Today I'm going to explore the Science Fiction Books I listened to in 2008.
I heard some awesome books. And some that weren't so good.
To the List - The Best Science Fiction Book of the Year:
Since it's the category with the most books I consumed this year, I'm giving you the top ten. I read some really good ones and some disappointing ones. Now some of these were sold as Mainstream novels, but I believe that if it feels like SF and sounds like SF then it is SF. Without Further adieu:
10. Idlewild by Nick Sagan. This was kind of the Matrix but with a little more “new” and a little less Messiah. I liked it.
9. The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi. In my opinion this is the best of his series, qualified by noting that I haven't read Zoe's Tale yet. It's a fast-paced adventure with all the best storytelling elements taken right from Carl Yung's archetypes and Joe Campbell's monomyth structure. Competent and emotional at the same time.
8. Thirteen by Richard K Morgan. Morgan holds nothing back – the violence is brutal, the sex is raw, and the commentary on how masculinity and race engender fear from 'normal' society is unguarded. The protagonist is the traditional hero – someone that the 'village' fears, but needs because he has the skills and power of the savages, but when the savages are vanquished, the hero himself becomes the greatest threat. It's fast and fun like a roller coaster without seatbelts or lap restraints.
7. To Your Scattered Bodies Go: A Riverwold Novel by Philip Jose Farmer. This classic took me a long time to get around to reading and I'm glad I did. A science fiction version of the afterlife complete with a larger than life hero, Sir Richard Burton. I thoroughly enjoyed it although I wouldn't put it in my ultimate top-100 essential science fiction novel list.
6. City at the End of Time by Greg Bear. This new novel is a very ambitious undertaking for Mr. Bear. He proposes a unified theory of all science and mathematics through language – specifically through a library of infinite knowledge. He pulls it off and it's fascinating, if a bit esoteric for my taste in places.
5. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. Beautiful language and surrealism in a tale about mystic visions given by and to the protagonist, Toru Okada AKA “Mr Wind-Up Bird.” I include it as science fiction because the past and the present are strands of the same story and the women in the story came and go as the Toru Okada moves through what appear to be multiple dimensions, each of which finds him occupying a different role and creating a different reality. Murakami is among my favorite authors along with Hemingway and Vonnegut.
4. Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon. I read this book because so many authors referred to it as a seminal, prophetic work in the field. Written in 1937 by Stapledon, a British philosopher, the story runs through billions of years and infinite distances as the author tackles creation, alien thought and physiology, and the distraction of God as an artist rather than a paternal creator. It's beautiful and stunning and kind of blew me away despite its build-up.
3. Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk. The first thing about this book is that it's disgusting and the characters have very few, if any, redeeming value. The second thing about this book is that I couldn't put it down. It grabbed me from the start and threw a genre staple right on its head when Palahniuk asks some important questions like what happens if time travel paradoxes don't exist at all? It's great, but not for a weak stomach or faint composition.
2. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. The earth is enveloped by a sphere of impregnable material that isolates us from the rest of the galaxy. Why? Who did it? And is it a bad thing? These are the questions asked, answered and at that moment the story just blows you away.
1. The best science fiction book of the year for me was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It's a simple story of a dying man trying to teach his nine-year old son how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world devoid food and filled with feral humans. It's dark, foreboding, brilliant to the extreme and fulfills every promise of this genre we call Science Fiction. I just wish it'd been a science fiction writer who'd delivered it.
ps. Sorry, Rose. No female authors made my list this year.
The Whole List Folks:
|Haruki||Murakami||The Wind Up Bird Chronicle||26:05:57||Rupert||Degas|
|Greg||Bear||City at the End of Time||21:45:42||Charles||Lugget|
|Philip Jose||Farmer||Riverworld 01 – To Your Scattered Bodies Go||7:40:57||Paul||Hecht|
|John||Scalzi||The Ghost Brigades||10:22:42||Jim||Ziegert|
|Michael||Chabon||The Yiddish Policeman's Union||12:41:25||Peter||Reigert|
|John||Scalzi||The Last Colony||9:59:42||Jim||Ziegert|
|Cory||Doctorow||Eastern Standard Tribe||4:36:32||Cory||Doctorow|
|Vernor||Vinge||A Deepness in the Sky||28:24:09||Gary||Tipton|
|John||Twelve Hawks||The Dark River||12:54:57||Scott||Brick|
|Neal||Stephenson||Baroque Cycle 1 - Quicksilver||22:01:33||Simon||Prebble|
|Harry||Turtledove||Worldwar 01 - In the Balance||23:26:54||Roy||Avers|
|Harry||Turtledove||Worldwar 02 - Tilting the Balance||22:07:53||Roy||Avers|
|Harry||Turtledove||Worldwar 03 - Upsetting the Balance||22:51:51||Roy||Avers|