Best Sci-fi/fantasy Books of 2015

There were so many wonderful books in 2015 that my nightstand teetered under the weight of all that excellence. What follows are some of the highlights of my reading year in science fiction and fantasy. - Mary Jo S.
  1. Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Saga #2) by Kameron Hurley http://powells.us/1Yzip24
    The Worldbreaker Saga is a complex fantasy with intriguing characters and a well-built plot. From blood magic and carnivorous plants to parallel universes and an intriguing magical system, there's a lot of juicy stuff here! Mirror Empire, the first book in the series, introduced the characters and the world. In Empire Ascendant, everything explodes and things go badly wrong for many of the characters, to the point where I really wonder how the third book will resolve things.
  2. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson http://powells.us/1QJbT9T
    This is a first novel with phenomenal writing, tons of political intrigue, and an elegance and melancholy that remind me of earlier Le Guin. Baru is captivating. Her mission is to destroy the empire that devastated the world she grew up in, but her methodology is fascinating. She sacrifices a great deal to achieve her goals, which makes her both admirable and more than a bit scary.
  3. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor http://powells.us/1QJbSCC
    Binti by Nnedi Okorafor This year, Tor began releasing a series of very interesting novellas, including this one. I loved the story and definitely wanted to learn more about Binti. She's the first of her people to attend university, and since they tend not to travel, their ways seem strange to outsiders. There's a lot of good reflection here on otherness, and how that informs the choices one makes.
  4. Planetfall by Emma Newman http://powells.us/1YzikeJ
    Planetfall is an excellent piece of sociological science fiction. The main character has a great deal of anxiety, and as I read this novel, I felt more and more anxious. She's also a hoarder, and I felt this issue was sensitively portrayed. Although the book utilizes a familiar theme — in an off-world colony, an outsider appears, throwing the social equilibrium out of balance — Newman has a fresh and striking perspective.
  5. Thicker Than Blood (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #6) by Annie Bellet http://powells.us/1Yzih2D
    After hearing about this series for years, I finally dove in and gobbled Bellet's books up. This falls firmly into the urban fantasy whodunit category. Jade is a sorceress who runs a comic book and game shop. She lives in Idaho in a town of shifters, where mysterious situations seem to crop up often. Thicker Than Blood is delightfully geeky, with lots of nerd culture references.