I’ve been looking back on what I’ve read in 2009 and I’m surprised just how much variation there has been in my reading. Before this year I pretty much stuck firmly with sci-fi, but with some excellent fantasy novels out in recent years I let a few of them slip into my reading, as well as some urban fantasy. Since enjoying them so much I’ve been slowly adding more to my to-read pile in the hope that I’ll get around to them, but that hasn’t gone entirely to plan (more about this, and other general stuff in my post looking forward to 2010).
So, I’m sticking with listing the best science fiction books I’ve read in 2009 that were also released this year. I’ve had some debate on how to narrow down the list of books I’ve reviewed, but I think what I’ve listed represents the best of what I’ve read this year. I’ve also got some honourable mentions below these along with some disappointments, so scroll down to see what else I think you should get around to.
For all the below make sure you visit the original reviews for a more in-depth look at them.
1. Orbus by Neal Asher
Definitely the best space opera released this year and a superb finale to the Spatterjay series. Neal brings all his usual flair and unique aliens to the mix in what can only be described as one of his finest novels to date.
2. Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
This is a book that I see making it on to a fair few best reads lists. A book that brings a very familiar flavour to the genre in the Firefly comparisons that has been earned in the wake of its release is one that is more than worthy of a place in the top three sf releases of the year.
3. Twisted Metal by Tony Ballantyne
With an interesting premise and a complete robot cast this is a book that can offer many surprises. As the first book in the series I couldn’t recommend this one highly enough.
4. Seeds of Earth by Michael Cobley
The first in a new space opera series – and a very promising start it is too. With plenty of intrigue and some very vivid depictions of an alien planet that isn’t a million miles away from what you’ll see in the recently released Avatar, this is definitely one to pick up.
5. Xenopath by Eric Brown
The second of the Bengal Station books featuring psychic detective Jeff Vaughan is another excellent novel and self-contained story. It’s well worth picking up the first book, Necropath, and follow this series for some very good detective fiction set in a great place.
6. Mirror Space by Marianne de Pierres
The third in the Sentients of Orion series and this book takes events up a notch to deliver some very good space opera with great plotting and excellent set pieces. Another series you should read – start with Dark Space and follow that up with Chaos Space.
7. Nova War by Gary Gibson
Here’s yet another space opera that’s part of an ongoing series, this time book 2 of 3. The first book, Stealing Light, was enjoyable enough, but Nova War opens the series up to much more interesting things.
Other Favourite Reads
The Warded Man by Peter V Brett
This is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. The world and characters set this one apart from many books I’ve read and the sequel, The Desert Spear, is one of the most highly anticipated books for 2010.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Another fantasy novel that has had its fair share of praise since release. This one also stands above a lot of books, but it’s the sheer story-telling power that Rothfuss has that entertains so much.
Ragamuffin & Sly Mongoose by Tobias S Buckell
I’ve taken a while to catch up on Buckell’s two sequels to Crystal Rain, but they were both hugely enjoyable and would easily have made my top five if I had read them in the year of release. This series is a good one to pick up from an author that will always be on my radar.
Black Magic Woman & Evil Ways by Justin Gustainis
I’ve read bits here and there in the urban fantasy genre, but these two books are ones that I’ve enjoyed more than others. There is a third due out in the future, but I’m not entirely sure when, but it’s one that I’m really looking forward to.
Journey Into Space by Toby Litt
Such a shame that this just didn’t fulfill the promise it initially showed. I was really looking forward to this too, but I guess a sci-fi book from a mainstream author just didn’t make the cut…
The Grand Conjunction by Sean Williams
A real disappointment as the finale of the series. Spread over such a length of time I just lost the focus that I was struggling with at the end of Earth Ascendant. If you think you can handle a story told over hundreds of thousands of years then by all means give the series a go…