05 December 2022

AudioFile Magazine's 2022 Best Audiobooks in Science Fiction & Fantasy

A graphic showing two women audibook narrators and the covers of the books discussed in the post

Every December, I eagerly look forward to reading all the best-in-books lists so I can add titles to my own reading wish list. Of all the many such lists, my favorite by far are the audiobook genre lists compiled by AudioFile Magazine.

As many of you know, I've had a long association with AudioFile, both as a freelance reviewer and as a contributing editor. Thanks to that partnership, I'm very excited to share with you the magazine's picks for the Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks for 2022.

Before we get to this year's best SFF audiobooks, here's some background information. AudioFile's lists are unique in that they take into consideration the entire audiobook experience, which is headlined by the narrator's performance. In the case of fiction, the magazine's editors weigh such things as the narrator's use of voices to differentiate characters, their sense of pacing and tension, their ability to convey the emotional heart of the story, and their delivery of humor and dialogue. When an audiobook is narrated by more than one voice actor, AudioFile's editors take a look at how well the performances blend, contrast, or compliment each other.

Each one of the six Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Audiobooks for 2022 tells a great story, which is made all the better by an outstanding audiobook narrator or full cast. Here, then are the year's best SFF audiobooks to add to your listening queue. Click the titles to read the AudioFile Magazine review.

Audiobook cover showing the title overlaying gold concentric circlesThe Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (Macmillan Audio; 16 h) is the first in the Atlas science fiction series, which involves a competition and a secret library. The audiobook is performed by a full cast of narrators—Steve West, David Monteith, Damian Lynch, Caitlin Kelly, Andy Ingall, Munirih Grace, Siho Ellsmore, and James Patrick Cronin—each of whom take on a different character. Six individuals with magical talents are recruited to be part of an elite society. They have a year to prove themselves worthy: five will get in, one will die. The narrators won AudioFile's attention for capturing the characters' personalities and signaling their flaws, strengths, and growth.

Green audiobook cover; the title overlays a sketched feathered birdA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas (GraphicAudio; 16 h) is the second entry in the Court of Thorns and Roses series, which is about how a teenage human copes after she's been transported to the world of the Faeries while hunting in the woods. This audiobook edition is a full-cast dramatization, performed by Melody Muze, Anthony Palmini, Henry W. Kramer, and others. The audiobook, which was released in two parts (the linked review is to part 1), includes sound effects and music to create an immersive experience. The AudioFile reviewer was particularly impressed with how the narrators homed in on the characters' emotional centers.

Brown and cream audiobook book cover; the title overlays two women kissingEven though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk (Recorded Books; 4 h) is a stand-alone mashup of fantasy and noir mystery performed by January LaVoy. If Helen, a detective with magical abilities, can find the vampire who's terrorizing Chicago, she hopes to be able to get out of her deal with the devil. One major problem: she has only three days. If she succeeds, she might have a chance to find a happy future with the woman she loves. LaVoy works her own magic, enrapturing listeners with her nuanced and thoughtful performance of this twisty historical fantasy.

A brightly colored audiobook cover; the title overlays the upper body of a womanMaxine Justice: Galactic Attorney by Daniel Schwabauer (Oasis Audio; 9 h) is a fast-paced legal thriller played out on a galactic stage and read by Aimee Lilly. Maxine, a struggling personal injury lawyer, gets the chance to take a high-profile case representing an alien medical researcher who claims to have a miracle cure for all that ails humans. Even in the future, big pharma isn't really looking to heal the sick, and Max soon finds herself on their enemies list. Lilly's spot-on delivery of Max's humor, feistiness, and determination makes this audiobook a winner.

Pink audiobook cover with the title interwoven in an African-inspired abstract of a woman's headMoon Witch, Spider King by Marion James (Penguin Audio; 31 h) is the second installment in the Dark Star trilogy. This audiobook puts a powerful 177-year-old female witch on center stage, where she provides an alternate perspective on the magical African-inspired world introduced in the first audiobook by a male tracker. Narrator Bahni Turpin's talents are in full bloom, as she gives each character a unique and appropriate voice all the while honoring the pace and rhythm of the author's style. The audiobook takes listeners along as the witch discovers and then learns to use her powers.

Green audiobook cover; the title is bordered by witches on broomsticksWitches Abroad by Terry Pratchett (Penguin Audio; 10 h) is the twelfth entry in the beloved Discworld series, which takes listeners on adventures across a 10,000-mile-wide (and disc-shaped) world. This new audiobook edition of the story of how a godmother-witch must prevent a marriage in order to save her kingdom is principally narrated by Indira Varma, who delivers on the humor and picks up on the characters' unique traits. Peter Serafinowicz and Bill Nighy perform supporting roles. Both new and old fans of the Discworld universe will be delighted by this audiobook.

To learn about the top audiobooks of the year in other genres, be sure to visit AudioFile's Best of 2022 webpage. For exclusive interviews with the narrators of these winning audiobooks, tune in (and subscribe) to the magazine's Behind the Mic podcast.

Photo credits: January LaVoy photo by Todd Cerveri; Bahni Turpin photo Linda Posnick.


Nise' 12/5/22, 9:06 AM  

Not my usual genre to read, but always gravitate towards anything read by January Lavoy!

Tina 12/5/22, 9:59 AM  

A book with a secret library always gets my attention. I very much liked The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

Kathy Martin 12/5/22, 10:49 AM  

So many intriguing titles! I can't wait to read Maxine Justice which I just added to my TBR pile. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

Yvonne 12/5/22, 3:06 PM  

They all look good. I have to get back to listening to audio books. I stopped earlier in the year. I know there are some great cozy mysteries on audio.

Have a great week!

Literary Feline 12/5/22, 6:51 PM  

I have print copies of Marion James series on my TBR shelf and am looking forward to reading them. The Atlas Six is another one I hope to read. Both Even Thought I Knew the End and Maxine Justice are new titles to me but both sound good. There's just too many tempting books out there.

Greg 12/5/22, 7:48 PM  

Ooh I just finished the Atlas Six! I can only imagine it on audio!

Jen at Introverted Reader 12/5/22, 9:45 PM  

This is the second time I've seen Even Though I Knew the End mentioned positively in about a 15-minute period. I'll take that as a sign to add it to my TBR. :-) I do like Polk's Kingston Cycle books.

Thanks for sharing!

Laurie C 12/5/22, 10:28 PM  

Oh, wow! Fantastic list! I've only listened to The Atlas Six already, so I'll be adding several of these to my TBL list for sure.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 12/6/22, 4:33 PM  

These are some exceptionally good titles.

Les in Oregon 12/8/22, 7:11 PM  

Thanks for sharing this! I'm adding Even Thought I Knew the End to my Libro.fm list for 2023. It sounds great!

Harvee 1/13/23, 4:20 AM  

I had to return the audio of Moon Witch to the library as I didn't get to it. I might try again tho I don't read fantasy normally.

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