The Great Bookshelf Hunt! — Best of 2020

Some of you may be familiar with the Great Backyard Bird Hunt that happens every February, where bird enthusiasts worldwide report what birds they see and where they see them. In the tradition of this event, Superversive SF is going to hold the Great Bookshelf Hunt–searching for the best science fiction, fantasy, and horror books published in 2020.

The Great Bookshelf Hunt of 2021

Our purpose in compiling this list is several-fold:

One:  To recognize good books!

Two:  To provide a reference for people looking for books to read

Three:  To provide raw materials for nominations for the Dragon Awards and other such awards.*

*–Since 2020 does not entirely overlap the Dragon Award year, books that qualify for the Dragons will be marked with an asterisk on our final list.

So here’s the drill: Write in the comments the name of any work that came out in 2020 that you enjoyed. Then, read our list. If you see works on the list that you didn’t think of but that you have read and enjoyed, put the title of those works into a comment, too.

List anything you enjoyed that fits one of the categories. You can say why you liked it if you wish. Please list the title and, if you know it, the author’s name. Finally, please share this list around! Urge others to comment. The more people participate, the more chance we will all be able to find a hidden gem on the list!

The final list will be compiled such that the works with the most recommendations will go at the top. This is not like a nomination form. You may list as many works as you wish, but please make sure that they are works you truly enjoyed.

You can list books, comics, and shows in any or all of the following categories. (If you list something that is not a book, please add the category–i.e. comic or movie, etc.):

Science Fiction
Military SF or Fantasy
Alternate History
Paranormal Romance
Media Tie-In
YA — in any of the categories above
Children’s Books
Graphic novels
TV Show (on related topics)
Non-Fiction (on related topics)

A note about short stories: It is beyond our scope to list all the great short stories of 2020. However, if there was a particular short story you absolutely loved–one you have reread or have really thought about–if you list it in “quotes” and mention where it can be found, we will list it at the bottom of our list.

The list (which will be updated periodically):
*–Dragon Award eligible

Original Novels

Hussar, Declan Finn* — 7
Pure Poison, Hawkings Austin* — 5
Coven, by Declan Finn — 4
Storm Between Stars, Karl K. Gallagher* — 4
Gods of Pangea, John C. Wright — 4
The Mummy of Monte Cristo, J. Trevor Robinson* — 4
The Earth a Machine to Speak(Yankee Republic omnibus), Fenton Wood* — 3
The Legacy of the Iron Dragon, Rob Kroese — 3
Someone Is Aiming at You, J D Cowan — 3
Chalk, N. R. LaPoint* — 3
Nephilim Corruption: Warrior of Kizan I, Ann Margaret Lewis — 3
Combat Frame XSeed S, Brian Niemeier — 2
Oathkeeper, Christopher G. Nuttall* — 2
If Wishes Were Dragons, Karina Fabian* — 2
Warrior: Integration, David Hallquist — 2
Warrior: Embraced, David Hallquist* — 2
Demon in White, Christopher Ruoccino* — 2
Galaxy’s Edge: Gods & Legionnaires, Jason Anspatch and Nick Cole — 2
Babylon Blues, Kit Sun Cheah — 2
Pyre & Ice, Josh Griffing* — 2
Overlooked Again, John Mollison and Thomas Plutarch*
Panda Dreams and Other Hallucinations, Denton Salle*
Unmasked, Kai Wai Cheah and Thomas Plutarch*
Colony Launch, Jon Del Arroz
Educated Luck, Mel Todd*
Little Witches, Christopher G. Nuttall*
Texas Otherworld, Denton Salle*
The Sin in the Steel, Ryan Van Loan*
The Genetic Vampire (Hall of Heroes, Book 1), Denton Salle
Keepers of the Wind, J M Anjewierden*
Storm of Fury, Jessica Gunn*
Spoils of War,
Terry Mixon*
Operation Vampire,
Steven G. Johnson
Operation Reaper, Steven G. Johnson*
Black Earth Rises, Denton Salle*
Reality, Neovictorian
Fortune’s Fool, Henry Vogel*
Impermanent Universe, Vern Buzarde
Frozen Dreams, Moe Lane
Neon Harvest, Jon Mollison
The Gentleman Farmers, Loretta Malakie*
Ronald Reagan’s Brilliant Bullet,  Frederick Gero Heimbach*
Keep of Glass, Steven G. Johnson*
Hallowed Bones (Elemental Dungeon #3). Jonathan Smidt*
Prince of Shadows (The Covenant Chronicles Book 3), Kai Wai Cheah*
A Dance with Fate, Juliet Marillier*
The Blazing Chief, Matt Spencer*
The Second Sojourn, Alexander Hellene*
Pirates of the Cretaceous, Chuck Dixon
A Worthy Sacrifice, John Zeleznik*
Knowingly Familiar, Alma T. C. Boykin
Galaxy’s Edge: The Hundred, Jason Anspach and Nick Cole
Terror of Pangaea, John C. Wright
After Hastings, Steven H Silver

Battle Ground
, Jim Butcher* — 2
Destroyer of Worlds, by Larry Correia
Savage Wars: Gods and Legionaires, Anspach and Cole
The Fall of Shannara: The Last Druid, Terry Brooks*
To Sleep in the Sea of Stars, Christopher Paolini*
Rhythm of War
, Brandon Sanderson*
Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendency, Timothy Zahn*
The Pursuit of the Pankera: A Parallel Novel about Parallel Universes, Robert Heinlein


YA and Middle Grade

The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering, L. Jagi Lamplighter — 4
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking,  T. Kingfisher*
The Lady Heiress, Christopher G. Nuttall*
Jinjang, Iris Paustian*


Anthologies and Collections

Cracked: an Anthology of Eggsellent Chicken Stories — 2
Corona-Chan: Spreading the Love — 2
Fantastic Schools — 2
The Penultimate Man, Neal Durando, Schuyler Hernstrom, Jeffro Johnson, Jon Mollison– 2

The Planetary Anthologies from Tuscany Bay Books
All Men Dream of Earthwomen and Other Aeons, John C. Wright
Endless Summer, Misha Burnett
Dark Fantasies, Misha Burnett
When Valor Must Hold
Tales of the Mongoose and Meerkat: Pursuit Without Asking


Other Print Catagories:

MaryMae and the Nightmare Man, A. M. Freeman — 2


Comics and Graphic Novels

The Lovely People, Minna Sundberg — 9
SoulBount #2, Paula Richey* — 2
The Cosmic Warrior, Jon Del Arroza  — 2
 Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 5, 6. 7, Kamome Shirahama*
Kamen America 2, Tim Lim and Mark Pellegrini!
Demon Slayer, Koyoharu Gotouge


Pinkerton’s Ghosts — horror/paranormal podcast*
The Mandalorian



From Barsoom to Malacandra: Musings on Things Past and Things to Come, John C. Wright
Don’t Give Money to People Who Hate You, Brian Niemeier
Combat Frame XSeed Illustrated Combat Frame Tech Guide, Brian Niemeier
The Elusive Shift, Jon Petersen


 Other Books of Interest

Only one of these books was released in 2020.
The other two came out in 2021, but they may be of interest to readers here.

The Pulp Mindset a NewPub Survival Guide, J D Cowan
Storytelling, How to Write a Novel, Jonathan Moeller
The Art and Craft of Writing, L. Jagi Lamplighter


56 Comments on The Great Bookshelf Hunt! — Best of 2020

  1. Witch Hat Atelier, Vol. 7 by Kamome Shirahama was released in English last year. (YA, graphic novel, fantasy)

    Also Frozen Dreams by Moe Lane (Post-apocalyptic high-fantasy hard-boiled detective.)

  2. Hallowed Bones (Elemental Dungeon #3) by Jonathan Smidt
    Prince of Shadows (The Covenant Chronicles Book 3) by Kai Wai Cheah

  3. Tuyo, Rachel Neumeier. Secondary-world fantasy: there’s an extremely positive in-depth discussion/review at the A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast, who are at least fellow-travelers in superversion.

    • Unfortunately, that’s 2021.

      We’ll do a 2021 list in a month or two, to help those voting for the Dragon. I’ll add it then. 😉

  4. I agree with Jane that “If Wishes Were Dragons” was very funny and a good book. (Murder Most Picante was also a ton of fun but it’s older.)

    I’ve only read the titular story of “Someone Is Aiming For You” by Cowan, but that was good. (I have the collection of stories and need to read the rest.)

    Corona-Chan had several good stories … and several that irritated me a lot because they were either just teasers/ads/not-really-finished, or quite crude, content-wise. So a mixed lot (at least there were plenty of stories.)

    Does Hellene’s Swordbringer book 2, the Second Sojourn, count as 2020 for this? It was released Dec 28. (Haven’t read it but the first book was good even if the author obviously isn’t a materials scientist. 😉

  5. Chuck Dixon’s “Pirates of the Cretaceous” came out this year, the sixth and final (?) book of his “Bad Times” series (elevator pitch: The A-Team does time travel). It should definitely get a Dragon nod.

  6. The dead tree edition didn’t come out until 2021. (much grousing in an online group from people who wanted the art and so deadtree.)

    Hmm — Witch Hat Atelier Vol. 5 and 6 also came out in English in 2020.

  7. I haven’t read it yet, but Forced Perspectives by Tim Powers. He’s always superversive, so I’m sure this book will be too.

    • Sadly, it is 2021 and thus does not qualify.

      In a month or so, we will do a 2021 so far list to help people with the Dragon Awards, and it can go on that one.

  8. I know it’s dead tree only for now, but I have to second Penultimate Men. Jon’s stories are excellent, Neal Durando’s is a literary look at a gonzo gamma world post-apocalypse as seen by a two-headed pig, and it’s worth it for the new Sky Hernstrom “Mortu and Kyrus” story alone.

  9. Since I’ve already made a nomination (a “second”) – I’ll note that Forced Perspectives is an excellent sequel to the recent Alternate Routes. It’s worth reading AR first, though Perspectives stands well enough on its own.

    On the topic of Minna – she has an ongoing webcomic called Stand Still, Stay Silient that is very well worth your time.

  10. Someone’s aiming for you and a knife in a gun fight by Jon Mollison.
    Hussar by Declann Finn;Babylon blues By Benjamin Kit Cheah: his Hollow city and the follow up.
    Gemini warrior by JD Cowan

  11. Military S.F. Ideally reading the first book Savage Wars (2019) prior.
    Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars – Gods & Legionnaires – Jason Anspach and Nick Cole
    Galaxy’s Edge: Savage Wars – The Hundred – Jason Anspach and Nick Cole

  12. Kit Sun Cheah – “Babylon Blues”
    L. Jagi Lamplighter – “The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering”
    Josh Griffing – “Pyre and Ice”
    John C. Wright – “Terrors of Pangaea”
    John C. Wright – “Giants of Pangaea”

  13. Love anything by Finn. His work is always a good time.
    Nephalim by Lewis was really good and I think I have become a Gallagher fan after reading Storm Between the Stars and the sequel Between Home and Ruin

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