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Illustration: A dragon protects her books. (Priscilla Nielsen for NPR)

Fired Up: The Year's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy

Dec 15, 2011 (All Things Considered)

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2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.

They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.

Brilliant writers like China Mieville and Catherynne Valente are rethinking the basic rules of the game, telling stories that look like fantasy and science fiction, but which make us feel things that those kinds of books aren't supposed to be able to make us feel.

Here are five of the best, most interesting, most mutated science fiction and fantasy novels published this year.

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