The OF Blog: Amazon releases its Best of 2009 in SF and Fantasy

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Amazon releases its Best of 2009 in SF and Fantasy

Here's the link:

1.  Catherynne M. Valente, Palimpsest (this novel left me with conflicted feelings.  The prose was strong, the setting unique, and yet there was something about the story that left me cold.  Sent this to another and she felt the same way.  Perhaps I'll buy another copy and re-read it to see what it was that bothered me about this story, but not right away)

2.  Caitlín R. Kiernan, The Red Tree (loved this book; already reviewed)

3.  David Anthony Durham, The Other Lands (enjoyed this one quite a bit as well)

4.  Peter Straub (ed.), American Fantastic Tales boxed set (this is a must-read anthology of dark fantasy/horror of the past two hundred years.  Library of America published this and their collections are a delight to hold)

5.  Cherie Priest, Boneshaker (haven't read, but will order shortly, since her earlier novels have been quite good)

6.  Michal Ajvaz, The Other City (just placed an order for this, as it sounds like just the sort of thing that I'd enjoy reading)

7.  Adam Roberts, Yellow Blue Tibia (might order this in the next few weeks)

8. Jonathan Strahan (ed.), Eclipse Three:  New Science Fiction and Fantasy (very good anthology of original stories.  Highly recommended)

9.  Delia Sherman (ed.), Interfictions 2:  An Anthology of Interstitial Fiction (I've had this on pre-order for months; expect to receive it in a couple of weeks)

10. Jesse Bullington, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart (the best debut novel I've read this year.  Thought so highly of it that I've bought two copies of it in addition to the ARC I received, just so I can give copies to two close friends as early Christmas gifts)

Those were my reactions to this list.  What are yours?


Matt Denault said...

Is this list largely from VanderMeer, as was last year's? I do wonder if all the hats he wears don't hamstring him at times. That is, I'd imagine Finch would at least be a contender to be on a list that displays this aesthetic taste; but I assume he recused his own book from consideration, in the same way he and his wife excised their potential contributions to the New Weird antho, to that volume's diminishment.

If VanderMeer is behind the list, has he said anything to you -- or written anything elsewhere -- about The Other City? I hadn't heard of it, but it does look interesting. I've always enjoyed the fact that Amazon includes these out-of-relative-nowhere recommendations in even their major lists: it was in fact through just such a "year's best" listing that I discovered VanderMeer's works, 8 or 9 years ago. To suggest a comparable pick, this year Greer Gilman's Cloud & Ashes seemed to me probably the greatest achievement in SF&F...years in the writing, a feminist approach to a type of tale Gene Wolfe is known for, one of masks and hierarchy, with also a Wolfean attention to language.

I am also (speaking of "other cities") somewhat surprised not to see Miéville's The City and The City on the list: it was, perhaps even more than Palimpsest, the standout major SF&F work for me this year. With regard to Palimpsest, I think being left cold by it is an entirely reasonable reaction that doesn't in any way diminish its quality. Miéville's novel is about taking reality and distorting it just a single notch; Valente's book turns the reality distortion up to 11, but one of the points of her book, I think, is that it largely remains reality...just a reality that may be more to the tastes of those who are similarly dialed.

Larry Nolen said...

He hasn't said anything about this list to me, but I do believe it's largely his list, like it has been the past few years. I thought the same about the exclusion of works that he and his wife have been associated with; those were truly some outstanding selections that should have been included even if it might have caused a conflict of interest (Finch has a nice spot reserved for it on my year-end list that I'll post on the last day of the year).

As for Miéville, the only reason it isn't in the SF/F list is because it appears in the general fiction list. Forgot to mention that in my post yesterday.

Will have to check out the Greer Gilman book shortly, if it's that quality of a writing. Do agree that Valente's work was quality, but it was an odd feeling I had about it, unlike my reactions to her other books. Again, it might have been as simple as reading it at the wrong time/place.

James said...

The Other City caught my eye just now when I was checking out the list. Reading a bit of the excerpt over on Amazon. I am very interested in hearing what you think of it when you finish, because I have a feeling this one will be going on my list of books to buy.

Larry Nolen said...

The book should arrive here by Tuesday, so I suspect I'll have something to say about it by a week from now, if work (and a poor stomach) doesn't absorb all my time like it's been going on lately!

ediFanoB said...

I'm surprised. I own, read and liked a lot one book of the list: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.
Another two are on my to buy list: The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham and Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts.

Nephtis said...

Most of these were released in the last 3 months. Only 1 in the 1st half of the year, and 1 book not even out yet. So a lot of the names are unfamiliar. That said, Palimpsest would be at the top of my list as well.

James said...

I'll be picking up The Other City and [...] Brothers Grossbart, at some point in the next two weeks. I just had to have Yellow Blue Tibia and ordered it earlier this year, only to be left largely disappointed. Guess it still had good cover art though.

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