AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Every year, NPR's book critics and correspondents put together lists of recommendations, their favorite titles from the year across genres. Well, here is reviewer Annalee Newitz with her top science-fiction pick of the year.

ANNALEE NEWITZ, BYLINE: 2012 was a great year for science fiction that pushed boundaries. Books crossed genres. They veered into fantasy and literature, and political themes are making a comeback too. A great example is "2312" by Kim Stanley Robinson. It's a space opera, and it's about what happens to humanity once we've conquered the solar system. So what happens? Well, China tries to engineer Venus so humans can live there. The outer planets fight over solar resources, and someone, or something, is destroying Mercury's biggest city. They're hurling millions of tiny meteorites at it, and nobody knows why.

"2312" also manages to be a love story and a murder mystery. It follows a performance artist, a diplomat, a detective and a scientist. They're all investigating what's happening on Mercury, and, of course, they stumble on something bigger. It's a book that's not ashamed to be utopian, but it feels plausible too. "2312" explores what it means to be human, and that's something even non-science-fiction fans can appreciate.

SIEGEL: That was Annalee Newitz, editor in chief of the website io9.com, which covers science fiction. Her pick of the year is "2312" by Kim Stanley Robinson. You can find a complete list of the year's best sci-fi at npr.org/bestbooks.

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