It's that time again! If you a) were a member (supporting or attending) of the WorldCon in Denver this past August; or b) are a member (supporting or attending) of the upcoming WorldCon in Montreal, it's time for you to figure out what everyone should be reading this summer! You'll have to head over to Anticipation's Online Ballot before 11:59 pm (PST) on Feb. 28th. But don't delay, especially now that there are so many recommendations out there.
As well as the titles that I'll be suggesting in a minute, you can also look at: the Locus Recommended Reading List, SF Awards Watch Recommendations section, and the Hugo Recommendation LiveJournal community, amongst others.
Now, on to my rather magazine-heavy nods. My comments in blue, title links go to the story or related website (if available).
I spent a lot of time reading magazines and older fiction in 2008, and several of the new books I did read aren't really ballott-worthy. So for me, 2008 novels are a bit slim-pickin's. However, I suspect that Ian M. Banks' Matter and Neal Stephenson's Anathem will shoot to the top of the list and keep things interesting.
- The Love We Share Without Knowing, Chris Barzak [Love and death in Japan]
- Incandescence, Greg Egan [My review, How could you discover relativity if you could never see the stars and lived in near-free-fall?]
- Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory [My review, Demons can possess people and seem to be artefacts of pop culutre; more importantly, the toll that mental illness takes on families]
- Implied Spaces, Walter Jon Williams [Adventure story; what happens in the spaces that have to be there even if they weren't designed?]
I was surprised that this category didn't have more contenders, but some years this is the strongest category and some years it isn't.
- Truth, Oct/Nov Asimovs, Robert Reed [Review; The psychology of the war on terrorism]
- The Overseer, March F&SF, Albert E. Cowdrey [Review; The psychology of evil in and around the American Civil War]
- Tenbrook of Mars, Analog July/Aug, Dean McLaughlin [Review; Engineering and Project Management save the day!]
This has to be the strongest category of the year. Even though I can only nominate 5 of these, I wanted to make sure people know about all of them: some of them will appeal more to some folks and less to others; all are worthy of your attention.
- Pump Six, Sept. F&SF, Paolo Bacigalupi [Review; Pollutants make people devolve into idiots]
- Shoggoths in Bloom, March Asimovs, Elizabeth Bear [Review; The ecology of Lovecraft; also-race relations]
- Vinegar Peace, or, the Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage, July Asimovs, Michael Bishop [Review; A heart-wrenching look at what it's like to lose a child]
- Crystal Nights, Interzone #215, Greg Egan [Review; Ethics of playing God]
- The Ray Gun: A Love Story, Feb. Asimovs, James Alan Gardner [A paean to and examination of the old pulp sf conventions and growing up]
- Pride and Prometheus, Jan F&SF, John Kessel [Frankenstein meets Pride and Predjudice. I'm not kidding, it's awesome]
- Divining Light, Aug. Asimovs, Ted Kosmatka [Review; Quantum Mechanics fucks with people. What happened in the story? Who knows? But it was mighty impressive nonetheless]
- How the Day Runs Down, Dec F&F, John Langan [Review; Zombies on stage. But it totally works]
- Five Thrillers, April F&SF, Robert Reed [Review; What happens when psychopaths get power]
- Days of Wonder, Oct/Nov F&SF, Geoff Ryman [Review; In a far-future pastoralism, one being tries to progress]
- Until Forgiveness Comes, Strange Horizons, K. Tempest Bradford [How should we honor the tragic dead?]
- Lagos, Aug Asimovs, Matthew Johnson [Review; Internet workers in Nigeria]
- Pseudo Tokyo, Interzone #214, Jennifer Linnaea [Review; Surrealism in the multiverse]
- Indomitable, Baen’s April, Jack McDevitt [Review; THIS is why we should continue to explore space!]
- 'Dhuluma' No More, Oct/Nov Asimovs, Gord Sellar [Review; No matter what we do about climate change, it will affect real people; we can't pretend moral innocence]
- Shed That Guilt! Double Your ProductivityOvernight!, Sep F&SF, Michael Swanwick & Eileen Gunn [Review; Writers are crazy people]
The great thing about the titles in this section: they do what they say on the tin.
- Superheroes!: Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films, Roz Kaveney
- What it is We Do When We Read Science Fiction, Paul Kincaid
- Rhetorics of Fantasy, Farah Mendlesohn
- Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, John Scalzi
This is an experimental category, but there's a proposal for making it permanent. Let's make sure there are enough nominations to make it a viable award!