At the end of every year, a hailstorm of "best of" lists fall upon readers everywhere. We're not exempt from this habit, but we do feel that it leaves out the many, many books that were published before the current year that readers are still loving, reading, and sharing with their friends. So this year, we're celebrating the books that have kept being read alongside the best new releases.
The books below are the 15 titles that The Portalist subscribers bought the most over the course of 2022, including titles by many of our top five authors: Vonda N. McIntyre, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Samuel R. Delany, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Each of those authors are heavy-hitters, but many of our other most beloved titles may fly under the radar amongst the science fiction and fantasy worlds more broadly.
The continuing popularity of these books is a testament to their readability, and their importance to the science fiction and fantasy genres. Dive in—you may just find a new read to sink into!
The Bird King
This historical fantasy from the author of Alif the Unseen topped our lists in 2022! G. Willow Wilson weaves a tale of a mapmaker with otherworldly powers and the Circassian concubine to the final sultanate of the Iberian Peninsula as they attempt to find safety outside their palace's walls. A fascinating tale set in 1491, Wilson explores a world as Christianity begins to curtail other religions in the Western world.
The Book of Merlyn
The posthumous sequel to The Once and Future King turns a wise eye on the end of King Arthur's legendary life. Taking place primarily over one night, Merlin and Arthur share memories in a conversation that echoes the deliberation of many a country, including White's own England, to join the fight against Nazi Germany—or not.
The Girl with No Face
The second sequel in our top sellers, The Girl with No Face is the followup to The Girl with Ghost Eyes. Set among the Chinese-American community in 1890s San Francisco, M.H. Boroson's epic books combine Chinese folklore, historical realism, and adventures straight out of Hong Kong cinema to craft tales that will enthrall, spook, and delight readers.
The Mabinogion Tetralogy
Retellings of Welsh mythology are brought to life with Evangeline Walton's vivid words in this four-book collection. Although less often recommended than similar retellings like The Once and Future King or similar epics like The Lord of the Ring series, Walton's work deserves all of the praise heaped on those works. Experience the entire tale with this full series collection.
The Starfarers Series Books 1–2
Vonda N. McIntyre's beloved space opera series kicks off with Starfarers and Transition. The ship Starfarer is meant to take Earth's first interstellar voyage, filled with all the people one could possibly need to meet an alien race. But political conditions soon put their voyage into question....though the intrepid explorers aboard Starfarer won't take no for an answer!
LeVar Burton may be the best representative of reading in modern culture—yes, we'd pit him against the Reese Witherspoon book club phenomena. But did you know the beloved host of Reading Rainbow, Star Trek: The Next Generation actor, and Fable book club host is also the author of a fantastic dystopian tale set in 2012 America, just after the election of the first African American president? Published in 1997, this prescient novel still resonates today.
The Einstein Intersection
This Nebula Award-winning novel stars an alien, Lo Lobey, who is attempting to understand the mythology left behind by humans—once the residents of the planet his kind now calls home. This deeply thoughtful and extraordinarily mind-melting book is one that will leave its readers wiser and richer for having wrestled with its ideas about identity, culture, love, and narratives.
Trouble on Triton
Samuel R. Delany's second appearance on this list takes us to Triton, a utopian society at war with Earth itself. In this science fiction meets comedy of errors, a young immigrant to the Triton world named Bron Helstrom struggles to adjust to a utopian society.
The Serpent's Egg
A treacherous duke plots the death of the queen...but a troupe of misfits can't convince her that her trust in the duke is misplaced. Even the queen's own son can't do the trick. Magic and intrigue color the pages of this Shakespearean fantasy.
23 wildly imaginative tales populate the Tomorrow Factory, from space opera to the darkest cyberpunk. Larson's debut collection reads like the work of a seasoned science fiction writer.
The Best of Philip K. Dick
Look, when the book is literally called The Best of Philip K. Dick, it can't be a surprise that it shows up as one of our readers' favorites. From "The Skull" to "The Variable Man", you'll discover a new favorite amongst one of the 13 tales represented here.
Editor Ellen Datlow has an unmatched skill for finding the best, most interesting, and most unique science fiction and fantasy writers. Many of her collections of short stories from authors like Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, and Harlan Ellison are popular amongst The Portalist readers—although it seems the most prurient of those readers were the most common this year!
Compared to Mad Max, Neuromancer, and recommended by the likes of N.K. Jemisin, this lush tale of a caravan of nomadic traders that encounter a satellite will catapult you into deserts alongside protagonist Star, a 17-year-old orphan, and her sister Nene. Star will have to trust the most untrustworthy in an attempt to stay alive—and protect her sister's horrifying secret.
Tales of Dune
Weaving together the epic of Dune, the eight stories contained in these pages range from times of Jihad to the very end of Frank Herbert's original series.
Finding My Elegy
Beloved science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin was more than just a science fiction writer! In this collection of poetry, pieces from over five decades of work are brought together with new poems never previously published. Investigating war, motherhood, the natural world, and more, these poems will reinvigorate your approach to life.
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