The Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Books I Read in 2018

So this post is coming ridiculously late in the year, after everyone else has long finished their reflections on 2018… but I got so side-tracked doing that fantasy decades series that I never gave a shout out to my favourite reads from last year, which seemed a shame. So I figured: better late than never!

I read lots of wonderful books, but I’ve chosen the 5 that most impressed and bewitched me. For each I’m just going to say why I loved them (in a spoiler-free way), so if you want to know in more detail what they’re about, you can click on the links to read the blurbs on Goodreads. Continue reading

Popular 2000s Fantasy Novels

So at long last I’ve come to the final decade I’ll cover in this series: the 00s! This period saw a surge in fantasy films and television shows, with adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia bringing the genre and its classics to new audiences. The “Noughties” were also crucial for paranormal romance and young adult fantasy – sales grew exponentially, in no small part due to the success of Twilight.  Many series from this decade are still being added to today.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 2000 and 2010. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets: Continue reading

Popular 1990s Fantasy Novels

As a child of the 90s I confess to having a particular soft spot for this decade… but personal biases aside, this was an important one for fantasy. Best-sellers boosted the genre to further heights (the phenomenon that was Harry Potter started in 1997), and many popular series that began in the 90s are still being written today, not to mention adapted into to film and television hits.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 1990 and 2000. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets: Continue reading

Popular 1980s Fantasy Novels

After the boom of the 60s and 70s the fantasy genre continued to enjoy mainstream popularity, with many 80s authors branching into new sub-genres and styles.  Fantasy tropes were so established that works of comic fantasy, which poked fun at them and were humorous in tone, became increasingly popular. Urban fantasy as we now know it also had its early roots in this decade.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 1980 and 1990. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets: Continue reading

The Four Elements in Magic

This week I’m excited to bring you a guest post from urban fantasy author Ken Hughes, who’s taking a closer look at the four elements and the use of elemental magic systems. Ken is the author of the Whisperers Series and the Spellkeeper Flight Series, and has recently released his latest book, Freefall:

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“Water. Earth. Fire. Air.” Those are the first words in Avatar: The Last Airbender, but we’ve seen the same four-elements structure of magic and worldbuilding in so many other fantasy stories that the dreaded word “cliché” is never far away.

Still, the difference between a cliché and a classic might just be how long it’s been since we’ve seen that idea handled well (which Avatar does, yes). And fantasy does love its classics.  Continue reading

Popular 1970s Fantasy Novels

The fantasy boom of the late 60s came to full fruition in the 70s, drawing older works back into the light as well as bringing many new ones. The decade also saw the publication of important works in particular sub-genres, such as vampire fiction, fairy tale retellings, time travel fiction and more.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or significant fantasy novels published between 1970 and 1980. I’ve used the year each novel was first published  and I’ve tried to use the original cover or jacket from that year:  Continue reading

Popular 1960s Fantasy Novels

While the 1950s might have seen the publication of crucial series like The Lord of the Rings and Narnia, it was during the 60s that the fantasy genre skyrocketed to new levels of popularity and mainstream appeal. Publishers eager to meet rising demand sought out fantasy works, and the decade brought many beloved classics to the genre.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 1960 and 1970. I’ve tried to use the original cover from that year where possible. Series titles are included in brackets: Continue reading

Popular 1950s Fantasy Novels

Many would say that fantasy literature as we now know it began in the 50s – specifically with the publication of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Add to that the release of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and you have the emergence of two fantasy worlds that shaped the genre for years to come. These works had such a profound impact they tend to overshadow other fantasies from this decade, but there are still some worth mentioning.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 8 most popular or influential fantasy novels published between 1950 and 1960. I’ve tried to use the original cover or jacket from that year where possible:  Continue reading

Making the Change: An Indie’s Transition to the Traditional World

A short break in the decades series this week, but for a good reason – to bring you a guest post from Brian D. Anderson! Brian is the author of over 20 fantasy novels and has recently signed a book deal with Tor. He’s here to share his experiences in making the transition from indie to traditional publishing and the challenges he faced in moving between these worlds:

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So you’ve written a few books, had them edited, paid for a cool cover, learned how to market, and as a result, had a great deal of success selling them online. You’ve even quit your day job. Maybe bought a house or a car…or both. Life’s coming up roses. You’ve achieved something special. Something spectacular. You are a professional novelist! Moreover, you’re an experienced indie, well qualified to pass on your wisdom to the never-ending river of up-and-comers dreaming of emulating your accomplishments.

That’s more or less how I felt a few months ago. For seven years, I have enjoyed a degree of professional success in indie fantasy. Not to say I was at the top of the heap. But I sure wasn’t at the bottom. I had an agent, had made a few significant audiobook deals, and been nominated for an award or two. But that’s where it stopped. I’d reached the limit of where I could go on my own. If I wanted to continue up the ladder, I had to find a way to break into traditional publishing.

Continue reading

Popular 1930s and 40s Fantasy Novels

The 30s and 40s were a crucial period for the fantasy genre. Not only did they see the publication of The Hobbit and the meeting of the Inklings group of fantasy writers, but also a rise in the number of pulp magazines publishing fantasy stories. While the genre had not yet become mainstream, the stories of these decades significantly contributed to its development and definition.

Below I’ve listed what I believe to be the 12 most significant fantasy works published between 1930 and the end of 1949, with their original covers where possible. Because some serialised stories didn’t appear in novel form till later decades, I’ve instead included the covers of magazine issues they featured in (if possible):  Continue reading