Happy Holidays – Best New Authors

This week the holidays have swept me up and I really haven’t had the time to sit down and write a review, which is aggravating since I am SO BEHIND on my reviews. I should get a few more up on Thursday and Friday, but still…

Anyway, I was thinking. The holidays make me kind of nostalgic and thankful for various things. It also makes me want to pass the buck along somewhat. I’m not ready to do my “Best Books of 2013” list yet, but I can do something else. It feels fitting that on Christmas Eve I write down my list of new authors that I think the entire world should pay attention to. These are authors that have released their first book this year, and I’m so glad each and every one of them are writing. So stop what you’re doing, and check them out.

Zachary Jernigan

Jernigan made a splash with his cross-genre, grimy, dark and edgy fantasy/scifi hybrid in March of this year. He quickly established himself as an author to watch and has managed to impress some of the hardest to impress book reviewers. No Return was nothing that I expected, and I’ve learned that that’s a calling card of Jernigan. You can’t expect anything in particular from him, because he’s absolutely unpredictable. Isn’t that amazing? Luckily he’s working on the second book in his series, and I, for one, cannot wait to read it. Here’s the other thing that I love about Jernigan’s writing – his style is so unique, somewhat raw and uncut feeling with a lyrical, artistic edge that just works for me. He manages to both astound me and make me inspire me with his writing that subverts the expected and brings readers into territory that only Jernigan knows. If you get a chance, I suggest you also check out his short story collection The Bottom of the Sea to see more of his diverse but fantastic writing.

Ann Leckie

(Spoiler alert) I can guarantee you that Ancillary Justice will be on my Best Books of 2013 list. There are so many reasons for that, but I will go into them more in depth in January. However, Leckie entered the SciFi genre with a tremendous bang. Her writing is awe-inspiring. Rarely in my reviewing life have I run across an author who can bring civilizations, planets, and people to such blazing life in my mind. Months after I finished Ancillary Justice, I’m still thinking about it almost daily. I really can’t say more but OH DEAR GOD I LOVED THIS BOOK AND I WANT MORE RIGHT NOW. Ann Leckie is one of those new authors that makes me so damn excited for what the genre has in store.

R.S. Belcher

As far as I know, Belcher has only published one book (The Six-Gun Tarot) and a lot of short stories. I could be wrong. However, Belcher is a new-to-me author that really managed to show me what exactly makes me so excited about Weird West stories. The Six-Gun Tarot was set in a Wild West that draws on much of the culture from where I currently live. It was vivid and exotic with enough grounded in our reality to make the otherness of it so brilliant. Belcher is one of those authors who knows how to blend the strange and historical fact seamlessly, and his book really showed it. He’s an author who isn’t afraid to stray from the typical in a strong, confident way.

Peter Higgins

Higgins has written some stuff before, but I’m putting him in the new authors section because his book Wolfhound Century really pushed him into the limelight in the genre. Higgins is another one of those authors who knows how to blend historical fact and fantasy perfectly. Set in a vibrant and well drawn Soviet Union, Higgins really managed to capture his reader’s attention. He has a knack for description and perfectly drawn dialogue which makes his writing seem so well balanced. Furthermore, he’s not afraid of writing darker plots or darker characters, and I always applaud authors for that. Higgins is a new author that should be on everyone’s radar.

Brian McClellan

Need I say more? Rarely has an author entered the genre scene with such an incredible bang. I feel like the guy released a book and blew up bigger than the sun. The Promise of Blood is something amazing to read, and I’m pretty sure that everyone in the genre would agree with me. That book is impressive and unique, and absolutely captivating. Plus, it really says something for the author’s skill when he has become such a known name in such a small amount of time. Watch this new author. He has already set waves, and I predict tsunamis in his future.

Francis Knight

Francis Knight gets mad props for creating one of the most interesting settings for a book in the history of the world. Honestly, I read Fade to Black as much for the setting as for anything else. While the book didn’t blow me away completely, the world certainly did and it caught my attention because it was bold and brave. It showed me that Knight is an author that isn’t afraid to do her own thing and I really enjoy that. Any author that can create such a unique setting for a book is an author that has my attention.

Jamie Lee Moyer

You know, it isn’t often that I read a book involving romance and I don’t roll my eyes or throw up a little occasionally, but Jamie Lee Moyer managed to write a romantic book that kept my attention, and that’s something huge. What really got me about Moyer’s writing in Delia’s Shadow was how perfectly she captured the turbulent time of post earthquake San Francisco, as well as the emotions of her characters. Not only was I absolutely enthralled by her unique turn-of-the-century story, but I actually managed to feel what her characters were feeling as they felt those emotions. That’s a huge accomplishment for any author, and being able to say that about a new one makes me incredibly happy. Jamie Lee Moyer is really adding a new, interesting, emotional voice to speculative fiction.

Janet Edwards

Earth Girl is one of those books that hit me just right. Set in a futuristic, somewhat apocalyptic earth, Edwards’ teenage cast of characters was interesting and uniquely forged by the world(s) they lived on. However, it was the protagonist who really got me – Jarra, a girl who was seen as disabled by many and limited by her environment. Edwards really managed to show the emotional and physical struggles her character faced in realistic detail, and she also managed to show just how much her character was capable of despite those limitations. Empowering, compelling, and emotionally jarring, Earth Girl was a great, fast read and I am so excited for more. Anyone interested in disabilities in the genre really needs to keep an eye on Edwards, because she handles the topic with poise, finesse, and realism, while managing to empower at the same time. Fantastic stuff from a wonderful new voice.

Helene Wecker 

I read The Golem and the Jinni and I have yet to review it because I have no idea what I could possibly say about it. Wecker is just…. amazing. That’s all I can really say, and why there isn’t more talk about this book, I will never understand. The Golem and the Jinni is this cross-cultural, somewhat speculative immigrant story set in New York City that is absolutely heart breaking, and completely absorbing at the same time. Couple that with Wecker’s poetic, lyrical prose and you have this book that is capable of gut punching readers in the most amazing way. If you want another spoiler alert, this book is going on my Best Books of 2013 list, as well. Wecker really established herself as one holy hell of an author, and if this is the foundation from which all her books will spring, she’s set one amazingly high bar for other authors to aspire toward. Wow. Just wow. That’s all I can say.

I’m sure I missed some, especially as I haven’t read every new book by a new author this year. However, from the 170+ books I have read this year, here’s my list of best new authors. The new authors this year have really impressed the hell out of me in general, these guys are a “cut above” in my opinion. Check out their books. You won’t regret it, and I’m sure it will make you as excited as I am about the future of SpecFic, especially is these guys are any clue as to what the genre is cooking up for us.

Happy Holidays, everyone. I’ll be back to reviewing after Christmas.

5 Responses

  • Wow, only read two of those. Strangely enough I am mentioning Belcher in a post tomorrow too, wasn’t sure if ANYONE else read him. No Return turned me off completely with its cover, but everyone seems to like it quite a bit.

    • DONT let the cover put you off. It is a totally worthwhile read. Also, I haven’t heard anyone mention Belcher before either. I look forward to your post.

  • Most of the authors here are ones that I either discovered this past year or else wish I’d made the time to discover.

    Belcher being one of them. I have a copy of “Six-Gun Tarot,” but haven’t read it yet. Maybe I should move that one closer to the top of the pile for the new year, so I can see what I think too.

  • Greg Steele

    Six-gun Tarot is a wonderful read. I very much enjoyed it, and I hope it finds a larger audience thanks to mentions on sites like this. I am looking forward to the next installment.

  • A great list and I agree with many (the ones I already knew about) and now have a few to checkout – Yeah growing TBR pile. I just wanted to echo your sentiments on Golem and the Jinni. A remarkable book and even more amazing because it is a debut. Highly recommended.

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