So these lists have started to crop up all over the blogosphere these past few days, and I thought, “Hell, why don’t I throw mine into the lot now rather than be the last one to?” It also conveniently makes for a great post after more than a week’s absence of blogging here at LBR. Boys and girls, get ready for a long post. And yes, I have realized the year isn’t over yet, but really, what does 14 days’ difference make?
First off, a brief recap of the year. As many of you may well be aware, LEC Book Reviews was only launched at the beginning of this year (on the 17th of January, to be more precise) and so this year has been one of great discovery and diversity for me. I used to think of myself as well read in the fields of Science Fiction and Fantasy, especially in the latter, but when I got into this whole blogging thing I soon found out - like many others, I’m sure - that I had barely scratched the surface. What I did possess, though, was a love for the speculative genres and a keen interest in exploring its many works in greater depth.
As such, I spent quite a bit of my reading time this year catching up on books that have been most often recognized as the SFF novels of the past few years. So I read misters Abercrombie, Lynch, Rothfuss, Brett, Abraham, Scalzi, Enge, Reynolds, Newton and Scholes to name but a few. What a ride it was. Many might tire of reading SFF books after a whole year of almost exclusively concentrating on them, but I didn’t, in fact my love for them has increased - I wouldn’t consider myself a true fan if it hadn’t.
All in all, I read and reviewed a total of over 85 books (and I plan to add a few more by December 31st) a large number of which were 2010 releases and so I feel quite good about being able to pick a “Top Ten” of books that have, in my mind, defined the genre for the year. Underneath that I’ve given my thoughts on the best publisher or imprint of speculative material for the year as well as quite a large list of my most anticipated novels for 2011.
My Top 10:
To clarify things: these are all books that were published in 2010 either in the UK or the US. They are the books that marked me the most. Not the best. Not even, for that matter, the books I rated as the best in my reviews/rating system. Some of them are amongst the best but not all. Perhaps a better way to put it is that these are - for whatever reason - the ten most influential 2010 releases for me and they are the ones I recommend reading If you wish to know what this year was all about even though I know that could be hard to do seeing as a number of these are sequels.
(In no Particular Order)
City of Ruin - Mark Charan Newton
The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson
Mr. Monster - Dan Wells
Spellwright - Blake Charlton
Kraken - China Mieville
Swords & Dark Magic Edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders
Apartment 16 - Adam Neville
The Half-Made World - Felix Gilman
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack - Mark Hodder
The Desert Spear - Peter V. Brett
The Scarab Path - Adrian Tchaikovsky
Wolfsangel - M.D. Lachlan
Antiphon - Ken Scholes
Thirteen Years Later - Jasper Kent
Best SFF Publisher/Imprint:
Pyr and Tor UK/Pan Macmillan
If you haven’t given Pyr releases a look, you really should. Their output, under the editorial hand of Lou Anders, is nothing short of amazing. By this I mean the number of releases of theirs that are consistently good. I had the chance to read a large number of their releases, particularly in the back half of the year (in fact I’m devouring Mike Resnick’s The Buntline Special as we speak), and most were good while some were simply outstanding. For UK readers Pyr publications might be difficult to get your hands on (actually, they are the US outlet for a number of originally British releases such as Syke’s Tome of the Undergates, Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt and Kent’s Danilov Quintet, which are all mentioned in the lists above) but trust me, importing their books through a service like Bookdepository.co.uk is well worth it.
Secondly, Tor UK/Pan Macmillan because as you can see from my Top 10, Tor UK/Pan Macmillan publish many high quality books but mostly because they’re the ones that have provided the most books that have pleasantly surprised me (Apartment 16, The Reapers Are the Angels, Kraken) and also they just publish some great books (Shadows of the Apt series). And, they look to have more great stuff lined up for 2011. Which leads us to...
Most Anticipated 2011 (In no particular order):
The Heroes - Joe Abercrombie
The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch
The Wise Man’s Fear - Patrick Rothfuss
Black Halo - Sam Sykes
Order of the Scales - Stephen Deas
Embassytown - China Mieville
Spellbound - Blake Charlton
A Dance With Dragons - George R.R. Martin (is this wishful thinking?)
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man - Mark Hodder
The Book of Transformations - Mark Charan Newton
I Don’t Want to Kill You - Dan Wells
The Society of Steam Book One: The Falling Machine - Andrew Mayer
The Dragon’s Path - Daniel Abraham
Fuzzy Nation - John Scalzi
The Unremembered - Peter Orullian
The Rogue - Trudi Canavan
The Ritual - Adam Nevill
The Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson
The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson
A Memory of Light - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
The Cold Commands - Richard Morgan
Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey
The Third Section - Jasper Kent
Blue Remembered Earth - Alastair Reynolds
Many of you will recognize a lot of these as sequels to 2010 releases or those books that are likely to feature on most other people’s lists too (The Wise Man’s Fear, A Memory of Light, The Heroes, The Republic of Thieves, etc.). But the list also features a large number of debuts (Andrew Mayer, Peter Orullian) and the start of some new series (The Dragon’s Path, The Rithmatist). So quite, I think, the diversified list though I lament the relative lack of Science Fiction titles (5) versus the number of Fantasy ones (16). But oh well, that will be something to work on next year...
So to add a concluding note to this post, I think it’s fair to say that 2010 was a relatively strong year for Speculative fiction, even if from the looks of it 2011 will be even greater. Here’s to hopping it doesn’t disappoint!