Our borg Best of 2022 list continues today with the Best Books of 2022. If you missed them, check out our reviews of the Kick-Ass Heroines of 2022 here, the Best Movies of 2022 here, and the Best in TV 2022 here. And we wrap-up the year with our additions to the borg Hall of Fame tomorrow. We reviewed more than 100 books that we recommended to our readers this year (and started or previewed even more), and some even made it onto our favorites shelf. We don’t publish reviews of books that we read and don’t recommend, so this shortlist reflects only this year’s cream of the crop. So let’s get going!
Best Sci-Fi Novel, Best Tie-In Novel – Gears of War: Ephyra Rising by Michael A. Stackpole (Titan Books). With imagery found in prior sci-fi stories like The Postman, Waterworld, and Mad Max, with bits of the fear of Edge of Tomorrow and The Terminator, Stackpole takes readers into the gritty aftermath of soldiers returning after the war is over. Focusing on the toll that battling the Locust and Lambent threat has taken on Sgt. Marcus Fenix and Lt. Anya Stroud, Stackpole infuses an adjustment to life narrative that is believable and real, while also creating a love letter to one of the franchise’s most beloved characters. Runner-up: Alien: Inferno’s Fall (Titan Books), by Phillippa Ballentine and Clara Čarij, not another political story unpacking and unraveling Earth’s future, but a gritty and down in the dirt tale of survival from the vantage of three interesting heroines.
Best Horror Read – Something More Than Night, by Kim Newman (Titan). The world’s greatest horror writer delivered with this surprise mash-up of truth and fiction, horror and noir. A showcase of his knowledge of history, Hollywood, and writing styles that will leave you wanting even more–Newman’s descriptions of Hollywood are so vivid and his dialogue so rich that you’d take him for some kind of time traveler. As good a science fiction, fantasy, horror, or noir crime tale as anything you’ve ever read, by a writer of three decades of innovative stories at the top of his game.
Best Mystery Novel, Best Historical Novel – In Myrtle Peril by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin). An Amazon #1 New Release in Historical Fiction and Law and Crime categories. “The best thing to happen to youth mysteries since Trixie Belden.” —Publisher’s Weekly. “Enthusiastically, chaotically delightful.” — Kirkus Starred Review. Agreed! A mystery inspired in part by the lost crew of the ship Mary Celeste 150 years ago this year. With a heroine with a passion for the new sciences of criminology and forensics. A great readalike for fans of Netflix’s Wednesday and Enola Holmes.
Best Fantasy Read – Broken Tales (The World Anvil). Full of stories that flip the worlds of classic fairy tales upside down, where good guys turn bad and villains of yore become the heroes, it’s also our favorite fantasy read this year. A tabletop RPG mash-up for fans of fairy tale retellings, it allows players to dive into their favorite fantasy realms, while providing opportunities to expand their adventures. Filled with clever stories of villains and heroes with smart updates.
Best New Edition of Previous Published Work, Best Translated Work, Best Manga Book – Shuna’s Journey by Hayao Miyazaki, translated by Alex Dudok de Wit (First Second Books). Miyazaki’s story is priceless and his watercolors timeless and sublime, a beautiful, sometimes horrific, post-apocalyptic world, similarly, chillingly, current. There’s action and daring adventure of the fantastical variety blending the look of science fiction with the supernatural world as it paints a picture of gods and rulers enslaving mankind. A truly groundbreaking work.
Best Retro Read (Fiction), Best Adventure Read – Call Me a Cab, by Donald E. Westlake (Hard Case Crime). This previously unpublished novel by the master of crime was ahead of its time, full of 1970s attitude, with realistic, thoughtful characters, without cliché or canned, artificial controversy, and, although it’s from Hard Case Crime, there’s not a single crime in sight for 3,000 miles. And it’s still as riveting as any of his previous brilliant works.
Best Alternate History Novel, Best Retro Science Fiction Novel – Three Miles Down, by Harry Turtledove (Tor Books). Tom Clancy, Max Allan Collins, and Michael Crichton styles converge in a fresh and interesting, nostalgic visit to the 1970s. The result has murder and duplicity, along with some heart and hope. Turtledove puts several genres and styles together all building to a climax in the book’s final sentence.
Best Western Novel, Best Supernatural Novel – Hell and Back, by Craig Johnson (Viking). Johnson went into experimental territory, taking his calm and cool sheriff Walt Longmire into entirely new places, a new town, and a new time. This story merges the Western genre with science fiction and horror tropes as Johnson’s hero embarks on a journey out of The X-Files or Twin Peaks, or like an episode of Longmire collided with The Twilight Zone.
Best Roleplaying Game – Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen – Deluxe Edition (Wizards of the Coast). It combined a well-established, favorite classic setting with the ability to carry out side battles via an incorporated board game. The game that brings war to D&D takes players onto the battlefield in a new type of game play that is both fun and challenging.
Best Book on the History of Film – TCM’s Danger on the Silver Screen by Scott McGee (Running Press). The first thorough exploration of the greatest stunt work from a century of film and the people behind it all. McGee captures all the key figures from ages past along with all the big scenes, with photos and interviews.
Best Film Retrospective Book – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The Ultimate Visual History by Caseen Gaines (Insight Editions/Titan). One of the best behind-the-scenes chronicles we’ve reviewed here at borg. Gaines includes all the obscure information long-time fans may have heard about, but many have not. The story of the making of E.T. is mesmerizing and will have you reading it cover to cover straight through.
Best Behind the Scenes Book/Best Book on the Film Industry – Being Bond by Mark Salisbury (Titan). An immersive look at making movies, the wheeling and dealing to get a story off the ground from the biggest of the movie franchises. Great insight, great photographs, great snippets of all the parts of the movie-making machine.
Best Retro Read (Non-Fiction) – 3D Disneyland by David A. Bossert (The Old Mill Press). A stunning time travel odyssey via stereography across the decades thanks to modern technology and the lifetime of 3D photography by Ted Kierscey.
Best Non-Fiction Educational Book – The Book of Bees (Running Press), by Lela Nargi. A great survey for young people fascinated with bees and other insects and wanting to know more, adults who have waded through life without fully appreciating the value to Earth of these incredible creatures, and all aspiring entomologists.
Best Book Design – Snow White and Other Grimms Fairy Tales, by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by MinaLima (Harper Design). MinaLima again owns the category, offering up another installment in its series of classics filled with their singular artistry and design. From cover to end papers to edge art to chapter title pages and tipped-in interactive elements, it’s a new favorite for the next generation of readers.
Best Cookbook – Assassin’s Creed: The Culinary Codex, by Thibaud Villanova (Ubisoft/Titan). The rare franchise tie-in that becomes part of the story via its geographic map of international cuisine that doubles as a time machine-road trip to the past alongside key story characters. Not to mention recipes you actually want to make, that turn out as well as the stunning photographs. One of the best genre cookbooks we’re reviewed here at borg.
Best Genre Tie-in Book for Kids – Marvel Studios: The Moviemaking Magic of Spider-Man (Abrams Books for Young Readers) by Eleni Roussos. The best book yet in the Cinemagic series, expanding on the interactive elements with great representations of concept artwork, costumes, and props from the Marvel Studios movies. A must for every Spider-Man fan, and great information on movie-making for young readers.
Best Graphic Novel (Fiction), Best Interior Comic Art – Fantastic Four: Full Circle (Abrams/Marvel Arts), by Alex Ross. Ross seemed to conjure Jack Kirby and the look of the psychedelic look of the 1960s in this look back at the Fantastic Four in contemplation of the team coming to the MCU.
Best Graphic Novel (Non-Fiction) – Alice Guy: First Lady of Film (Self Made Hero), by José-Luis Bocquet and Catel Muller. More than a great historical and educational work, it’s a rich, densely layered, intimate look at one of the world’s first movie directors, the first woman director, Alice Guy. It goes far beyond the typical graphic novel, pulling in all aspects of life in America and France between the 1890s and 1920s, including cultural influences and norms, improvements in the arts and sciences, struggles of women in society and in the workplace, and the shifting nature of entertainment in light of social class differences and war.
Best Sci-Fi Comic Book Series – Blade Runner: Black Lotus (Titan Comics), Nancy A. Collins, Enid Balam, and Marci Lesko. The best tie-in series yet for the Blade Runner movies and series, and a great continuation of the successful animated series character. Great cyborg characters and storytelling.
Best Fantasy Comic Series – Samurai Red Sonja (Dynamite), by Jordan Clark and Pasquale Qualano. Good story and artwork, impressive layouts with action bursting off the page. Along with loyalty and family themes, this Sonja has both the beauty and strong warrior skills fans wanted, newly fitted with a set of impressive armor, swords, and bow and arrow.
Best Horror Comic Book Series – Dead Seas (IDW), by Cavan Scott and Nick Brokenshire. Solid Lovecraftian horror/adventure storytelling with great visual layouts.
Best Book on Comics – Flash Gordon Dailies: Austin Briggs: Radium Mines Of Electra by Don Moore (Titan Comics). Rarely can you so precisely identify the source of “the modern.” For the intersecting genre of “science fiction-fantasy” you must turn to January 1934 and a detail-oriented artist with an eye toward realism named Alex Raymond, and his new creation, Flash Gordon. An important piece of comics history.
Best Retro Comic Reprint – Marvel Big Book of Fun & Games (Abrams ComicArts) by Owen McCarron. As much as a thick book of projects for kids and adults alike, it’s a nostalgic journey back in time for anyone who bought these issues during their initial run, combined here for the first time.
Thanks for reading our reviews in 2022!
Come back tomorrow as we add several new members to the borg Hall of Fame.
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg