November 14th, 2012

buzz

November sf (excluding Who)

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There are some books here which I mainly remember for how strongly I bounced off them - Ersatz Nation, Olympos, The Darkness That Came Before, The Pollinators of Eden. But there are many more that I thoroughly enjoyed, and my list below has several cases where one book stands for several by the same author. With that in mind, my five most memorable are:

Smoke and Mirrors, by Neil Gaiman - I actually think Gaiman's talents are best displayed when he is subjected to some external discipline, whether that be a co-author or the constraints of format, which is why I chose this rather than American Gods from the above list. Here he has a set of short stories - some very short indeed - which have lingered in my mind long after the electronic device I read them on stopped functioning, all excellent.

The Wind's Twelve Quarters, by Ursula Le Guin - again choosing a short story collection rather than A Wizard of Earthsea because I think it shows the author's early genius at her most versatile, with several literary jewels which have stuck in my mind since I first read this decades ago.

A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin - where to an extent the part stands for the whole, and yet also there's something particularly impressive about the way the first volume in the series sets us up for so much more to come without losing the reader in the mass of geographical and psychological detail.

The Dervish House, by Ian McDonald - my favourite book by a favourite writer, looking at old lore meeting new technology in near-future Istanbul, the author's typical lush descriptive prose carefully channeled to hit the reader between the eyes.

I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett - there's a lot of Pratchett on this list (as I suspect will be the case for other months as I work through the year) but I don't think it's just that this is the most recent one that I have read; as well as rounding off the very successful Tiffany Aching stories, it contains some deep reflections on life as a whole as one approaches its end.

Honourable mentions:
Utopia, by Thomas More
Science Fiction Hall of Fame: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time, edited by Robert Silverberg
The Book of Lost Tales I, by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
The Separation, by Christopher Priest / The Prestige, by Christopher Priest
The Happy Prince and Other stories, by Oscar Wilde</p>