I read 25 books this year. Many were good, but the following three series stood heads and tails above everything else. I devoured them all and enjoyed every word. It’s not often I find series that I’m happy to recommend without any caveats or “if you like this sort of thing” hedging. These are just plain fun books, and I think you’d enjoy them.

River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

What a great plot hook. When Annie saw me working on this post, she sneered at the title, assuming it was some sort of horror book. When I explained that it’s actually about hippo-riding cowboys in an alternate history, and features a non-binary character, gay romance, and a plus-size con-woman, she got mad I didn’t tell her about it sooner.

The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells

Okay, I mean, come on, that series name? I was in full shut-up-and-take-my-money.gif mode without needing any further details. But in case you need some, here you go. The main character is the eponymous Murderbot, a security robot who has become self-aware. Unlike most “self-aware AI tries to start a life” stories, all Murderbot wants is to be left alone to watch his soap operas. He spends every minute trying to avoid being discovered, and when he gets sucked into a proper action-movie conspiracy, he spends the entire time complaining about how dumb humans are and waiting for it to end so he can get back to his stories. They’re fantastic books.

The Voidwitch Saga, by Corey J. White

I grabbed the first book of this series after reading this recommendation from Warren Ellis:

…As modern a piece of genre pop space opera as you’ll find this summer, with a nicely diverse cast, a cute space ferret of death and a female protagonist most often referred to as a void-damned space witch.

I mean, who could pass that up? Then, as if to hammer the recommendation home, I saw it in a twitter list of “novels where a woman with a mysterious past joins a spaceship of 3-4 quirky chosen family and gets gay with a crewmember.”

I’m happy to say it doesn’t disappoint. It’s fast, fun, satisfying, and I sure hope some TV studio out there is grabbing the rights because it would make a phenomenal series in the style of the Expanse.