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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Jeff Somers


2008 FAVORITES:

I’m not always the brightest bulb in the pack, and my youth was misspent drinking on street corners and playing an obscure game called Bottlecaps on the streets of Jersey City (involving plastic caps from milk jugs, clay, and chalked boards on the street [I swear I am not making this up]), so every year I find myself bogged down trying desperately to discover the fiction and history that everyone else read fifteen years ago. My “best-of” lists, as a result, tend to have a nice, warm feeling of nostalgia and rarely include too many books actually published in that year.

This past year, the books that stand out that were new to me are:

1)Pop. 1280” by
Jim Thompson. Jim Thompson was one of the most taut, efficient writers ever, and I long to be able to spin tales as simple, crafty, and subtle as his. And his main characters are so inhumanly cruel it's easy enough to imagine they're robots, and it's really science fiction!

2)We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by
Shirley Jackson. Damn. I can't believe I went 37 years without reading this.

3) The Gap Cycle by
Stephen R. Donaldson. Okay, a cheat (I think I cheated last year too—muhahahahaha!). This isn't one book, but a series of five books, and a series I've read before. But I re-read it this year, and it still stands up in my mind as one of the best SF stories I've ever read.

4)Wreck of the Godspeed” by
James Patrick Kelly. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kelly at a reading this year, and bought the book there. It's a delight. If you love short stories, buy this and revel in a great imagination.

5)Altered Carbon” by
Richard Morgan. When I sold The Electric Church, a lot of people advised me to pick this up and read it as we tread some similar territory. So I dutifully went out and bought a copy, and then it sat on my to-read list for years. Which is actually the accelerated slot. Normally books sit on my to-read list for decades. It's damned good, as almost everyone but me already knows. Taut, funny, and chock full of good ideas—I'm really glad I finally fast-tracked it and will definitely be checking out the rest of the Morgan ouevre.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2009:

Currently, I plan to get to the books I bought in 1999 by 2019.

ON THE HORIZON FOR JEFF SOMERS:

The third book in the Avery Cates series, “The Eternal Prison”, will be released by
Orbit Books in August 2009.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jeff Somers is an American author whose bibliography includes “Lifers”, “The Freaks Are Winning”, the Avery Cates novels (The Electric Church, The Digital Plague), and numerous short stories. Jeff is also the creator of the e-zine,
The Inner Swine. For more information, please visit the author’s Official Website.

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

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