This is the second part of my assessment of 2013. The first looked at publishers. Here I’ll feature some authors and/or individual titles that I thought were standouts. Links for books will be to my reviews (the reviews will have links to buy if you’re interested.) Since I’ve been doing a weekly post at Amazing Stories, with only one week missed, I’ll be including some of the titles I reviewed there in this list.
As with the publishers, these are in alphabetical order. I’m probably overlooking someone or a particular book. I apologize in advance. This list consists of titles and authors I read in 2013 and isn’t intended to be inclusive. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments. Again, I’m including mystery, crime, and science fiction as well as fantasy.
Tom Doolan: Doolan has only published short stories so far, but they’ve all been entertaining and fun. Something a lot of authors with Something Important to Say have forgotten. I suggest the collection With a Silken Fist.
Charles Allen Gramlich: Gramlich is a university professor, so he doesn’t write as much as he or the rest of us would like. He does manage to get some new work out every year, though. In 2013 I especially enjoyed “The Machineries of Mars” and Under the Ember Star.
Paul S. Kemp: The second Egil and Nix novel, A Discourse in Steel, was exactly what the title would lead you to believe it is: a dark, hard-hitting, bloody tale. It’s all that and more. In addition to the violence, Kemp expands his world. I’m looking forward to the next installment.
Brian McClellan: Brian McClellan’s debut novel Promise of Blood was one of the highlights of the year. Another gunpowder fantasy, much like Marmell’s In Thunder Forged, this one put McClellan on the list of authors to watch for.
Tom Piccirlli: The Last Kind Words may have hit shelves in 2012, but I don’t care. I read it in 2013 and put everything else aside to finish it. A disturbing look into a family of professional criminals, it has a distinctive voice that carries you along.
Jo Spurrier: Ms. Spurrier’s work probably isn’t familiar to many of you because she’s an Australian author, and her books aren’t yet available in the US yet. Still, she’s a writer whose name you will want to remember. Although Winter, Be My Shield was published in 2012, I’m including it here because I read it in 2013 and it’s unlikely many of you here in the States have even seen it. It featured one of the most sympathetic yet totally despicable villains I’ve encountered in a long time.
Jason E. Thummel: Thummel is quietly building a body of fantasy work that is full of action and excitement. The Spear of Destiny is combines Nazis and mystical artifacts to good effect, breathing new life into a well-used trope.
Martha Wells: Martha Wells has been a favorite of mine for a long time. She’s writes adventure fantasy with more depth of character and theme than most people in the field. The highlight of her work this year was Emilie and the Hollow World.
Chuck Wendig: While the amount of profanity might turn some people off, Wendig is one of the most compulsively readable writers working today. Check out The Blue Blazes and The Cormorant (which actually isn’t out yet but I read the eARC in 2013, so it counts).