Monday, December 29, 2008

The Nine Best Reads of 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008
At first glance this list is awfully similar to the Best Of 2008 list, but the distinction is that the previous list is limited to those books published in 2008, and this list is limited only to the 156 books I have read in 2008 (assuming I don't finish anything in the next couple of days).

1: Shadow Unit: Season One: I was originally going to leave this off the list because it wasn't published in a traditional manner and I tend to consider lists like this for stuff that appears between two covers. But, Shadow Unit really is the best thing I read all year. Period. This blend of X-Files and probably something like Criminal Minds is outstanding. Let's just say that I liked it so much I bought the t-shirt (really). Season One is written by Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette, and Amanda Downum.

2: The Stratford Man, by Elizabeth Bear (Ink and Steel, Hell and Earth): I don't know what more I can say about Bear's Promethean Age novels, except that this is another great opportunity for an introduction to Elizabeth Bear's work. Bear's Promethean Age fiction is exceptional and the two Stratford Man novels are some of Bear's best.

3: The Acts of Caine, by Matthew Stover (Blade of Tyshalle, Caine Black Knife): Anyone not reading Matthew Stover is really missing out. Stover's blend of science fiction, fantasy, and all around vicious bad-assery is really some of the best stuff out there. Of any year. While Caine Black Knife doesn't quite live up to the knockout that Blade of Tyshalle is, it is still better than most other novels on the market.

4: War for the Oaks, by Emma Bull: This debut novel from Emma Bull is a story of Minneapolis rock music, faerie, and damn, it's a beautiful story. This is urban fantasy.

5: Not Flesh Nor Feathers, by Cherie Priest: I could also include Wings to the Kingdom on this listing, but as much as I admired Cherie Priest's work before this, to be cliche about it, Priest knocked my socks off with Not Flesh Nor Feathers. The story of the flood of Chatanooga and what rose with the waters is several kinds of outstanding.

6: The Armageddon Rag, by George R. R. Martin: This story of a remnant of a hard core 60's rock band, The Nazgul, and the power its music still has nearly twenty years later is one of Martin's best. That's right. As good as his Ice and Fire fantasy novels. I said it. I mean it. It's that good. The Armageddon Rage feels like rock and roll.

7: The Uglies Series, by Scott Westerfeld: The four YA novels here are standout examples of YA lit and are compelling reads for adults, too. Had I children, I wouldn't hesitate to give any of these books to them to read, but as I don't, I won't hesistate to recommend the Uglies series. Good stories, and with a good message.

8: Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow: One of the notable publications of 2008, this novel may (will) push buttons but it forces readers to really think about what they expect from government, law, and privacy. No promises one will agree with Doctorow's conclusions, but the conversation is important.

9: Wastelands, by John Joseph Adams (editor): A reprint anthology of stories of life after apocalypse. This is an outstanding anthology and features some of the biggest and brightest names of SFF, along with some up and comers who may well be the biggest names in ten years time. Assuming that these stories are in no way prophetic, we'll be enjoying this anthology for years to come.

Honorable Mentions: Alanya to Alanya, by L. Timmel Duchamp; Territory, by Emma Bull; Shooting War, by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman; Portable Childhoods, by Ellen Klages; Under My Roof, by Nick Mamatas

The Nine Best Reads of 2007


Hagelrat said...

Great list, not that I needed more stuff on my to read list.;)

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