Categories
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

Wow.

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.