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November 4, 2010 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Jeff Vandermeer discusses Amazons top 10 SF/Fantasy books of the year, which he selected in consultation with Amazon editors : Part 1, Part 2.
posted by Artw (28 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, hey, The Dream of Perpetual Motion. I got it off the new books rack at my local library.

I dunno. it was good, but it tried too hard I felt. I mean, the whole Tempest theme. I get it. The names. The events. Yes, yes, I get it. You don't have to beat me over the head with it. Otherwise a good read.
posted by GuyZero at 2:13 PM on November 4, 2010


And, for any who didn't know, it's by Mefi's own Dexter Palmer.
posted by Zed at 2:16 PM on November 4, 2010


Ditto that, GuyZero, right down to the local library.

On the plus side, they just made some sales on the Sandman Slim novels (listed at #10). I dunno about ranking a novel that came out a month ago as Best of the Year, though. That leaves two more months where something even better can come out!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:28 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, well, in that case, I loved it. In all seriousness, there is a lot to like in the book. It paints a vivid, if sometimes disturbing picture.

so awkward
posted by GuyZero at 2:32 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I read How To Live Safely... a few weeks ago. It sucked. I didn't get why everyone was recommending it.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:35 PM on November 4, 2010


Thriled to see Who Fears Death up there; glad to see Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which I thought was a highly original and entertaining book but not quite the singular achievement that Who Fears Death is. The growing diversity of science fiction and fantasy is heartening.
posted by Jeanne at 2:35 PM on November 4, 2010


Vandermeer always picks an interesting and diverse bunch of books and I'm glad he has such a high profile platform. But The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms really was a bag of shit.
posted by ninebelow at 2:42 PM on November 4, 2010


Yeah, it's definately a very Jeff Vandermeer kind of list - lots of cross-genre stuff, elements of New Weird, stuff that might be called steampunk but is oddball enough that it hopefully avoids it's traps, heavy on the Fantasy, not so much the more Science-Fictional SF, but hey, that's okay, we've other places for that. I'll be picking up a book or too based on it.
posted by Artw at 2:55 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that Under Heaven isn't on the list, actually. One of the best books I've read in the past 10 years, and it was released just last April.
posted by thanotopsis at 3:03 PM on November 4, 2010


I love Jeff Vandermeer to tiny little pieces. To the Kindle store!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:03 PM on November 4, 2010


I read How To Live Safely... a few weeks ago. It sucked. I didn't get why everyone was recommending it.

I read Yu's collection of stories Third Class Superhero recently and I also don't get the hype. He's got one of those low-affect, toneless authorial voices that seems to be crazily prevalent among "serious" young writers these days and that I'm really starting to despise.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:18 PM on November 4, 2010


Are there similar lists for previous years? If there are I can't seem to find them.
posted by Rinku at 5:03 PM on November 4, 2010


Are there similar lists for previous years? If there are I can't seem to find them.

Looks like it...

Best Books of 2009 - Top 10 Books: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Best Books of 2008 - Top 10 Books: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Best Books of 2007 - Top 10 Editors' Picks: Science Fiction & Fantasy

Being more familiar with the big SF books of those years I'd say the fantasy tilt is very apparent.

Bit suprised not to see The Windup Girl in 2010 or 2009.
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on November 4, 2010


I've only read 3 books out of those 4 Top 10 lists. I think I'm behind. :(

In the good news, I now have a list of 36 books to read. AWESOME.
posted by GuyZero at 5:30 PM on November 4, 2010


I foresee some serious library action in my future after I move. Thanks for posting this, and thanks for the links to the previous years, Artw.
posted by immlass at 5:50 PM on November 4, 2010


I'm surprised that Under Heaven isn't on the list, actually.

Eh, I'm not. Don't get me wrong; Guy Gavriel Kay is one of my top 3 favorite authors (Brust and Bujold being the other two) but Under Heaven was not his best work. I found that the relationships between characters were poorly and vaguely sketched, and then when the plot drew on your feelings about two of the characters, I was left cold, because I'd only been told "these two characters have some major history together", I hadn't seen it. Kay is good at giving you plenty of detail, right to the edge of being too much, but he left too much out in this book, IMO.

My favorite Kay is Lions of Al-Rassan, and I'd be hard-pressed to choose a second place finisher. Read the Fionavar Tapestry if you want a straight up good-guy/bad-guy fantasy trilogy; Tigana for an interesting exploration of what makes a bad guy, or really, anything else he's written.

I'm sad that Kay's trend seems to be downward. Last Light of the Sun wasn't quite up to his previous work either. Ysabel was okay, but can be excused for being less complex as it was marketed as "young adult".
posted by booksherpa at 6:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Sorcerer's House came out this year, and it was a return to form for Gene Wolfe after a less-than-stellar outing in The Evil Guest. It deserves to be more widely read.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:59 PM on November 4, 2010


I thought An Evil Guest was pretty good, though the characters did have that odd cartoonish quality that seems to be par for the course in Wolfe's more contemporary novels (like Free Live Free and There Are Doors). Maybe it just stands out more than in his books that are in more fantastic or SFish settings. Haven't read The Sorcerer's House yet.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:01 PM on November 4, 2010


Hey! I know this Vandermeer fellow. He's good people. Also, yay for these scifi reading recommendations. Just in time, too (ran out of book yesterday).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:23 PM on November 4, 2010


Not one is available as an audio book. :(
posted by Virtblue at 5:30 AM on November 5, 2010


I read Yu's collection of stories Third Class Superhero recently and I also don't get the hype. He's got one of those low-affect, toneless authorial voices that seems to be crazily prevalent among "serious" young writers these days and that I'm really starting to despise.

Well, I had never read any of his work before, and the idea of the book sounded interesting - a guy in a time machine and his life in a pocket universe that is based on science fiction. Sounds cool!
But the book was one long big whine bitch FML. "Toneless" is an apt description. The entire story is nothing more than "I miss my daddy who was emotionally distant and left suddenly one day". The main character fixes time machines - I mean, CHRIST, there is a TON of stuff you could do with that! But instead he just loops around his own timeline once for 48 hours, and then.... nothing. No resolution, it just pretty much blah. So much wasted potential and ideas here.

Compare this book to "The Gone Away World" where there is also great ideas and concepts, but GAW has character building, plot, resolution, and an ending.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:53 AM on November 5, 2010


Amazon.co.uk have published their own rather different top ten, including a novel by, er, Stephen Gately.
posted by ninebelow at 7:50 AM on November 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eeek, that am.uk list reads like it's basically the 10 bestsellers of the genre(s) for the year. Guess nobody was available to put some thought into it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:27 AM on November 5, 2010


Yes, I think you are right. Robert Jordan Brandon Sanderson must have sold an absolute fuck-ton of copies in the couple of weeks since the latest installment of The Wheel Of Time has been published! I'm kind of surprised Trudi Canavan and, even more, Chris Wooding made the list though.
posted by ninebelow at 8:46 AM on November 5, 2010


This makes me want to buy Kill the Dead:

Sample: “Imagine shoving a cattle prod up a rhino’s ass, shouting ‘April fool!,’ and hoping the rhino thinks it’s funny. That’s about how much fun it is hunting a vampire.”
posted by Ber at 9:13 AM on November 5, 2010


Unless I missed something, I didn't see any SciFi in that list of fantasy novels. . .
posted by General Tonic at 9:20 AM on November 5, 2010


Vandermeer's list? You missed the novel about a time machine, the steampunk version of The Tempest and the novel set in a post-apocalyptic future Africa. And I don't think you need to make fantasy look radioactive, it really isn't that scary.
posted by ninebelow at 9:55 AM on November 5, 2010


The UK version of the list features actual science fiction.
posted by Artw at 11:16 PM on November 5, 2010


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