Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The ULTIMATE (and somewhat bloated) Best Of 2008 List: Recap & Conclusion

Finally, here is the absolute "Ultimate Best Of 2008 List"! I perused every single article in this ongoing series of articles we've been posting over the last couple of months [links: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 & The RoSF List] and the linked sites that were referred to in each subsequent article, including the huge database of various 'best of' lists over at FANTASY BOOK CRITIC (link). Here I've compiled a list that's made up from all the books that were mentioned at least 6 (5) times (on different lists, of course, and regardless of the ranking, if the list in question happened to rank the books in any manner); also worth mentioning is that this is technically not a real 'best of' list, but more of a 'most popular' books list, since - among other things - some of the lists sorted the books from best to worst and others listed them in no particular order, making it very hard to determine the absolute winner of 2008. What is more, the books we've taken into account weren't necessarily released in 2008, they just had to be read last year. The books with the same number of mentions are listed in alphabetical order and are as follows.
1. Last Argument of Kings [review: 1, 2] – JOE ABERCROMBIE, 2008 (12 mentions)
Little BrotherCORY DOCTOROW, 2008 (12 mentions)
3. The Graveyard BookNEIL GAIMAN, 2008 (11 mentions)
4. AnathemNEAL STEPHENSON, 2008 (1o mentions)
5. The Name of the Wind [review coming soon] – PATRICK ROTHFUSS, 2007 (9 mentions)
6. The House of SunsALASTAIR REYNOLDS, 2008 (7 mentions)
The Shadow of the Wind [review coming soon] - CARLOS RUIZ ZAFON, 2001/2004 (translation) (7 mentions)
The Ten Thousand [Review] – PAUL KEARNEY, 2008 (7 mentions)
Thunderer [review coming soon] – FELIX GILMAN, 2008 (7 mentions)
The Terror [Review] – DAN SIMMONS, 2007 (7 mentions)
Toll the Hounds STEVEN ERIKSON, 2008 (7 mentions)
12. Caine Black KnifeMATTHEW W. STOVER, 2008 (6 mentions)
Pump Six and Other Stories (short story collection) – PAOLO BACIGALUPI, 2008 (6 mentions)
The Drowned Life (short story collection) – JEFFREY FORD, 2008 (6 mentions)
The Painted Man [Review] – PETER V. BRETT, 2008 (6 mentions)
The Steel Remains [review coming soon] – RICHARD MORGAN, 2008 (6 mentions)
A bit of STATISTICS for interlude: there were 518 different sf&f books mentioned in all the lists we used in our survey, but only 142 of those were mentioned more than once and only 74 were mentioned more than twice. Another interesting fact: while a lot of these ‘Best of 2008’ lists were not limited to books that were published in 2008, these books still prevail on overall.

What about the RUNNER-UPS? There are 10 books who missed the top of the chart by only one mention - and they're all just as (some even more in my opinion) interesting as the top tier:
17. Implied Spaces – WALTER JON WILLIAMS, 2008 (5 mentions)
Lavinia – URSULA K. LE GUIN, 2008 (5 mentions)
Matter – IAIN M. BANKS, 2008 (5 mentions)
Old Man's War [Review] – JOHN SCALZI, 2005 (5 mentions)
The Alchemy Of Stone – EKATARINA SEDIA, 2008 (5 mentions)
The Dragons of Babel – MICHAEL SWANWICK, 2008 (5 mentions)
The Engine's Child – HOLLY PHILLIPS, 2008 (5 mentions)
The Gone-Away World – NICK HARKAWAY, 2008 (5 mentions)
The Red Wolf Conspiracy [Review] – ROBERT V.S. REDICK, 2008 (5 mentions)
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (anthology) – ed. JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS, 2007 (5 mentions)
Congratulations to all the books that made it on this list (and to the ones that were left out by a small margin as well). There is not much to say really, since most of the books you see listed here have been getting a lot of attention (with a few exceptions) on the blogosphere and other relevant genre sites in the past year. Although this list reflects POPULARITY of books before anything else, it is still somewhat an indicator of the QUALITY of these books. We read only a handful of the titles listed above and we have the intention to correct this mistake in the future, but from what we've read we can agree with the pick in most cases. We're not going to write an opinion for each of the books and whether they deserve to be on the list or not, but I'd like to hear what the rest of you there a book that is missing on this list, but should be there? Or maybe one of the most popular books you see here doesn't deserve to be nearly as popular as it appears to be here? All in all, we've put much work into making this list and I hope it will give you at least a small insight into what went on in science fiction and fantasy genre in the past year.
Trin & Thrinidir


Zala said...

I'm adding all of these to my already too full to-read list. I think The Name of the Wind deserves the first place too, since it simply is one of the best books I have ever read. I am a little surprised everybody discovered it this year, though, since I have read it about 2 or 3 years ago, I believe. Oh well, the important thing is that the world now knows about it. :)

ThRiNiDiR said...

Hey Zala, thanks for dropping by. Stop by and let us know what you think of the books when you read them ;). We'll be definitely be reviewing some of them as well.


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