I reviewed 34 books this year, plus one audio book, which is a fair amount for me considering the blog was only a minor outlet until July/August time (I only reviewed 8 books in the first half of the year).
I’ve had the pleasure this year to read so many great books, to have contact with both great publishers and authors and, of course, everyone that reads and comments on the blog – it’s a great feeling to know that people actually do read what I post and comment on the blog, whether they agree with me or not. I’ll look forward to more of this in 2009, but more of that in my new year post coming up later in the week 😉
Putting time into the blog is one of the most rewarding things I could have done. I’ve discovered that there are so many books out there that I never really got around to as a casual reader of sci-fi and spreading the word about these great stories puts a smile on my face. While looking back at the books I’ve got around to this year there are some that really stand out, and that’s what this post is here for: the books that I’ve enjoyed above all others and would recommend without hesitation – in short the books I think you should read. I’ve only included what was released this year in my top 5, but there are a couple of special mentions at the end. So, without further ado…
Although this wasn’t the book that got my highest rating this year, it is by far the most deserving of the top spot. As the second part in a trilogy it had the benefit of all the set up in place from The Dreaming Void, but also in the tight spot of having to carry a lot forward for The Evolutionary Void. It carried everything off exactly as it should have done and is the only book that I’ve re-read this year and was even more rewarding the second time around. Peter F Hamilton is back at his best with the first two books of the Void trilogy and the mix of hard sf and the fantasy style sections of the Void play off each other perfectly. If you haven’t started this trilogy yet you are missing out o some of the best sf out there – I’m just hoping that the wait for the conclusion isn’t too long!
2. Kethani by Eric Brown
Possibly the ‘softest’ of all science fiction I read this year, but by far the most profound. I can’t say much more about it that I didn’t put in my review – check it out for the full breakdown on why you should read it!
This was an absolute blast from cover to cover – the humour is spot on and it also takes the typical fantasy stereotypes and mocks them thoroughly! Not only will it put a smile on your face throughout, but if you look past the witty dialogue you’ll find a setting with so much depth and promise. Here’s hoping James Barclay comes back to this setting in the not too distant future
Toby Frost has been my find of the year – both of these books are excellent sci-fi with humour running throughout – I found these especially good because they are set in a fully realised universe, the sort I love. What Toby does is bring witty dialogue and great prose along with a typically British approach. Must reads.
5. The Gabble and Other Stories by Neal Asher
The king of weird, wonderful and gruesome alien creations, Neal Asher hits all the right spots with this collection of short stories set in his Polity universe. I love Neal’s stuff and his short fiction is always guaranteed to entertain – it’s through his collections that I got really hooked and found some of the best ideas I’ve seen in science fiction today.
Honourable Mention 1
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Although this wasn’t published this year I only discovered the excellent Scalzi in July and have since gone on to read both The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. I’m aiming to get Zoe’s Tale soon enough as the prose John Scalzi delivers makes the pages turn like nothing else.
Honourable Mention 2
Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell
Another great author I only discovered this year and one I plan on keeping track of in the future. With a unique combination of Caribbean culture and space opera this is a fresh take that I really enjoyed.
Disappointment of the Year
House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
I’ve read quite a few things by Alastair Reynolds and I’ve come to expect some high quality stuff, but this just didn’t hit he spot at all. A real shame