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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Lou Anders


Favorite Books:

The Quiet War” by
Paul McAuley

The majority of my reading is confined to potential books for the
Pyr line (, and since we’ve just grown the list, I read even less outside of Pyr than I normally do. But I did manage to read Paul McAuley’s utterly brilliant, widescreen but almost mundane space opera, “The Quiet War”. The book is amazing, with its cinematic depiction of dog fights around the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter—at times playing out on the screen of my mind like what Battlestar Galactica might aspire to and could achieve if they had a clue about actual science. The book is getting my vote for the Best Novel Hugo (along with David Louis Edelman’s MultiReal.) Now, the disclaimer here is that I liked the novel so much I acquired US rights to it, and we’ll be publishing “The Quiet War” in 2009 at Pyr. So maybe I’m biased, but then, if I hadn’t thought it was such an utterly magnificent and deserving work, I wouldn’t have gone after it, would I? So there you go.

I did manage a little better with my out-of-house reading on the short story front.
Garth Nix’s swords & sorcery stories of Sir Hereward and Mr Fitz are utterly amazing, and I really liked Kage Baker’sSpeed, Speed the Cable” from Nick Gever’s steampunk anthology Extraordinary Engines. Paolo Bacigalupi, Paul Cornell, and Jack Skillingstead really impressed me this year as well. Paul’s “John Hamilton” stories—one of which I published in Fast Forward 2 and one of which is forthcoming in The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction: Volume 3, introduces a character who I am sure will become one of my favorite SF protagonists of all time as his adventures grow.

Favorite Artwork:

This was a really good year for cover art, with some amazing work appearing from
Stephan Martiniere, Dan Dos Santos, Jon Foster, Donato Giancola, and many others. But perhaps what impressed me the most was the incredible black and white interior work that John Picacio did for the Del Rey reissue of Michael Moorcock’sElric: The Stealer of Souls”. John has unseated Michael Whelan in my mind for the definitive depiction of the albino, and I think he’s really going to surprise people with the delicacy and emotion of his pencil work. If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Film Favorites:

The Dark Knight
Iron Man

I’d say that
Iron Man was one of the best superhero/comic book films of all time, whereas The Dark Knight really transcended that category and invites comparisons to films like Silence of the Lambs, Heat, and Seven and will probably emerge as one of my favorite films in any category in any year. Meanwhile, Wall-E was one of the best science fiction films in a long time, and confirms my belief that animation may be our best hope for the real stuff, given Hollywood’s track record with live-action SF.

I also really loved
Juno, though that was a 2007 film I only saw in 2008.

TV Favorites:

Mad Men
Burn Notice

None of these are technically genre, but Gregory House is nakedly Sherlock Holmes, and the amount of technobabble in the show puts even Next Generation to shame. The other two are just damn good, and Bruce Campbell was born to play Sam.

Music Favorites:

I am so into
The Mountain Goats that I’ve passed through them and come out the other side. Nothing has pushed my buttons like this stuff in years.


Blood of Ambrose” by
James Enge

We’re putting this out in April 2009, with stunning cover art from
Dominic Harman and interior illustrations by Chuck Lukacs. A tale of the battle for control of an ancient empire, fought between powerful wizards; and featuring the unlikely anti-hero of Morlock Ambrosius, wandering swordsman, estranged son of Merlin, dry drunk, and greatest Master of Magical Making of them all—this is my pick for the “If you dug Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, you’re gonna love this too” fantasy novel of 2009.

We’ve also got some incredible fantasy coming out in early 2009 from
Matthew Sturges (of DC/Vertigo fame), Tom Lloyd (whose world-building is second to none), and Mark Chadbourn (who is long overdue to be let loose on US readers.) Justina Robson continues to be her mad, brilliant self.


With Great Power”, an anthology of superhero fiction by writers with a foot in both prose and comics. Forthcoming from

Conquering Swords” (working title), co-edited with fellow Hugo-nominee
Jonathan Strahan, a definitive Swords & Sorcery collection. Forthcoming from Harper Eos.

Both projects expect to debut in 2010, but I’ve got to hand them both in next summer.


A 2008/2007 Hugo Award nominee, 2007 Chesley Award nominee and 2006 World Fantasy Award nominee, Lou Anders is the editorial director of
Prometheus Books' science fiction imprint Pyr, as well as the anthologies Fast Forward 2 (Pyr, October 2008), Sideways in Crime (Solaris, June 2008), Fast Forward 1 (Pyr, February 2007), FutureShocks (Roc, January 2006), Projections: Science Fiction in Literature & Film (MonkeyBrain, December 2004), Live Without a Net (Roc, 2003), and Outside the Box (Wildside Press, 2001). He is the author of The Making of Star Trek: First Contact (Titan Books, 1996), and has published over 500 articles in such magazines as The Believer, Publishers Weekly, Dreamwatch, Star Trek Monthly, Star Wars Monthly, Babylon 5 Magazine, Sci Fi Universe, Doctor Who Magazine, and Manga Max. His articles and stories have been translated into Danish, Greek, German, Italian and French, and have appeared online at, and For more information, visit Lou Anders’ Official Website.

NOTE: For more author responses, please visit Fantasy Book Critic's 2008 Review/2009 Preview index HERE.


Liviu said...

In a year of many sf reads - 76 and counting strict genre sf plus many others that could be counted in - and quite a few wonderful, The Quiet War stood out for me too, making my top 5 sf list.

Blood of Ambrose sounds interesting and I will be looking for it when available.

Lou Anders said...

It was amazing, 'twas it not? But 76, wow. What were the other four on the list?

von Darkmoor said...

Wonderful advance words for Enge's Blood of Ambrose, Lou. Much ado about something all right!
On another note, I hope you and Strahan are looking for more than just well-known names for Conquering Swords, especially with that 'definitive' modifier on there. At the very least, taking a look at the essay on sword-and-sorcery by Howard Andrew Jones and Robert Rhodes in the newly released 4-volume Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading would be well-considered. There's a number of small press and short fiction authors with some excellent S&S published who deserve at least a look. A number of folks are eyeing this anthology with mixed thoughts of hope and anxiety. Personally, I'm hopeful about the project and wish the both of you well.

Liviu said...

The total number of new fiction books I read in 08 is about 210 and counting, with 10 non-fiction, plus many partial reads that I have not finished yet, but sf is the biggest chunk though I cheated by making two categories genre fantasy and mainstream fantastic which is mostly fantasy-like with some sf-like and that would total about 105 so far if joined.

I keep a detailed and updated reading list with mini-reviews for most read books on Goodreads which is very useful for these tabulations :)

I will get to Robert my top lists and upcoming 09 soon, but in sf the top 5 are:

Anathem, Spirit: Princess Du Bois Dormant (this is scheduled for end December 08, Gollancz, UK) Temporal Void, Quiet War and By Schism Rent Asunder

Then from 6- there is a big bunch of books, about 10 or so, that would have made top 5 in other years, including Judson and Edelman from Pyr

I read all the sff novels by Paul McAuley since his debut about 20 years ago, a big chunk of his ss - all in the QW milieu - and 2 of his thrillers and I loved the Confluence trilogy and the original debut trilogy as well as Whole Wide World, but Quiet War is amazing indeed and I hope the sequel will be as good if not better

raul said...

lou anders is one of the best chances to bring quality scifi/fantasy back from the edge of destruction with endless piggy-banked motived series, politically-motivated military scifi garbage or copy-cat urban fantasy(My heroine is former street-tough cop that has magic powers and is horny....).

Lou Anders said...

Thank you. I don't want to talk about the TOC this early on, but I think that folks are going to be very happy, and that it's going to be a very good mix of the greats and the recents, the history and the current.

von Darkmoor said...

Great to learn, Lou! And I just discovered on Strahan's site that James Enge grace's the ToC. Plus a few other names I love. Looking very much forward to seeing this book.

Perhaps we can convince the David Gemmell Legend Award folks to include heroic fantasy anthologies in 2010.

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