My Top Ten Science Fiction books of the last
year are a mix of styles and tropes, from Literary to Hard SF and, of course,
the obligatory Space Opera.
So, in no particular order, I loved the new Neal Asher, Polity Agent, as we rejoined Agent Cormac of the Human Polity to once again engage the mysterious Dragon and to try and rid the Polity of the insidious Jain technology. Asher is on form again this year with his trademark blend of action, big ideas and great characters. Also delivering good Space Opera action is Elizabeth Moon with the latest continuation of the Vatta saga, a fantastic mix of intrigue, skirmishes and revenge that delivers a great, relaxed read.
The Mammoth Book of Best New Science Fiction Volume 19 is the latest in the now legendary annual collections put together by Gardner Dozois and contains some of the best short fiction from the last year in SF. A must for all fans of the short story, this also has a great overview of the last year by the editor that is almost as rewarding as the stories themselves.
Two single author collections made my shortlist this year; the excellent Galactic North from Alastair Reynolds, featuring a cross section of original and re-printed works, but perhaps more impressive was Kim Newman’s The Man From the Diogenese Club. Published by US small press MonkeyBrain, this is the complete collection of Richard Jeperson stories and the secret British government society named in the title. A wonderful blend of The Avengers and the X-Files, this was truly a reward to the dedicated SF fan.
Two more US titles made my top ten this year, Crossover by Joel Shepherd and Paragaea by Chris Roberson. Shepherd’s book is a high action, gritty techno thriller that reads like a cross between Ghost in the Shell and Richar Morgan’s Altered Carbon, introducing the artificial human Cassandra Kresnov in her fight for the right to survive. Chris Roberson’s Paragaea is a wonderful homage to the planetary romances of authors like Edger Rice Burroughs and features a Russian cosmonaut who crashes on an alternate world and ends up adventuring with a Napoleonic era British naval officer and a humanoid Jaguar man. Retro in every sense of the word, this is a wonderful story, beautifully realised and hugely entertaining.
On a more literary note there are two outstanding books this year, M. John Harrison’s Nova Swing and Geoff Ryman’s Air. Including Air is a bit of a cheat as it was out last year in hardcover, but Ryman’s novel about the implications of communications technology and the effect it has on the everyday person masterfully done and deserves the extra mention.Harrison’s latest book, a follow up to the wonderful Light, is a somewhat grim yet fascinating return as tourism meets the; expanding Kefahuchi Tract of the previous book.
Lastly we have Tim Power’s Three Days to Never, his first full length novel for about five years, featuring a blend of thriller, paranormal and SF that will be familiar to fans of his last few novels. Mossad agents, WWII era plots and strange time travelling phenomena don’t go even part way to describing this one, but it was worth the wait!
Engaging the Enemy - Vatta's War S. Bk. 3 - Elizabeth Moon
Polity Agent by Neal Asher
Crossover: A Cassandra Kresnov Novel by Joel Shepherd
Paragaea: A Planetary Romance by Chris Roberson
The Man from the Diogenes Club by Kim Newman
The Mammoth Book of Best New Science Fiction by Gardner Dozois
Nova Swing - Gollancz SF S. by M.John Harrison
Air - by Geoff Ryman
Galactic North - by Alastair Reynolds
Three Days to Never by Tim Powers
What are your top ten SF titles of the year?
What would get you vote for top title ever?