Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mary's Best SF of 2008

I’m one of those people who doesn’t do New Year’s resolutions or “Year’s Best “ lists. My brain just does not really work that way, but Kimber An asked us to come up with a list of our best reads of 2008 so I thought I would play along. I was so caught up in a huge home remodeling project that I’ve only read a handful of books since mid summer so, I have a top five list and some honorable mentions, not a top ten, and just fair warning, almost all the books are part of series. Again, just seems to be the way my mind works.

The list is in no particular order

1) Girl Genus -
This might be a bit of a cheat, since it is an on-line graphic novel / comic, and it has been around for a while, but it was new to me this year. Spunky, heroine, fun steampunk graphics. Well worth checking out.

2) Victory of Eagles Naomi Novik. This is the fifth book in the Temeraire saga, a cross between Anne McCaffery’s Dragonrider books, and Patrick O'Brian’s British Naval yarns. If you like fantasy that is more than just a script for a round of D & D you really need to read about Temeraire an his captain, but you will need to start at the beginning of the series with His Magisty’s Dragon. This series is one of the most entertaining in SF/Fantasy right now and this book would be one of my top two reads for the year.

3) The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest Edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow. This is anthology is more Fantasy, and it’s from 2004, so it’s not new but I got it as a gift last Christmas and saved the stories for little treats throughout this year. I’ve been a fan of Terry Whindling’s anthologies since the Bordertown books back in the mid ‘80’s, and over the years I’ve seldom been disappointed with anything edited by Windling and Datlow. Their compilations entertain, but they also make you think, often at the same time.

4) Sly Mongoose Tobias Buckell. Swashbuckling cyber/steam punk Caribbean Space Opera. What’s not to love? The third interrelated book set in Buckell’s far future universe. I reviewed it earlier this year for Enduring Romance.

5) Order 66: Republic Commando 4 Karen Traviss . Yes it’s a media tie-in book. Yes it’s based on characters from a video game. Yes it’s military SF. Forget all that. Seriously. This is my best read of 2008. Traviss is talented writer who creates complex characters with hearts and guts and puts them in challenging situations where there are no easy answers. Order 66 is the conclusion of a four book series centered on the four clone commandos who make up Omega squad. The series starts with Hard Contact. After reading this series you will never look at anything in the Star War’s Universe the same way again. You don’t have to have a Princess Leia costume in you closet or be a member of the fighting 501st to enjoy this series, it truly transcends the source material and is as good as any ongoing SF series out there.

Honorable mentions:

Shades of Dark - Linnea Sinclaire. Sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost. Yummy SFR

Judge – Karen Traviss. This is in Traviss’s own Wess'har universe, so if you’re allergic to media tie-in books you can still give her work a try. Start with City of Pearl you will not be sorry.

Ghost Brigades, Last Colony – John Scalzi. Fun, character driven space opera. Great “gateway” books for people still getting their feet wet on reading SF. Heinlein without all the weird sex hang-ups.

And lastly just to blow my own horn a little bit. Not From Around Here, Are You? - Ed by Woody Carsky-Wilson. An anthology of work by Cincinnati area writers, which contains some SF and Fantasy including a sort story by me.

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