My Favourite Reads of 2008

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 ūüėČ

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…

the-temporal-void1. The Temporal Void by Peter F Hamilton
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!

kethani2. 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!

vault-of-deeds3. Vault of Deeds by James Barclay

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 :)

space-captain-smith4. Space Captain Smith & The God Emperor of Didcot by Toby Frost

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.

the-gabble5. 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.

old-mans-warHonourable 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.

crystal-rainHonourable 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.

house-of-sunsDisappointment 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 :(


Orphanage by Robert Buettner

40 years in the future and the alien menace, the slugs, are killing humanity one shot at a time. Launching asteroids from their bases on Ganymede they are wiping out anything in their way, not to destroy the planet but to clear it of humans so they can move in and make it their own. With the population of Earth doing all they can to continue surviving amidst the devastation, a troubled youth, Jason Wander, finds himself signed up to the army. Continue reading “Orphanage by Robert Buettner”

An interview with Marianne de Pierres

marianne-de-pierresMarianne de Pierres, an Australian author of science fiction, is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. I discovered her last year when I read a great review of Dark Space and promptly went out to buy it. Since then I’ve read both Dark Space (review here) and the second novel in her Sentients of Orion sequence, Chaos Space (review here). This is turning into a great space opera and full of plenty of action, intrigue and political maneuvering, just what I like!

Marianne took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions, which I am very grateful for – I know she had been hard at work completing Mirror Space (book 3 of the Sentients of Orion). Her earlier novels, the Parrish Plessis books are on my to-buy list as I’ve heard a lot of great things about them. You can visit Marianne’s website here and also check out that of her publisher, Orbit, here. Also, courtesy of Orbit, there is an extract of Chaos Space up on their site – just have a look here. Continue reading “An interview with Marianne de Pierres”

Kéthani by Eric Brown

The Kethani are a peaceful alien race that make first contact on Earth in the early 21st century. White columns mysteriously appear across the globe at the same time causing questions and confusion. Shortly after all the world governments informed everyone of the arrival of the Kethani and the gift they have bought humanity: immortality. The stories contained within this collection are focused on a group of friends living in a small village in Yorkshire and the effects that the coming of the Kethani have on them and their lives. Continue reading “K√©thani by Eric Brown”

The Real Story by Stephen Donaldson

I picked up the recent Gollancz release omnibus of the Gap 1 & 2, The Real Story and Forbidden Knowledge, as I was interested to see what the series would be like. I decided to tackle The Real Story on its own first, hoping that what I found would give me enough of a taste to go forward with the rest of the series. I’m not sure whether this one is representative of the whole series though, it certainly reads like a stand alone story. Continue reading “The Real Story by Stephen Donaldson”

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan

Takeshi Kovacs is ex-Envoy, trained with conditioning that will transfer with regardless of what Sleeve he’s in. After being made an offer of work that he can’t refuse he’s re-sleeved in body that will turn heads while he carries out his investigation: did Laurence Bancroft commit suicide or was he, as he believes, murdered? Continue reading “Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan”

First and Only by Dan Abnett

Gaunt is Colonel-Commissar, leader of the Tanith First – the first and only. With their home world destroyed in an attack that happened as the first regiment was leaving they became the last survivors of the planet, gifting them their nickname, Ghosts. With exceptional tracking and scouting skills due to the unique moving forests on their world, Gaunt’s Ghosts are a formidable foe with many victories over the enemy, the forces of Chaos. Continue reading “First and Only by Dan Abnett”

Chaos Space by Marianne de Pierres

Mira has fled Araldis on Insignia – as an Innate only she can pilot the ship with the gene she has inherited from her father. Setting course to the nearest OLOSS system in search of help for Araldis, she faces continuous obstacles and questioning, not only about Araldis but of the Biozoon, Insignia, in which they show more than just a passing curiosity. Along with the group of mercenaries she picked up on Araldis, Mira and Insignia try to find help. Rast, the leader of the mercenaries, has some interesting contacts that will help them on the way. Continue reading “Chaos Space by Marianne de Pierres”

The Gabble and other stories by Neal Asher

The Gabble and other stories is a new collection of Neal’s shorter fiction with 10 short stories dating from 1999 through to this year. Anyone that has read Neal’s other collection, The Engineer ReConditioned, will know just what to expect from the man that is the master of weird, wonderful and downright gruesome alien creature creations. Add this to the great way in which Neal can quickly draw you into a story and you’ve got a must have collection of some of the best science fiction out there. Continue reading “The Gabble and other stories by Neal Asher”

Night of Knives by Ian C Esslemont

I’m fairly easy when it comes to getting books and knowing what I like in the science fiction genre, but when it comes to fantasy I don’t know where to start. I’ve tried some things in the past (the first Wheel of Time springs to mind – my brother lent me his copy as he’s working his way through the series) but I’ve got a chapter or so in to the book and find nothing that I like so I put it down. I decided that I really should try something else, I’ve read so many things on the various forums I visit about such great fantasy series’ that I’ve never bothered with before. Continue reading “Night of Knives by Ian C Esslemont”