Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SF&F “Best Of” 2007 (the definite list!)

The staff at Locus Online has gathered several “best of” 2007 lists from various internet sources which they deemed referential – the lists that contain memorable science fiction, fantasy and horror releases of the past year; afterwards they counted the number of times that a certain book was mentioned and then composed their own “best of” list categorizing the novels according to the number of times they were mentioned. If you noticed, I keep bracketing the word best of, the meaning of me doing this will be disclosed soon enough. Now back to the topic at hand - The staff at Locus Online looks at the "best of" lists from some of the more widely popular sites that usualy aim for the interests of a more general public (, Publishers Weekly, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Library journal,, New York times and Los Angeles Times), as well as at the lists of a few devoted genre blogs and other fan sites (SF Site, Bookgasm, Fantasy Magazine and Strange Horizons). You can look at the expanded version of the list here, but the stripped down version of the list that cites the most mentioned novels, is essentially as follows:

• J.K. Rowling - “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (YA fantasy; mentioned on 8 lists)
• Ian McDonald - Brasyl” (science fiction; mentioned on 7 lists)
• Michael Chabon - “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” (alternative history interwoven with various elements of the science fiction genre; mentioned on 6 lists)
• Dan Simmons - “The Terror” (horror; mentioned on 6 lists)
• Patrick Rothfuss - “The Name of the Wind” (epic fantasy; mentioned on 5 lists)
• Richard K. Morgan - “Thirteen”(GB title) / “Black Man”(USA title) (sf noir thriller; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Guy Gavriel Kay – “Ysabel” (contemporary YA fantasy; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Kay Kenyon - “Bright of the Sky” (sf; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Emma Bull - “Territory” (magical realism in the wild-west; mentioned on 3 lists) ...there is also an insigtful review at Jumpdrive and Cantrips
• David Anthony Durham – “Acacia: War With the Main” (epic fantasy; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Matt Ruff - “Bad Monkeys” (surreal story with a pinch of Philip K. Dick and David Lynch; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Shaun Tan - "The Arrival" (graphical novel with fantastic elements; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Robert Charles Wilson – “Axis” (sf; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Susan Palwick – “Shelter” (sf; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Kathleen Ann Goonan – “In War Times” (alternative history; mentioned on 3 lists)
William Gibson “Spook Country” (if it is a sf novel, then it would be a very dubious classification; mentioned on 3 lists)

This list, conveyed at Locus Online, presents a good balance between popular and quality genre prose, although it lacks many quality (as well as popular) releases of 2007. In my opinion, Locus Online’s source-pool should include more of the genre enthusiast blogs and fan sites (such as The Wertzone, OF Blog of The Fallen, Neth Space, Pat’s Fantasy Holist etc.) to provide a livelier and I believe more accurate list - these sites (blogs) are becoming more and more recognized among exceedingly aware and informed genre fans, as prominent opinion generators, spin-doctors and in some cases an extension of the book publishing PR and advertisement departments. There are just some titles and authors, which should have been mentioned at the top of their respective genres in the year of 2007.

A few days ago I’ve encountered another “Best f&sf of 2007” list, this one generated on Visions of Paradise. It partly copies the Locus Online “best of” list, but goes through the lists of some sites that weren’t accounted for at Locus (blog's author examines 20 different “best of” lists, some of them overlapping with the ones that Locus Online looked at), and his list turns out a bit more representative. The most notable titles missed by Locus Online are:

• Joe Abercrombie – “The Blade Itself” (epic fantasy; mentioned on 7 lists)
• Scott Lynch – “Red Seas Under Red Skies” (epic fantasy; mentioned on 6 lists)
• Alastair Reynolds – “The Perfect” (sf; mentioned on 6 lists)
• Charles Stross – “Halting State” (sf; mentioned on 6 lists)
• Mark J. Ferrari – “The Book Of Joby” (fantasy take on a biblical story; mentioned on 5 lists)
• Catherynne M. Valente – “The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin & Spice” (YA fantasy in the vein of 1001 Nights; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Peter F. Hamilton – “The Dreaming Void” (space opera; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Elizabeth Hand – “Generation Loss” (uncategorisable; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Nalo Hopkinson – “The New Moon’s Arms” (mainstream magical realism; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Jay Lake – “Mainspring” (high concept space opera; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Paul J. McAuley – “Cowboy Angels” (sf technothriller; mentioned on 4 lists)
• John Scalzi – “The Last Colony” (sf; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Karl Schroeder – “Queen of Candesce” (sf; mentioned on 4 lists)
• Lucius Shepard – “Sofspoken” (mentioned on 4 lists)
• Daniel Abraham – “A Betrayal In Winter” (epic fantasy; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Tobias Buckell – “Ragamuffin” (space opera; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Steven Erikson – “Reaper’s Gale” (epic fantasy; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Joe Haldeman – “The Accidental Time Machine” (hard sf; mentioned on 3 lists)
• John Crowley – “Endless Things” (alternative history; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Ken Macleod – “The Execution Channel” (sf; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Caitlin R. Kiernan – “Daughter of Hounds” (dark fantasy; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Susan Palwick – “Shelter” (near-future sf; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Terry Prattchet – “Making Money” (fantasy; mentioned on 3 lists)
• Kim Stanley Robinson – “Sixty Days and counting” (sf; mentioned on 3 lists)

Now this list a bit more “wholesome”, but since I don’t believe in any !definite! "best of" list, there should be a lot of novels, that were or were not mentioned on any of the lists I’ve had the time to look through, but are of a high enough quality to be mentioned - and these are:

“Pirate Freedom” (by Gene Wolfe), “The Fade” (by Chris Wooding), “Auralia’s Colors” (by Jeffrey Overstreet), “Un Lun Dun” (by China Mieville), “Rainbow’s End” – a Hugo award winner! (by Vernor Vinge), “Privilege of The Sword” – a Hugo nominee (by Ellen Kushner), “Wintersmith” (by Terry Prattchet), “Children of Húrin” (by J.R.R.Tolkien), “God’s Demon” (by Wayne Barlowe), “The Last Wish” (by Andrzej Sapkowski), “The Mirador” (by Sarah Monette), “Shadow Bridge” (by Gregory Frost), “Undertow” (by Elizabeth Bear) and “Thunderer” (by Felix Gilman).

I also wouldn’t be surprised if the following novels made it on the “best of” 2007 list: “Deadstock” - available free online version (by Jeffrey Thomas), “Fatal Revenant” (by Stephen R.Donaldson), “Mainspring” (by Jay Lake), “Mistborn: Well of Ascension” (by Brandon Sanderson), “The Metatemporal Detective” (by Michael Moorcock), “The Traitor” (by Michael Cisco), “His Majesty’s Dragon”a Hugo nominee (by Naomi Novik), “The Court of the Air” (by Stephen Hunt), “The Inferior” (by Peadar O Guilin), or “Stealing Light” (by Gary Gibson).

All of the above mentioned titles are worthy of your attention, so go forth, acquire, read and then comment upon - I insist. If you think I’ve done some author or another a terrible injustice by not mentioning him/her please feel free to add them in your comments.



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