This was a good year for cross-genre pollination. It was packed with brilliant books that stretched the boundaries of what counts as science fiction and fantasy — and even what counts as fiction itself. Authors like Ken MacLeod and G. Willow Wilson spun tales that begin as near-future dystopian science fiction, only to turn abruptly into fantastical tales of supernatural creatures. Call it magical cyberpunk realism.
We also witnessed a strong resurgence of political themes in genre fiction, as Maureen McHugh and Kim Stanley Robinson explored what it means to be part of a civilization on the brink of transformation or collapse.
Here are six of the year's best works of science fiction and fantasy — two of which were favorites from our summer list, too.
Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.