All Genres Books

Trinuviel’s Favorites

A Song of Ice and Fire by George Martin

Thanks to the members of BSC I recently discovered Martin’s epic series and it is now among my favorite fantasy books. Martin writes a story on an epic scale but it is really the wonderfully complex characters that carry this series. There are some truly shocking plot-developments and I love how his use of different POVs sometimes makes the reader re-evaluate certain characters (Jaime). His world is primarily inspired by late medieval England and he infuses Westeros with a level of realism that gives his books with a “feel” for history that is on a par with the best of historical fiction (they are, in fact, many points of comparison with the historical fiction of Sharon K. Penman), but at the same time he manages to infuse a magical quality to his world that reminds me of Tolkien. ASOIAF is an utterly captivating read, and I haven’t been this enchanted with a piece of fantasy fiction since reading Jacqueline Carey, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Guy Gavriel Kay.

Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey

Carey’s series is in fact to trilogies, which focusses on two different characters. The first sequence (Kushiel’s Dart, Kushiel’s Chosen, Kushiel’s Avatar is by far the best. These books tells the story of Phèdre nó Delaunay, courtesan and spy. There’s plenty of adventure and exotic lands in these stories, but the heart of the novels is the power of love as a force for positive change in the world. Carey’s world, centered on Terre d’Ange, can best be described as a slightly skewed Renaissance Europe. The books are written in a first person perspective in a lovely prose that is a delight to read. In my review of Kushiel’s Dart, I go into more detail about the themes of this novel.

Guy Gavriel Kay

is another favorite. All of his novels are of a very high quality, but The Lions of al-Rassan is perhaps my favorite. It is a historical fantasy inspired by Spain during the Reconquista of the late middle ages when the Catholics once and for all stamped out the Islamic culture of the Moors. Kay’s novel is a poignant and beautiful elegy of the demise of a sophisticated culture that were able to create a certain space of tolerance for people of differing creeds and religions. The Lions of al-Rassan is a story about three people of different faiths who are thrown together and who learn to respect each other despite differences of faith – in the midst of ever increasing religious conflict.

Marion Kimmer Bradley – The Mists of Avalon, The Firebrand

Classic re-interpretations of The Illiad and the Arthurian legends from a feminist perspective.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May and Andre Norton – The Black Trillum

another old favorite of mine. Bradley, Norton and May belong to the grand old “dames” of sci-fi and fantasy fiction, and together they have wrought a wonderful and rather original fantasy that incorporate elements of both fairy tale and science fiction. Highly recommended.

Jasper Fforde – Thursday Next Series and Nursery Crimes Series

Welsh author who have created the hilariouly funny Thursday Next. It is set in an alternate England where the Crimean War has lasted more than 150 years, where art appreciation has developed into hooliganism and where you can earn a living as a literary detective. fforde’s novels enganges with the vast and imposing heritage of English literature in an almost postmodern exuberance.

Robin Hobb

is another very good writer of fantasy fiction. Her Farseer trilogy can at times feel rather grim and depressing but she has created a very interesting world and this outweight the harsh trials that she heaps upon her protagonist. Though she is best known for Farseer, I prefer her Liveship Traders (set in the same world) and her Tawny Man (continuing the story from Farseer). Her short novella “Homecoming” (in Legends II, edited by Robert Silverberg) is also very good.

Ellen Kushner

is another very good author. She has written a series of books (Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, The Fall of Kings, which best can be categorized as “fantasy of manners”. The are set in a regency style world, which is low on magic but rife with political intrigue.

Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere and Stardust are, IMO, the best of his novels.

Naomi Novik – Temeraire series

alternate history based on the premise of how the Napoleonic Wars might have played out with an airforce consisting of dragons. Light and humourous reading.

Anne McCaffrey

is an old favorite of mine, particularly her Dragonriders of Pern series and her Crystal Singer trilogy. I can especially recommend Dragonflight, Dragonquest and The White Dragon as well as The Crystal Singer and Killashandra.

Mary Gentle

writes some truly remarkable alternate history. Ash is her masterpiece, a dense, complex and demanding book that delves into the complex workings of history, myth and fiction – themes that are explore in my review

Michael Ende

German author whose Never-Ending Story and Momo are childhood favorites of mine.

Tamora Pierce

They are mainly YA but very enjoyable and she is consistently improving.

China Mieville, Perido Street Station

A must-read. I wasn’t particularly enamoured by the story but he sure can write. It is the city itself that is the main character, brought to life by a vivid and luscious prose, and brimming with strange hybrid creatures.

Judith Tarr

Judith Tarr’s historical fantasies are also among my favorites. The Hound and the Falcon trilogy is perhaps her best known book, but Alamut is my personal favorite.

Scott Lynch – The Lies of Locke Lamora, Red Seas Under Red Skies

Pure fun!

Ursula le Guin, Earthsea quartet

a wonderful fantasy whose lyricism and philosophical makes for an almost meditative reading experience

Meredith Ann Pierce, The Darkangel Trilogy

old-time favorite, a piece of lyrical fantasy that subtly incorporates elements from sci-fi

Patricia McKillip

I have only just discovered Patricia McKillip and have fallen deeply in love with her lyrical style and her ability to weave words into wonderfully vivid yet dreamlike images

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A List of the Most Overlooked Books in Spec Fiction

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Borges: Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

The Compleat Traveller in Black by John Brunner

Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grille by Steven Brust

The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford


Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

Child of the River by Paul J. McAuley


The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells

The Island of Doctor and Other Stories and Other Stories by Gene


Creatures of Light and Darkness by Roger Zelazny


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Steve’s Best Book List

Ash by Mary Gentle
Gentle has so many great books, I think this is the best.
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
What more can I say? Peake created a world, a microcosm, in a building.
Gloriana by Michael Moorcock
Tribute to Peake, and wonderful alternate reality novel.

The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
One of the best writers of our time.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Everyone loves this!
The Walrus and the Warwolf by Hugh Cook
Best pirate fantasy novel ever!
The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My interest in the rest of the series dropped as they thickened. This volume is an almost perfect expression of an author’s conception …
The Last Coin by James P. Blaylock
I can read this over and over. Blaylock is an expert at drawing humour from the idiosyncracies of his very sympathetic characters. Fantasy with a dash of Lovecraft.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Hmm … Harry Potter meets The Quincunx?
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Clever and whimsical Arthurian classic.
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Oriental Fantasy: Part I

A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham
A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham
Maia by Richard Adams

This prequel revisits the setting of Shardik. I didn’t think it was as good as Shardik, but it was fun to revisit the setting, and it has some good political intrigue, which is always welcome in my reads.
Shardik by Richard Adams

This has a bronze age, Middle East setting. It’s much darker and more challenging than Watership Down, so some people don’t like it, I guess. But I found it to be powerful and challenging in a good way.
Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn

It’s a fantasy adventure in a far east Asian setting.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Guanzhong Lou

A Chinese novel about the events leading up to and part of the Three Kingdoms period of their history.

The Tale of the Heike by Helen McCullough

Simply put, this is the Japanese equivalent to the Illiad.
China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh

This is SF and not feudal, but a damn underrated book.
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
Twelve Kingdoms by Fuyumi Ono

A series of Japanese novels set in a mythical realm based off of ancient China, but with a unique mythology.
Worshiping Small Gods by Richard Parks

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Oriental Fantasy: Part II

The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

This is an Asian alternative history novel. It plays on the idea that the entirety of European culture got wiped out by the Black Plague.
Cartomancy by Michael Stackpole

Cartomancy by Michael Stackpole definately has a different feel – more of the “Shogun” variety. Worth reading? I thought so, Stackpole is different in that bad things happen to good people. But he created some amazing people in that book. The sequel wasn’t as good as the first one.
Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi Wa’Thiong’O
My Life as Emperor by Su Tong
The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente

This is composed of original myths based largely on the mythic styles and structures of non-Western countries.

The Grass Cutting Sword by Catherynne Valente
Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams by Catherynne Valente

Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells

Latro in the Mist by Gene Wolfe

The Braided Path series by Chris Wooding

Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian

set in China, tale that I’d recommend for its “magic realism” moments, among other outstanding elements. He won a Nobel Prize in Literature.
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

This plays upon certain Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

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Vanin’s Eastern European Book List

The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

Star diaries by Stanislaw Lem

Inne Piesni by Jacek Dukaj

Hard to be a God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Gusliar Wonders by Kirill Bulychev

Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Robot by Adam Wisniewski-Snerg

Books Fantasy

Patrick’s Fantasy List

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Shadowbred by Paul S. Kemp

Homeland by R.A. Salvatore

The Thousand Orcs by R.A. Salvatore

The Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

All Genres Books

Justin’s Book List

Shadow & Claw – Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Very little needs to be said here. One of the best series ever written, bar none.

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

I’ve been wanting to read Peake for years and finally acquired the Gormenghast trilogy recently. Having read it: I can only say that Peake is a farking incredible writer and this is one of the best works of fantasy, let alone literature that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

Dark, challenging and altogether incredible. I’ve never been this drawn into a depiction of a locale before, with the exception of Mervyn Peake. Peake’s influence is very noticeable, but Mieville’s style is undoubtedly his own
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams

A wonderful trilogy that takes all the old familiar elements of fantasy, but makes something very new and fresh out of them.
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

One of my particular favorite works of fantasy. Definitely Kay’s best work, IMHO. Something about the prose, to say nothing of his characters and dialogue never fails to captivate me when I re-read Tigana.

The Saga of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt

Admittedly, not every book in the Recluce universe has been outstanding and they do tend to be somewhat formulaic (the coming-of-age story gets re-used a bit), but his depiction of the eternal struggle between order and chaos is fascinating, in particular the later books that depict the perspective of chaos-users.
Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Again, little needs to be said here. A fantastic series that’s only gotten better.

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

Definitely one of the best first-person fantasies ever written. Perhaps the best thing about the trilogy is that Fitz is far from being a perfect hero.
The River Into Darkness by Sean Russell

Russell seems to be a lesser-known voice in fantasy, but not deservedly so IMHO. Excellent writer who’s not falling into the same cliches that plague fantasy these days. I would put his "Swan’s War" trilogy on this list as well, but I have yet to read the third book so I’ll wait till I read the complete trilogy before final judgment.

The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia

For such a short trilogy (each book barely clears 300 pages in paperback form), this is an incredibly deep and well-written classic of fantasy. If nothing else, this should get the prize for having one of the most incredibly unpronouncable names I’ve ever heard.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by
Stephen R. Donaldson

Of course, this has to be on my list. The first fantasy series that really struck a deep chord with me emotionally. Simply magnificent.

Sword of Shadows Trilogy by J.V. Jones

Still waiting for the 3rd book to be published, but the first two are excellent. The best comparison I can think of would be Song of Ice and Fire, in that it’s
very dark and gritty.

Books Mystery

Brian’s Mystery List

Clockers by Richard Price

Crime Novels : American Noir of the 1930s and 40s

Crime Novels : American Noir of the 1950s

Darkness Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane

Drive by James Sallis

The Guards by Ken Bruen

Homicide by David Simon

Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

The White Trilogy by Ken Bruen

The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski

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Dragonwomant’s List

Bedlam’s Bard by Mercedes Lackey

It’s silly, cheesy, preposterous urban fantasy and yet, I find it so enjoyable, I read it at least once a year.

1602 by Neil Gaiman

I’m a fan of nearly everything Gaiman does (with the exception of the *ugh* Skippy post on his blog) but he managed to do something that I never thought possible-make me like Marvel characters. I think that’s pretty powerful, since I much prefer comics/graphic novels like Cerebus, The Books of Magic, Poison Elves, and Pet Shop of Horrors.
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

This novel is everything Urban Fantasy could and SHOULD be. The suspension of disbelief for this book wasn’t difficult at all. Ms. Bull gives her characters strong personailties and follows through
believably throughout the book.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett

This one is just a rip-roaring romp of a great book and it’s about the apocalypse. Who knew that the end of the world could be so evastatingly funny? Well, obviously, these two guys.
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

I have come to the conclusion that Tom Robbins is good for my soul. This book mixes perfumery, the pursuit of immortality, and the god Pan with a group of potentially hallucinated (but probably not) cave-dwelling swamis into a modern day stew of suspense and humor. There’s also a not very subtle but highly fulfilling love story in there too. Oh yes, and sex. Robbins is awfully fond of making sexual references without actually getting graphic during the actual sex scenes. Tom Robbins novels aren’t usually found in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy shelves, due to some sort of silly nonsense about them being absurdist, satirical literature or some pretentious label like that, but trust me, there is a very large fantasy element in each and every one of his novels. Pan is a real, living, breathing character in the book, and one of the main characters is the former king of a Russian Steppe village who is (if I remember correctly) well over 600 years old. There is also a lot of reverence paid to the humble red beet in the book, it has a starring role, though to explain that little comment, I would give away some very important plot points. I hate spoilers, so I won’t do that to you.

Books Fantasy

Brian’s Fantasy List: Part III

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

A true epic in scope and story telling and possibly the greatest epic ever told. Simply devastated the conventions of what we imagine comics could be. The heights that it climbs to are stunning. In many ways the pinnacle. Must be read to be believed. Pick a cover any cover
Troika by Stepan Chapman

Never heard of it, not surprised. So utterly amazing that you need to do whatever it takes to get a copy. Go Now! If you send Vandermeer an e-mail you can probably still get a copy.
Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer

Great story by a great writer. The change of narrative perspective could have been a gimmick but was handled flawlessly. In fact it could be a text book on perspective. Most readers choose City of Saints & Madmen as their favorite but Veniss is the one for me.
Viriconium by M John Harrison

Punches Tolkien & his ilk right in the eye, kicks him when he’s down, pees on him, & sets the corpse on fire. There have been other anti-Tolkien & anti-fantasies but this was the first and remains the best. Particularly astute of Harrison to recognize the pitfalls of the genre considering when the first Viriconium book was published.
Watchmen by Alan Moore

Don’t read comics, read this and have your opinion of them changed. A brilliant deconstruction of the super hero mythos. A perfect marriage of words and pictures.

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll

One of my absolute favorites. Profound treaties on big issues draped in the tropes of the fantasy genre. Carroll is the master. The scene at the zoo is one of the most haunting and tragic pieces ever written and is worth the price of admission alone. First book of a planned trilogy, 2nd book is Glass Soup.
Warhound and the Worlds Pain by Michael Moorcock

My personal Moorcock favorite. Elric may be the popular one but I like the Von Bek’s. Grab any of the Eternal Champion books if you see them. They all deserve to be read. A giant in the field of SF&F. The meeting with the sympathetic Miltonian Satan, the commonality of the grail, all brilliant stuff.

Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff
The People of Paper by Salvadore Placencia

Books Fantasy

Brian’s Fantasy List: Part IV

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary

Last Call by Tim Powers

Lud In The Mist by Hope Mirrlees

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

The Troika by Stepan Chapman

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll

Requiem by Graham Joyce

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban


Books Fantasy

Brian’s Fantasy List: Part II

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

A great, if sometimes forgotten SF novel. Zelazny’s strongest novel. Also contains what might just be the single worst pun in the history of the novel.
Last Call by Tim Powers

One of my favorite novels. Ever. Period. Tim Powers at his strongest. So complex, so masterfully executed that everything else just pales in comparison. Plus you’ve got Bugsy Seagal as The Fisher King. Followed by Expiration Date & Earthquake Weather
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirlees

An unclassifiable book. The ending is so delightfully weird that it just takes the story right over the edge and into perfection. I like Catheryne Valiente’s assertion that it is the first slipstream novel.
Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban

The greatest “quest” novel. Don’t let the fact that it is a children’s book fool you, more happens here then in most books. The most allegorical book since Moby Dick.
Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Possibly the greatest fantasy novel of the 20th century. Brilliant. The story of how it came to see publication is interesting in its own right.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki

The classic movie is just the tip of the iceberg of the actual story. A grand epic and as Paul Harvey says “…and now you know the rest of the story.”
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My favorite Gaiman novel. An exiting and well told adventure.

Riddly Walker by Russell Hoban

No other book does more to totally immerse the reader in a created world. The death of our language and the subsequent creation of a new language from its ashes is amazing. The power of language to direct how we view the world. Tolkien created a new world using language, Hoban does the same thing but vastly different. One of the most challenging books that I have ever read and also one of the most rewarding. Also the greatest post-apocalyptic tale ever written. John Leonard of the New York Times said ”… designed to prevent the modern reader from becoming stupid
Requiem by Graham Joyce

Parts of this book haunt me to this day. Joyce deserves a bigger audience. I don’t know if he has a best but this is my favorite.
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The single greatest SFF group of books period. This is the high water mark for the genre. Infinitely re-readable with more and more being revealed with subsequent readings.

All Genres Books

Jay Tomio’s Top 200 Reads

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Leguin

All you have to know is taht I love Earthsea, yet I think The Left Hand of Darkness is by far Leguin’s best and msot important work. A must have in any reputable collection. Groundbreaking Science fiction.
The First Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

Classic example of New Wave fantasy, there is a second book that is IMHO much weaker in quality. but teh first book chronicling Corwin’s fight for the throne that will take him to The Courts of Chaos is a instant classic.
At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror by HP Lovecraft

The origin of New Weird, requried reading IMHo for fans of Mieville (him and Smith). An affordable taste here
Clark Ashton Smith

I don’t have any copies of his roiginal work but I read Emperor of Dreams a collection by Fantasy Masterworks, which makes this new from Night Shade something I have to jump on. Smith and Lovecraft did amazing work then.
Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber

IMHO hands down the greatest pure sword.sorcery writer tales ever written. These colelctions are available and higly recommened in various forms. If you like sword/sorcery and never tried Leiber, you don’t know what your missing. Farfhd and Gray Mouser is one of the best combo’s in fantasy history.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Admittedly some of the novels are not as strong as others, but this is a classic. The story of Muad Dibb, and his offspring and the universe they ruled when alive and forever changed is a work of genius. My first print of Dune is probably my favorite aprt of my collection. Not to be confused with the god awful prequel novels written by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert.
Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer

Humanity resurrected (all of it mind you) by the banks of a river where they do not age, and if they perish they reincarnate.

Later there were soem other novels released in a shared world format; just a note I have not read those. I don’t know of a collected version available, perhaps someone else does:)

Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Largely a Sci-fi work about earth when the Sun is diminishing.
Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

First person science/fantasy, that if he wasn’t considered a master already, established Wolfe as a God of fiction. Severian remains one of the great characters in fantasy/Sci-fi.
Viriconium by M John Harrison

Science Fiction/Fantasy series written by Harrison who has greatly influenced the likes of Mieville and many other authors now. Incredible. Check out what Harrison sayd in an article he wrote at Fantastic Metropolis. A collection of the series here.
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Forget the hacks, true the original has spawned a myriad of nonesense but has also inspired some other great series. This is a classic tale, wonderful world-building/secondary world. The most improtant writer for fantasy publishing and by far the most influential writer in the fantasy, whether the influence was positive or negative understtod. Let’s not blame redundancy on the original. A classic, timeless tale.
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Sure the third novel was not up to par, and provides for a interesting read to say the least. This is attributed to Peake’s failing health both physically and mentally and was written chiefly from his notes. But the first 2 novels are absolute classics. He also had 2 partially related novels in the series Titus Awakes and Gormenghast Revisited. Peake has immaculate prose and this series features one of the great villains in fiction history Steerpike. Phenomenal work that isnpired many of the current greats in fantasy.
Riddle Master trilogy by Patricia Mckillip

Not enough epic fantasy fans have read this series! Morgon and Deth’s travels looking for the High One are classic! Deth is the greatest bard in fantasy IMHO. Beautiful prose by Mckillip. Available in a couple of collected editons. I have the old school Riddle of the Stars, but here is a newer edition here. Pictured below:
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Just released last year, and ridiculously well written, Clarke wrote a masterpiece her first try. Magical.
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

One of the few books I can’t imagine anyone not liking. Combine history, mythology, time traveling, and humor. Powers generally delivers all the time.
The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll

Generaly speaking I like all of Carroll’s work but will admit his best was his first. The Land of Laughs features the plight of Thomas Abbey, and wil ltake you for a spin that really is unique to Carroll’s work. One of the most underated authors with a lot of good novels out in fiction IMHO.
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

Regardless of the long wait, I want to thank Martin for giving more mature epic fantasy readers something to read and enjoy. A Feast for Crows is the book I am anitcipating mroe than any other at the moment. IMHO clearly the best epic fantasy being written right now.

Gloriana, or the Unfulfill’d Queen by Michael Moorcock

Moorcock’s third appearance, no Elric yet:) Peake-like, story about a moancrh queen he rules an empire and her personal problems:)
Demon Princes by Jack Vance

Ultimate sci-fi vengeance series. Each novels chronicles the hunting down of a seperate Princes (criminals) by Kirth Gersen that enslaved his village as a child. Vance’s second listing.

The Course of the Heart by M John Harrison

My second Harrison listing. You simply have to read this novel about 3 friends who together took part in a cult ritual, and 2 of them ahve been haunted since. if your familiar with Harrison, you know you simply have to read this; as an explanation woudl take some paragraphs. Dark; unforgiiving, smart read.
Night Life of Gods by Thorne Smith

Recommended to me by an author; incredibly about a man who reanimated statues of Gods in a museum and gets drunk with them. Hilarious, comedic classic.
Lord of the Light by Roger Zelazny

Like Leguin’s Lefthand of Darkness/Earthsea comparison, I love Zelanzy’s Amber work but think Lord of Light is his masterpiece. Second Zelanzy listing.
Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons

Classic Sci-fi, POV chapters doen each with unique delivery and style. Based on the Keats poems, really a modern classic in Sci-fi, loosley paying hoamge to the Canterburry Tales.

Cornelius Quartet by Michael Moorcock

My second Moorcock listing is absolutely monumental, a work of genius whose influence is still relevant today in specualtive fiction, following Jerry Cornenlius who is (one of teh few tiems Amazon says it best:an “English assassin, physicist, rock star, and messiah to the Age of Science”. If you by one Moorcock work buy this here, NOW!
Pyat Quartet by Michael Moorcock

Moorcock is just perhaps, all stigma relatd to fanatsy aside, one of te hrgeat writers on of the last century IMHO. Involves character (more info) in my next listing below from the Cornelius Quartet.

Solomon Kane by Robert Howard

Howard is famous for his Conan work but I prefer Kane myself.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Vertigo (DC Imprint) comic series that may have been the best regular run series ever. I understand they are colelcting these in graphic novees now, I may purchase some of them, as all I have are the original comics.
Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer

One of my favorite current authors. Secret Life is a collection of 23 short stories that shae a settign wih his previous damn good efforts Veniss Underground and City of Saints and Madmen.
Discworld by Terry Pratchett

Funny, witty, an achievement in in parody and worldbuilding, I never get tired of Pratchett’s unique brand of fantasy. Rincewind is one of the great characters in fantasy.
5th Head of Cerebus by Gene Wolfe

Wolfe’s second appearance contains 3 sci-fi novella’s.

The Lyonesse Trilogy by Jack Vance

Clasic, enchanting epic series, yet not derivative, which is a balance very few pull off (like more recently Wolfe with Wizard/Knight. Vance’s prose is undeniable. Vance’s third appearance on my list.
Watchmen by Alan Moore

Yes it’s a comic series, and no I’m not running out of books. Anyone who has read this classic series by Alan Moore who is simply the man. Possibly the best comic mini-series ever. Originally a 12 issue series.

The Compleat Enchanter: The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea by L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt

Another Fantasy Masterwork find for me, and a series i have ahd a hard time getting a nice print of. Here is the Fantasy Masterwork copy that has all 3 parts:
Bas-Lag by China Mieville

Perhaps wrong of me to group them up, they are stand-alone, but i’s my list:) Mieville is perhaps the ebst authors I have read in a long time. Instant classics listed above.
Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton

Space opera at perhaps it’s best.
Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb

Outside of Wolfe’s The Book of the Sun, one of the most enjoyable first person works I have read; even better it’s a epic fantasy:)
Neuromancer by William Gibson

The King of cyberpunk and cyberspace, the very defintion of a groudnbreaking work.

Voice of Fire by Alan Moore

Intro from Neil Gaiman, Moore’s second appearance on my list (Watchemen) chronicles 12 characters’s and through them the history of geographic location. Get the HC, with illustrations. Before I recently read Borges’ A Universal History of Infamy, I had no idea what peope lwere talking about when referecning it, after reading it and Rhys Hughs’ homage to it The New Universal History of Infamy, I’m loving it.

Mother London by Michael Moorcock

Not even fantasy or Sci-fi for Moorcock’s 5th appearance on my list. Trinalor knows about this. You heard it here first, good enoguh to be Modern Masterpeice of literature with a BIG “L”
Worm Ouroboros – ER Eddison

A classic, incredibly descriptive, it’s truly a shame how comparitvely unknown it is. Deserves to be on the shelf next to Tolkien, not behind it. Fantasy Masterworks has a printing, that all who haven’t read should grab.

The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson

One of the most ambitious series I have read, and one of the first “economic” fantasy novels I read, Stephenson mixes politics, historical fiction, and a touch of sci-fi. Not the easiest read, but Stephenson gets a lot of credit for degree of difficulty and truly original. Not for the casual fan of fantasy. That said I thought it was incredible.
The Last Coin by James Blaylock

Andrew Vanbergen has the last magical coin Jules Pennywise needs to have all 30 that were paid to Judas at the Last Supper. Like Carroll, Blaylock has a real odd, quircky style. Won’t be the last Blaylock book on this list.

The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock

I know of the reformatting of the series which quite frankly makes this series somewhat a pain to collect in its entirety:) Elric, a classic, signature character for Moorcock. There are other additions mroe recent but this is the classic stuff IMHO. Moorcock’s 4th appearance thus far on my list.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

The best of the ‘juvenile” reads IMHO.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Looking forward to the movie. Satire Sci-fi at it’s best.
Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

Admittedly wouldn’t make my list if I was judging bests, but Erikson gets in because I haven’t had this much fun reading sword/sorcery since I found Fritz Leiber.
Otherwise: Three Novel – John Crowley

Famous for Little, Big which will no doubt make my list, this is 3 short stories, The Deep, Beasts, and Engine Summers, from Crowley’s earlier works.
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

Best pirate/fantasy novel I have read. Power’s second appearance (not his last either), his first was Anubis Gates.
The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

Again, classic, it seems prose meant something in early fantasy. Like Peake, Tolkien, Eddison, Morris, Lewis (all for different reasons, and admittedly not all respected by the same crowds) are immortal neverthless in fantasy and will remain so. Making this lsit has been helpful for me to remind me of what I need to purchase…some more Dunsany stuff.
Red World of Polaris by Clark Ashton Smith

Classic novella from the short story new weird master.

Paper Grail by Jame P. Blaylock

Contemporary Grail quest/fantasy novel, in typical Blaylock fashion (which means atypical) . Blaylock’s second appearance.

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Never been a big hoor fan, or in this case a vampire freak either, Martin’s talent is undeniable however. Great mixture of history (almost a Twain like feel by the river) coupled with Martin’s known prose, made even a vampire non-enthusiast consider Fevre Dream a classic.

The Newford stories by Charles de Lint

800+ collected pages of his Newford works. One of the guys that was doing Urban fanatsy before he bandwagon. Great bargain if you can find it.

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

I know there are sequels, but this is my list of what I thogu hwas eceptional, and I don’t think the others are, but this one is a classic, and one of the few hard Sci-fi novels I really enjoy.

Earthsea cycle by Ursula Leguin

Defintely a different tone in the later efforts but remains one of the best series I have read. From one of the few true living legends in fantasy. Although I haven’t seen the Sci-fi special, if anyone hated it, give Ged a try as he was intended to be depicted.

Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams

William’s epic effort that established him as a genre heavyweight. Like Donaldson’s Covenant series, too many peopel give up early on these series
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Alternate history WWII novel, where the Axis powers won. Classic by perhaps all said tIMHo the Best Sci-fi writer.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson

Classic epic fantasy series featuring Thomas Covenant, one of the most fully realized characters in epic fantasy. A and epic that is truly an epic, not just in name.
The Fourth Circle by Zoran Zivkovic

Incredible work. One of the best uses of POVS, with historical (well some famous fictional characters.
Requiem by Graham Joyce

Joyce is underappreciated by the bulk of the buying market IMHO. He won’t be on my list, not his last appearance on my list about a man, coping with loss of his wife who is inflicted with visons of Mary Magdalene .

Collected Stories by William Hope Hodgsin

3 Collections, (Parts I, II, and III), of classic pulp,. These collections are IMHO the best way to collect this work
Prince of Nothing by R. Scott Bakker

Another relatively new epic fantasy series. One of the few current examples that ae really of great quality. Besides Martin IMHO this is the best ongoing epic fantasy series out.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Dark, urban fantasy, depicting what happens to people who “fall through the cracks” of society. Gaiman’s second appearance (Sandman)
The Collected Jorkens Vol. 1: The Travel Tales of Mr. Joseph Jorkens and Jorkens Remembers Africa by Lord Dunsany

Collection from nightshade, (there are more, I cannot attest to them). Terrific chance to read Dunsany (second time he is listed on this list)
The Once and Future King by TS White

IMHO with Jack Whyte the definitive Arthurian novel.
Watership Down by Richard Adams

Grade school required reading about rabbits off to find a prophetic utopia, and chronciles rabbit culture more than perhaps ever intended:)
The Last Call by Tim Powers

Incredible story, high stakes fantasy novel about gambling for a lost soul. If I am not mistaken his is Power’s third novel on my list.
Enders series by Orson Scott Card

One of the all time popular Sci-fi series, a series taht does not have o be critically picked at or studied to find its appeal. It’s just the exciting, fun travels and adventures of Ender Wiggins., a true master gamer. You can get collections of Speaker of teh Dead, Xencide, and CHildren of the mind here. You can get Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, and Shadow of the Hegemon, collected here.
Vorksogian by Lois Mcmaster Bujold

Note chronologicaly Shards of Honor and Barrayar come first, but Miles starts running sh$t in The Warriors ApprenticeSmile Like I said it’s my list:)

I love Bujold’s efforts into fantasy with Curse of Chalion, and Paladin of Souls, but along with Hamilton this series may be the best Space Opera ever, powered by a great character Miles Naismith Vorkosigan. There are other novels after this, hat I’m still getting too, I’ll add them as I can vouch for them:)

Little, Big by John Crowley

You know what it is. Get the 25th aniversay edition, September 2006. Read Here

Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Would not be a reputable list without Bradbury. Apparently not only is he a great writer, he is a prophet too.
1984 & Animal Farm by George Orwell

Big Brother, and revolution, in one book here ! The second apparent prophet in a row on my list.

Otherland by Tad Williams

Always respected Williams for writing distinctively different series, Otherland is IMHO probably his best work, and distinctley different from his prior listing here Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.
S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure by William Goldman

We have al lseen the movie:) It’s Inconceivable! Look for the unabridged vesion, which truly makes it detailed AND fun. But fun works too.
Foundation by Isaac Asimov

As I mentioned before, I have never been a big hard Sci-fi fan. I give credit where it’s due however. Asimov needs to be on any such list. There apparently is more to the series, but I haven’t read them:(
Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

You have watched the movie. Read the book and the real ending.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Cyber punk offering from the author of the Baroque cycle, Neal Stephenson. Second time Stephenson made my list.
The Lions of Al Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Beautifully written, historical-fanatsy that Kay seems to excell at.
Dark Tower by Stephen King

King’s grand effort into fantasy, really samrtly interweaving existing stories from his otehr famosu works loosely into his Dark Tower series. Like it or hate it; no one else could have written this. One of the reasons Flagg is one of the best villains in speculative fiction.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman’s third appearance, his most ambitous work, present day fantasy tale touching on our country, it’s root, and where we and they stand, mixed with an increible Norse twist.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

This half of my list has featured clasic works like Bradbury, and Orwell depicting, and in someways predicting the path our society are on. Brave New World is perhaps the best of the novels in this vein. Brave New World revisited which is a self-criique and reexamination by Huxley of Brave New World can be found collectively here
Animal Man, The Invisibles by Grant Morrison

Yes there 2 seperate works, and yes it’s another comic offering. But it’s Grant Morrison, Comic fans need no explanations.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Nostalgic choice, although defintely not witout merit,. I remember the Japanese cartoon when I was younger.
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

Post apocalyptic science fiction, but not limited to that, one of the true bonafide classic works of an author questioning faith, technologies, and modern values. Powerful.
Chronciles of Narnia by CS Lewis

Classic kids tale, get all the Inkling’s Narnia work in one book here.
The House of the Wolfings by William Morris

Author whose pre-20th century work inspired Tolkien and Lewis, this is the only work I have been able to read from him. I have been meaning ot get Well of the Worlds End and The Sundering for awhile, now.
Conan by Robert Howard

The father of sword/sorcery fantasy with still the most kick a$$ melee character ever, Conan. Some ncie collections are offered here here, with Conan of Cimmeria Book 1 and Book II. A great way to experience Howard.
City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer

Collection of 4 interwoven stories, by my second favorite author today (Mieville). Second VanderMeer listing (Secret Life)
The Midnight Sun: The Complete Stories of Kane by Karl Edward Wagner

Collection of Wagner’s work about character Kane a warrior/mage who wanders the the world i nboredom cosntantly being hunted by politically correct, benevolent, cowards. Not even an anti-heo, just an evil character to root for, collected nicely in this set. Charming.
The Devils in the Details by James Blaylock & Tim Powers

Both in one book! Features Through, and Through by Powers, The Devils in the Details by Blaylock, and a collaboration Fifty Cents.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Like The Baroque cycle not for th casual fan of the genre, this is a long book, with many plots interweaving, non-linear, if your a moron stay away (Getting a little edgy toward the end of compiling this list:) Nice companion with the Baroque Cycle IMHO.
The Golden Age trilogy by John C. Wright

Along with Richard Morgan’s (will be listed soon, hope I can fit him) work, he Sci-fi work I am presently msot enjoying Looking for a new sci-fi series? Buy Wright, you won’t be disappointed. Also has a damn good fantasy series working with the first installment entitled The Last Guardian of Everness, also highly recommended.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Second Gibson entry (Neuromancer), some fans don’t like it, simply because it’s set in present times (post9/11). Another fabulous, thougth provoker from the father of cyber space.
Facts of Life by Graham Joyce

Beautifully writen novel, IMHO Joyce’s most complete novel that really is more of an example of magic realism than fantasy. Second novel by Joyce on my list (probably one more)
Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis

Sci-fi, socially relevant, satirecly, cynical, anarchist, political…and yes anotehr comic series nicely collected i na series of Graphic novels.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert-Heinlen

I’ve said many times I’m not extremely well read in Sci-fi, and I think my list shows with the limited works by Dick and Heinlen, but I’m not totally ignorant. My problem with Heinlen is I became a Sci-fi reader when I was to old and many of his works that I think I would have greatly enjoyed at a younger age and would ahve carried nostalgic value seem rather simplsitic to me in nature now. This novel is no different, but luckily I caught it when I was younger.
Altered Carbons by Richard K. Morgan

Great relatively new sci-fi/cyber novel in which humans have achieved some sense of immortality. I greatly enjoyed his other novels Market Forces and Broken Angels, and waiting for Woken Furies. Defintely getting to the point, like Wright, where I just buy his books upon release.
Iron Dragon’s Daughter by Michael Swanwick

A title that has Dragon in it, that even China Mieville gives props to. What!!?? Instant classic by an author who rarely disappoints.
The Steampunk Trilogy: Victoria Hottentots Walt and Emily by Paul Di Filippo
The Silmarillion/ History’s of Middle Earth by JRR Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien

Have to give the editions that allow me to be a Tolkien smart a$$ some credit. These novels depict Tolkien’s immense undertaking of giving his series a history.

Kingdom of Thorn and Bone by Greg Keyes

I liked The Briar King a lot but wasn’t ready to buy into another epic series after being introduced to Martin, but Charnel Prince really established for me this series was a legitimate attempt at quality epic fantasy.
New Universal History of Infamy by Rhys Hughes

In homage and inspired by the original by Jorge Luis Borges, a series of historical/fiction/fantasy short, vivid, violent, and mastefuly written, this is a ridiculously well written book (review coming this week). Forward by he incomprable John Clute.

The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce

Joyce’s third and final appearance (he has a lot more damn good novels BTW) on my list about a group of friends, one of which is granted powers by guess who?
Things that Never Were: Fantasies, Lunacies and Enteraining Lies – Matthew Rossi

Collection of specultaive non-fiction essays; uncategoriacal, but brilliant in imagiantion (review coming soon).
Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick

IMHO Swanwick’s best work (which means damn good). In this rendtion Mephistopheles is a alien in medevil times.
The Troika by Stepan Chapman

Follow the stories of jeep, a dinosaur, and a women seperately (well kind of) traveling through a desert in a very original example of magic realism.
If you havent noticed I appreciate The Ministry of Whimsy publishing.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

Most of us have watched the move but owe it ourselves to read the book which differs on many keys point made famous in the movie. The translation from German is noted to make some of the rhyming prose seem somewhat out of place, but no less a classic in whatever language you read it.
Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Many of the novels listed both here and on my prior 101 can be called a classic, but perhaps none with more veracity than this. Bradbury’s collection of groundbreaking short stories, possible the greatest of Bradbury’s many great efforts. The title is deceiving as even non-SF fans will be enamored by the social commentary within the work written that’s truth is proof as much today as it was when written.
Le Chants de Maldoror by Conte de Lautreamont

I was reminded of Maldoror when interviewing K.J. Bishop for FBS, who is also a big fan. The title character of the novel, that is noted to have influenced the pioneering of surrealism, is man devoid of all admirable qualities; the prose is obscene, violent, and dark. Pure genius.
Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Leguin

Clever, thought provoking r book, only matched in the legendary author’s offerings by ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’, this anarchist look into utopian society invokes equally powerful images of works by Huxley and Bradbury. A profound and telling look into societies and their relationships.

‘Heroes Die ’ and ‘Blade of Tyshalle’ by Matthew Stover

Mr. Stover is presently getting fame and attention due to scribing the adaptation of StarWars Episode III, ‘Revenge of the Sith’ , which is deserving however unfortunate as it should be merely considered a side project by the public when regarding these two efforts from Stover. As much as a kick in the face to fantasy as China Mieville’s ‘Perdido Street Station’, but by vastly different means, Mr. Stover’s novel represents the last novel I have read with Elves in them that I can regards as an elite novel. The main character of the novels, Caine, fastly becoming one of my favorites in the genre, engaging world/society building, perhaps peerless depiction of action sequence, and the latter a engaging emotional element that wasn’t as stressed in the former. Modern classics of the genre.
Rats and Gargoyles by Mary Gentle

I said recently at FBS I was about to read my first Gentle book with ‘A Sundial In a Gave,’ which was a mistake by me as I have read ‘Rats and Gargoyles’ some time ago. A novel with Rosicrucian and Masonic, occult themed elements, intertwining philosophy and technology on a word . Heavily detailed, both in characterization, and setting, this is actually part of a loosely based set of 2 other novels ‘Left to His Own Devices’ and the ‘Architecture of Desire’, that make up ‘White Crow’ compendium. I have not read those two and have just ordered them (along with ‘Sundial’). A note for fans of more casual works, this is not recommended, the semi-historical occult elements that formulate the backdrop of this world, and the Gentle’s narrative does not have you in mind.

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Prolific author of fantasy and Sci-fi, ‘Broken Sword’ is a classic fantasy tale with Norse Roots. It deviates from the Tolkien tradition particularly notable by the characteristics of the elves and the lack of absolute morale mindsets.
The Tain by China Mieville

A novella, insightful apocalyptic about mirrors images being more than what e perceive, and ingeniously implementing Vampires and there well known trait into the mix. No one said this wasn’t a biased list, and I’m a Mieville fan so even the 89 page works make the Big List, and yes you can expect ’King Rat’ later on the list, as I did him a disservice by grouping all 3 of his incredible Bas-Lag novels under one listing. The best bang for the buck to read ‘The Tain’ is getting anthology ‘Cities’ by Paul Di Filippo, so you can get a story by Moorcock and Geoff Ryman as well.
Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I really like the Arthurian works by Jack Whyte and TS White, but generally get sick of the them as the bulk of them are chronicling (as are Whites) the Romantic versions of the story and it’s all rather redundant of Mallory. Which this does no less but the unique women’s perspective employed and the strong narrative make this a keeper and the only other Zimmer Bradley that I am fond of as well.
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Impossible to ignore, and although I don’t consider it near the level of Pullman’s work it’s actually quite good, perhaps not as much as it’s hyped, but than nothing could possibly be.
Use of Weapons by Ian M. Banks

My favorite current SF writer, all the ‘Culture’ novels are absolute must-reads. The best Science Fiction novel I have ever read, and not the last of Banks on this list. Incredible tragic character study in the mesmerizing “culture” setting. Hard to believe it gets much better than this.
Grendel by John Gardner

Existentialist revised/alternative retelling of the classic Beowulf tale told from the perspective of Grendel. Beautifully written, with a ever-changing narrative that would probably be a good read before watching the upcoming and equally alternative Beowulf film in the works.
Fantasy Writer’s Assistant by Jeffrey Ford

Recent read for me, as if Ford, recommended to me by Mrs. Bishop during the interview process; and incredible collection of 16 stories. Incredible imagery in his writing especially considering the short story format that is equal to my recent reading of the legendary Borges. The finest short stories I have read in some time, and Ford’s forthcoming ‘Girl in the Glass’ is high on my list of anticipated works later this year.
Genizah at the House of Shepher by Tamar Yellin

I just read this novel, and it was one of the books I was most anticipating this year. Stunning debut, novel revolving around the history of the Shepher family and the finding of the Codex, taking place in various locations but the heart of it always in the Holy City, a story that at in one moment stresses the love of Judaism purely, yet is able to laugh at itself as well, an absolutely well crafted novel that ranks among the best published this year thus far. Heavily anticipated and delivered completely. The Question is can we get Tamer to hook us up with an interview appearance?

Noctuary by Thomas Ligotti

Master of Macabre, and disciple of HP Lovecraft, one of the great modern New Weird/Horror writers. Rather infuriating only mentioning one collection so I will also recommend ‘The Shadow at the Bottom of the World’ as well.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Aside from being an obvious classic certain additions of this novel features illustrations from the incomparable, and multi-talented Mervyn Peake.

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen

An acknowledged influence by HP Lovecraft, Machen’s supernatural sexually driven novella, about the child of a victim of a heinous experiment becoming a harbinger of chaos. I have only read 2 Machen novels thus far but plan on reading more, the second is also on this list.
A Year in the Linear City by Paul Di Filippo

His ‘Steampunk Trilogy’ was on my 101 list, a incredible story about a city that encompasses a world that boarders Heaven and Hell itself, including Angels and Demons.
Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

I had the pleasure of interview Charles Stross who has many great works and this is one of my favorites. Hard Sci-fi with a Lovecraftian Horror twist this book contains two tales. Stross perhaps accomplishes the most believable geek characterization I have ever read.
Dhalgren by Samuel Delaney

Astoundingly dense, and masterpiece of surreal fiction, this SF novel, one of the most influential ever written would be an absolute nightmare to review. It has no real identifiable central plot. In a literal sense it’s about man, who is dubbed ‘Kid’ who finds himself in a city of Bellona where anything goes, and Delaney touches in depth on the nature of sex, civilization, reality, and self. It’s utterly one of the most original pieces of works I have ever read, as there is nothing remotely close to it. I came away not knowing what to make of it, but yet still completely sure it was a work of genius. One of the few times that I felt I was reading over my head at first. Brilliant.
The Languages of Pao by Jack Vance

Vance made 3 appearances on my prior list and this effort is no less deserving. On the surface a simple story, however a great study on the power of languages and how it was a tool to convert a society told in Vance’s trademark prose.
The Castle by Franz Kafka

Kafka is a literary giant, and The Castle in an incredible story about “K”, and through displaying the red tape of the world and the means we all go through in as a true nightmare in the Castle. This novel is absurd but in the most positive possible way, a novel left incomplete and completed from his notes, about man’s desire and the hopelessness of that desire due to society itself. Like Dhalgren, a rather daunting read, but insightful and rather prophetic as well.
My Life as Emperor by Su Tong

Not really categorized as a fantasy novel, but when thinking about some novels that are this is hardly a stretch. Tongs look into Chinese’s past (unspecified date) of a Child who ascends to Emperor and his downfall, depicting the acts of the nihilistic boy king and his fall, the leads him down the road of Confucius teachings. I consider Tong’s books to be among my best finds not based on recommendation but just by taking a chance on it. Told through the perspective in first person of the Emperor Duanbai, Tong’s narrative is captivating even in translation.
Signs of Life by M. John Harrison

Disturbing story about a woman who yearns to fly by one of the masters of fiction and one of my favorite authors. Credited as an influence by seemingly everybody now from China Mieville, KJ Bishop, and Steph Swainston, his ‘Viriconium’ cycle and ‘Course of Heart’ made my prior list; this novel is an incredible depiction of the power of desire.

Focault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

With all the ridiculous hype being thrown at Dan Brown’s mildly entertaining but completely unoriginal, and sophomorically written ‘Da Vinci Code’, I wanted to point out the version written years before by an author that actually has some talent, in this the quintessential modern story of the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian’s, the Masons.
The Baron in the Trees by Italo Calvino

A story about a Cosimo Piovasco di Rondò who after arguing with his family forsakes life by climbing a tree and refusing to leave. Spending his life in the trees, and told through the perspective of his younger brother the narrative is both though provoking and accessible. A story of love and personal enlightenment, that has something to offer to both young readers and the most critical as well.

100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Marquez is one of the fathers of Magic Realism. This novel covers 100 years of a Columbian town, focusing on generations of the Buendia family. The ending is one of the great endings I have read that has a ‘Neverending Story’ tang to it.
Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Nebula and Hugo winning novel, a SF novel influenced by the Vietnam conflict, in which the main character is a part of a force that enters collapsars (think wormholes), and goes to war against the alien Taurens. They learn however that although they have aged months, decades on earth have passed on their subsequent returns. A great alien invasions story (that’s actually anti-war thematically), with profoundly interesting changes of society through these decades is touched on by Haldeman.
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

One of PKD’s masterpieces, a psychedelic where people chosen by the UN consume a pill that creates a new reality around you. We live in a world that we find many answers in pills now. PKD ventures into the reality of that statement and takes it the point of asking can we find god in a pill? Profound.
Alone with Horrors by Ramsey Campbell

I couldn’t help but noticing when I was compiling the list of past award winners (Nebula, Hugo, BFS, World Fantasy, Locus, Clarke, etc) for FBS how many time Ramsey Campbell’s name came up, and then I interviewed Matthew Rossi, who recommended him and made the comment he was at times better than Lovecraft, which spurned me to have to look into Campbell. I started with this collection of 39 stories, which is IMHO equaled to Ligotti’s work, as the best horror being written today (including the ever popular King).
The Wasp Factory by Ian M. Banks

Second Banks novel mentioned, and Bank’s debut novel, and narrated through a first person POV of a juvenile psychopath with no conscious whatsoever takes out his disdain on whatever he pleases at extreme measures, while he protects his island home. A somewhat controversial book when it was written, if you are squeamish about mutilations (particularly of animals) stay away, from this thought provoking sadistic, yet at times comical look into a mind of a psychopath from a family of psychopaths.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Lu Guanzhong

A lot of people I guess have heard of the game Dynasty Warriors and the game of the same title of the book, it’s actually a book noted as one of the 4 classics of Chinese Literature. It’s semi-historical and written in the 14th century, depicting third century China. A Story mired with tremendous depth in a huge cast of characters with applicable side stories, about a time of rebellion in China stock full of supernatural characters and soldiers alike.
Apple Seed by John Clute

If you are a fan of SF you have to buy John Clute’s novel even only if out of curiosity spawned by reading his reviews. He is perhaps the SF’s most notable critic/reviewer. I’m a big fan of his reviews myself and think on occasion there more worthy of being read than the subject of the review. Any fan will notice elusions to other works and our own culture, following the adventures of a freight ship captain Nathaniel Freer who finds himself drawing the attention of hostile aliens. As one would expect Clute’s narrative is utterly unique and rather entrancing.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Dark satire, classic of fiction that employs in one of its two part the devil as a character called Woland aided by a motley cast of characters including a vampires, a talking cat, a dwarf etc, switching it setting form the real and unreal, from Moscow to Jerusalem. A delightfully dark, humorous satirical commentary on the Soviet Union during Stalin’s reign. Should be read by everyone. I mean there is a 6-foot bi pedal talking cat, who wields a pistol…what else do you need?

Things that Never Happen by M. John Harrison

Fourth appearance by M. John Harrison on my list, this a collection of 24 absolutely weird stories.
Onion Girl by Charles de Lint

A novel in Lint’s Newford setting, a engaging story about two abused sibling sisters, one is a familiar character to fans of Newford Jilly Coppercorn, a necessary novel to read about the lynch pin character of the entire wonderful urban Newford series. I chose De Lint’s collection in my last list which are short stories in the Newford setting.

Lords of Rainbow by Vera Nazarian

I have become a huge fan Vera Nazarian after reading this book. Incredible fantasy in her Tronaelend-Lis setting a city divided in power by the assassins who inhabit the largely literally colorless world and the Light Guild creators of light producing orbs, in this world considered links to the pantheon of gods. Incredible descriptive writing, huge cast of wonderfully realized characters, makes this novel although difficult to initially absorb, a fantastic read. Looking forward to ream ‘Dreams of the Compass Rose’ her prior work.
Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart

One would almost feel I should be compelled to stop making fun of StarWars novels as 3 writers who have written novels in Lucas’s universe have made this list, Matt Stover, Greg Keyes, and now Sean Stewart. Stewart’s critically acclaimed story about DK who battles ghosts, both as a in possessing a sixth sense and his own personal ghosts involving his deceased ex-wife. One of the most aptly named novels in some time as it takes you on a roller coaster of different emotions to bring things into focus. I have yet to read his equally received novels ‘Galveston’ and ‘Mockingbird’ but I do own them and there high on my “2 read list”
Wizardry and Wild Romance: A Study of Epic Fantasy by Michael Moorcock

A lot of people get kind of jump when someone mentions a Moorcock critique on fantasy, however a second look tell you it’s those who know there guilty of the charges Moorcock so truthfully levies Anyone who read and loved his extremely humorous and at the same time enlightening “Epic Pooh” essay will thoroughly enjoy this insightful look into fantasy. Don’t think there is such a thing as good fantasy and bad fantasy, and that it’s all a matter of opinion? Wrong, ask Moorcock he will tell you what good fantasy is, and it’s hard to argue with a man that in essence embodies speculative fiction to such a degree.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Second Calvino novel, incredible Borges influenced novel about Marco Polo’s telling of his travels and cities he frequents, some very fantastic, to Kublai Khan. Each city different from the other and representative of a deeper meaning. It becomes clearer to me why Calvino is so highly touted and lauded. If a hopeful authors wants to know what it means be a master storyteller pick up ‘Invisible Cities’.
Nine Layers of Sky by Liz Williams

Recent SF/Urban/Alternative fiction novel, 2 Russians one a immortal hero who is a addict who no longer wants to be immortal, the other a former scientist turned janitor find themselves entangled with a object that opens rifts in reality bridging the world to Byelovodye a place where legends live. Great new voice in SF.
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss

As I mentioned many times not a huge fan of Hard Sci-fi but I read this first book in a series and found myself eager to read the sequel ‘Crossing the Line’. Yet another former StarWars writer who is writing some fantastic work currently outside the mythos.
Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll

His first work ‘ The Land of Laughs’ was on my prior list, and is an all time classic of contemporary fantasy. Credited by Neal Gaiman for influencing Sandman, a story of Cullen James who in her Dreamworld is on a quest to find 5 magical bones. I am a big fan of Carroll and have read most of his work, and am eagerly awaiting his forthcoming ‘Glass Soup’. One constant with Carroll in all his works is the immaculate prose that gives his all his work a familiar feel and quality.
Latro in the Mist by Gene Wolfe

Combines earlier Wolfe works ‘Soldier in the Mist’ and ‘Soldier of Arete’, historical fantasy that is an absolute must for any Wolfe fan, which is synonymous with being a fan of superior works of fiction. The title character, Latro, a mercenary who is hit on the head by that leaves him with a condition makes him forget things after 12 hours, while at the same time granting him the ability to talk to the divine/dead. As one who is familiar with Wolfe would know the incredible possibilities as his disposal with such a character as characters comes back into Latro’s life under different names is utterly fascinating. Obviously it incredible it’s Wolfe, if you reading Guy Gavriel Kay and think he is the master of historical fantasy I would point you to the correct path with Wolfe, which is no knock on Kay whose work I admire as well, however even his respected position in the genre is far from Wolfe’s loft perch.

Weaveworld by Clive Barker

Truth be told I’m no a big fan of Barker but this will be the first of 2 Barker efforts on this list. More fantasy than horror the revolves around the Seerkind who have bound there world into a rug to hide fro ma world destroy Scrouge. The Rug is called the weave and has since been kept by Guardian. The last of the last of the Guardians perishes, and Cal falls into the weave and with an ancestor of the last Guardian Suzannah strive to keep it away from Immaculota and Shadwell, one who wants to sale it the other who wants to destroy it and the Seerkind.
Lust by Geoff Ryman

Fantasy story about a man who has a gift for making a copy of anyone appear at anytime. Take that the title of the story, and use your imagination. Well, it’s also of course more than that, as Michael Blasco also summons some rather unique historical figures, and oh yeah…he’s gay.

The Etched City by KJ Bishop

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kirsten, the first interview at FBS, a delightful person, who even if not so would find a place on this list. The city of Ashamoil is utterly brilliant, the prose exceptional and at times beautiful. Incredible character studies with Gwynn and Raule. Without speaking to her one can see the M. John Harrison, and Michael Moorcock influences. A surreal, baroque work, one of the genre’s best new voices, I am definitely anticipating more from the multi-talented Bishop.
The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen

Absolutely stunning achievement in fiction. On of the books you walk away from thinking for a moment that it is perhaps the best novel you have ever read. While not ready to make that proclamation, I definitely consider this one of the best novels I have ever read. The story of Dr. Gustav Uyterhoeven in South Africa serving as a doctor at a British concentration camp writes a series of 12 letters sending back a chess piece with each, none of the letters telling nothing of his experiences but of stories of the land of Antipodesm where the pieces aided him in his adventures.
The Black Gondolier by Fritz Leiber

One of the masters of sword/sorcery Fantasy with his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser Lankhmar adventures (noted in my first list), this is a collection of 18 of his New Weird pulp tales.
The Dragon Waiting: A Masque of History by John M. Ford

Alternative History/Fantasy in Europe where magic is a part of live as well as science of that time (15th century). Vampires roam the land and great magic system with wonderfully researched history, but in a world where the Byzantine Empire still reigns and Constantine didn’t set a large segment of humanity down the path of ignorance.
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees

Fantasy of the highest order. Those of us that have read ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke, which was on my prior list, know that Neil Gaiman called it the “unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last 70 years.” I was reading John Clute’s (the author of ‘Appleseed’ which is on this list and esteemed critic/reviewer of SF) review of the novel where he divulges (by corresponding with Gaiman) the book that Gaiman was referring back to from 70 years ago, and this is it. This spurned me to go on a search for a nice print of this novel, and upon reading it came by my conclusion you see in the opening sentence. The country of Dorimare is situated near Fairyland which is the considered the source of anything taboo to the sensible population. Upon eating a contraband fruit from fairyland, the son of Nathaniel Chanticleer the mayor must be removed to a remote location to be “cured”. The story turns into Nathaniel having to solve a murder and save Dorimare. Very highly recommend for fans of fantasy.
Tales of the Old Earth by Michael Swanwick

Along with there appearances in Matt Stover’s aforementioned novels Michael Swanwick (and some random ‘Discworld ‘sightings) is the only other author whose novels contain elves in them that are worth mentioning on such a list since ‘The Silmarillion’ was published. Swanwick’s classic ‘Iron Dragon’s Daughter’ and ‘Jack Faust’ made my original 101. This is a collection containing 18 short stories, many of which were either nominated for genre awards and some winning. A fine collection by one of the best contemporary SF writers.
Samaria series by Sharon Shinn

I never see anyone mention these, which either means my taste has failed me in this instance, or everyone else is missing out, my conscious works better with the latter. ‘Archangel’, ‘Jovah’s Angel’, ‘Angel Seeker’, ‘The Alleulia Files’ (if there are others I haven’t read them). Set in a low tech world of Samaria, where some are born with wings (angels) who can control the weather by singing (praying), call for medicine etc and are granted by god, they also act as intermediaries between human factions, and are respected by all. I found all these novels (all dealing with separate issues) to be fascinating if not admittedly treading on new ground. Wonderful allegory, great description on how society developed, and great portrayal of different characters throughout the series, and it’s not dense! Why isn’t Shinn getting pub these days, did she go down feminist path many authors have, writing harlequin romances? I’m going to have to find out.
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson

Yeah it’s a comic strip, and I had comics on my prior list simply because it is absurd to ignore the genius of some of those works. This is my favorite all time comic strip, whether invoking memories of the classic Pink Panther movies when attacked by Hobbes on coming home from school, or as Spaceman Spiff, or Calvin is an all time favorite of mine. I saw that an omnibus is coming out a complete 1440 page collection coming out in October which reminded me of its necessary inclusion on a list like this.

The Outlaw of Torn by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Known for his work on Tarzan (which I hate to admit I haven’t read), I have this bad habit about vintage books and if I can’t get a nice print, in good condition I simply wait until I can, which inhibits my reading of what should be required reading in some cases. Pulp/medieval story of the greatest swordsman in the world, which sounds not like my tastes however there are certain authors who are able to transcend archetypes with flair of writing, Burroughs is one of them Doc Smith in SF. I’m going to have to read Tarzan one day.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlen

‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ was represented on my prior list, seems inconceivable to have a list of 200 with only one mention off Heinlen. Revered as a classic, a story about the return of Michael a member of the first manned mission to Mars and raised by Martians, this story is about his return to Earth, and his assimilation into society, yet with a Martian philosophy and gifted with special abilities. Many things we take for granted are of course new experiences for Michael, one being relationships with the opposite sex. I really enjoyed this novel as it is known as one of Heinlen’s efforts to beat the wrap of “young adult” writer and write something a bit more meaty which is one thing I mentioned under the heading for ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ on my prior list.

More Tomorrow and Other Stories by Michael Marshal Smith

Collection of 30 horror shorts from one of the current horror masters.
The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective by Harlan Ellison

Must have for a fan of Ellison, whose influence spans many genres, not to mention he wrote the script for one of my favorite movies ‘Logan’s Run’. 1250 pages and making up 74 classic stories.
Stray Bullets by Dave Lapham

First comic books series mentioned in the back 99, because I can, and ‘Stray Bullets’ is just that good. I was first exposed to Lapham’s work as an artist doing work for Jim Shooter’s Defiant line in the comic ‘Warriors of Plasm’ (which BTW also included one of my favorite comics ever ‘Dark Dominion’). The absolute master of crime comics, captivating, non-linear story telling, that could not possibly be done better. Start of by getting the HC edition entitled ‘Innocence of Nihilism’ 152 pages of comic books at there best and thank me later as you look to finish you collection.
The Divinity Student by Michael Cisco

Dark/Gothic Fantasy as brilliant as you can get in under 150 pages. The Divinity Student, on a mission a mission to retrieve a mysterious book dubbed “The Catalog” that contains lost words. Finding out it is destroyed he must hunt down the 12 authors of the catalog to regain the lost information. Magnificently written, spellbinding read, with some dope illustrations to boot.
Move Underground by Nick Mamatas

Whoa! This will require you to read a lot of great books, and that’s a good thing. First go read Jack Kerouac’s semi-classic, cult favorite ‘On the Road’ and then go brush up on your Lovecraftian Cthulhu mythos, to get ready to read Mamatas taking Jack Kerouac and his beatnik pals through the world of Cthulhu. Has become one of my all time favorite reads.
The Tamir Trilogy by Lynn Flewelling

Like I think 50% of everyone who has read this series, I picked it up due to George R.R. Martin recommending the first book ‘Bone Doll’s Twin’ on his site. A dark, epic fantasy, that doesn’t depend on an abundance of magic to carry out it’s plot (although it plays largely in the stories foundation admittedly) a story of Tobin a born female heiress who goes through the story in the form of her dead (but not really) twin brother to hide until she can reach if age to take powers fulfilling the true usurped succession and thus restoring divine aid back to the people. It sounds rather cliché and admittedly it is, but it’s well depicted by Flewelling. For fans of Flewelling’s Nightrunner series (Haven’t read it this series takes place in the same setting albeit, much earlier in it’s timeline.
Lost Pages by Paul Di Filippo

I love works that aren’t strictly written for fans just entering the genre and instead target heads of the speculative fiction, which is why Filippo will always remain one of my favorite writers. 9 Stories fueled by an introduction that brings up the though provoking question what if SF died in the 60’s. An intelligent collection of alternative history stories many chronicling in-genre personalities done by someone whose knowledge of them is not even research as much as it is love for the genre itself. Why the hell isn’t Filippo a household name?
Burning Your Boats by Angela Carter

Legendary writer Angela Carter’s collection of reworked myths and fairytales, you might as well pick up ‘The Bloody Chamber and other stories’ by an absolute genius of a writer who if feminist readers ran the world would be elected Emperor unanimously, including Florida.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Me, and Trinalor (from FBS) were discussing this novel. First its worthy to note that it won the Pulitzer in 2001. 2 Jewish cousins combine to create a comic book empire, not neglecting the history of the times covered 1930’s-1950’s, interweaving real history around the story that includes an incredible study of friendship. You do not have to be a fan of comics to enjoy this beautiful written novel by Chabon, but it an extra treat for us comic book fans as Chabon references various Golden Age legends.
Jirel of Joiry by C.L. Moore

Some good old-fashioned heroic sword/sorcery fantasy, pulp story, with female fighter main character by one of the most under appreciated sword/sorcery writers around.

The State of Art by Ian M. Banks

This is the title of a collection by Banks of 5 stories, and is also the title of a novella as well. You can’t go wrong with either as in the collection you get the novella, as well, but if you get the novella, you can take solace that it’s one of the best SF shorts you can hope to read. Highly recommended for fans of his ‘Culture’ work.
The World Inside by Robert Silverberg

Silverberg is known now for the wonderful anthologies he edits both in Sf and Fantasy, and by some for his Majipoor work. ‘The World Inside’ however reminds you he is absolute master of SF. A brilliant look into a Utopian society of Earth Future of 75 million people where sex is promoted and a necessity, especially often to fulfill the goal of forever increasing the population.
The Book of the Short Sun by Gene Wolfe

‘The Book of the Short Sun is a 3-book cycle that takes place after his ‘The Book of the Long Sun’ (which is the sequel to Wolfe’s magnum Opus ‘The Book of the New Sun’) a 4 book cycle. There really isn’t much to say, if you read ‘The Book of the New Sun’ first and enjoyed what is among the finest works of speculative fiction one can read IMHO, than reading ‘The Book of the Long Sun’ and ‘Short Sun’ is already a known must. If for some reasons you have the misfortune of having overwhelming bad taste, and did not like ‘The Book of the New Sun’ don’t read on. Something to make things easier when reading ‘The Book of the Long Sun’, it can be obtained in a two volume set called, one called ‘Litany of the Long Sun’ which contains the first 2 books, and the other ‘Epiphany of the Long Sun’ which contains the latter two.
The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe

‘The Book of the Short Sun is a 3-book cycle that takes place after his ‘The Book of the Long Sun’ (which is the sequel to Wolfe’s magnum Opus ‘The Book of the New Sun’) a 4 book cycle. There really isn’t much to say, if you read ‘The Book of the New Sun’ first and enjoyed what is among the finest works of speculative fiction one can read IMHO, than reading ‘The Book of the Long Sun’ and ‘Short Sun’ is already a known must. If for some reasons you have the misfortune of having overwhelming bad taste, and did not like ‘The Book of the New Sun’ don’t read on. Something to make things easier when reading ‘The Book of the Long Sun’, it can be obtained in a two volume set called, one called ‘Litany of the Long Sun’ which contains the first 2 books, and the other ‘Epiphany of the Long Sun’ which contains the latter two.
Leviathan 3 by various

A Collection of 21 stories by some authors who are among the true masters of the genre. No, not Jordan, Goodkind or Brooks, but authors like Michael Moorcock (who is well represented on my list) Tamar Yellin (author of ‘Genizah at the House of Shepher’), Zoran Zivkovic (author of the ’Fourth Circle’), Jeffrey Ford, Jeff VanderMeer etc.

Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethemen

Mystery/PI/SF novel about dark, sarcastic, novel chronicling dete4ctive Conrad Metcalf in a post-apocalyptic world. I read it because I’m a fan of both SF and mystery and this was billed as a cross of Philip K. Dick/Raymond Chandler. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Nowhere Near Milkwood by Rhys Hughes

I read Rhys Hughes homage to Borges earlier this year, ‘A New Universal History of Infamy’ and became an instant fan. ‘Nowhere Near Milkwood’ is a collection of related stories that exhibits Hughes’ vivid imagination and precision as a writer.
The Ervis Cale Trilogy by Paul S. Kemp

What? A Forgotten Realms series? A Wizards of the Coast series? It is true I mildly enjoy some WOTC products and authors; although I do think the vast majority of the bulk of the work is at best sub-par, some just downright awful, (see ‘City of Towers’ (Keith Baker), or ‘Silverfall’ (Ed Greenwood) for such examples.) however, for the last year or so I have been pushing ‘The Ervis Cale’ trilogy. Not only do I think it’s the best-written series in the history of Forgotten Realms, but it’s just a damn good series period. Kemp avoids the pitfalls that many authors in the line suffer from by allowing his characters to unfold in his stories developing due to the plot, and not just telling us about the characters. He also gives gravity to the secondary characters, making them more than props to interact with the focus character who is an assassin/butler and is by far the most interesting character in the Forgotten Realms line I have read about. I simply cannot wait for ‘Midnight Mask’ due out in November, and that is something I haven’t said about a WOTC product in a long time. Don’t be deluded and miss out on good reads because of some personal stance of false-academia you attribute to yourself that would normally sway you from reading a novel from this line. This series is thus far damn good.

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the consistently solid authors in fantasy, I’m not quite as taken with his work as some are, but no one can deny his inclusion on such a list, and ‘Tigana’ is in my mind his best work. Kay’s trademark, realistic almost alternative history-like format is impeccable as usual, Kay’s simple concept of a group simply trying to regains there names, but with it their legacy, and true identity. Gay’s character interactions shine in ‘Tigana’, as he maneuvers us through a huge cast of characters.
King Rat by China Mieville

It’s not a secret I‘m a fan of China Mieville’s work. ‘King Rat’ is his first novel, and not connected with his Bas-lag novels, and is a dark, urban tale that twists the classic Pied Piper of Hamelin tale, all being wrapped in London/underground backdrop powered by the culture of jungle music. Admittedly I enjoy the Bas-lag novels more, but that is no slight as I consider them among the very best books to come out in years.

Replay by Ken Grimwood

Fascinating time-travel novel, Jeff Winston keeps dying on the same date only to be reborn again with his memories intact. Grimwood’s take of Winston is one that offers more realism than the standard time travel fare that always seems to circulate around a major event. The cast of characters also includes other replayers Winston meets, and magnifies the objective of Winston’s work to focus on the characters and the affect of the time traveling, and not the science behind it.
Imajica by Clive Barker

In my opinion the best Barker work. Barker’s world consist of 5 dimensions or “Dominions”, our world is the fifth of these. An attempt to bring the fifth dimension back into the fold with the other was failed in the past and since than magic has all but disappeared from our dimension and we have been governed by science and in this work is another attempt to reconcile the dimensions before it’s to late. Do not be fooled by Hellraiser reputation of Barker that many seem to categorize him as. This is a fantastic novel, as was ‘Weaveworld’ and his more recent ‘Abarat’ works.
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link

I have been reading a lot of collections lately, and have found they are absolutely incredible. Examples by Neal Gaiman, Jeffrey Ford, Jeff VanderMeer, Holly Phillips, Ramsey Campbell, Rhys Hughes, have completely amazed me recently. Kelly Link is no different with her Collection of 11 fantasy tales. There are examples here like the “Girl Detective’ that are among the best shorts I have read.

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester

This is also called ‘Tiger! Tiger!’, and is a classic work of Science Fiction. Gulliver Foyle one of the great SF characters of all time, completely unsympathetic bent on simple revenge against those that left him for dead after attacking his ship and leaving his as it’s sole survivor.
In the Palace of Repose by Holly Phillips

Big thanks to Sean Wallace at Prime books for hooking me up with ARC of this collection. Along with Tamar Yellin’s ‘Genizah at the House of Shepher’ this is the best book I have read this year. This is a collection of 9 different stories that offers a mix of stories with horror elements with some with fantastic elements. Phillips instantly has become a must buy author for me, and I am eagerly awaiting her full-length novel that she is currently working on. Incredible talent, who definitely warrants keeping an eye on.
Coraline by Neal Gaiman

Marketed for young adults but by no means lacking for adult readers. Coraline is the title character, whose adventures begin when she opens the 14th door in her flat that sometimes opens up to reveal a brick wall and other times a new world. Gaiman always impresses, as he has reached a level of success that many seem to be waiting for him to fail, however Gaiman continues to put a stamp of quality on all of his works ever since his landmark comic book run, no matter what vein or theme the story is. Great art by Dave Mckean as well.
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons

Author of one of the great relatively recent series ‘The Hyperion cantos’ and one of my other most anticipated books, ‘Olympos’, the sequel to the incredible ‘Ilium’, Simmons is one of my current favorite writers, as he continually refuses to be categorized by any one genre. Carrion Comfort is no different offering a mix of vampire, fantastic events where Simmons actually describes figuratively and literally what it feels like to be mind-fucked.
The Shivered Sky by Matt Dinniman

I hardly ever see this book mentioned, and it’s a shame! 5 teenagers die, and end up in the afterlife where Demons have taken over the Angel City. Great Pov’s of both sides, great character development, and a wonderful history given to the storyline which can be seen by the incredibly useful appendix of Angels and Demons. Even though this is about Angels and Demons, Dinniman does not sale us a mundane good vs. evil plot or in his characterizations, but provides great depth.

The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Just like I said in my entries of Wolfe’s ‘Short Sun’ and ‘Long Sun’ if you read ‘The Book of the New Sun’ I don’t even have to try to explain why reading Wolf should be a requirement. ‘The Urth of the New Sun is the direct sequel to “The Book of the New Sun’ continuing Severian’s (one of the truly great SF characters ever) travels. Wolfe is simply a god.
Punktown by Jeffrey Thomas

First of two entries for a author I have just been introduced too, and both his books simply must be represented. ‘Punktown’ is simply perhaps the best of the collections I have recently read (along with Holly Phillip’s ‘Palace of Repose’). 10 stories about a colony on Oasis inhabited by people of varying cultures and worlds, a mixture of Sci-fi/Horror/Cyber-punk as Thomas weaves 10 separate stories of what has become one of my favorite settings in the entire genre up there with Viriconium (M. John Harrison), Ambergis (Jeff VanderMeer), Bas-Lag (China Mieville), among others. ‘Punktown’ is simply an amazing new work, by an author has done nothing but amaze me with the first 2 of his books I have read.

Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg

Second Silverberg novel, ‘Dying Inside’ is a story about a telepath who is losing his special ability. As noted before Silverberg is known now for his editing of anthologies, however Silverberg’s portrayal of David Selig, both in depicting the use of his power, and the personal ramifications he is going through with the realization that his power is fading is done by someone who truly is a master of SF as an author.
The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb

I simply cannot understand some of the negative response this series got, especially from fans of Hobb’s ‘Tawnyman’ series (which his not on this list or my original 101) and the ‘Farseer Trilogy’ (which is). Although I think Farseer is her best work still, I think many elements within ‘Liveship’ are stronger than in’ Farseer’. You add the element of a boat in a fantasy and people seemingly go mad as if a completely different writer wrote this series. If you can’t get over boats playing a large role in the story and setting, just say so, no need to negatively criticize a damn good epic fantasy series because of limited thinking. There simply isn’t enough quality epic fantasy series around to cast down the good examples for such ridiculous reasons. Great, well-rounded characters (Kennit), sentient ships, great plot, and Hobb’s pacing is flawless, what else do you need?
Sword of Shadows series by JV Jones

Admittedly the titles are kind of lame, and the second books was slightly disappointing, and it’s taking forever for ‘Sword from Red Ice’ to come out, but I have to include this series because I simply think the first installment ‘Cavern of Black Ice’ is a better first installment than Greg Keyes’ much more lauded (I like it too) ‘The Briar King’. Full of great characters, Raif, Valyo (The Dog Lord is IMHO the most interesting in ‘Caverns’), Angus, Malafice Eye, Penthero Iss, I like the restraints on magic even on the greatest of adepts, I like the Clan Wars, I like history Jones give Spire Vanis, this is simply a great read for fans looking for quality epic fantasy. I’m not even going to hold it against Julie that she can’t respond to an FBS interview request. No one is perfect.
Letter’s from Hades by Jeffrey Thomas

Last but absolutely not least is Thomas’ has been a huge find for me and this is one of my favorite of his works. This story is about a anonymous man who committed suicide and found himself in Hell where upon being crucified and graduating wanders Hell and falls in love with a demon. The novel is written in the form of the main characters diary chronicling his travels in Hell. If you’re looking for something new, fresh, and just incredibly written check out Thomas, you won’t be disappointed.
From Hell by Alan Moore

Historical Fiction/Crime work by legendary comic book writer Alan Moore (‘Watchmen’, ‘V for Vendetta’), that is the best work I have read that chronicles Jack-the-Ripper is a the subject of using the Masonic twist in the Ripper mythos for the story. Fantastic art by Eddie Campbell makes this a yet another gem by Moore.
Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock

I have stopped counting but it seems Moorcock is heavily mentioned on both the 101 list and this back 99 list. I’m not a religious person, and although I respect anyone’s desire to practice whatever belief system they think they require (or is it required of them?), it’s a conscious decision on my part, and thus in my mind the smart decision even though I respects anyone right to make there own choices. If you are a devout Christian you may not like this book at all, however Moorcock’s time travel story of Karl Glowgauer back into the time of Christ is absolutely riveting and as always thoughtful. A phenomenal book.
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart

Post-apocalyptic masterpiece about a world’s population which is reduced to almost nothing by a plague and the story of one of the survivors Isherwood, as it chronicles his survival, and attempts to be a leader in a tribe passing on knowledge to the young members trying to preserve culture in future generations.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

It’s impossible to be a fan of mysteries and not include Holmes and this is a great find for me, containing 4 full-length novels and 56 short stories.

Pashazade by John Courtenay Grimwood

Speaking of Charles Stross he recommended Grimwood (although he recommended the Arabesk series), but I jumped on ‘Pashazade’ because of my aforementioned enjoyment of mystery novels. This is SF/Alternative history/sleuth novel in a world where the Ottoman Empire is a world power which provides an interesting and rare backdrop of the Middle East/Arabic setting.
Merchant Princes series by Charles Stross

Read this series. This is a planned 8-12 books cycles that was originally planned to be 4 large novels by Stross (who I have recently interviewed BTW). Stross is an incredible writer of SF and Fantasy. I really have faith in Stross and really enjoyed ‘The Family Trade’, thus the inclusion on the list. It starts with Miriam Berkenstein; a financial reporter who is fired from her job but finds out she has the ability to go into an alternative medieval reality world where she is family of world traveling merchants. This is often compared to Zelazny’s classic ‘Chronicles of Amber’ in regards to being able to describe a influence, and it’s an apt one in my opinion. ‘The Family Trade’ shows tremendous potential for this series, and Stross is a gifted writer. I can’t wait to read ‘Hidden Family’ and I have very high hopes for this series.

The Light Ages by Ian R. Macleod

I own but haven’t read ‘House of Storms’ the sequel yet, but, ‘The Light Ages’ is a magnificently well-written novel taking place in a alternative universe Victorian London where a substance called aether is the key to both industry and magic. Macleod is a incredibly descriptive and vivid writer, and the plight of Robert Barrows as a revolutionary, and in love is a well-written one if not overtly fast paced or incredibly exciting, it is beautifully written however and a strong read. I would also recommend (due to space constraints with my list) his collections which are absolutely remarkable where his descriptive writing definitely shines in ‘Breathmoss and other Exhalations’ and ‘Voyages by Starlight’. His first novel ‘the Great Wheel’ is also recommended if you admire his style from reading ‘The Light Ages’.
Black Orchids of Aum by Gerard Daniel Houarner

An anthology in which the stories all occur in the city of Aum, also called the gate City because the city serves as a Gateway to other, numerous universes. To be able to speak the language in these other universe you must buy from the Gate mothers’ a parasite that allows you to communicate in the universe you are going to. Houarner does a fantastic job in describing the city, and it’s a terrific concept. The stories do not share characters and are stand-alone stories of various travelers and inhabitants, and I am wondering if other works are planned from the Aum setting, as it has vast potential.
The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith

Edited by James Mann, this is the complete collection of Cordwainer Smith’s shorts, who besides being an author actually worked for the CIA as well. Many of the 33 stories in the collection represent the very best Sci-fi shorts one can read. For people that have read his popular full-length novel ‘Norstillia’ I consider this collection even more of a must read.


Greyweather’s List

The Curse of Chalion by Lois Mcmaster

A wonderful story of political intrigue and subtle magics in a world modeled after pre-unified Spain.
The Land of Laughs: A Novel by Jonathan

A man goes searching for the story behind his favorite children’s author, and finds a legacy he never expected.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett

A hilarious, exciting, and flawless co-production where an angel and a demon both decide Armageddon is not a very good idea and join together to try and prevent it..
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le

Le Guin crafted a unique novel exploring the sociological ramifications of divergent evolution in humanity. In particular, a world where every person shares the same, neutral gender.
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

A collection of weird and imaginative short stories that will redefine the word "fantasy" for you.

King Rat by China Mieville

An extraordinary re-imagining of a folk-tale mythos into an urban fantasy.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M.
Miller Jr.

The post-nuclear holocaust science-fiction novel.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

What would costumed crime-fighters be like if they were real people, and how would they have changed the world?
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

One brave little girl and her familiar and the adventure that finds them caught up in a conspiracy that could rock the foundations of their world.

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Advanced technology with the appearance of magic, set in a world ruled by the Hindu pantheon.

All Genres

Jay Tomio’s Top 100 of the Last Ten Years

Light by M. John Harrison

A book in a long line – throughout my life – that I hated when I first started reading it that ended up being among my favorite books of all time. Reading a Harrison book offers that rare transition readers of SF/F go through, where each and every time we start reading a book we have that moment we switch switch gears when we realize (or not) – holy shit this writer has talent! Or as B & B would have said, ummm…like this guy can write and stuff.

This is essentially a grand Space Opera that doesn’t seem like a Space Opera, only because it’s good, and our perceptions of the term hasn’t dug itself out of the stigma even with the best efforts of others like Reynolds, Wright, and Macleod among others. Go visit the Circus of Pathet Lao and tell me Harrison isn’t the best SF writer in the field – either that or he is thumb wrestling Gene Wolfe for honors.

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang (2002)

Lack of ability by myself, just makes me want to use the word ‘perfection’ for all of these. For me, this is the standard for SF collections in the last ten years. It balances being accessible because the stories seem to adapt and speak to the individual. This collection had garnered incredible praise before I read it, and while I certainly agreed with the conclusions, I found my own attachments the stories for different reasons. It’s the best of literature, everyone is invited, all you have to do is bring yourself. This is the book I use when trying to explain to others (who may indeed be passive fans of SF or not at all ) what type of SF I enjoy – and none have read it and could muster dispute afterwards. It’s a collection that exceeds the most lavish possible expectations granted to it beforehand.
A Dictionary of Maqiao by Han Shaogong (1996 – in English in 2003)

This book at times take the form of a fictional dictionary, but is the ultimate view of an outsider of the fictional village of Maqiao. It reminded me of reading a book by Pavic who was passing through Macondo – which is probably enough to get anyone who knows what I’m talking about to pick the book up today.
The Troika by Stepan Chapman (1997)

If you read my blog, no doubt you already know I’m a simple person who just reads a lot of books, and my highest compliment after reading a book by an author I had not previously read is – after reading the last page – is, “This guy is a gangster” (I tend to go with more formal – some say gangsta, I say gangster). Stepan Chapman is a gangster. The method to attain this status varies but Chapman merits top shelf because he spins a tale that logically defies logic, and then when it stop spinning it makes even less sense so he gives it a twirl the other way just to let the reader catch up and we find out we are still running the wrong way.
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (2000)

The book most responsible for expanding my own reading in SF/F and redefining my own view of fantasy. I have no delusions, this type of works existed before – and perhaps even better examples of – but the assumption that Mieville’s ascension to semi-rock star status in the field didn’t introduce more people than myself to greener pastures is – I think – a sound one. There are a lot of authors who are getting new readers try out their work because they saw this new author on the shelf a few years ago being published by the same publisher who published a known quantity (even if in negative fashion) like a Terry Brooks.

I love the big ideas (The Weaver) and the quite moments (Lin why did you look?).

Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey (2000)

Speaking of gangsters. Carey is the last of the authors on my list that was what I call my Vandeermeerian File (not to be confused with Zamilon File). Dude has indirectly led me to some great reads. In recognition to that, the best person to tell you about the novel is Jeff himself – and it kills two birds with one stone, as linking to Locus is the little guy giving thanks to the godfathers of the online SF/F world letting the little guys like myself (and FBS) eat (sometimes).
The Cave by Jose Saramago (2001)

The artisan in a world that being such is no longer viable in the face of technological advancement, and even worse it’s called progress. In every work Sarmago bring the human being to the forefront, and it begs the reader to ask the question why is this notion nothing more than a political punchline in our own society? Fiction that make you ponder the world you live in – I like that gimmick.

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia (2005)

If I’m not mistaken (someone please correct me if I’m wrong) this is Plascencia’s debut which seems almost impossible. I read this, put down my pen, and went back to practicing my origami, because if people are writing debuts like this, people like me need to find our real calling because we are unworthy (although this hasn’t stopped numerous others – so maybe I still have a chance). A lot of people see the term experimental fiction and turn away but this experiment was a success. You will laugh, you will cringe, you may even catch a contact buzz from flipping the pages, but like all of the best works of fiction – particularly Science Fiction and the Fantastic – the liberal use of the absurd, weird, and fabulous, aren’t so thick to hide the penetrating themes that all of us recognize as part of any reality even in the midst of Rita Hayworth, paper people, Baby Nostradamus, mechanized amphibians, and something close to nacho libre.

After reading this book, when someone threatens to paper cut you – you will run – or shank them first.

All the Names by Jose Saramago (1997)

Every now and then even Harold Bloom is right. Who is to say who the best author in the world is? Certainly not me, but I’m in the Saramago line. More than anyone else Saramago is able to get to the heart of a character, the heart of the man, not relying on the crutch of where the character lives or what bubble he fills in on his standardized test denoting his origins even while writing a book that studies one’s life and the proof of one’s life and the loneliness of both.
Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson (2001)

A bit of a surprise choice but shouldn’t be if you read my ode to Erickson, I often debate (okay not often) myself in which i prefer the most in the series, either this or the second book Deadhouse Gates. Ultimately this become my choice as it becomes the book where the patient reader finally gets a bit of a stop in the 1000 mile per hour sprint Erikson begins with the flawed (but one I still enjoyed) Gardens of the Moon, without actually slowing down. We learn more about the nature of the warrens that have fanboy magic-system junkies weak in the knees, we learn more about the nature of pantheon, the power of Quick Ben, and the humanizing (but still alien) of Anomander Rake via talk with Whiskey Jack adds to both characters.

Plus, a guy carries around a hammer that can end the world – how cool is that?

Absolute Planetary by Warren Ellis featuring art by John Cassaday (2004/ individual issue started in 1999)

You know I was sitting here thinking what comic have I really enjoyed reading the most in this timeframe,and I think it’s vogue to try to find the msot obscure title nobody has ever heard of to annoint in this field lately, but for me it really came down to a few possibilities like DC’s Hitman, Vertigo’s Preacher (both by Garth Ennis) and Planetary, which offers the convenient-for-my-purposes Absolute Editon which is the best comic book format idea ever. Besides being a slight pain to locate, what you will find here is the first 12 issues of Warren Ellis goodness featuring a trio of super-folks who investigate mysteries and phenomena. Okay, sounds like superhero X-files, but what makes this fun is its use of bizarro-recognizable figures from comics and popular culture in general, which makes it almost impossible for a comic fan or anybody who has been alive for thw last 40 years not to enjoy – which is a mean trick Warren.

Cassaday’s pencils are simply sublime.

Tainaron by Leena Krohn (2004)

This is a book I have to credit reading the Mumpsimus for drawing my attention to it. First I might get some hate mail here: this is just over 120 pages and broken down into over two dozen stories (Letters), which would lead people to ask me why I didnt include some novellas that may be only slighlty less in size, and I’d lose that argument (as there is at least a Lethem work I know I’d like to include in the same mold).

This (overall the other books here) gets my vote as the one book you can recommend to that person you know who truly believes in the concept of fantastic literature and you will get a call back (not an email – a real call, ringing and everything – I promise) of appreciation. Damn bugs.

The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe (2004 – later collected)

It’s strange, I think I underestimated these books when I first read them (first released separate as The Knight and The Wizard but since collected and both were released the same year so cut me some slack). The title and the synopsis imply conventional, the name of the author screams that’s not possible, the writing whispers the truth.

A prime example that what elements -no matter how traditional or cliche – an author uses doesn’t have to indicate quality. A master is master, and Wolfe is wolf even in sheeps clothing.

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (1999)

You can’t read this book and forget about Lionel, Lethem’s tourettes suffering protagonist that serves as an incredible vehicle for Lethem’s exploration of language hiding behind a whodunnit.

Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick (1997)

I’m a big Swanwick fan and this book strikes me as a glorfied Faust, SF stylw that not only reworks the various well known tales of Faust, but in it’s glory gives a message about the nature of Science Fiction itself, it’s fictional martyrs, and the end game represented.

Or, I can be taking books too seriously again…

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton (1996)

The start of one of the great space operas that suffers a bit from an ending that made the term deus ex machina vogue in the SF/F community.

The Darkest Part of the Woods by Ramsey Campbell (2002)

Simply an ideal modern horror novel for those that still like the idea that comedy isn’t synonymous with horror. For horroe writers who don’t know about atmosphere in writing read this book – quiet can be loud.
Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian (2000)

First, I don’t know anything about the politics surrounding the author, and more importantly I don’t care, what we have here is kind of a Nobel laureate’s post modern, version of Queen Latifah’s movie Last Holiday (U-N-I-T-Y!). The narrator(s) travels, a semi-autobiographical account at times surreal, both physically (some 15,000 mile journey) but the meat is the journey to self, which really has no destination (but thankfulky is full of women).
Shriek: an Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer (2006)

I think the presence of three Vandermeer efforts may be a surprise to some, but I mentioned Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora on this list (which came out in 2006 as well), and Shriek has to be included, because it’s the single best book I have read this year. Read the interview I conducted with Jeff earlier this year for all things Shriek.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (1996)

The third book in the series (A Storm of Swords) is already on the list as what I feel is the best epic fantasy book I have ever read. In all honesty this series probably kept my love for the medium (epic fantasy) alive. I was entering that stage where I (like many others) were getting tired of reading what was essentially the same story over and over from thirty different authors and not only did this book buck that status quo it really is more than that, it’s not just the best epic fantasy of the 90’s, it’s really one of the best series I have ever read period, and its achieved a rare combination of being extremely popular (a best seller) and actually being good. This is the book that introduced me to the cast of characters – that have not only for me, but also for a mob of others – defined 90’s fantasy.

Epic fantasy can not only be good, it can rival the best stuff being written, and it’s nice of Martin to supply me with something tangible to point to when saying that.

Letters From Hades by Jeffrey Thomas (2003)

I’m a big fan of just about everything I have read from Thomas (and looking forward to his next effort) and one might just want to consider this entry a dual entry with his Punktown. Jeffrey Thomas gives us a view of a man who wakes up in hell, falls in love, and starts a life in hell (after graduating) and even has time to hope to be able to be able publish his book. That’s a dedicated writer.

I take solace that if I don’t make it the other way, there are small presses in hell. By the way, if I didn’t stress it enough, Punktown kicks all kinds of ass – that’s a quality purchase that will have you searching for other Thomas efforts in that setting.

The Inflatable Volunteer by Steve Aylett (1999)

I thought Aylett’s Lint was one of the better books I read last year, but this probably my favorite book by Aylett who has crafted wonderful locales like Beerlight in the past. What draws me to Aylett is that although many describe his work as surreal and over the top, Aylett’s characters do and act in a manner that I relate to, which may man I’m a sick bastard, or everybody else is just lying. Probably the latter.

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

27. Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (1999)

That guy who wrote Fight Club. This is his best book.

What? That should be enough…

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk (1999)

That guy who wrote Fight Club. This is his best book.

What? That should be enough…

The Crook Factory by Dan Simmons (1999)

As I pondered this list I was sure it would be Simmons’s Ilium that would be on this list. I found that I thought less of it after reading its sequel Olympos, which I enjoyed but failed to live up to promise of Ilium. Simmons remains one of the more versatile writers out there, and his Hyperion Cantos was one of the reads that really turned me on to Science Fiction, and this book, a historical/fiction that actually makes Ernest Hemingway interesting (no small feat) is representing Simmons on this list.

Excession by Iain M. Banks (1996)

I love Culture – Use of Weapons is one of the best damn SF books I have read, and this my second favorite (I’m also a fan of Bank’s non-Sf work). Making humans a secondary, or at least not the sole primary perspective of Space Opera is ballsy – making it great might make you the subject of SF fan boy admiration.
Time’s Hammer by James Sallis (2000)

I’m quite proud of this find as I have been looking forward to some mystery books beyond the classics that I’m most familiar with (Stout, Christie etc) and this collection by Sallis (who I am otherwise not familiar with) makes me feel this is a great author to start with.

In short, I don’t know much about mystery, but I like this book.

Finding Helen by Colin Greenland (2003)

For a while (last couple of years) it seemed Colin Greenland became the name mentioned along with Susanna Clarke, which speaks volumes about how well received Clarke was for Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, because this guy is talented. I actually first read Greenland via a short story contribution he did in Book of Dreams, an anthology containing stories pertaining to Neil Gaiman’s Dreaming which featured authors like the aforementioned Clarke, Gene Wolfe, John M. Ford, Tad Williams, Steven Brust, Lisa Goldstein, Caitlin Kiernan, and George Alec Effinger among others. Greenland just gets it with Finding Helen; he doesn’t as much take you on a journey to his conclusion as much as he guides you to make your own (a novel idea in some fantasy corners).

It’s just a wonderful example of SF/F being the tool and not the product itself (another idea that is lost in many corners of SF/F).

Bible Stories for Adults by James Morrow (1996)

Okay, I’m lame, the title first made me to examine this book, but my lameness proved fruitful on this occasions as this is wonderful collection of smart satire of events not just involving the Bible, but also in regards to stories about Helen (of Troy) Ebenezer Scrooge, and Lincoln. Christopher Moore’s work never really appealled to me in the manner this effort by Morrow did.

…and God narrating a story just tickled me.

Endland Stories by Tim Etchells (1998)

One day I was reading an interview being conducted by some guy named Gabe Chouinard (you may have heard of him – more likely you have heard him, as Gabe is one of those personalities who seem to be able yell at you through the screen). He was interviewing M. John Harrison, and as he was asking a question he mentions Etchell’s name sandwiched in-between China Mieville and Kelly Link when referencing writers who are drawing on their own lives to create works that transcend ‘normal’ genre conventions. At the time I hadn’t read Link so the implication wasn’t as staggering as it is now, but I have one of those odd minds that recalls and ponders things of no consequence to others (like how Squirrel Girl beats the hell out of every major Marvel character – or why Condor Man didn’t become the next huge super hero after his film).

So…who the hell is Tim Etchells?

I still have no damn clue, but this collection is an intriguing and nifty cynical (which in the 21st century means realistic) look at modern values in England.

The Monstrous and the Marvelous by Rikki Ducornet (1999)

A few months ago in a post at FBS Victoria asked me about current female writers I enjoyed, who I thought were also among the best writers currently in fiction. I really drew a blank (although I did mention L. Timmel Duchamp). It’s not a question I’m asked a lot, but the one should have mentioned (quickly) was Rikki Ducornet – who really represents for me the ideal ‘artist’ that I like to think is at the core of every writer. This is a set of essays by Ducornet, a journey into the mind of an artist while regarding art (and other things).

Alas, the other Ducornet works I have read were written before a decade ago (her Phosphor in Dreamland is an all time favorite of mine) – and a list like this that doesn’t include her would have very little validity.

The Scar by China Mieville (2002)

Reaction to The Scar has always been one of the most interesting things to observe for me in genre circles. Perdido Street Station gave Mieville a bit of rock and roll star status and this follow-up had as many people anticpating it for its possibilities as it had people waiting for a fall. I think there was a fall, personally I prefer Perdido Street Station, but I think Mieville had enough seperation to fall and still remain above the pack. The Scar is one of those books that on retrospect it’s not too hard to find points of frustration with text or angles to disect and improve upon it, yet these aspects never occured to me while I actually reading the book – I think this was one of the great pure adventure novels in recent memory! The high seas, leviathans, vampires, alientech-swords, spies, pirates, mosquito people, groovy mystical artifacts – and social commentary wrapped in one of a kind Mieville prose. What else can one ask for? Is there anything else?

I’m think I’m going to change my name to Japan H.P. Kafka.

Words Are Something Else by David Albahari (1996)

A collection from an author who has recently received some acclaim for Gotz and Meyer (which I haven’t read – I have never really been too fascinated with Nazi/concentration camp related fiction). A local here actually put me on to Albahari, and whoa! Highly introspective, but from different sources, at the same distant but in front of you. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s also a deep one, where Albahari spins personal, and regionally relevant fiction with equal skill using the surreal or mundane. It’s one of those books that later made me mroe wary of the person who recommended it than I was before – the person was smarter than I first realized.
Minions of the Moon by Richard Bowes (2000)

First, shadow/doppelgangers are very cool. Whether as recently in Park’s A Princess of Roumania or works by Auster, Chabon, Nabakov etc, The Bodhisattva likes Doppelgangers and Bowes’ Fred is no exception. In fact a doppelganger named Fred might be the epitimy of cool. More than that, Bowes lay the groundwork for what we later come to know him far – tacking real life not with fantasy, but tackling fantasy with real life, emphasizing real. I mentioned this in my review of his From the Files of the Time Rangers – but nobody puts you in setting like Bowes, he doesn’t just take you there – this guy is like walking on to a holo-deck.
Black Glass by Karen Joy Fowler (1997)

A collection that conveniently includes some stories from Fowler’s earlier collections. I think John Clute just says everthing you need to know about Fowler:

Her stories are not snapshots. They are what happens to snapshots.

If my name was Japan H.P. Kafka I think I could say something deep like that to.

Leviathan III by Forrest Aguirre and Jeff Vandermeer (2002)

This is my favorite anthology, and bless it’s heart because I can get away with a brief reasoning: Jeffrey Ford, Zoran Zivkovic, Michael Moorcock, Tamar Yellin, Rikki Ducornet, Carol Emshwiller, Stepan Chapman – and more all in top form.

There aren’t too many geat anthologies anymore. Remeber all the hype for the Legends stuff? I liked it because they had some necessary reads from authors like a Martin in them (Martin fans will buy anything that includes something aSoIaF related – and rightfuly so), but they define uneven stories. Most of them were big names, who never could write anyway and were out of element in the short form. With Leviathan you have collected some of the best in the business.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (2006)

Let’s ruffle feathers! A caper novel? A fun novel? Wait a minute, isn’t this an adventure? What is this, an enjoyable read that can have wide appeal?

Fuck that!

If you think those are actual detractions than you’re an idiot. I don’t know about anyone else but one of my main goals – a daily goal – is to maximize my enjoyment and have fun. This is Fritz Leiber after watching Reservoir Dogs and that can’t possibly be bad.

The Gentleman Bastards are an institution – someone give me an official T-Shirt.

The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen (1996)

Conspiracy! There is some possible fudging here, I am told this could have been written in 1994-1995, but my edition says 1996 and it’s close enough (and damn straight it’s worthy enough) to get a pass. The Bodhisattva took one year of meditative hibernation thus it becomes the 10 year + 1 list. I was browsing Amazon one day and for some reasons I clicked on one of those Listmania links accidently and it leads me to a list by some guy named Jeff VanderMeer. This list would eventually lead me to some damn good reading (some on this list like Cisco). The gem on the list is this work by Hansen. Many books purposelly attempt to involve and manipulate emotions, other try to appeal to intellectual sensibilities – Hansen does both while exhibitnig the capabilites of fantasy we all have and never allowing that fact to unties itself from reality. I think this books is 10x better than Crowley’s Little, Big which I view as a fundamental cornerstone of modern fantasy.
Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield (1998)

My historical fiction taste is something I can’t really define. I could never get into Cornwell because I couldn’t shake the feeling I was reading the the David Webber or Terry Brooks of historical fiction (for those needing clarity – not a good thing). It could be said I’m not very current with my knowledge when it comes to historical fiction, but I do know I enjoyed this effort by Pressfield, a soldier’s perspective of Thermopylae.
Air by Geoff Ryman (2004)

If you are a fan of SF/F and have been alive in the last year you have heard of Air, it was the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and the British SF Award. It’s a book that may not have been everyone’s first choice, but one nobody can complain about after the fact. Ryman’s evaluation of a third world nation’s – real people not a term most just hear on CNN – and the effects of a technology that it literally the global tsunami of popular culture is perhaps his best book yet (and that’s not a marginal statement, as he also wrote The Child Garden, Lust, and Unconqured Countries) and who doesn’t like a talking dog?
Travel Arrangements by M. John Harrison (2001)

Forget Science Fiction or Fantasy, one of the most worthwhile writers in fiction – as gifted as anybody writing today (that I have read) or in the last couple of decades. China Mieville, who is often remarked upon for overstatement on subjects was actually being conservative when he said, “That M. John Harrison is not a Nobel Laureate proves the bankruptcy of the literary establishment”.

When he writes a book the genre is better and worse – better for his latest inclusion, but looks worse in comparison. This collection, a laid back shot to the soul is classic Harrison – it’s not a performance, it’s an experience.

Wild Life by Molly Glass (2001)

We all have those books that somebody demands we read, and knowing the person you put it off for awhile, until one day you find yourself on the throne with no reading material and take a chance (literally shitting on your friend’s recommendation).

This is a journey via a fictional woman’s diary that carries a historical authentic feel of the turn of the century NW U.S., while the protagonist begins a (sometimes fantastic) adventure into the woods to search for the child of one of her employees. This is mysterious, adventurous, and presents one of the more enjoyable decidedly feminist characters I have read.

Strange Travelers by Gene Wolfe (2001)

If you are around genre communities enough you will begin to find that while many authors are lauded, the name Gene Wolfe is given an added reverence among living SF/F authors that that only a handful of other receive. His name attached to seminal works like The Book of the New Sun and the Fifth Head of Cerberus, in such a manner SF fans and Fantasy fans fight over who can claim him but along with that he has one of truly great bodies of short fiction work over the last couple of decades.
A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge (1999)

In 1992 Vinge wrote a great book called A Fire Upon the Deep which won the Hugo and was a hell of a book, 7 years later this – a loose sequel – would also win the Hugo and actually (while certainly debatable) the better of the two books. What Vinge does successfully (which isn’t exactly common) is humanize a story, finding the combination that make a story both personal, yet still working with big and expansive ideas, which for me are the ingredients of quality Science Fiction – one that’s universally known, but the talent is in the chief, not recipe book, and Vinge cooked up one of outstanding arcs of the 90’s here.
Ghostwritten by David Mitchell (1999)

Cloud Atlas was a bit of a hot book a couple years ago in genre circles and kudos for that since it led me to Ghostwritten. I finish reading novels like this and I’m left wondering why other author debuts aren’t more like this. Here is a debut that has obvious nods (to talented authors as well – it always baffles me how some are inspired by those who haven’t written anything worth reading, much less acknowledging) yet is ambitious. This is a book that received lukewarm response, Salon called it perhaps a bubblegum DeLillo – and considering what I view as the negative elements in some of DeLillo’s work that maybe more of a compliment than first intended.

River of Gods by Ian McDonald (2004)

There may not have been a more lauded book this side of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in the last couple of years than this and like Clarke I think McDonald delivers. McDonald delivers a connection with a near future SF novel centered in India – and how can one not like Shiv? You can’t, he’s too gangster – easily one of the best SF in recent memory (of a pothead).
Tumbling After by Paul Witcover (2005)

The artisan in a world that being such is no longer viable in the face of technological advancement, and even worse it’s called progress. In every work Sarmago bring the human being to the forefront, and it begs the reader to ask the question why is this notion nothing more than a political punchline in our own society? Fiction that make you ponder the world you live in – I like that gimmick.

The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll (2002)

Talk about under mentioned. This book was written just last year. Do I have the only copy? This should not have snuck up on anyone after Witcover’s Waking Beauty. How does Jack and Jill, one for all and all for one, a quest, and paper and dice make for SF/F worth reading? Ask Witcover – he seems to be the only one who knows.
Stable Strategies and Others by Eileen Gunn (2004)

Carroll was so good even before it was vogue to make fun of fantasy they were putting his books in the regular fiction section – it was just different, which was bit of a novelty in fantasy in the early 90’s. By the time other authors were screaming for equality, Carroll was chillin’ already done with 5-6 pieces of art. I always group Carroll with this group of authors who have been around for a while that simply do nothing but make up a huge portion of the really great fiction of the last 10-15 years in fantasy. Like a Joyce, a Blaylock, a Powers, a Shepard, they just seem to quietly (okay maybe Shepard isn’t that quiet) go about their business and every so often they write something like Wooden Sea, that makes simply trying bury your 3-legged dog the spark of…something deliciously weird.
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen Gold (2001)

If I had to pick one book where the good guys win and we like it to be on the list – this is it. Before I read it I thought I was to find it Thraxas stupid (which is just above Newcomb-stupid they aren’t similar at all but the reading experience that was Thraxas had me wary of any books for a few months). This is a fun little mystery/alternative history with enough SF thrown in that we can certainly claim it (which we love ala Never Let Me Go). and ultimately we love bootleggers and it has Philo Farnsworth in it who we all owe a hell of a lot more to than you would realize going by the number people who actually know who he is.
Secret Life by Jeff Vandermeer (2004)

Wonderful introduction into VanderMeer’s work, and more than his other works shows the wide range of his story telling. At the same time, it’s a startling reread of some earlier works that gives hints to works to come – I never knew a short featuring a refreshingly intrusive vine could be at the same time more entertaining and more telling than the contents of some multi-book sequences.
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link (2005)

Yes, I’m one of those people that you probably have seen a growing number of on the net in recent years that just love Kelly Link. There are certain writers who come around (too infrequently) that present a body of work that one simply cannot deny; as if doing so would be a denial of SF/F itself. To not savor Link is to tarnish Science Fiction – I’m sticking to that.
The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker (2006)

You get those rare moments when you read multi-book sagas, treasured moments that you become conscious of and yet do not disappoint. This is a unique moment, and one that only occurs when reading series that’s books are closely linked – true continuances of each other, where an author brings satisfaction to the end of not just one book, but a series and with that several hours of your life – and the waiting in-between releases. The Thousandfold Thought was like this; perhaps not since reading Mckillip’s poetic conclusion to The Riddlemasterr, have I experienced this. Bakker closes the door on his debut sequence, and kicks down the door leading to the next level of epic fantasy – the one the majority of other authors were scared to venture to.
The Onion Girl by Charles De Lint (2001)

De Lint is the author everyone knows, everyone mentions, but nobody really talks about. You will find some reference to him as spearheading ‘Urban’ fantasy, but you don’t see a particular surge of conversation about him that came with the recent popularity of the form. China’s massive appeal may have busted a whole in wall to shine a spotlight on the other side, but amongst what they found was Newford already there, and De Lint spinning his tales of Urban Folklore.
The Phoenix Exultant by John C. Wright (2003)

I can’t say Wright isn’t recognized because he certainly is, but I find it to be minor miracle how many times on online message boards when the common thread pops up asking for a recommendation in the ’space opera’ mold (usually by a fan of Hamilton) pops up and I have to be the one that introduces Wright into the equation. His Golden Age trilogy is simply beautiful and a read I enjoyed more than other works I find outstanding by the likes of Macleod, Hamilton, or Reynolds. This is the second book in the trilogy and where the journey of Phaethon increasingly becomes one of the most interesting in recent SF, but at the same time Daphne may indeed steal the show.

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (2002)

Richard Morgan was on fire for a little while, his Takeshi Kovacs books a buzz everywhere, but I think this one – his first – is still his best work to date. The mixture of SF and hard boiled detective work isn’t new, but this remains an example of the success of cyberpunk, not existing viably on it’s own any longer, but imbedded as a influence on a generation of writers.
Luminous by Greg Egan (1998)

Fans of ‘Hard Science Fiction’ have read my list and given up. It’s no huge secret, I’m not a scientist, and where some people hate reading Tolkien’s over description, or Wolfe’s unreliable narrators, I don’t give a shit how scientifically plausible an element of a book is (unless an instance is beyond absurd like instances in KJA’s Saga of the Seven Suns), and if I did, I don’t want the technical readout of it in the novel I’m reading. It’s not a condemnation, I simply just don’t care. I don’t read authors like a Baxter for the science behind the fiction, I read them for the fiction (admittedly found many times behind the Science). Strangely enough, I enjoy Egan who may be the #1 culprit! I’d be the first to admit I probably wouldn’t be able to stomach a novel length effort by Egan, but I greatly enjoy his short fiction. This collection and his earlier Axiomatic are must haves for SF fans – collections of the mind bending variety.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

Ishiguro is one of my favorite authors, and probably on many people’s short list of authors who they would consider among the best in the world. This is not his strongest novel, but was a subject talked about in SF circles due to minimal SF elements present that allowed the community to claim it. I think how one reacts to this book is based on how one takes to the ending, and sure this is (as many have mentioned) a story in the mold we have read before particularly in SF in various degrees of quality, but I’m not convinced it’s been written by a more gifted writer.
If Lions Could Speak and Other Stories by Paul Park (2002)

I read Park’s A Princess of Roumania last year and was introduced to a writer that I was previously unaware, a situation that needed to be fixed. These lions need to speak, and after reading these stories you may want to tackle some and beat the truth out of them – this is one of the finest collections in recent years.
The Limits of Enchantment by Graham Joyce (2005)

We will start to see my spacing problems arise as I try to smartly spread out the listings of the multiple authors with multiple-worthy books. Joyce is among authors like a Carroll, Shepard, or Ford who apparently have this gift of not even knowing how to write sub-par fiction. These are writer that after reading their books I have to ask (in the complimentary U.S. way), “what’s wrong with this guy?”, and why aren’t the rest of us this right? Joyce not only writes about elements we thought had reached their fictional limits – he redefines them, whether dealing with a tooth fairy or witch.
Breathmoss and other Exhalations by Ian R. Macleod (2004)

I was trying to decide which Macleod book really represented my favorite by him as I have enjoyed both his novels and short fiction. It came down to his two collections for me (and both are outstanding) and I ultimately chose this one because the table of contents reads like a roll call of some of the best SF/F short fiction in recent years with stories like the title story, The Summer Isles (which in novel form is highly recommended as well), The Chop Girl, and New Light on the Drake Equation.
The Knife Thrower and Other Stories by Steven Millhauser (1998)

Millhauser won the Pulitzer for his novel Martin Dressler, which I haven’t read (yet) and is a collection I too often forget to mention when people ask for recommendations. It’s a collection of the fantastic that doesn’t take us to new worlds and asks us to believe, it takes us and forces us to ask why not.
Hidden Camera By Zoran Zivkovic (2005)

The first author to show up twice on the list in a story that shows the concept of reality television can actually be interesting, even if only in under-appreciated, absurdist SF novels.
Thirst by Ken Kalfus (1999)

A collection of travelers, with great stories like Invisible Malls, a story that Polo would have told the Khan if he came to the west generations after and The Joy and Melancholy Baseball Trivia Quiz that any baseball fan will enjoy among others made this one of the most surprising pick-ups for me. I was expecting Cunninghamish airport reading and what I got instead was quality.
The Labyrinth by Catherynne M. Valente (2004)

In times when it’s hard to differentiate one writer from another, there is something to be said about writers who write frame-worthy pages. There is a tendency for people to comfort themselves in thinking writers of unique quality are in fact hiding inadequacies in skin deep luster, but the problem itself is that they can see beyond the surface regardless – clever is not clever unless they can perceive it (which in most cases wouldn’t make it very clever at all). Sometimes not knowing what the hell is going is not only the point of fiction, but truth of reality – and often times these are the most enjoyable times. The Labyrinth is a journey, and while some great authors shows us wonders, the ones I truly enjoy also don’t forget to make us wonder.

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

Disregard all (the rightfully positive) reviews that want to act like they are championing some social cause for recommending this book and Hopkinson. Read the book because Hopkinson has three novels and a couple of collections to her credit and there isn’t one (okay, I haven’t read Under Glass) that shouldn’t be on your shelf for the good old fashioned (and only pertinent one I’m aware of) reason that they are simply damn good reads by an author who demands your attention.
London Bone by Michael Moorcock (2001)

Why aren’t more people talking about this gem?

Moorcock is an author who transcends. As every time one wants to use him as a standard he goes off and establishes new standards, some of which we don’t realize until decades afterwards. Moorcock is in my mind the soul of SF/F – one we don’t know if is ascending or descending, but are assured no one better can chronicle that journey in-between.

For now we simply behold the man.

Stories like The Clapham Antichrist and The Cairene Purse shows an author not on top of the game, but playing one we aren’t invited to yet.

The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant by Jeffrey Ford (2002)

The list is collection heavy (reflecting the amount of short fiction I have read recently) and this is another favorite. The first author I interviewed for FBS told me I need to be reading Jeffrey Ford and to start with this collection. It’s perhaps the best single author recommendation I have received.
The Sea Came in at Midnight by Steve Erickson (1999)

No, not the author of the Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence (which I enjoy).

This is a case of seeing an author mentioned enough times by other authors (that write work I enjoy) that motivated me to make a purchase. My favorite is his Tours of the Black Clock, and you simply have to love a author always worthwhile and most of the times outstanding fiction in a lean package around 300 pages long that never lack for content. In some 2500 some-odd pages (or 2-3 epic fantasy tomes) he has put out eight books worth putting on the shelf that might be among the best in the last couple of decades. Frankly, I enjoy his body of work more than I do Pynchon’s (who I’m also a big fan of).

Beluthahatchie and Other Stories by Andy Duncan (2000)

With the exception of belles and fried chicken, Southern-anything isn’t my cup of tea (although I do like ice tea in the south – and I’m becoming a fan of Cherie Priest), but don’t be fooled, Andy Duncan has written one of the strongest collections on this list.

Stories like The Pottawatomie Giant make Duncan just as astounding to me as the Links and Chiangs – which is the highest praise I can think of.*

*Note – I corrected this, after rereading the passage it seemed to infer that the story was in the collection, it’s not, I just wanted to give a sample of Duncan’s writing that is available online.

Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Stover (2002)

The fact that some Star Wars fans actually didn’t like Stover’s adaptation to Revenge of the Sith answered a lot of questions I had about the popularity of some of their other titles. Out of all the books yet to be released and promised to us in the near future, I am most anticipating the third Caine Book, Caine Black Knife.

Blade of Tyshalle goes away from the more and more common narratives where power is born through subtlety, yet it never falls into the gratuitous pits that many authors mistake as more relevant. I reviewed this book here (one of my first review attempts).

In the end it’s 800 pages that never fail to hold interest, something not even the much-lauded Susanna Clarke pulled off in her most excellent debut – and honestly not many do. It’s good to see smebody still writing books that both kicks ass and features a character who kicks ass.

The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd (1998)

Sometimes Amazon reviews tell the story:

“However, most people (including myself) are of average intelligence and Mr. Ackroyd does not seem to have written this book with us in mind. Mr. Ackroyd’s use of the English language is polished but too intelligent for the average person to understand. He should have written at a more mainstream level.”

Ignorance is not a problem it seems, people seem to know they are indeed rather daft, and in this case are proud of it? I don’t know, I have to admit I was rather ignorant of More and found it informative (admittedly I have no reference to question veracity), I tend to read biographies to find out about a subject and Ackroyd accomplishes that and does so in a manner that I found entertaining as well.

City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (2002)

I think VanderMeer’s recent Shriek: an Afterword is probably his most accomplished work, but this is still my favorite VanderMeer novel. My introduction to Ambergris, along with Mieville’s Perdido Street Station perhaps impacted what Fantasy I read afterwards more than any other books, and even more, was fundamental in my growing appreciation for short fiction.
Trujillo by Lucius Shepard (2004)

Isn’t Shepard one of the best writers in America? This collections contains some great stories like Only Partly Here , Jailwise and the title piece itself, and is really quite a massive collection.

While most consider page turners to represent the best of reads, this is a collection one has to savor and take a break in between the stories as Shepard packs this collection with some of his emotionally exhaustive work to date, each lush in content as any novel.

I’m not going to make a habit of linking reviews, but Niall Harrison reviewed this collection story by story and does it justice.

Voice of Fire by Alan Moore (1996)

TI love Neil Gaiman’s work, but not only does Moore supercede him in the comic industry, this book is more worthwhile than any novel Gaiman has ever written.

Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem (1998)

Lethem is a favorite of mine, and it would not be hard to believe this is many people’s favorite book. It’s an assured effort by somebody we expect such from; a prime example of SF and Westerns mixture in a tale of survival.

Lethem has stood the test of time, and enough so he is no longer just stylish, he has become a standard.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (1996)

This is an interesting book as not only doesn’t qualify as novel of ideas, it’s beautifully written and is an alarmingly capable candidate as an introduction to SF, much the way Card was 20 years ago. Inherent with such a claim it has it’s opponents concerning the actual science behind the fiction, but the overpowering characters, and the themes they lead us through make this a novel impossible to ignore in the given time frame.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004)

There has to be something said for a book that came out with this much hype (from both inside and out of the genre) and for the most part delivers, and in my mind did so exceedingly well. If we consider debuts, this effort by Clarke makes dogs out of the overwhelming majority.

More than any other novel of 2004 it captured place (like Bowes did in 2005) for me, I wasn’t told where I was, I was transported there, and after he last page I still miss it.

The Garden of Secrets by Juan Goytisolo (1997)

This is the first (and thus far) only Goytisolo work I have, something I have to remedy very soon. Eusebio’s story is told by twenty eight completely different story-tellers with equally diverse methods of narration – this is the Spanish multiple POV Chess Garden, or is the Chess Garden (which is on this list as well) the diluted Garden of Secrets?
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (1999)

I have a weakness for books that have Japanese characters (Goto Dengo), however this books belongs. It’s better than a book than a simple book you enjoy, it’s a book that introduces new elements to enjoy. This like his Baroque Cycle could be maddening at times, but maddening in a confusing and exciting way not based on tedium – well not much anyway.
Nekropolis by Maureen McHugh (2002)

McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang is one of the best Science Fiction offered us in the 90’s, and while Nekropolis isn’t quite its equal, this books casts a tangible funereal aura while still promoting a habitual desire to read.
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (2000)

The gall of somebody putting an epic fantasy on the list! To be frank, anyone who tries to put such a list together that has particular attachment to SF or Fantasy and doesn’t include George R.R. Martin would be highly questionable. It’s arguable that Martin has been the most important author (regarding adult fantasy) in the genre over the last decade in terms of having a calculable impact on elevating reading expectations in fantasy; it’s not the only step on the staircase, but it is one that many actually took.

This book represents the pinnacle of epic fantasy in my mind; Martin is just showing off here, complete mastery of POV and perspective, and juggling them by the dozen, 98% of the authors who snicker at epic fantasy could not have pulled this off. The Red Wedding is one of the all time classic chapters in fantasy.

Queue The Rains of Castamere…

The San Veneficio Canon by Michael Cisco (2005)

This collects Cisco’s Divinity Student and subsequent novella, The Golem. Cisco is the writer who illuminates by making the vivid obscure; this is a completely bizarre trip into the halls of language where there are no dividers between reality and the fantastic. The Golems is a chase for love in an underworld of Cisco’s devising. A 200+ page book that has as much to remember than most multi-sequence tomes

The world needs more books by Cisco.

Alva and Irva: the Twins Who Saved a City by Edward Carey (2003)

This is not the only Carey entry on the list, but our opportunity to visit Carey’s Entralla in a book that the term world building takes on new and actual meaning. Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Alva and Irva represent that to the fullest.
The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster (2002)

Auster is one of the few authors who have written mulit-book sequences that should be read by everyone (his New York Trilogy). Auster’s other books – while all worth reading – prove to be difficult to disassociate from that sequence as he tends to pull key elements from the series that take prominent roles in the books. This could possibly speak on how far reaching his trilogy is, but regardless it took me time to step away from that work and fully enjoy his subsequent work.

This is a book that replaces the tree nobody here’s falling with people nobody ever hear.

Dark Property by Brian Evenson (2002)

Powerful writer whose doesn’t shy away from pissing people off, and while the latter is terrific, he is on this list for the former. Thematically extreme and almost impossible not to go through the book without adding some new words to your vocabulary. If an American would have wrote Ballard’s Crash it would have been Evenson.
The Insult by Rupert Thomson (1997)

I feel the same about most of Thomson’s work (even when they are all widely different), one lately they have a tendency to lose their legs in some portion of the novel, but even with that in mind I never stop buying his books (haven’t read Divided Kingdom yet which I heard may be his best work – I think The Five Gates of Hell is his best that I have read).

Thomson’s story about a man turned blind regaining his vision threatens to give the term thriller some sense of respectability.

The Nightmare Factory by Thomas Ligotti (1996)

Ligotti is the best horror writer currently living that I am aware of. That’s not to say there are other outstanding writers in the field but I associate his work with ideal horror, and this collection is not only among the best collections of horror in the last ten years it’s in my mind one of the dozen best ever. While his most recent effort, The Shadow at the Bottom of the World is an excellent introduction for the new reader (and has many of the stories), it is Nightmare Factory that will hold a spot in the Horror pantheon.
Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart (2004)

Most people who have read Sean Stewart probably have read his Star Wars effort, Yoda – Dark Rendezvous, making Stewart one of the most talented authors to write in that setting. They do themselves a disservice by not reading his other books, like Galveston Mockingbird, and Perfect Circle – who can actually make Texas seem interesting with his blend of magic realism/ghost story.
My Happy Life by Lydia Millet (2002)

A striking emotion-eliciting tale, as we are taken into the mind of a mentally troubled patient left behind when her asylum closes down.

It’s a mixture of melancholy and beauty, and I will be damned if one can be unmoved by the reading.

The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford (2002)

I view Ford as a writer who has perhaps strung together the most enviable body of work in the last couple of years when regarding both novels and short fiction. This is my favorite of his novels. Fantasy authors (authors in general) have an understandable attraction to artisan characters and Piambo is the most memorable in recent years for me. At the heart of it, it’s really applying fantasy to survey fantasy – and that’s damn cool.
The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

A quintessential example of a book that if one completes their reading of it, it’s very difficult not to admire on some level. It’s different, which doesn’t necessitate quality, but for me this is how horror (and that is an extreme over simplification of what this book is) should be. Demanding, not cheap; indeed it feel like an accomplishment after reading it like it did when I finished Eco’s Focault’s Pendulum in high school. It feels oddly like Borges and Joyce at the same time, and that’s a combination that merits a read.

Has become the standard I gauge subsequent horror against.

The Fourth Circle by Zoran Zivkovic

What do you get when you have a book with Sherlock Holmes, Archimedes, Arthur Conan Doyle, Nikola Tesl and Stephen Hawking among others in alternate worlds with Buddhist temples and feminist, self-aware computers?

One of the best SF novels in recent years.

The Complete Short Stories by J.G. Ballard (2001)

This is not a comprehensive collection but it does have 90+ stories by an author who gets slighted (along with Moorcock) by being called among the best SF writers of the all time – they are in fact among the best writers of fiction of the second half of the 20th century.
King of the City by Michael Moorcock (2000)

The loose sequel to one of the best novels I have read (Mother London), it doesn’t reach near the heights of its predecessor. It probably suffers from being episodic, perhaps too real in this regard but this is an idea book Moorcock is known to write every decade or so to show us what will be standard a decade or later by the best young writers.

Meet Me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich (2000)

This is a collection that until recently I was unaware of. Surreal, absurd, and most importantly he knows when a story is done. Vukcevich plays with the entire emotional spectrum with a collection that I wish I had lauded when it came out – as I could probably claim brilliance now.
Move Underground by Nick Mamatas (2004)

On the Road and Lovecraftian Cthullu. No, no, no! This is Kerouac and Lovecraftian Cthullu – a much more admirable accomplishment, and as the Kerouac title suggest these elements are just the means not the goal, something other Cthullu inspired writers should take note of.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (2000)

Anytime a guy (or a girl) writes a book about comic book creators and it wins the Pulitzer we owe it to our ourselves to talk about it as much as possible. So I did. Everybody knows about this book already so next…
The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce (2002)

One can almost pick any Joyce novel written in the allotted time period (and perhaps I did), this one happens to be one of my favorites. Something one would think would be standard in a skill set for a writer is to be able to write characters of both sexes with some degree of diversity and believability. This isn’t the case (particularly in Fantasy), but Joyce is an absolute master at this and shown so in several novels. If you slapped some frames on this bad boy you would have an acute picture of life on the wall.

Joyce never disappoints. When I was in high school we called people like this fiends.

My Life as Emperor by Su Tong (2005)

Books Fantasy

Dave’s Fantasy List

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

Split Infinity by Piers Anthony

Golden Fool by Robin Hobb

Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt

Books Fantasy

If you like Harry Potter you will like …

A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Abarat by Clive Barker

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Beauty by Robin Mckinley

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Dragon’s Blood by Jane Yolen

Edge Chronicles 1: Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Eragon and Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan

Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Half Magic by Edward Eager

His Dark Materials Trilogy, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Sabriel by Garth Nix

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

Magyk by Angie Sage

Redwall by Brian Jacques

Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures by Robert Asprin

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper

The Fall by Garth Nix

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Mister Monday by Garth Nix

The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Princess and the Goblin by George Macdonald

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

The Spiderwick Chronicles,  The Field Guide by Holly Black

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolen

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

All Genres Books

Valashain’s Book List

Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

The best Malazan book sofar I think. Erikson at his best. At this point in the series thiings start to make sense somewhat.
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Martin beginning to explore his word more in depth. He develops a lot of the aSoIaF characters I like most in this book. And the battle for King’s landing is just awsome.

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

He can be a whiny bastard at times but I like Fitz. And I probably like him most in this book. It’s unusual for the second book of a trilogy to be the best or so I am told, but in this cast I think it is.
Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle

Sortof an alternative history. I like the way it takes place on two levels. The scholar uncovering the Ash documents and somehow changing his own past (and future) by exploring his history. I suppose this is not everybody’s cup of tea.
The Lions of Al-Rasan by Guy Gavriel Kay

There are a number of Kay’s books I think are very good. I should probably reread Tigana sometime soon. I have a thing for history I suppose (see also Kushiel’s Dart). Borrowing from our own history in a fantasy novel appeals to me apparently.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Read it in 3 days. Brilliant book. Can’t wait for the next one. Author is a nice guy too.
Chapterhouse Dune by Frank Herbert

I’m a fan of Herbert, not only his Dune books. In this book the style he develops in the later Dune books is probably taken too far for some. I thought the way he handles the confrontations between the main characters a lot. The last 2 Dune books are very much driven by dialogue, hardly any action. And yet he me interested. His son is in the process of fucking this series up beyond all recognition unfortunately.

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

I loved this novel. It’s a bit dated now I suppose but he really did put in a lot of research. Robinson’s views of the future are always interesting but I think he outdid himself with this particular novel. And the images it invokes of the Martian surface are just incredible. He can make you walk around on Mars.

The Dosadi experiment by Frank Herbert

Extreme environmental pressure on a population causes the evolution of a deadly group of people. A theme Herbert uses a lot in his novels. I think the Dosadi experiment shows the consequences of submitting a population to a hostile environment best. Some interesting idea on justice as well in this novel.

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Just a very good read I suppose. Carey never equalled that level again I think. She took the character of Phedre too far in the subsequent novels. I like the way she used Europe as a blueprint for her world though. Some of the cultures are rather stereotypical but that makes it fun in a way. I don’t consider her particularly talented but this novel is a must non the less.

All Genres Books

Patrick’s Book List

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

First person features are not often seen from debut novelists, but Patrick Rothfuss was able to thwart any such novice regularities with witty banter, a highly developed and diverse arrangement of characters, intimate settings, and an easy-to-read yet sophisticated writing approach. While many of those characteristics are vital for a good story, the most important aspect may be Rothfuss’s strongest: the ability to tell a provocative story.

This novel focuses on Kvothe, a man who has become a legend well before the age of thirty. In an attempt to differentiate between fiction and fact, a man sets out to find Kvothe to hear his tale first hand. He ends up getting one heck of an exclusive.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones is not a sock’em, bop’em action thriller, but it does not have to be. This tale engages the reader through family allegiance and betrayal, political positioning and wit, and the sheer enormity of identifiable characters. Couple those qualities with a seemingly unimaginable amount of smaller struggles directly related to the outcome of the larger conflict, and you have a storyline that will keep readers coming back book after book.
Shadowbred by Paul S. Kemp

Paul S. Kemp’s first book in The Twilight War Trilogy is filled with elements that many good novels have: detestable bad guys, personable good guys, and an intriguing plot. What Kemp does with those ingredients is what makes him a head chef at a popular New York dining establishment, rather than a Grill Technician at Wendy’s. Needless to say, I am eagerly awaiting the next courses.
The Thousand Orcs by R.A. Salvatore
Homeland by R.A. Salvatore

Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

Zelazny’s The Nine Chronicles of Amber series begins with the introduction of Corwin, one of the many brothers of a “talented” family. Through his struggles of attempting to regain his memory, we are presented a world where things alter with a thought and “sibling rivalry” is taken to the extreme.
It is a marvelously written piece with humor, battles, wit, and a very likable protagonist. Look past the publication date of over thirty years ago and pick up this must read.

The Blonde by Duane Swierczynski

Books Fantasy

Brian’s Fantasy List

Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

Greatest time-travel tale. Powers may have written a couple of journeyman books but never a weak one. If you have never read him then you should start now. Also read On Stranger Tides & The Stress of Her Regard. This is the book that most fans of Tim Powers read first.
Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock

An examination of the mythical Christ vs. the historical Christ using the Science Fiction tropes of time travel and the time machine.
Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll

A quest novel unlike any others. A woman led through the fantastic landscape of her dream world by her aborted son and how it all crosses over into the “real” world. An influence on Gaiman’s Sandman
Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary

A truly original SF novel by an underrated writer. If only his day job didn’t take so much of his time maybe he would produce more mind-bending fiction.
Dark Ladies by Fritz Leiber

Leiber was truly one of the century’s great writers and he deserves more recognition. Fafhred & The Grey Mouser are his most recognized characters and tales but these quietly powerful tales still resonate with me, a clear influence on Tim Powers.

Domu by Katsuhiro Otomo

Akira is the more widely known work and it is deserving of its praise but I always thought it played things a little fast and loose at times. This however is tight storytelling from start to finish. A psychic battle of good and evil as represented by a girl and an old man that all takes place in an apartment complex.
Dying Earth by Jack Vance

I’m familiar with and see the argument of calling Tolkien the greatest fantasist of the 20th century but I just don’t buy it. Now admittedly I’ve never toed the company line when it comes to fantasy (as I said once before I once watched my best friends head literally explode when I proclaimed that Jim Henson’s body of work was more important then Tolkien’s, but I digress) but I think that Jack Vance certainly could hold that top spot. His output and the quality that it maintained is just astonishing. I actually own the V.I.E.

The Gift by Patrick O’Leary

Great story that begs and deserves to be discovered ( a “re-“ doesn’t even apply here). Haunting and will stick with you.
Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons

One of the great SF epics. Contains the 1st 2 novels. Also read Endymion & Rise of Endymion. For me its consistency places it in higher regard then Dune which is all over the map quality wise after the admittedly great first book.
Jerusalem Poker by Edward Whittemore

Book 2 of the Jerusalem Quartet. The strongest of the group. All 5 of Whittemores books deserve to be read. They may be fantastic but I don’t think that they are fantasy, but what the hell it is my list right.

Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

A great, if sometimes forgotten SF novel. Zelazny’s strongest novel. Also contains what might just be the single worst pun in the history of the novel.
Last Call by Tim Powers

One of my favorite novels. Ever. Period. Tim Powers at his strongest. So complex, so masterfully executed that everything else just pales in comparison. Plus you’ve got Bugsy Seagal as The Fisher King. Followed by Expiration Date & Earthquake Weather
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirlees

An unclassifiable book. The ending is so delightfully weird that it just takes the story right over the edge and into perfection. I like Catheryne Valiente’s assertion that it is the first slipstream novel.
Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban

The greatest “quest” novel. Don’t let the fact that it is a children’s book fool you, more happens here then in most books. The most allegorical book since Moby Dick.
Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Possibly the greatest fantasy novel of the 20th century. Brilliant. The story of how it came to see publication is interesting in its own right.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki

The classic movie is just the tip of the iceberg of the actual story. A grand epic and as Paul Harvey says “…and now you know the rest of the story.”
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

My favorite Gaiman novel. An exiting and well told adventure.

Riddly Walker by Russell Hoban

No other book does more to totally immerse the reader in a created world. The death of our language and the subsequent creation of a new language from its ashes is amazing. The power of language to direct how we view the world. Tolkien created a new world using language, Hoban does the same thing but vastly different. One of the most challenging books that I have ever read and also one of the most rewarding. Also the greatest post-apocalyptic tale ever written. John Leonard of the New York Times said ”… designed to prevent the modern reader from becoming stupid
Requiem by Graham Joyce

Parts of this book haunt me to this day. Joyce deserves a bigger audience. I don’t know if he has a best but this is my favorite.
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

The single greatest SFF group of books period. This is the high water mark for the genre. Infinitely re-readable with more and more being revealed with subsequent readings.
Sandman by Neil Gaiman

A true epic in scope and story telling and possibly the greatest epic ever told. Simply devastated the conventions of what we imagine comics could be. The heights that it climbs to are stunning. In many ways the pinnacle. Must be read to be believed. Pick a cover any cover
Troika by Stepan Chapman

Never heard of it, not surprised. So utterly amazing that you need to do whatever it takes to get a copy. Go Now! If you send Vandermeer an e-mail you can probably still get a copy.
Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer

Great story by a great writer. The change of narrative perspective could have been a gimmick but was handled flawlessly. In fact it could be a text book on perspective. Most readers choose City of Saints & Madmen as their favorite but Veniss is the one for me.
Viriconium by M John Harrison

Punches Tolkien & his ilk right in the eye, kicks him when he’s down, pees on him, & sets the corpse on fire. There have been other anti-Tolkien & anti-fantasies but this was the first and remains the best. Particularly astute of Harrison to recognize the pitfalls of the genre considering when the first Viriconium book was published.
Watchmen by Alan Moore

Don’t read comics, read this and have your opinion of them changed. A brilliant deconstruction of the super hero mythos. A perfect marriage of words and pictures.

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll

One of my absolute favorites. Profound treaties on big issues draped in the tropes of the fantasy genre. Carroll is the master. The scene at the zoo is one of the most haunting and tragic pieces ever written and is worth the price of admission alone. First book of a planned trilogy, 2nd book is Glass Soup.
Warhound and the Worlds Pain by Michael Moorcock

My personal Moorcock favorite. Elric may be the popular one but I like the Von Bek’s. Grab any of the Eternal Champion books if you see them. They all deserve to be read. A giant in the field of SF&F. The meeting with the sympathetic Miltonian Satan, the commonality of the grail, all brilliant stuff.

Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff
The People of Paper by Salvadore Placencia

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Door Number Three by Patrick O’Leary

Last Call by Tim Powers

Lud In The Mist by Hope Mirrlees

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

The Troika by Stepan Chapman

White Apples by Jonathan Carroll

Requiem by Graham Joyce

Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban


All Genres Books

Jay Tomio’s Top 25 of 2007

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

I realize this came out in July but for me this books came our early in the year and if I can start every year off with a new Lynch book I’m a Robotech live action film away from nirvana, other publishers are scrambling to be fighting for second place early in the years. Two years in a row Lynch set the tone for the year. FBS is in preliminary negotiation (sounds all serious – my herald is taking care of it) to speak to Mr. Lynch very soon so be out on the look out!

My review of Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Shadow Bridge by Gregory Frost

I have a review/interview set up for December (when the book will be released). This book is the first in a sequence and is a mixture of a bunch of works I love – and the best thing is I don’t know which ones. Should be on every list.
The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon

A recent discussion at FBS about the state of the stagnant mystery market reminded me of Chabon, one of our (American) great writers. Looking for innovation any writer of any genre can pull from? Here you go. Anybody who read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Kay, particularly comic fans and haven’t read more are missing out. He didn’t just write a great novel about comics – he’s a great writer who happened to write a great novel about comics.
Elephantmen Volume 1: Wounded Animals (hardcover) by Richard Starkings and Moritat

Visually this hardcover – that collects the first 11 issues – is out of this world and the presentation is first class. This is a extension of the Hip Flask work. The ‘lack’ of story I have seen some point out exhibit the incompetence of the greater comic/graphic novel review community. Every page is a story and arguably this – along with the related Hip Flask – is the best SF story I read this year.

You know how many – especially comics – books hit a theme and they just get overbearing with it? This touches on many themes and lets it flow.

The Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes

The best of the Detective/SF/F hybrids I have read recently (and there are a lot of them). This is actually the second book, I’d recommend grabbing Majestrum as well. Reads like a commentary on commentary while never leaving the story; it’s legitimately funny, but not comical.

I think at times Hughes has difficulties closing out novels, but this is a book I really still ponder and may be one of the two or three books I look back on with real fondness this year.

Black Man by Richard Morgan

Every year you need to read a Science Fiction book about a bad ass coping in PKD’s future – this is 2007’s. I really enjoy his work, but I wasn’t so sure if Morgan was improving with his subsequent books (kind of like how I feel about Reynolds) but I think now his latest is now my favorite.
Grey By Jon Armstrong

A holdover from my mid-year list. I really like what I said about it then and I’m probably dumber now than I am then so: It’s this versace-grunge SF that has as much substance as style. Upon entering Armstrong’s it takes a moment to get your bearing, not due to an overly fantastic or futuristic departure from what we know, but because the truth surrounds us – and it’s ugly.

52 By Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka

Forget the naysayers, the Marvel babies, the people who just can’t live without seeing a character Jim Lee, Tod McFarlane or Rob Liefeld drew in the early 90’s starring in a book, or the tired DC purist who want there DC to remain in that place where nobody wants to read it. We can even forget the people who just want to say it’s an accomplishment just to maintain a weekly schedule on a high profile book. This was the best story in comics to anybody that enjoys actual storylines from the Big 2.

All this crap about examining ‘the corners’ of the DC universe – fuck that – welcome to the DC Universe. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman live here to.

Under My Roof by Nick Mamatas

This is a science fiction book, not a horror novel, and kind of replaced my annual Aylett diet for the year but I’m continually intrigued with what I read from Mamatas because more than most he truly comes off as toying and experimenting out of personal interest and sometimes that creates platforms but it’s not the intent it seems to be in the majority of books. Real interesting POV with the protagonist that makes you think similar roles you have read have been missing something.

Soft Skull (the publisher) generally has some awesome books all around.

Binu and the Great Wall: The Myth of Meng by Su Tong

A late edition here. Su Tong’s My Life as Emperor is one of my favorite all time reads so when I heard about this book I jumped on it like a blind frog.

I’m glad this arrived when it did (and that it isn’t that long). Tong has quickly become one of my favorite writers.

I look forward to all of Cannongate’s Myth series that also include efforts by Ali Smith and Sarah Vickers. Get more info here – this looks sweet.

Artesia Vol 1. (hardcover) by Mark S. Smylie

Ran from the ASOIAF boards pimps this a lot and this a beautiful product. If you enjoy classic Sword and Sorcery with an incredible depth to history, pantheon etc – this is probably the product to buy because they simply don’t write books like this anymore.

Anyone doing an S&S anthology and isn’t looking at what Smylie is doing is vying for second place. This guy is embarrassing you.

One for Sorrow by Chris Barzak

This book’s major accomplishment is that its written in the interest of relaying a story, not playing a role and you see this most in the portrayal of young emotions and relationships. That is it a debut speak on a couple of things. One, Barzak arrived a long time before he wrote this book, and two somebody at some publisher knows what the fuck they are doing . Review next week.
Image Comics: The Road To Independence George Khoury, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane

Everybody else is going to have some biography of some obscure mystic or some collection of essays for the one non-fiction spot everyone will have on their lists. Once again you can leave it to me to keep it real. Being my age (called 20-something by people my age) and a comic collector as a kid one of the biggest events in my hobby surrounded formation of Image Comics and the exodus of some of the biggest names in the medium’s history and at that time rock star-like artists to from the two companies who dominated the industry to form their own company.

It’s not going to win a Pulitzer but the comic fan of this era knows the lights were never brighter than it was in this era, this was when comics was big business (I mean a comic book artist was on jean commercials). All eyes were watching in this era, some were blinded and never returned, but it did happen, and it did have impact.

Every list needs to let the author have its indulgences and this mine. I’m almost 30, let me look back on the second full decade of my life with fondness damn it! Plus, I need positive karma for some ammo if I’m going to get Travis Charest to draw the covers for Detective Chimp Absolute edition you will see on E-shelves in 2037 (which will come with a free cloned Chimp).

Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente

A late 2006 book that I didn’t get on my 2006 list, but with book II, In the Cities of Coin and Spice, recently released a good time to scoop up both. Possibly my favorite book of the last year. Cat has a few books out but this sequence is on the major publishing tip – and it would be awesome to send the message that we are ready for quality fiction across the board from our favorite fantasy editors and publishers. It’s criminal that this is the stuff that’s trying to break in and find a place. We should expect nothing less, and writer like Valente delivers.

Read my review of Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden and check out the interview I conducted with Cat earlier this year.

Fell Vol. 1: Feral City by Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith

You wait for this series to drop-off but it doesn’t. It’s without question crafted to be accessible, but once in, Snowtown haunts us beyond issues and becomes something of a novelty: self contained stories features quality writing and art at a nice price point. What the fuck have we become when optimal has morphed into novelty.

You can check out the first issue for free here.

Silverfish by Dave Lapham (hardcover)

I am just a fan of Lapham. He’s just a creator that if his name is attached I’m buying it, and for some reason the majority of those people aren’t the type of creators who have a constant flow of product hitting the market. Some could all that anti-mainstream (but I like Superman and Batman so that’s dumb), I call it people taking time to put out something that means something.

Along with Simmons’ The Terror (also on this list) are the two works of the year that best establish some sense of fear.

Reapers Gale by Steven Erikson

Last year for most dedicated fans but some didn’t get this until this year, and honestly I was lukewarm at first. Reading Erikson is not like meeting that girl reminds you of a past fling, but is like that girl you never notices who comes back into town looking thorough that just makes you start thinking of new possibilities with an old form.

Always, in my mind, a top line epic-fantasist, Erikson is more than that. We need to quit talking around it; He’s not an upstart, he is not on parole, we aren’t waiting for him to trip anymore – he is a master.

Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories by Elizabeth Hand

Not a lot of short fiction this year for me, as I have plowed through tons in recent years and frankly with editing Heliotrope I have my yearly fill. It has become apparent over the last few year that no one can truly have too much Liz Hand in their lives however.

You read Liz Hand and you may not love it – but you love the writer. She’s that writer you always thing is on just on the outside looking in every year when people talk about the best books of the year. The Tomio makes no such mistakes and opens the door; have a seat and get comfortable – the collection is lovely – for me she has joined that group this year where I no longer ask, “what book of Hand is out?”. Just knowing there is one answers necessary questions shopping lists may have.

Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman

What’s going to happen is that comic-commentary hasn’t caught up to the top creators so when you looks this book and read opinions about it you are going to have two reactions.

1. Oh yeah it’s edgy, I’m edgy, I will read it, and we can walk the line together, we will be part of the revolution – everything else sucks!

2. Damn another one of those stupid, hollow edge books that all the people above pose for.

Fuck all that. If you are grown and not a door knob you have read numerous stories with similar themes and elements and done better, but what you have is a just a good story that combines an interesting two-way narrative that has you coming and going at the time with a unique style that combines for a damn welcomed vision.

Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian


This is my Lydia Millet find this year. A writer who not only has a voice but finds the voices and harmonizes hope and tragedy and leaves us not wanting him to ever shut-up.

The Terror by Dan Simmons

I think outside of writers like Ligotti, Cisco, and a few others I haven’t seen real horror in decades. That Simmons has more of a presence on the shelf maybe others now can to.

You read The Terror – and you’re alike, “oh yeah, this is what horror is!”. Outside of his Crook Factory this may be my favorite work by Simmons.

Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster

Was released I believe last year and is odd because this books walks the line of being a book I’d almost despise but somehow pulls of a being a must read in a way only a book with Azteks, Nazis, a sacrifices, throw everything at you: alternate history, punk, science fiction, multiple realities, ghosts, – it’ a wild ride that that Foster never loses control of. It’s a rollercoaster that runs over Cortez and the Europe and goes back to the future.

This is the selection that was the most iffy for me and the one I found myself most wanting to replace and in the process I think I got to think about it the most, and it belongs by not belonging.

Tales of the Unexpected: Dr. Thirteen Architecture & Morality by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

It’s bullshit that they seem to be collecting this and the story that accompanied it in Tales of the Unexpected separately. The other story was Lapham’s Spectre which was sweet to, but this Azzarello backstory kind of trumps his reputation for being a bit of a one trick (who is a master at that trick) pony. It’s the superior story of the two and the issues themselves were the gems of this year in my mind.
In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Admittedly, I don’t make the rounds I usually do but is this book a little underrated coming from a major publisher. I had never read Ms. Goonan’s work before but I will now. The key to quality science fiction is quite simple – don’t bore me to death so I never get past the first 50 pages. I’m a simpleton, I see George come home from work, his flying car folds up into a suitcase, he has a robot maid, he makes sprockets for a living knowing damn well cogs are probably a better product. I understand, I’m ready to move on. I sometimes feel like a form of product placement takes place in a lot of SF and authors feel as if their book may be the first SF the reader has ever picked up – Goonan brings a story. Thank you. Let me the figure the rest out for myself.

So much of the the often asinine (and way over-linked) opinion on ‘world building’ brought up relates to Fantasy, and a certain branch of it – but SF authors have fell into this to except most of them are not very good at it. More Chiang, more Wright, more Justine – SF is a feeling for me not a place.

Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Dead Beat by David Markson

Again I have been doing my dabbling in crime/mystery and I love it when I find writers in the field who apparently have read other books. It is evident even in this edition that collects two books written by Markson in 1959 and 1961. They follow the exploits of PI Harry Fannin and display a gift for narrative and surrounding culture (existing not steamed) that would later make him one of the most anticipated novelists in fiction.

Books Fantasy

Damon’s Fantasy Books List

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

While I did not continue with the rest of the series, The Eye of the World still remains one of my favorite books.  I remember reading this book in a single day, I just consumed it.  It is damn good epic fantasy with a lot going on.  The killer is in the later books there is just too much description and not enough really going on.  That does not make this book any less brilliant though.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This is epic fantasy.  Martin’s books continue to impress.  The only problem I have is sometimes I forget what is going on.  Can I get a Cliff Notes for this series and I would be set.
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

This book is probably my favorite book of all time.  The whole series is probably my favorite series of all time.  Fitz and Nighhteyes…ah I do not think fantasy gets any better then this.  At least for me.
Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

People that tell you, that you do not have to read this series to enjoy The Tawny Man trilogy are just wrong.  This is another great series and should be read before The Tawny Man trilogy.
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony

This book is a classic in my opinion.  One of the first fantasy books that I really enjoyed.  I think I enjoyed to like book 12 then it got a little repetative.  This book though could be the best one in the series.

Split Infinity by Piers Anthony

Mixes Fantasy and Sci Fi worlds, where character cross over.  I do not enjoy strict science fiction so this worked out great for me. More serious then the Xanth series still has the easy style that Piers Anthony writes in.
Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret
Weis and Tracy Hickman

The first book that made me a little teary eyed when a character died.  Yes it has nostalgia factor and no I do not care I still think it is a classic.  A world with a lot of magic and dragons.  It is a shared world winner.  Some of the later books in this world not written by Weis and Hickman do not hold up.

The Crystal Shard by R.A. Salvatore

Drizzt.  Could he be the most recognized fantasy character these
days?  Could be.  I liked the first Trilogy a lot.  Salvatore can really write sword fights.
Children of Amarid by David B. Coe

Another magic and technology world exist together.  A little better done then Split Infinity, but not much.  I really enjoyed Coe’s work.

Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred

A graphic novel on the list?  Are you crazy?  Yup I enjoyed this so much I read it multiple times.  I can not wait till the next book.  Eldred told a story sort of like Battle Star Galactica and it worked.