bingo

Planning 2022 Fantasy Bingo

Y’all my favorite reading challenge is 100% back for another year, with r/Fantasy Book Bingo, which challenges sci-fi/fantasy aficionados to read 25 books by 25 different authors across 25 categories between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023. Last year, I got a little ambitious with a pair of themed cards, one hard mode and one with all sequels. That was a lot, and I realized that between judging SPSFC, reading Hugo finalists, and participating in book clubs and readalongs, it’s asking a lot to plan out a year of reading so extensively. But the release of the new Bingo board is still a joyous riot of TBR churn. Books I’ve had on my radar but never got around to suddenly snap back to mind. Books I’ve enjoyed and haven’t had many excuses to recommend suddenly become versatile Bingo all-stars or missing pieces for difficult squares. It’s an absolute blast. So let’s take a look at some books I recommend for this year’s Bingo board, along with others on my TBR that are getting a much closer look right now.

LGBTQIA List Book

This one is straightforward–read a book from the linked list. For hard mode, read a book with 10 or fewer votes.

My Recommendation

Sherwood Smith’s Inda Quartet is the clear standout for me, with my strongest recommendation for fans of political fantasy and noble protagonists fighting for good in a dark world. But Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura is also a very strong choice, and I’ve enjoyed Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of the Empire, Emily Tesh’s Silver in the Wood, Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, and Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence,

Candidates from my TBR

Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series has been on my TBR forever, but Sarah Rees Brennan’s In Other Lands and Jenn Williams’ The Winnowing Flame series are also on my radar.

Weird Ecology

Read a book with weird ecology (and that doesn’t just mean it has dragons). Hard mode: not by Jeff VanderMeer or China Miéville.

My Recommendation

If you don’t care about hard mode, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer is tremendous, but Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time,  Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead, and Sarah Zettel’s The Quiet Invasion are all great first contact books that fit the theme. And while this isn’t so prominent in book one (I still think it counts, technically), The Steerswoman Series by Rosemary Kirstein is one of my absolute favorites and delves deeply into the weird ecology in books two and three. Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura fit here–though they may be a Bingo MVP with a bunch of excellent fits. Josiah Bancroft’s Books of Babel do too. And if you dig epic fantasy, N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy is one of the best there is, and there’s always Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.

Candidates from my TBR

I’ve been told that my love of The Nothing Within makes me a good candidate for M.R. Carey’s The Book of Koli, which would fit. I’ve also been really excited about Adrian Tchaikovsky’s novellas lately, and Walking to Aldebaran appears to be a fit. It looks like there will be plenty of options here, with Mike Brooks’ The Black Coast, Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, and Williams’ Winnowing Flame also appearing as recommendations.

Two or More Authors

Pretty straightforward: read a book with co-authors. Hard mode requires at least three co-authors.

My Recommendation

Sergey and Marina Dyachenko’s Vita Nostra is an excellent magic school novel in a New Weird style, and The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott is fantastic if you like chunky political fantasy with paint magic in a Renaissance setting.

Candidates from my TBR

I could finally read The Mask of Mirrors by M.A. Carrick, or maybe continue The Expanse by James S.A. Corey. Open to other recommendations though. Or I could read pretty much any short story anthology.

Historical SFF

What it says on the tin. Hard mode: not set in Britain or Ireland.

My Recommendation

I really enjoyed Mary Robinette Kowal’s alt history Lady Astronaut Series, and Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan also works hereVictor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom is an outstanding horror novella that also fits.

Candidates from my TBR

Well, I could read more Kay, but Nghi Vo’s The Siren Queen and Mary Robinette Kowal’s Ghost Talkers have been on my TBR and might fit nicely. That said, if I’m reading Hugo finalists, I’ll probably end up with Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun.

Set in Space

The book takes place off-planet. Hard mode: characters aren’t from Earth.

My Recommendation

Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson is excellent (if you’re not expecting a whodunnit, which it isn’t), and Machineries of the Empire and The Expanse are both solid choices. And if you haven’t gotten around to Ender’s Game and aren’t explicitly avoiding Orson Scott Card, it’s a great choice.

Candidates from my TBR

This would be another opportunity to read Wayfarers or to finally pull Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes off the TBR, but I also think a couple SPSFC Semifinalists may be good fits here–T.A. Bruno’s In the Orbit of Sirens and Simon Kewin’s Dead Star seem likely suspects.

Standalone

What it says on the tin. For hard mode, the standalone can’t be on this list.

My Recommendation

Quite a few of my all-time favorites are standalones, with Octavia Butler’s Kindred immediately springing to mind. But almost any of R.A. Lafferty’s novels will work for hard mode, as will Susanna Clarke’s delightful Piranesi. There are no shortage of options here.

Candidates from my TBR

Again, there are so many options, but Siren Queen and Saad Z. Hossain’s The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday immediately jump out.

Anti-Hero

Again, self-explanatory. Hard mode: is YA.

My Recommendation

Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife is really a perfect fit for this square. Hard mode options include Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education and Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow.

Candidates from my TBR

You know, I’m not a huge antihero guy, but I expect Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun or C.L. Clark’s The Unbroken to be Hugo finalists, and so I’ll probably read them, and I believe they fit the square.

Book Club or Readalong Book

Read a book that’s been the subject of an r/Fantasy Book Club or Readalong

My Recommendation

Almost all of my favorite books have been part of r/Fantasy Readalongs, so just take your pick–KindredThe Fifth SeasonThe Lighthouse DuetThe Long Price Quartet, I could go on.

Candidates from my TBR

Just this month, I’m participating in Readalongs for Carol Berg’s Sanctuary Duet and Garrick Winter’s Zeroth Law. I’ll probably do more–maybe even another Hugo Readalong.

Cool Weapon

At least one major character has a weapon with magical properties. Hard mode: weapon has a unique name.

My Recommendation

You shouldn’t start it just for this square, but The Wheel of Time is chock full of cool weapons. Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn should fit hard mode.

Candidates from my TBR

C.S. Friedman’s The Coldfire Trilogy would fit. Perhaps there are others, but this is a square that can be tough to know in advance. I can always continue with the sequel to Legendborn.

Revolutions and Rebellions

There’s a revolution or rebellion. Hard mode: it’s the main point of the plot.

My Recommendation

There are a ton of books that fit here, although Ogres by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a particularly nice example, as is Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

Candidates from my TBR

I could finally pull Pierce Brown’s Red Rising off the TBR, or I could just do a normal year of reading and surely have multiple good fits.

Name in the Title

Book title includes a character’s first name. Hard mode: first and last name.

My Recommendation

Sherwood Smith’s Inda, Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, and Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi reappear as good options here. Darcie Little Badger’s Elatsoe and Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January work nicely as well.

Candidates from my TBR

Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora has been on my TBR for ages, and Terry Pratchett’s Mort is looking for an excuse to come off my shelf. The Book of Koli would work here too, or Tamsyn Muir’s novella Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower. And there are a pair of YA/MG books on my list that would work here too: Kaela Rivera’s Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls and Ysabeau S. Wilce’s Flora Segunda.

Author Uses Initials

What it says. Hard mode: initials are used in a pseudonym.

My Recommendation

Hey, do y’all know my favorite author is R.A. Lafferty? Also N.K. Jemisin is one of the best contemporary authors out there, and I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a book by the hard mode-fitting T. Kingfisher. And I’m still working my way through The Poppy War Trilogy by R.F. Kuang.

Candidates from my TBR

Read more Kingfisher. I already have Swordheart and The Seventh Bride on my Kindle. Or maybe more C.S. Lewis? I never did get around to Till We Have FacesAnd I should try C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series at some point.

Published in 2022

My Recommendation

I’ve only read a couple so far, but I really enjoyed Daniel Abraham’s Age of Ash and have already mentioned Ogres.

Candidates from my TBR

So many. I’m currently reading One Arm Shorter than the Other by Gigi Ganguly, but my TBR is full of 2022 releases.

Urban Fantasy

It should be urban fantasy–so contemporary(ish) urban setting with supernatural elements. Hard mode: has an LGBTQ+ perspective character.

My Recommendation

I really enjoyed Bethany C. Morrow’s A Chorus Rises, sequel to A Song Below Water, both of which fit. So does Cadwell Turnbull’s No Gods, No Monsters.

Candidates from my TBR

I can’t say that I have much urban fantasy on my TBR, although I imagine I’ll have a couple slide in at some point. I’ve been told Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga may fit here? Other recommendations are welcome.

Set in Africa

Set in Africa or an Africa-analogue. Hard mode: author is African.

My Recommendation

I really loved Karen Lord’s Redemption in Indigo and N.K. Jemisin’s Dreamblood Duology. Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer was good too.

Candidates from my TBR

Honestly, this is a bit of a weak spot for my TBR. Most of the African authors I’m reading are writing either far-future sci-fi or short fiction. Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa would be a fit. Other recommendations are welcome.

Non-Human Protagonist

Main character is neither human nor partially human. Hard mode: main character is not from a humanoid race of aliens, elves, dwarves, hobbits, etc.

My Recommendation

This is another great opportunity to read Children of Time or The Books of the Raksura.

Candidates from my TBR

I don’t know of any super obvious ones, but I’m seeing recommendations for Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Dogs of War, Judith Tarr’s Isle of Glass, and The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday, none of which I knew fit this square, but I guess they do? As does Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

Time behaves in unusual ways. Hard mode: not time travel.

My Recommendation

Kindred is a classic here, and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s One Day All This Will Be Yours is very fun and fits nicely.

Candidates from my TBR

I don’t have a lot of ideas off the top of my head. I believe Carol Berg’s Sanctuary Duet may have a small subplot where time behaves weirdly. I also have heard good things about Blake Crouch’s Recursion.

Five SFF Short Stories

Read five short stories (they can be novelettes or novellas too). Hard mode: read a whole anthology/collection.

My Recommendation

How many times do I have to recommend The Best of R.A. Lafferty? And also I have a whole list of shorts in my 2022 Hugo Nomination Draft/2021 Recommended Reading List.

Candidates from my TBR

Honestly this is a free square. I read five short stories in a week as often as not.

Features Mental Health

Explores themes of mental wellness and illness. Hard mode: not on this list and also not Stormlight Archive.

My Recommendation

I’ve spent a long time talking up Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Elder Race and Mary Robinette Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series as great fits for this square. I also really liked Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver, which won’t work for hard mode but is a good read.

Candidates from my TBR

I’ve been wanting to get to Laura Weymouth’s The Light Between Worlds for a while now, and it seems like a great fit here. SPSFC Semifinalist Dog Country by Malcolm F. Cross also promises to be a fit.

Self-Published or Indie Publisher

What it says. Hard mode: fewer than 100 ratings on Goodreads.

My Recommendation

I’ve been trying to talk people into Andy Giesler’s The Nothing Within for a while. But I’ve read a lot of good self-published books, with M.L. Wang’s The Sword of Kaigen another favorite.

Candidates from my TBR

I’ll be reading plenty as part of SPSFC, and watch my reviews for more recommendations.

Award Finalist That Didn’t Win

A book that’s been short-listed for one or more awards, but never won. Hard mode: not shortlisted for the Hugo or Nebula.

My Recommendation

This is a tough square. A lot of my favorite Hugo near-misses ended up winning some other award. And my two favorite self-published near-misses were cut in the semifinal round. I did enjoy Angela Boord’s SPFBO runner-up Fortune’s Fool.

Candidates from my TBR

I’ll be reading the seven SPSFC finalists, and it’s very likely that six will fit here.

BIPOC Author

Author is Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color. Hard mode: author is Indigenous.

My Recommendation

This square almost isn’t fair, with several of my all-time favorites, most notably Kindred and The Fifth Season

Candidates from my TBR

I will easily fill this in the course of my normal reading, but I do want to flag Karin Lowachee’s Warchild as a potential fit for hard mode.

Shapeshifters

At least one character can change their physical form. Hard mode: none of their forms are in the dog or wolf family.

My Recommendation

Is this entire Bingo board just a conspiracy to get you to read The Books of the Raksura? Maybe. Am I upset about that? Not really. No Gods, No Monsters also fits.

Candidates from my TBR

I could continue the Raksura novels, or finally get around to reading Patrica A. McKillip with The Riddle-Master of Hed. Beyond that, I don’t have much on the TBR. Recommendations welcome!

No Ifs, Ands, or Buts

Title does not include the words “if,” “and,” or “but.” Also doesn’t include “or,” “of,” or any article (a/an/the). Hard mode: title is three or more words.

My Recommendation

Another embarrassment of riches here, with favorites like KindredElder Race, Piranesi, Senlin Ascends, Inda, Ogres, Legendborn, and Elatsoe, all of which I’ve recommended elsewhere in this post. Also, Marie Brennan’s Driftwood is a fit. No Gods, No Monsters is hard mode, as is Martha Wells’ All Systems Red.

Candidates from my TBR

A couple middle-grade books fit nicely, with Diana Wynn Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle and Eiko Kadono’s Kiki’s Delivery Service. All of the Green Bone Saga fits here, as does Till We Have Faces, and so does Dead Star, which is in my SPSFC semifinalist batch.

Family Matters

Familial relationships are plot-relevant. Hard mode: at least three generations are involved.

My Recommendation

The Sword of Kaigen feels like it was made for this square, though it doesn’t fit hard mode. The Long Price Quartet will fit hard mode if you make it to the last two, and Age of Ash fits as well. So does The Fifth Season. And Kindred is a pretty obvious hard mode fit. There are a lot of great choices here.

Candidates from my TBR

Well I’ve been telling myself I’m going to read The Green Bone Saga, and this is the most obvious excuse yet. There are doubtless plenty of other good choices though.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Planning 2022 Fantasy Bingo

  1. Fun post and awesome choices! Was just planning my reads myself and only now realized I should include my SPSFC reads in there.

    Can I suggest Half a Lion by Palle E.K. Oswald for the ‘Set in Africa’ square? Great piece of military fantasy.

    Dog Country definitely fits both the mental health and the non-human squares.

    1. I haven’t heard of Oswald–I’ll look into that one, thanks!

      And yeah, I started Dog Country this week and it very clearly hits non-human! Previously I hadn’t been sure whether it was totally non-human or some sort of hybrid.

  2. Hi Jay, this is Madeline, longtime lurker first-time poster, etc.

    In my subjective opinion (and I recognize my tastes are likely very different from yours!) neither “The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet” (Chambers’ first book) nor “Recursion” worked for me. “Long Way…” set up conflicts and then just wrote them off in very low-stakes, unfulfilling ways, it didn’t feel like the characters’ choices or worries mattered much in the grand scheme of things. (I’ve seen mixed opinions on the significance or ~edginess of some of the alien worldbuilding, but if you ask me we should expect aliens to have very different life cycles/family dynamics than humans. They are aliens!) “Recursion,” if you just stop at the end of Part One and treat it like a novella, is an excellent SF mystery, but as a full-length novel it doesn’t really stick the landing.

    You shouldn’t start it just for this square, but The Wheel of Time is chock full of cool weapons. hahaha good disclaimer!

    I’m not sure where you draw the line between urban fantasy and SF, but “The 22 Murders of Madison May” is a recent thriller about parallel universe/dimension-hopping, set in New York and LA, by the very funny Max Barry (from the web game NationStates, which is one of my faves). It’s very directly feminist without being overly preachy, IMO.

    I am not sure what they have in mind for “time works in weird ways, but it’s not time travel”??

    If you don’t mind middle grade stuff, Animorphs is a shapeshifting classic for a reason… 🙂

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