The Hotties: 2014 Year-End Awards

2014 has finally come to an end and good riddance! In terms of quality SFF novels, it's been a decidedly dismal year. By far the worst since I created the Hotlist back in 2005. Many of this year's new releases were so lackluster that they often took the love of reading right out of me. Indeed, as I mentioned a few weeks back 2014 marks my lowest output of book reviews since I started doing this. =(

To those of you wondering why there were no year-end awards last year, the answer is quite simple. My nephews gave me a nasty virus just before Christmas. If that wasn't enough, said virus mutated into an acute gastroenteritis that TKOed me for the Holidays. And since I was flying to Vietnam a couple of days later to spend seven weeks in Asia, well the Hotties just weren't meant to happen in 2013. But we're back at it this year!! However, I had to skip on a number of categories because I had nothing in particular to say about them. Hopefully we can have them back at the end of 2015.

Though it was far from a banner year, 2014 nevertheless saw a number of noteworthy SFF titles get published. So it wasn't a total loss! =) Here is my Top 10 SFF reads of the year. Click on each title to read my review. . .

Top 10 Speculative Fiction Novels of 2014

1- Shadow Ops: Breach Zone by Myke Cole (Canada, USA, Europe)
2- Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb (Canada, USA, Europe)
3- The Last Rite by Jasper Kent (Canada, USA, Europe)
4- Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence (Canada, USA, Europe)
5- Operation Shield by Joel Shepherd (Canada, USA, Europe)
6- Cyador's Heirs by L. E. Modesitt, jr. (Canada, USA, Europe)
7- Willful Child by Steven Erikson (Canada, USA, Europe)
8- Half a King by Joe Abercrombie (Canada, USA, Europe)
9- Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams (Canada, USA, Europe)
10- Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey (Canada, USA, Europe)


Staffer's Book Reviews

Although Justin Landon doesn't think much of me and pretty much hates the Hotlist, I always enjoyed reading his reviews and articles. Too bad he had to close down shop in November. . . :/


- Westeros

Honorable mention:

Hands down, these two remain the most interesting and lively SFF message boards on the web! Though I've become more of a lurker these days, I never fail to peruse the forums a few times a week.


- The Danilov Quintet by Jasper Kent

Spanning over a century and generations of Romanov and Danilov family members, the author wanted to weave his tale with momentous events that left an indelible mark on Russian history. And somehow, he managed to make it all come together! Jasper Kent's Danilov Quintet is definitely one of the very best speculative fiction series of the new millennium!


- The Dark Defiles by Richard Morgan

There appears to be a love/hate relationship between SFF readers and Morgan's A Land Fit for Heroes. Although the final volume hasn't created a lot of waves, those who enjoyed the series have been spreading a lot of love about this book. And though I liked The Dark Defiles, I'm not sure it was good enough to warrant such lofty praise.


- Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams

As I mentioned in my review, with urban fantasy being the biggest game in town, I was quite happy with the fact that the Bobby Dollar books turned out to be Tad Williams' most accessible series to date. Still, as entertaining as the novels turned out to be, it appears that they were mostly ignored by the wider urban fantasy/paranormal romance readership. None of the installments received blurbs from bestselling or well-known urban fantasy authors, and there has been a near total radio silence regarding the series on various SFF resources. To all ends and purposes, it seems that only Tad Williams' fans gave this series a shot and no one else. This series deserves to be more widely read, methinks. . .


- Helene Wecker

Although The Golem and the Jinni came out in 2013, I only read it last year. And given its originality and quality, I'm looking forward to whatever Wecker releases next!


- Paul Kearney

Another criminally underrated speculative fiction author, Paul Kearney saw some of his out-of-print works get reissued by Solaris. A Different Kingdom was another terrific read, and I'm looking forward to reading The Way to Babylon and Riding the Unicorn.


- Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson

God knows it wasn't perfect and it was challenging at times to follow what the hell was going on, yet I still found Europe in Autumn to be an original, intelligent, and very entertaining read. Give it a shot!


- Assail by Ian Cameron Esslemont

Assail was Ian Cameron Esslemont's The Crippled God. The culmination of a variety of far-reaching storylines spread through his last four novels. Some of them first explored by Erikson in the original sequence, years ago. And although many fans doubted that Esslemont could close the show the way Erikson did in the last volume of The Malazan Book of the Fallen, I would never have expected that Assail would be such a disheartening disappointment. . .


- Myke Cole

Winner of the Rookie of the Year award in 2012, Myke Cole is my author of the year in 2014. He brought the Shadow Ops trilogy to a great conclusion with Breach Zone, which holds the number 1 spot on my top 10 list. I'm almost done with the soon-to-be-released Gemini Cell, which is another very good read. So I guess it's safe to assume that this guy is for real!

And yes, his military background sometimes makes him look as though he's allergic to fun and he's known as the annoying author harassing hapless cosplayers about trigger etiquette/discipline at conventions. Needless to say, if those weapons were real, many a Deadpool or a Stormtrooper would have gunned him down already. :P And yes, he's an officer in the US Coast Guard whose duties seem to revolve around taking pics of an adorable dog who's always in the way and tries to bum food from their meals, as well as taking photos of his men and praising them while complaining that he is once again the shortest guy in the pic. But I'm grateful that he spends most of his free Brooklyn summer nights sitting in the fire escape of his building and working on his new novels so that we can have other quality reads down the line.

If you have yet to give Myke Cole a shot, don't let the so-so cover art from the American paperback editions dissuade you from doing so. When it comes to describing the series, bestselling author Peter V. Brett's blurb said it best: Black Hawn Down meets The X-Men. Military fantasy doesn't come much better than this. . . =)

7 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Considering the amount of shit Justin and Aidan have been throwing your way these last couple of years, I'm shocked that you would rate his the best SFF blog on the internet!!

You're a better man than I.

Shane said...

I thought that was very classy of Patrick to pick Justin's blog. Most people, myself included, would not be able to see past the other person's dislike of them to make that choice. There have been several times that I have read Pat's blog, not found anything wrong with what he said, only to realize it had been blown up into some kind of scandal two days later. I don't always agree with his reviews 100%, but I do not expect to because everyone has different taste and opinions. But I have discovered several books/series here that I had either not heard of before or was considering checking out that Pat's post or reviews helped me decide to try. Most notably off the top of my head at the moment are The Expanse books and Ex-Heroes series. Both two of my current favorites.

David Wagner said...

Come for the Inexpensive E-book Goodies, stay for the reviews... that's what I says!

Great post.

Jon R. said...

I first found Justin ’ s blog from your linking his article condemning your comment on orbit not giving you a free James S.A. Corey book or something and it annoyed me but he soon became my favorite voice among the politically influenced crowd. I too was sad to see him go, but enjoy rocket talk every once in a while.

Ricky said...

What Shane said! With all the shit Aidan, Justin, Larry and the others have thrown your way on twitter, I never would have thought you would ever find it in you to praise them.


Justin said...

I tried to comment yesterday. It may not have gone through.

Thanks for the compliment, Pat. I have a great deal of respect for your commitment to this blog over the years even when I've vehemently disagreed with some of the things you've said and the way you've said them. I sometimes think that if you had more of a presence on the social media we'd all have gotten along a bit better.

In any case, congrats on another year in the books. Myke's novel is a great choice and GEMINI CELL is his best yet by a far margin.

Anonymous said...

Considering the amount of vitriol you and others spat in his direction, how would having a bigger presence on twitter and other social media have made things any different, Justin??