As Emily Dickinson famously said, there is nothing as frigging awesome as a book. And there's no better present than a cool-looking book, that can adorn someone's coffee table but also provide hours of mind-expanding entertainment. Here are 23 science fiction book gifts your friends will love.
The Art of John Harris - Beyond the Horizon
You've admired Harris' artwork on tons of book covers, including John Scalzi's Old Man's War novels. But now, here's a chance to admire a ton of his artwork in way more detail, without any distractions like book titles in the way. (See some more of his work here). Titan Books has been killing it lately with collections of great cover artists, and you'll see a couple more of those further down the list. This is going for just under $22 on Amazon.
The Complete Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Now that this series is complete, your friend who's never quite gotten around to reading any of it can just race through all 14 books in one go. And there's a handy collection of the entire series for the Kindle, which you can buy for your friend to download instantly. (Or you can get them all in paperback in a box set.)
The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson
Speaking of fantasy epics, this ginormous hardcover isn't just a cool collectible with more awesome Westeros art. Instead, it's the ridiculously detailed history of Martin's fictional world, including tons of details that have been hinted at in the books but are spelled out here. Get this for your friend who's watched the TV series but still has no clue why the Greyjoys are such jerks. It's just $25 on Amazon.
The Peripheral (Signed) by William Gibson
This is one of our favorite science fiction books of 2014, and not just because it marks Gibson's return to the future after a long sojourn in the present. And you can get a signed hardcover from Barnes & Noble for just $19.39. Better order this before Gibson's wrist gets tired.
Structura 3: The Art of Sparth
Speaking of artists we love... Nicolas "Sparth" Bouvier does spaceships and futuristic awesomeness better than anybody. We love his book covers and concept art for Halo and other properties, and we've gushed over his work before. Now at last, he's putting out a third volume of his art book series. The bad news? It's not out until February, so you'd have to preorder it for your friends. Or just buy the first two volumes.
Star Wars Art: Posters, Foreword by Drew Struzan
It's 180 pages of incredibly beautiful Star Wars posters, ranging from the first ever posters for the original film to some cool limited edition art posters that came out recently. Even your friends who have every Star Wars thing might not have this, and it's an ornament to anyone's coffee table. Just under $30 on Amazon.
The Magicians Trilogy Boxed Set by Lev Grossman
Have your friends not read these books yet? Now is the perfect time to get them the set. Firstly, it's now a complete trilogy, so there's closure on all the stuff that matters. Secondly, it's soon to be a TV series from Syfy. And there's a handsome-looking boxed set which collects all three neatly-designed hardcovers. It's $53 on Amazon.
The Hobbit: 75th Anniversary Edition by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is cheating somewhat, since this didn't come out in 2014 — but this deluxe edition of The Hobbit is a great gift for your friends. It includes the corrected and reset text, an intro by Christopher Tolkien, and all of Tolkien's own original illustrations. The Kindle edition comes with an audio file.
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions)
Barnes & Noble has done a ton of these hardcover "Collectible Editions" of science fiction and fantasy books, and they all look splendid. This one, in particular, features a really cool version of the classic "Don't Panic" cover design, and has everything Douglas Adams ever wrote in this universe. (In prose, at least.) Other collectible editions from B&N include Jurassic Park and The Lost World in one leatherbound volume, The Foundation Trilogy, three Ray Bradbury classics, all of H.P. Lovecraft, seven Jules Verne novels in one collection, and Frank Herbert's Dune.
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
VanderMeer's trilogy reminded us how powerful and thrilling weird fiction could be, and was more of our favorite fiction from 2014. And now there's a single collected volume that looks totally badass. It's just $22.32 on Amazon.
The Art of Jim Burns: Hyperluminal
And here's another fantastic cover artist whose paintings are worth staring at for hours in their own right. This collection includes a ton of amazing book covers, featuring clean lines and mind-blowing imagery. But also Burns' work on Blade Runner and Ridley Scott's unfilmed version of Dune. It's just under $25 on Amazon.
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Volume 2, edited by Gordon Van Gelder
It's hard to believe how many of your favorite stories first saw print in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction over its long and proud history. This second volume is just as packed with brilliance as the first, and is a really superb survey of the best of the field. It's just over $10 on Amazon, and you can get both volumes for $22.
The Compleat Ankh-Morpork by Terry Pratchett
This hardcover is a complete "street directory" to Pratchett's fictional city of Ankh-Morpork, including a lovely pull-out map. Want to find your way to the Dwarf Bread Museum? This has you covered. It's just $24 on Amazon.
Fool's Assassin (Signed) by Robin Hobb
Brian Froud's Faeries' Tales by Brian Froud and Wendy Froud
Nobody does fantasy art like the guy who gave us The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. This book is chock full of beautiful, perverse, disturbing images of faeries in nature. It's just $30 on Amazon.
Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Basically, this is nearly 250,000 words of short fiction, covering most of the breakout authors of the past 14 years. A ton of the most award-winning and acclaimed stories are in here, but even more than that, this book is just a great survey of what's happening in the field now. [Full disclosure: Nielsen Hayden is my editor at Tor Books.] This is just $24 for a nice hardcover, or under $9 for the Kindle.
Harry Potter Hardcover Boxed Set, Books 1-7
Here's another one that didn't come out this year — but it's the best present ever for your friends who love J.K. Rowling's novels. It's all seven books, in beautiful hardcovers, inside a "decorative, trunk-like box" with bonus decorative stickers. Mostly, it just looks hella cool. It's sold out on Amazon, but it's just $195 at Powells and just $117 at Barnes & Noble.
The Art of Destiny by Bungie
This space opera game made huge waves this year, and this art book appears to be just jaw-droppingly beautiful. It's 216 pages of fantastic art, for just $30.
The Giver Quartet Boxed Set by Lois Lowry
The movie may have failed, but at least it gave us this beautiful box of hardcover editions of all four books, plus a brand new map. It's going for around $31 on Amazon.
The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta
The way we think about movie magic has been totally shaped by Weta over the past 20 years, and it's incredible just how much they've been able to bring to life. From Lord of the Rings to The Avengers to District 9, this book includes just insane amounts of beautiful art and designs that will make you lose your shit. It's going for $63.64 on Amazon, and totally worth it.
The Time Traveler's Almanac, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer
And here's another massive, shelf-breaking anthology: nearly 70 stories, across 960 pages, detailing the whole history of time travel storytelling. All of the greats are in here, and if you think you've seen every weird time-travel twist, you'll probably find some brand new ones in here. It's currently just $7.98 in hardcover.
The Art of Fred Gambino: Dark Shepherd
And here's one more collection of book cover art. Fred Gambino's cosmic artwork adorned a ton of Isaac Asimov books, among others, and seeing all of it in one place will fill you with a sense of awe and excitement all over again. It's just under $25 on Amazon.
The Claw of the Conciliator Collector's Edition by Gene Wolfe
Here's a slight change from the brand new collector's editions and deluxe reissues — this 1981 special edition of the second book in Wolfe's Book of the New Sun quartet is bound in leather and has an incredibly cool sword image embossed on it. And you can get it on Amazon for about $69, startling and amazing your Wolfe-obsessed friends.