Christmas is fast approaching, and as the saying goes, it’s better to give than receive.

We here at SF Signal receive a lot of books every year. So many, we can’t possibly hope to read them all, even with a ‘team’ of readers (and by team, I don’t mean Harriet Klausner). However, as many writers will tell you, getting that first novel published is thrilling, even if it takes a long time to happen. With that said, we do read first novels/first time authors from time to time, so, in the spirit of giving, we’d like to give some props to the first novels/first time authors we’ve seen this year.


Nothing fancy here, basically just a list with a link to our review of each book. And in looking at the scores, I don’t see clunker in the mix. If you’re looking to find a new author, try one of the below:

  • Mainspring by Jay Lake. Jay Lake is no stranger to science fiction, having written numerous short stories. But Mainspring is his first novel, and is definitely worth checking out. Update: As Joe points out below, this is actually Lake’s third novel, but first from a big publisher. I must have mis-read the blurb I saw. Still, you should read it.
  • Radio Freefall by Matthew Jarpe. Matthew doesn’t care how you pronounce his last name, but we do think you should read this story of science fiction, AI and rock and roll.
  • Dusk Before the Dawn by Larry Ketchersid. Larry wins the title of ‘Author who lives to closest to an SF Signal blogger’, at least until John writes his tell-all book about his one-night stand with the Gabor sisters. The Mayan calendar will be ‘resetting’ on 12/21/2012, possibly resetting the universe as well. You’ve got 5 years and counting to read this book and, while you’re at it, brush up on Larry’s Thinking Man’s Guide to the End of the World.
  • A Shadow In Summer by Daniel Abraham. We don’t typically read much fantasy around these parts, so when we do read a fantasy story that impresses us, it’s worth another shout out. Consider yourself ‘shouted out’, again, Mr. Abraham.
  • KOP by Warren Hammond. Mystery and science fiction go together like PB&J. Hammond has created an interesting, gritty new world for his jaded police detectives to inhabit. If you like science fiction mystery cop stories, give this one a try.
  • Shift by Chris Dolley. Shift may be Dolley’s second published novel, but it was the first one he wrote, it combines interesting ideas with rapidly shifting perspectives to make one of the more unique first contact novels.
  • The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. Remember how I said we don’t read much fantasy around here? I was going to pass on The Blade Itself, but the acclaim that it has received put it onto my ‘to read’ list. I’m glad it did. Abercrombie has written a story that is long on character and plot, and short on epic-ness. Which is a good thing, given the abundance of door stopper fantasy out right now. Funny, smart and violent, The Blade Itself is a great read.

So from us to you, have a Merry Christmas and/or Happy Holiday! Here’s to finding even more, new authors next year.

Filed under: Books

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