The OF Blog: Revisiting my Best of 2008 lists and some 2009 early contenders

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Revisiting my Best of 2008 lists and some 2009 early contenders

When I compiled my Best of 2008 lists last December, I remember thinking that it would be interesting to see if there would be any that I would add to the list if I were to read more 2008 releases in the first few months of 2009. Sure enough, there were a few that would have made some of the various category lists:

Neal Stephenson, Anathem - While it likely wouldn't have made the Top 5 of my 20 Favorite Fictions for 2008, it certainly was enjoyable enough to have had a shot at the 6-10 placements.

Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go - This would have made my YA list and possibly my 20 Favorite Fictions for 2008 list.

Ferenc Karinthy, Metropole - Certainly would have appeared on the Translated Fictions list and likely in the 11-15 slot on my 20 Favorite Fictions of 2008 list.

Christopher Barzak, The Love We Share Without Knowing - Candidate for the 20 Favorite Fictions of 2008 list, likely in the bottom half of that list.

James Blaylock, The Knights of the Cornerstone - May or may not have made the 20 Favorite Fictions of 2008 list, but it certainly would have been considered for that list.

Now for the early contenders for the Best of 2009, with specific categories listed in parenthesis when applicable:

Mark C. Newton, The Nights of Villjamur (debut)

Dan Simmons, Drood

Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones (translated fiction)

Peter Brett, The Warded Man (debut)

Tobias Buckell, Tides from the New World (collection)

Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (eds.), Best American Fantasy 2 (anthology)

Bradford Morrow (ed.), Conjunctions: 52: Betwixt the Between: Impossible Realism (anthology)

Felix Gilman, Gears of the City

Brian Evenson, Last Days

Kay Kenyon, City Without End

Mind you, the year is young. Will note that I'm halfway through the PDF galley for Jeff VanderMeer's Finch and that book right now appears to be a lock for the Best of 2009 lists when they appear in December. Read an excerpt of China Miéville's The City and the City and that too appears very promising. Still need to read Jo Graham's The Hand of Isis and a few others that are currently on my shelves waiting to be read before the finalist list will begin to take firmer form.


Joe said...

I agree with City Without End. I can't imagine there will be ten books this year better than it, and I really can't imagine that i'll find all ten.

Hand of Isis was good, but I'm not sure it'll crack my top ten at the end of the year unless I'm short on finishing 2009 books.

Lsrry said...

Yeah, some on this list will be left off once I get to December. This was to remind myself later on what I was considering in mid-May.

Liviu said...

For me the one book that would have been co-#1 with Anathem in sf 08 is Omega by C. Evans; PS published, so hard to get until I managed to snag a pdf review copy from them; it's almost a perfect novel - limited scope but does perfectly imho what it wants
There is a SH review by Paul Kincaid that made me want badly this novel, made me get all of C. Evans backlist (6 other novels, read 4 and enjoyed all) and the praise there is well deserved and more; have not finished yet Song of Time since that is another potential top 08 book

From 09 - The Babylonian Trilogy, Corambis, Nights Villjamur, In the Courts of the Sun, Stone's Fall, The Accord, Julian the novel (RC Wilson), The Stalin Epigram, Vlad the Last Confession, Yellow Blue Tibia, Mortal Coils, Drood, Kindly Ones are books that will have a place on my top lists, with the debut Ice Song there too. But it's early and I expect several books with a shot at #1 - IMB Transition, Gary Gibson Nova War, Alex Bell Jasmyn, A Reynolds Terminal World, P. McAuley Gardens of the Sun; most are sf or mainstream fantastic - in pure fantasy hard to say since no Glotka means I have lower expectations for Joe's book and there is no Caine this year, no Rothfuss, no Brett, no announced Weeks, no KJ Parker and City/City was a mediocre book for me, great first part, let down second part

For now Stone's Fall is my #1 novel overall and top mainstream, In the Courts of the Sun top sf, Corambis top f, The Babylonian Trilogy top mainstream fantastic

Lsrry said...

Can't believe I left out Corambis, as that too was a very good novel. I'll have to see on some of the others you've mentioned, but I suspect I won't be reading as many 2009 releases this year, due to some shifts in my interests so far this year.

Liviu said...

I actually forgot Wonderful World by J. Calvo - hard to classify, would go to mainstream non-fantastic though could go to fantastic too; forgot Gilman too - I read it as an arc in 08 and for some reason I thought of it as an 08 release

I read 73 09 releases so far (8 as arcs in 08 though) but I expect my pace to slow also regarding new releases since I kind of mapped the ones I plan to read so I can beg for arcs :) and they add up to about 60 - of course there are always surprises that I find by browsing in store or by authors writing to me

Hell by RO Butler is another upcoming novel that I forgot but could jump there to a top spot based on the quality of the author's writing in the superb collections Severance and Intercourse as well as the earlier Pulitzer winning stories about Vietnameses refugees

In terms of pure literary quality, Sebastien Doubinsky (English debut Babylonian Trilogy) and RO Butler are the best writers I discovered this year while in terms of sense of wonder In the Courts of the Sun takes first place so far

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