still excellent on their own merit.  Start with the first book, The Lives of Tao (my review), continue on with The Deaths of Tao, and then wait eagerly for The Rebirths of Tao in April.  Do it now. 

7. Helene Wecker: Go read The Golem and the Jinni (my review).  If that is a debut novel, I can only imagine what Wecker's second novel will be like.  I can't wait. 

8. Tamora Pierce: I read Alanna just a couple of weeks ago.  It was published in 1983, and I swear to you that if I read that book when I was ten or twelve or fifteen years old instead of when I was thirty five, Tamora Pierce would be one of my favorite writers of all time.  I plan to read more of Pierce's work, but I feel like I really missed out on an opportunity to have a favorite writer hit me at just the right time.  I would have devoured Alanna as a teenager. 

9. Lois McMaster Bujold: It is weird to think that I met an author years before I ever read any of her work, and it is not because she wasn't published yet. I met Bujold the first year I attended Fourth Street Fantasy, had a very brief chat with her (not knowing yet who she was), and then never quite got around to reading any of the numerous novels she had published and won awards for.  And then I read Barrayar (my review) and wondered why in the world I hadn't been reading Bujold for years because it was a simply fantastic novel that I couldn't possibly read fast enough. 

Previous discoveries can be found for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011


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