Home / Books / Kirkus Reviews 2011 List of Top Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Kirkus Reviews 2011 List of Top Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Kirkus Reviews recently posted a list of “10 Can’t-Miss Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2011” on their site. I was really interested in seeing who made the list and have decided share it with you and add important book info and pics!

Here we go…

  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • Publication: January 18, 2011

    Genre: Fantasy

    Description: “Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled—and her twin sister dead.

    Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off…”

  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Publication: March 1, 2011

    Genre: Fantasy

    Description: “For nearly four years, fantasy and science fiction enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting this second volume to Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles. The first volume, The Name of the Wind, won the prestigious Quill Award and was recently voted as the third-best SFF novel of the decade on Tor.com. In this linchpin book of the trilogy, Kvothe continues his perilous search for answers about the Chandrian even as he grapples with more pressing dangers.”

    My Take: I’ve been DYING to read this book! It’s super long-1008 pages-worth- but I absolutely feel in love with The Name of the Wind. So, I’m really excited to read this….if that wasn’t clear. 😉

  • Other Kingdoms by Richard Matheson
  • Publication: March 1, 2011

    Genre: Fantasy- Romantic

    Description: “1918. A young American soldier, recently wounded in the Great War, Alex White comes to Gatford to escape his troubled past. The pastoral English village seems the perfect spot to heal his wounded body and soul. True, the neighboring woods are said to be haunted by capricious, even malevolent spirits, but surely those are just old wives’ tales.

    Aren’t they?

    A frightening encounter in the forest leads Alex into the arms of Magda Variel, an alluring red-haired widow rumored to be a witch. She warns him to steer clear of the wood and the perilous faerie kingdom it borders, but Alex cannot help himself. Drawn to its verdant mysteries, he finds love, danger…and wonders that will forever change his view of the world.”

    My Take: I haven’t heard too much about this book. It sounds pretty good though!

  • The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
  • Publication: May 10, 2011

    Genre: Science Fiction

    Description: “Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy – from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons – the Dilemma Prison – against countless copies of himself. Jean’s routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self – in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed . . .”

    My Take: I really don’t read too much science fiction, but when a review mentions a book involves “flirtatious spacecraft,” I think I could be down for that. 🙂

  • Embassytown by China Miéville
  • Publication: May 17, 2011

    Genre: Science Fiction

    Description: “Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe. Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here on Arieka, humans are not the only intelligent life, and Avice has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic Hosts – who cannot lie. Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors can speak Language, and connect the two communities. But an unimaginable new arrival has come to Embassytown. And when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes. Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is for her to speak directly to the alien Hosts. And that is impossible.”

    My Take: Mieville’s work always seems to generate a lot of praise and attention, but sadly I have not read any of his stuff.

  • Dancing With Bears by Michael Swanwick
  • Publication: May 17, 2011

    Genre: Fantasy

    Description: “Dancing With Bears follows the adventures of notorious con-men Darger and Surplus: They’ve lied and cheated their way onto the caravan that is delivering a priceless gift from the Caliph of Baghdad to the Duke of Muscovy. The only thing harder than the journey to Muscovy is their arrival in Muscovy. An audience with the Duke seems impossible to obtain, and Darger and Surplus quickly become entangled in a morass of deceit and revolution. The only thing more dangerous than the convoluted political web surrounding Darger and Surplus is the gift itself, the Pearls of Byzantium, and Zoesophia, the governess sworn to protect their virtue.”

    My Take: The title alone may draw in readers. 🙂

  • A Dance with Dragons (Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
  • Publication: July 12, 2011

    Genre: Fantasy

    Description: “In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance once again—beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has three times three thousand enemies, and many have set out to find her. Yet, as they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind.

    To the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone—a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge yet. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice.

    And from all corners, bitter conflicts soon reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .”

    My Take: This book has gotten a lot of buzz. Sadly, I’m remiss on reading the fantasy “classics” and have never read anything by Martin. Please don’t judge me too harshly. I’m a girl and like girly books. 🙂 If there’s even a hint of romance in this book, you can count me in!

  • The Last Four Things by Paul Hoffman
  • Publication: August 4, 2011

    Genre: Fantasy

    Description: “Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. These are the Last Four Things. Now there are Five. Meet Thomas Cale. Returning to the Sanctuary of the Redeemers, Thomas Cale is told by the Lord Militant that the destruction of mankind is necessary; the only way to undo God’s greatest mistake. Cale seemingly accepts his role in the ending of the world: fate has painted him as the Left Hand of God, the Angel of Death. Absolute power is within his grasp, the terrifying zeal and military might of the Redeemers a weapon for him to handle as simply as he once used a knife. But perhaps not even the grim power that the Redeemers hold over Cale is enough – the boy who turns from love to poisonous hatred in a heartbeat, the boy who switches between kindness and sheer violence in the blink of an eye. The annihilation that the Redeemers seek may well be in Cale’s hands – but his soul is far stranger than they could ever know.”

    My Take: Again- I haven’t heard too much about this book, but the description sounds really interesting. TBR’ing it as we speak. 🙂

  • Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
  • (Currently, there isn’t a cover image)

    Publication: September 20, 2011

    Genre: Science Fiction…I think. There’s not too much information about this book out there right now.

    Description: “Four decades ago, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa family, fled to a wild and lonely mountainous corner of British Columbia to avoid the draft. Smuggling backpack loads of high-grade marijuana across the border into Northern Idaho, he quickly amassed an enormous and illegal fortune. With plenty of time and money to burn, he became addicted to an online fantasy game in which opposing factions battle for power and treasure in a vast cyber realm. Like many serious gamers, he began routinely purchasing viral gold pieces and other desirables from Chinese gold farmers— young professional players in Asia who accumulated virtual weapons and armor to sell to busy American and European buyers.

    For Richard, the game was the perfect opportunity to launder his aging hundred dollar bills and begin his own high-tech start up—a venture that has morphed into a Fortune 500 computer gaming group, Corporation 9592, with its own super successful online role-playing game, T’Rain. But the line between fantasy and reality becomes dangerously blurred when a young gold farmer accidently triggers a virtual war for dominance—and Richard is caught at the center.”

  • The Broken Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy) by N.K. Jemisin
  • Publication: November 12, 2010 (Cheating much, Kirkus??)

    Genre: Fantasy

    Description: “In the city of Shadow, beneath the World Tree, alleyways shimmer with magic and godlings live hidden among mortalkind. Oree Shoth, a blind artist, takes in a strange homeless man on an impulse. This act of kindness engulfs Oree in a nightmarish conspiracy. Someone, somehow, is murdering godlings, leaving their desecrated bodies all over the city. And Oree’s guest is at the heart of it…”

    My Take: I have to say, I don’t agree with this pick. I read the first book in this series, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and it just didn’t resonate with me. I don’t think I really got the whole premise- it just wasn’t for me.

I’m always a little skeptical when it comes to “must-read” lists. For me, the only book on this list that I cannot wait to get my hands on is The Wise Man’s Fear! Even though it’s already been out for a month, I still haven’t had time to pick this up yet. The descriptions make you feel like you’re really there, and the story of Kvothe, the protagonist, effortlessly draws you in.

Well, that’s my two cents worth. How about you?

Are any of these books on your TBR list for this year? If not, what books are you anxiously awaiting?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Pingback: Follow Friday: Book Covers | Read. Breathe. Relax. | Fantasy and YA Reviews()

  • “I really don’t read too much science fiction,…”
    You know that Science Fiction is MY FAVORITE genre.
    I am going to look for those [two] Science Fiction titles – perhaps in Audiobook format for my long daily commute.

    Thank you.

  • Well…

    Wise Man’s Fear is here on the shelf. I wish I could sneak it in sooner than later. I LOVED the first book and wanted more. I’m really looking forward to reading this one some day here.

    The Broken Kingdoms is on my shelf as well. I really enjoyed reading the first book in this series and soooo want to get to this one, one day too. Great world here.

    The Last Four Things I have on my want list. I think I’ll be reviewing it for the release. I read the first book and did like it, but felt it needed something more. But I have to say the first book was a wonderful set up for a powerful second book. I’m hoping it follows through. Wonderful set up in book one, we will see where book two goes. 🙂