The 2010 Locus Recommended Reading List with Comments (by Liviu Suciu)

Posted by Admin - February 9th, 2011

Locus has recently put out its annual Recommended Reading List and then followed with the Locus Awards online voting form. Since the magazine purports to represent the sff field, I always pay attention to its list and I vote in the poll.

I posted my full vote list for 2008 HERE and highlights from my vote list for 2009 HERE – I do not remember why I did not post my full list but it may be that I forgot to save it – and once I will vote in the near future, I will post again my full vote list; I urge every sff lover to take 15-20 minutes and vote HERE.

For now I want to discuss the 3 main categories: SF novel, Fantasy novel and Debut novel.

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Novels – Science Fiction

Comments: 17/18 novels with the Willis duo.

Opened 15 – have not heard of Birdbrain until now and I never touch a W. Gibson novel since I do not like his style.

Fully read 5 – Surface Detail (A++, #1 sff and all around 2010 novel of mine), Hull Zero Three (A+, recommended list), The Passage (A, very slow and boring middle third takes away from a better than expected novel), Terminal World (B/A-, disappointment list), The Dervish House (D, dismal)

More-or-less fast-read 2 – the ultra-forgettable Brain Thief and the “interesting premise but poor execution in which my suspension of disbelief got broken fast and I just could not take it seriously” Blackout; from the remaining books, the only one I am sure I will read at some point is Cryoburn, with Zendegi an outside shot if I am ever in the mood for it.

The one big surprise on the list is Directive 51 since I just cannot see how junk like that got included.

In general I found this list ok’ish, more core-sf’nal than I expected though still somewhat away from what is sf today and there is even a Baen book to my surprise, but I guess that Lois Bujold is too big a name to be ignored…

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Novels – Fantasy

Comments: 24 novels

Opened 14 – 4 of the unopened ones are from series I do not follow since the first volume was not for me though I liked some of the respective authors’ other offerings in two cases and I would be willing to try something closer to my taste in the other two (Changeless, Wolf Age, Jade Man’s Skin, Hespira) 5 are from authors I do not touch since I do not like their style – Hill, Holland, McKillip, Straub, Stross, while the Pinborough novel seems far from my taste and being Gollancz, I would need to order it from the UK which I have no interest in doing; if it ever gets a US edition, I may take a look though.

Fully Read 6 – The Folding Knife (A++, top fantasy of mine in 2010), The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (A++, top 10 novel of 2010, though I do not really think it’s fantasy, maybe sf if you want to make it sff), The Half -Made World (A++, top 25 novel and top 10 fantasy), The Sorcerer’s House (A+, recommended list), The Desert Spear (A, more forgettable than I expected on first read), Under Heaven (A-, beautiful writing and world building but huge flaws and one of the worst main leads in recent novels, the “boy with the golden spoon”)

Of the rest Kraken (still stuck around page 200) and Shades of Grey – this one I kind of fast read it, but when book 2 appears I may read it carefully too – are the ones most likely to be finished by me.

Here I cannot say I am surprised by any selection maybe except for Changeless, though Locus trying to at least pay lip service to the current trends by including standard UF is a good thing imho. The traditional fantasy is also better represented than I expected though the list is still far away from what core fantasy is today. Here Locus still needs a lot of catch-up to claim being representative.

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First Novels

Comments: 15 novels

Opened 14 – I do not remember having heard of Meeks until now

Fully Read 6 – The Last Page (A++, top 25 novel), The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (A+, recommended list), The Bookman (A+, recommended list), Shades of Milk and Honey (A-, liked the style but too little substance), The Quantum Thief (B, far away from the hype but a mostly entertaining middling sf closer to Scalzi/Sawyer than to Banks/Reynolds, disappointment though mostly due to hype), The Dream of Perpetual Motion (D, the one debut I really wanted to like and it just fell flat for me – Robert has reviewed it for FBC and he liked it more)

More-or-less-finished – Clowns at Midnight (pretty good and I want to give it a more careful read at some point), How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (dismal sf for grad-lits who have no clue about math, I recommend everyone to read this review of it since it says a lot of what I thought, though I would add a recommendation that the author tries to learn what a differential equation is before throwing the term around freely; at least Mr. Huso’s holomorphs/holomorphy makes some sense in The Last Page‘s context and that is supposed to be fantasy not sf)

I am unlikely to read any of the remaining novels here. All in all, a decent list and considerably better than I expected.

Fantasy Book Critic

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My Top Independent Novels of 2010 (by Liviu Suciu)

Posted by Admin - January 9th, 2011

In my highly recommended list of 25 + 30 novels from 2010 – which turned out to be 59 with the last addition here – there were six titles that were independently published and which I wish to highlight since this field is exploding right now with the proliferation of reading devices and the advantageous terms offered to authors who go independent by Amazon and others.

I do not want to enter in the debates surrounding this topic since I think that only the future will shed a clear light on these matters and I only want to note that since for me content is the dominating factor in deciding to look at a book, I am very happy to try any book that interests me and I am also happy to ignore books that do not sound of interest barring other compelling reasons.

So give me secondary world novels, preferably non-pseudo-medieval, future sf that is not pulp-like and those will get priority, while almost anything contemporary, near-future, portal fantasy or pulp sf will get ignored. Alt-history depends on the topic…

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So back to independent books published in 2010, the clear leader is:

1. The Ryria Revelations by Michael Sullivan of which volumes 4 and 5, The Emerald Storm and Wintertide were published in 2010 while the concluding volume Percepliquis due in 2011 is one of my highest expected books of the year. These two novels ranked as #7 in my Top 25 of 2010, among the first traditional fantasies on the list and on par with #6 ranked The Black Prism by Brent Weeks.

I have reviewed all five novels so far and you can read my reasons for liking them there while I will add only that the series starts with a lighter almost standalone adventure novel in The Crown Conspiracy, ramps up in the second semi-standalone Avemapartha and then it takes off with the core of the series that form an uninterrupted long novel starting with Nyphron Rising.

To gauge my appreciation I want to mention that like with few other books that have an approximate but not fixed date for an ebook release (eg Baen e-arcs of David Weber or 163*) I started checking the appropriate e-listing of Wintertide daily around the expected date and despite being sure of receiving a review copy, I bought the ebook on its first listed day and read it that night…

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Then there are four series debuts from three authors which have great potential to become big time favorites depending on how the sequels will turn out and one standalone novel, second in an universe I want more of. In alphabetical order of the authors:

The Hawk and His Boy by Christopher Bunn debut of the Tormay trilogy of which the second book is expected to go live soon. I have reviewed this one two days ago so I will not add more here.

The Sword and the Dragon and The Royal Dragoneers from MR. Mathias, the first debuting a very traditional fantasy series with a twist, while the second debuting a more YA series, though with quite dark overtones too. Both series have expected sequels in 2011.

Lovers and Beloveds: An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom by MeiLin Miranda, a series debut with very strong Kushiel Legacy vibes, though set in a world at the cusp between the pre-industrial and the modern. The second installment is expected in 2011 too.

Ironroot by SJA Turney, a standalone set 20 years after his excellent Interregnum in the late-Roman like secondary universe of his that is very compelling. A very personal book this one.

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I also would like to mention six more books from four series:

Field of Fire and Skywatcher by Jon Connington, a complete duology. I loved the debut a lot, but was a little let down by the concluding volume for reasons expounded in the review linked above.

The Last King’s Amulet and The Key to the Grave by Chris Northern another duology with a reasonable ending though the author plans to continue the series. I liked a lot the first book despite having a little too much of “my magic is bigger than yours” syndrome, while the second book was a good conclusion but did not bring anything new.

The Labyrinth by Cristian Zarioiu, a contemporary tale of the fantastic and a standalone which I enjoyed more than I expected.

Second Sight by Greg Hamerton, the second Tale of the Lifesong, a beautifully written very traditional fantasy that in a way represents the most tradeoff between style and content for me since only the author’s wonderful style kept me interested in a tale I would otherwise avoid with eternal beings, creation and destruction of the world and such. In “mainstream” genre a great analog are NK Jemisin wonderful novels The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms which again are at the utmost limit of my interest but the author style makes them so compelling I can ignore my utter dislike of a world living under an eternal dictatorship of the gods…

Fantasy Book Critic

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Fantasy Blogosphere: December 27, 2010

Posted by Admin - December 28th, 2010

A few reviews to whet your appetite this holiday week, from established authors like R. Scott Bakker and Orson Scott Card, to more speculative authors like Alastair J. Archibald and Patrick Ness. Michael Moorcock is profiled at io9, and HBO releases a new video in the artisans series, this time interviewing Simon Brindle, the overseer of all things armor-related.

Game of Thrones HBO Series: The Artisans

Fantasy Book News

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Fantasy Blogosphere: December 20, 2010

Posted by Admin - December 23rd, 2010

A few good reviews this week, including Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb, but the real story is the number of quality interviews crossing this week. Patrick Rothfuss, Tracy Hickman, Brandon Sanderson, James Barclay, N.K. Jemisin and Peter V. Brett all offer their wisdom to the fantasy blogosphere this week. The cover for Tchaikovsky’s 7th novel in the Shadows of the Apt series, Heirs of the Blade was released this week, and its gorgeous. News on The Dark Tower movie, Moorcock’s Elric series, and the Frank Frazetta feud. A trailer for the forthcoming The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie dropped this week, check it out below.

Book Trailer: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Caricature of J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy Book News

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Fantasy Blogosphere: December 6, 2010

Posted by Admin - December 18th, 2010

The biggest news of the week for me is definitely the first real action promos for the HBO Game of Thrones series. Its great to see Sean Bean and crew in action, I’m so pumped for this series! Also really excited to see that Sanderson has sold another Mistborn novel, definitely looking forward to seeing that series extended. Reviews this week of newer novels from some of my favorite authors: Joe Abercrombie, Tad Willians, Jim Butcher and more. And please don’t miss the hilarious xtranormal video on publishing. If you have anything you’d like to share here on FBN, feel free to create a group and post your thoughts.

Game of Thrones HBO Series Trailers

Absolutely Hilarious XtraNormal Video on Publishing

Fantasy Book News

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, December 12, 2010

Posted by Admin - December 18th, 2010

Towers of Midnight reaches week 18 in the top 5, with 13 of those weeks in first place. Breaking Dawn and A Game of Thrones swap places, but all 5 books from last week maintain presence this week.

  1. Towers of Midnight (Hardcover) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. Breaking Dawn (Hardcover) by Stephanie Meyer
  3. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (Hardcover) by Max Brooks
  4. Breaking Dawn (Kindle) by Stephanie Meyer
  5. A Game of Thrones (Kindle) by George R.R. Martin

Fantasy Book News

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Fantasy Blogosphere: December 13, 2010

Posted by Admin - December 16th, 2010

Reviews of a few novels this week, including one of my favorite reads this year, Lamentation by Ken Scholes. Interviews with Guy Gavriel Kay, Brent Weeks, and Scott Bakker. HBO released a 10-minute trailer for the Game of Thrones series this week, and Orbit Books offers a little elven holiday cheer.

Game of Thrones HBO Series 10-minute Trailer

Holiday Treat

Fantasy Book News

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2010 Reads in Covers (by Liviu Suciu)

Posted by Admin - December 4th, 2010

Using the marvelous Goodreads and it’s sorting/display capabilities plus an image grabber, I decided to do a collage of the 244 books I’ve read this year sorted by rating.

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A’s or better in chronological order of listing them by me on Goodreads from recent on

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A’s or better in chronological order of listing from recent on

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A’s or better in chronological order of listing from recent on

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A’s or better in chronological order of listing from recent on

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A’s or better in chronological order of listing from recent on

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5 A’s and then 25 B’s in chronological order of listing from recent on

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3 lines of B’s and 2 lines of C’s in chronological order of listing from recent on

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10 C’s, 19 D’s and the 5 F’s I’ve had the (dis)pleasure to read in 2010 in chronological order of listing from recent on

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Fantasy Book Critic

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Hussar 2010

Posted by Admin - November 26th, 2010

Weekend in Warsaw – „…a lot of fun!”

Here is a topic about this event

http://www.chestofcolors.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=6744

And some my photos ;)

Speed Painting Competition during main competition ;)

Fantasygames

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Amazon’s Top 5 Fantasy Bestsellers, November 14, 2010

Posted by Admin - November 17th, 2010

Towers of Midnight holds strong yet again in first place, with urban fantasy by J.R Rain and Jim Butcher filling out the 2 through 4 slots. A sci-fi novel about the apocalypse, Mercury Falls edges in at number 5 this week.

  1. Towers of Midnight (Hardcover) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  2. Vampire Moon (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
  3. Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (Hardcover) by Jim Butcher
  4. Moon Dance (Kindle) by J.R. Rain
  5. Mercury Falls (Kindle) by Robert Kroese

Fantasy Book News

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