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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 SF/Fantasy
Much may be learned from the best-reviewed sf and fantasy books in the 12 months since the May 15, 2008, Booklist: a Valkyrie lives on; dreaded SS leader “Hangman” Heydrich, too. More important, though, 1950s R&B hit-makers Mickey and Silvia were right: love is strange.
All the Windwracked Stars. By Elizabeth Bear. 2008. Tor, $24.95 (9780765318824).
Two thousand years after Ragnarok, the last Valkyrie aims to fight until the world ends again, or not. A myth-based adventure for which sequels are devoutly to be wished.
Anathem. By Neal Stephenson. 2008. Morrow, $29.95 (9780061474095).
On an Earth-like world that segregates the monastic avout and the workaday saecular, the former learn they’re being sent out to save the latter. The surface story launches multiple meanings of such fascination that nearly 1,000 pages seem too few.
The Ant King and Other Stories. By Benjamin Rosenbaum. 2008. Small Beer, $24 (9781931520522); paperback, $16 (9781931520539).
The most adroit sf and fantasy writer in ages, Rosenbaum can satirize, kick butt on narrative conventions, handle metareality direly and lightly at the same time, and change tone on a dime without shattering continuity. Dazzling, dazzling stories.
The Best of Lucius Shepard. By Lucius Shepard. 2008. Subterranean, $40 (9781596061330).
Eighteen longish short stories and novellas confirm that Shepard writes the richest prose in all of dark fantasy and ranks with Hawthorne in depth of concentration, perception, and moral resonance.
The Caryatids. By Bruce Sterling. 2009. Del Rey, $25 (9780345460622).
Packing more ideas in a single paragraph than most books contain between their covers, Sterling’s long-awaited new novel is about three sisters, illegal clones “created and designed for the single mighty purpose of averting the collapse of the world.”
Crazy Love. By Leslie What. 2008. Wordcraft of Oregon, paperback, $13.95 (9781877655593).
Seventeen strange stories ranging in tone from grim to laugh-out-loud ludicrous all look at love, which they depict, with all due respect, as fairly insane. What has us laughing to keep from crying on one page, vice versa the next.
Crusade. By Taylor Anderson. 2008. Roc, $26.50 (9780451462305).
Swept from World War II into an alternate world in the excellent Into the Storm (2008), the destroyer Walker’s men fall into a very similar situation, including a menacing Japanese battle cruiser. Maelstrom (2009) concludes the best naval sf trilogy in years.
Kushiel’s Mercy. By Jacqueline Carey. 2008. Grand Central, $26.99 (9780446500043); paper, $7.99 (9780446610162).
Only an impossible act of good faith by Imriel toward Sidonie’s people will enable the couple to marry and retain Sidonie’s claim to the throne in the sensational conclusion to Carey’s second outstanding Kushiel trilogy.
The Man with the Iron Heart. By Harry Turtledove. 2008. Del Rey, $27 (9780345504340).
In Turtledove’s latest alternate history, Nazi bogeyman Reinhard Heydrich survives attempted assassination (as the real-life Heydrich didn’t) to lead the underground resistance to the Allied occupation—with chilling and lethal effectiveness.
We Never Talk about My Brother. By Peter S. Beagle. 2009. Tachyon, paperback, $14.95 (9781892391834).
Writing now in the tones of an adult recalling how he thought as a 10-year-old, now like a sophisticated literary folklorist, now like a not-as-dumb-as-you-think yokel, now like Kerouac trying to be Steinbeck, Beagle remains the class act in American fantasy.
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