I like lists. I could make a list of pretty much anything and be happy. In my younger days (I’m staggeringly old now) I made lists of favorite songs, bands, baseball players, wrestlers, books, movies, food, etc. Anything, really. Recently I’ve been thinking about making a list of the books I would like to read. This would be different than my list from a couple months ago of the 2008 publications I am looking forward to. This list won’t include the three Elizabeth Bear novels coming out later this year (or Dust, published in January), George R. R. Martin, Scott Lynch, Raymond Feist, Terry Brooks, or any other “major” author who has a publication scheduled sometime in the next 12 months. Rather, this list is going to be of the books which sometimes are a bit overlooked. This is subjective, of course, because the book that I don’t talk about often may be the book that someone else can’t stop talking about. I imagine that most people reading this list will have read (or heard of) some of these books, but this is some of what I’d like to read this year (or next).
Unwelcome Bodies, by Jennifer Pelland. The first (and only) Pelland story I have read is her Nebula Nominated story “Captive Girl” and I was impressed enough that I want to read more of Pelland’s work. While I know that she has several stories available on her website, I would rather hold her debut collection Unwelcome Bodies in my hands. It’s just the kind of reader I am. Once we get past the “major” releases of 2008, I find myself thinking more about buying a copy of Unwelcome Bodies if I have the available funds. Given that I don’t buy many books, I think it says something that I’m even considering spending money on this.
Caine Black Knife, by Matthew Stover. Heroes Die and The Blade of Tyshalle are two criminally overlooked and under recognized novels, and even though Stover is -also- a popular Star Wars author (he’s one of the best), I’m not sure his original fiction gets noticed the way I think it should. This third novel following Hari Michaelson will be a must read the moment it is published. Stover’s blend of fantasy, science fiction, violence, and balls to the wall writing is not to be missed. Stover is likely not for everybody, but fans of the genre (and fans of hard edged writing) should give Stover a shot. Think a darker-toned Scott Lynch.
Territory, by Emma Bull. This is an acclaimed release of 2007, but I know Emma Bull first as the creator and co-writer of Shadow Unit. Because of how much I love Shadow Unit and that Bull’s work there is quite strong, now I want to read some of her novels. I suspect Territory is the place to start.
Soldiers Live, by Glen Cook. It may be unfair to have Soldiers Live on this list because I know I will read the book this year. It is the final Black Company novel. After the goodness of Water Sleeps, my interest in Glen Cook and The Black Company has been revitalized. I just wanted to use this spot to throw a little bit more attention at Glen Cook and The Black Company.
Shadow Matrix, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I have a soft spot in my heart for the Darkover series. Looking back, the writing isn’t that strong, but I have enjoyed the culture clash blend of low tech fantasy with a technologically advanced science fiction society. I have only two Darkover novels left that to read that were at all penned by Bradley and I believe this one was at the most only partially written by Bradley. Still. If there is such a thing as a guilty pleasure in SFF, Darkover is mine.
Fathom, by Cherie Priest. No clue what this is about, but I love her Eden Moore books and I don’t see nearly enough people talking about Cherie Priest. Myself included, I suppose. This is one of two novels published by Priest this year. The other is a more limited edition from Subterranean Press (Those Who Went Remain There Still)
AI War, by Daniel Keys Moran. I first read The Long Run years ago back in high school and the book hit me at just the right time. The story of Trent the Uncatchable was exciting, dangerous, fresh, and fun. But this was the Second book in the Continuing Time sequence. It took me several years to find the first book, Emerald Eyes, and I was very disappointed. It was a rough effort. But then, I found the third book, The Last Dancer, last year and was pleasantly surprised. While not quite hitting me like The Long Run did, Moran kept me glued to the page all the way through. The AI War is forthcoming sometime in the next year or so. I think...and I hope. It's going to be published, right?
Windhaven, by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle. I’ve read every other novel length work Martin has published, so this is a good time to finish up his longer fiction before I go hunt down all of his short story collections so I can get a hold of the stories not published in Dreamsongs. I finished The Armageddon Rag last week and seriously, the man range is breathtaking.
I don't have anything to say about the below books because I don't know anything about them, but I've heard some goodness about the titles. Just don't know anything about the content.
Grey, by Jon Armstrong
Raw Shark Texts, by Steven Hall
The Secret History of Moscow, by Ekaterina Sedia